Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Carol Burnett Show – Carol’s Favorites DVD Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson

“The Carol Burnett Show” debuted on CBS in 1967 and ran for 11 years, receiving 25 Emmy Awards and five Golden Globes, making it one of the most honored shows in television history, and TIME Magazine named “The Carol Burnett Show” as one of the “100 Best Television Shows of all Time”.  The Carol Burnett Show – Carol’s Favorites is a 6-DVD set that boasts seventeen complete, unedited episodes featuring the most popular and hilarious sketches and characters from the long-running series.  Included:  Starlet O’Hara in “Went with the Wind”, The Family, Tudball & Wiggins, The Oldest Man and additional movie parodies. Also featured in this jam-packed set are guest appearances by Carl Reiner, Steve Martin, Betty White, George Carlin, Shirley MacLaine, The Jackson 5, and many more.

Show (5 out of 5 stars) 

By 1967, Carol Burnett was a veteran television actress who had either been a guest star or a supporting actress for a variety of television shows including stints on “The Paul Winchell Show,” “Stanley,” “Pantomime Quiz,” “The Tonight Show,” and in what would be her big break, a regular gig on “The Garry Moore Show” where she even won an Emmy.  Burnett spent three years on that show honing her craft while also starring in  Off-Broadway and Broadway shows like “Once Upon a Mattress” which only increased her visibility.  As if that wasn’t enough, she was also doing her own television specials with guests like Lucille Ball and Julie Andrews (a special that won her a second Emmy) that were very well received.
The CBS television network noticed her popularity and decided to sign her up for specials to appear on their network.  That alliance proved to be successful and when Burnett’s contract came up f0r renewal, Burnett had the choice to star in a situational comedy or she could “push the button” to enact her rare clause in her contract to create her own variety television show.  Burnett decided to gamble on the variety show and “The Carol Burnett Show” was born.
The show would go on to become a massive hit and lasting eleven seasons as well as making stars out the of the cast.  Burnett surrounded herself with talented people behind the scenes and on screen with Harvey Korman, Vicki Lewis, Lyle Waggoner, and last but not least Tim Conway, who many believe was a regular on the show from the beginning but in actuality, he was just a frequent guest star that wasn’t brought on board full time until the show’s fourth year.  There were a lot of cast changes over the years as Waggoner left in 1974 (and ended up starring in “Wonder Woman”) and three years later Korman left too with Dick Van Dyke being brought in to take his place.
Van Dyke ended up leaving after three months and frequent guests Steve Lawrence and Ken Berry were added to the show for its final season.  The show had a lot of popular sketches that have been included in this set including: the soap opera parody ”As the Stomach Turns”, ”Carol & Sis”, “Mr. Tudball and Mrs. Wiggins”, “The Family” (which would later become the spin-off show called “Mama’s Family” that would last for seven years), “Nora Desmond” (Burnett’s send-up of Sunset Boulevard’s Norma Desmond), and “Stella Toddler”, and “Kitchen Commercials”, where the cast members would parody TV commercials.  The show would prove to be highly influential and it ended up winning twenty-five Emmys over the course of its eleven year run.  Take a look at these episodes to see why:
Show #1007, Original Air Date: October 30, 1976
Guest Starring Roddy McDowall
    • Q&A
    • Mrs. Wiggins: Buzz Off—Carol and Tim
    • Medical Documentary—Harvey, Tim, Vicki, Roddy McDowall
    • Hollywood Seven—Vicki
    • The Lift—Carol and Roddy McDowall
    • The Morning After—Carol, Harvey, Vicki
    • Finale: Salute to Silent Movies: Without a Word, Without a Sound—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Vicki, Roddy McDowall, Dancers
    • Goodnights
Show #1002, Original Air Date: November 13, 1976
Guest Starring Dinah Shore
    • Q&A
    • Business Lunch—Carol and Harvey
    • 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover—Dinah Shore
    • The Oldest Man: The Butcher—Harvey and Tim
    • Went with the Wind!—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Vicki, Dinah Shore
    • Finale: Basin Street: Basin Street Blues/That’s How I Love the Blues/The Birth of the Blues/Mad about Him Blues/A Good Man Is Hard to Find/I Ain’t Got Nobody/St. Louis Blues/Wang Wang Blues—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Dinah Shore, Dancers and Singers
    • Goodnights
Show #1121, Original Air Date: March 5, 1978
Guest Starring Steve Martin, Betty White
    • As the Stomach Turns: Close Encounters—Carol, Tim, Vicki, Betty White, Steve Martin
    • Comedy Act for Dogs—Steve Martin
    • Bird Lady: The Escape—Carol and Tim
    • The Family: Ellen’s Anniversary—Cast and Betty White
    • The Late, Late Movie: Beach Blanket Boo-Boo—Carol, Tim, Vicki, Steve Martin, Betty White, Dancers and Singers
    • Goodnights
Show #903, Original Air Date: October 4, 1975
  • Guest Starring Shirley MacLaine
    • Q&A
    • The Family: The Flashback—Cast
    • Talk and Duet: Fan Mail—Carol and Shirley MacLaine
    • The Hollow Hero: Palace Guard—Carol, Harvey, Tim
    • Little League Mothers—Carol, Harvey, Shirley MacLaine
    • 200 Years Ago Today—Harvey and Tim
    • Finale: Gorgeous/I Love to Dance Like They Used to Dance—Carol, Shirley MacLaine, Dancers
    • Goodnights
Show #812, Original Air Date: December 14, 1974
Guest Starring Ken Berry, Carl Reiner
  • Q&A
  • Razzle-Dazzle—Ken Berry, Dancers and Singers
  • The Biggest Movie of the Week: Disaster ’75—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Ken Berry, Carl Reiner
  • Song Blackouts: I’ve Gotta Be Me/Something/Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!/A Baby Is Coming—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Ken Berry
  • Bedtime Honesty II—Carol and Harvey
  • Finale: Hold Me, Hamlet—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Carl Reiner, Ken Berry, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights
Show #921, Original Air Date: February 14, 1976
Guest Starring Joanne Woodward
  • Q&A
  • The Family: Friend from the Past—Cast and Joanne Woodward
  • The Butler and the Maid—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Vicki
  • Wallflowers Duet: Why Can’t I/Let’s Be Buddies—Carol, Harvey, Joanne Woodward
  • Mrs. Wiggins: The Intercom…Again—Carol and Tim
  • Finale: Everything Old Is New Again—Carol, Vicki, Joanne Woodward, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights
Show #716, Original Air Date: January 19, 1974
Guest Starring Carl Reiner
  • Q&A
  • Accident Prone—Carol, Harvey, Lyle, Carl Reiner
  • Send in the Clowns—Carol and Harvey
  • Funny Lady—Carol, Harvey, Carl Reiner
  • Supermarket Checker—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lyle
  • La Caperucita Roja: Little Red Riding Hood—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lyle, Carl Reiner, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights
Show #814, Original Air Date: January 4, 1975
Guest Starring Joan Rivers, Vincent Price
  • Q&A
  • Alice Portnoy: The Author—Carol and Vincent Price
  • Born in Brooklyn—Carol, Vicki, Joan Rivers, Dancers and Singers
  • Comedy Spot—Joan Rivers
  • The Ham Actor: The Understudies—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Vincent Price
  • TV Blackouts: Police Lady/Chiquita and the Man/Rhonda/Tony Tallahassee & Dusk—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Vincent Price, Joan Rivers, Tony Orlando & Dawn
  • The Walnuts—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Vincent Price, Joan Rivers
  • Finale: Sarah and the Moose—Carol, Harvey, Vincent Price, Joan Rivers, Singers
  • Goodnights
Show #611, Original Air Date: October 25, 1972
Guest Starring Pearl Bailey
  • Q&A
  • Nora Desmond: The Commercial—Carol, Harvey, Tim
  • Where Is Love—Pearl Bailey
  • The Oldest Man: Galley Slaves—Harvey, Tim, Lyle
  • The Psychiatrist: A Good Man Is Hard to Find—Carol and Pearl Bailey
  • F. Lee Bunny—Carol, Tim, Lyle
  • Salute to 20th Century Fox: Do-Re-Mi/You’ve Gotta See Mama Ev’ry Night (Or You Can’t See Mama at All)/Hound Dog/I, Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi (I Like You Very Much)—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Lyle, Pearl Bailey, Dancers
  • Finale: Alexander’s Ragtime Band—Carol, Vicki, Pearl Bailey, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights
Show #722, Original Air Date: March 16, 1974
Guest Starring Roddy McDowall, The Jackson 5
  • Q&A
  • Talk and Duet Medley: Exactly Like You/She’s Funny That Way/They Didn’t Believe Me/Tea for Two/Speak Low/So in Love—Carol and Roddy McDowall
  • Short Film: Roddy McDowall in the Makeup Chair for Planet of the Apes
  • The Family: The Reunion—Cast and Roddy McDowall
  • The Carpenters—Carol, Harvey, Lyle
  • Dancing Machine—The Jackson 5
  • Bus Stop—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Lyle
  • Brief Encounter—Carol and Roddy McDowall
  • Finale: Music School Medley: This Old Man/ABC—Carol, The Jackson 5, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights
Show #810, Original Air Date: November 23, 1974

Guest Starring Maggie Smith

  • Q&A
  • Born Free—Carol, Harvey, Tim
  • Talk and Duet: You’re So London—Carol and Maggie Smith
  • My Buddy—Harvey and Tim
  • A Visit from Karen—Carol, Harvey, Maggie Smith
  • The Third Degree—Harvey and Vicki
  • Finale: Charwoman Medley: Oh, to Be a Movie Star/Cuddle Up a Little Closer—Carol and Dancers
  • Goodnights
Show #1022, Original Air Date: March 26, 1977
Guest Starring Ken Berry
  • Q&A
  • Mrs. Wiggins: The Fire Drill—Carol, Harvey, Tim
  • I Got Rhythm—Ken Berry and Dancers
  • Harry’s Mirage and Grill—Harvey, Tim, Vicki
  • Salute to MGM Musicals: Babes in Barns—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Ken Berry, Dancers
  • Goodnights
Show #817, Original Air Date: February 15, 1975
Guest Starring Rock Hudson, Nancy Walker
  • Q&A
  • Mine—Rock Hudson and Nancy Walker
  • TV Commercials—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Rock Hudson, Nancy Walker
  • Partners—Harvey
  • The Late Late Late Show: When My Baby Laughs at Me—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Rock Hudson, Nancy Walker, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights
Show #1012, Original Air Date: December 11, 1976
Guest Starring Betty White
  • Q&A
  • The Family: The Attic—Cast and Betty White
  • Pom Pom Girls: Ready to Begin Again—Carol and Betty White
  • Counterfeit Bill—Carol, Harvey, Tim
  • Finale: Salute to the Ziegfeld Follies—Carol, Harvey, Tim, Vicki, Betty White, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights
 Show #803, Original Air Date: September 14, 1974
Guest Starring Jim Nabors
  • With an A, B, C—Dancers and Singers
  • Q&A
  • The Family: Brotherly Love—Cast
  • Toilet Tissue—Carol
  • One Life—Jim Nabors
  • Bedtime Honesty—Carol and Harvey
  • Just a Gigolo—Carol, Harvey, Vicki
  • The Gunslinger—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Jim Nabors
  • Finale: Rimshot—Carol, Harvey, Vicki, Jim Nabors, Dancers
  • Goodnights
Show #823, Original Air Date: March 29, 1975
Guest Starring Jean Stapleton, Phil Silvers
  • Tacky Lady: Alice Blue Gown—Carol
  • Q&A
  • The Couples—Carol, Harvey, Phil Silvers, Jean Stapleton
  • Losing My Mind—Jean Stapleton
  • TV Commercials—Carol, Harvey, Jean Stapleton, Phil Silvers
  • Saturday Night Stoop: Flings—Carol and Jean Stapleton
  • The Old Folks: Anniversary Present—Carol and Harvey
  • Hallway Encounter—Harvey and Jean Stapleton
  • Finale: Bilko’s New Army: Anything You Can Do/I’m a Woman/Alright, Okay, You Win—Carol, Harvey, Phil Silvers, Jean Stapleton, Dancers and Singers
  • Goodnights

Video (3 out of 5 stars) 

For a show that’s over forty years old this one looks pretty good. The show’s original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 full frame has been maintained.  That’s not to say these episodes don’t show signs of age because they do, as there are occasional artifacts and blemishes that pop up.  Color however looks excellent for the most part with the variety of different costumes looking very distinct and vivid.  Detail is probably as good as it’s going to get when you factor in the age of the show and the way it was filmed and stored.  I’m just happy to see all of these on DVD at least and that the show wasn’t lost to the ages like many before it.   I did have an issue with the first disc not playing in my Blu-ray player but it seemed to work fine in a DVD player

Audio (3 out of 5 stars) 

This English Mono tracks fare as well as the video and the age of the show is apparent in the audio too.  There’s some hiss present but the dialogue is clear enough so there’s no difficulty in understanding what’s being said.  The many songs in the show also sound pretty good but a little flat.  For a show this old, this sounds better than I expected and while I would like it to sound even better, this is acceptable.

Extras (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

For a show that lasted eleven seasons, I was hoping for more extras but maybe those extra ones are in the complete series set.  While there aren’t as many extras as I would have liked, the ones that are here are all excellent.
  • Featurette: “Leading Lady—Carol as a Television Pioneer” – Some of Carol’s former staff talk about how Carol was a trailblazer who broke the glass ceiling and created the show.
  • “Harvey Korman & Tim Conway—Together Again” - A rare interview with Harvey and Tim (taped in Los Angeles on April 24, 2004), talking about their ten years together on The Carol Burnett Show.  These two guys are the primary reason that I loved the show (besides Carol) because they were always hilarious together and this time is no different.  Their joint discussion was filmed in 2004 and lasts a much appreciated forty-five minutes.  This is a great extra!
  • Interviews - Betty White and Carl Reiner talk about their many guest appearances on the show and talk about their appreciation for Carol Burnett’s comedic skills.
  • The Garry Moore Show - episode featuring Carol Burnett in the “Supergirl” sketch—the first time Carol did the Tarzan yell on television (original air date March 6, 1962)
  • Featurette: “Ahhhh, Mrs. Whiggins?” – The stars talk about the fan favorite sketch that starred the exasperated Mr. Tudball and his worthless secretary Mrs. Whiggins.
  • Interview with Carol Burnett – A fifteen minute talk with Carol Burnett about the show and her career.
  • “Let’s Bump Up the Lights” - Cast reunion with Carol, Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway and Lyle Waggoner where they reminisce  about the show and Harvey Korman.  It’s a great look back and it last a little bit over thirty minutes.
  • Featurette: “I Want to Push That Button…” - Carol and others talk about how the show came about thanks to a clause in her contract that gave her an option to “push the button” to create a new variety show if she wanted to.  Thanks to that clause, “The Carol Burnett Show” was born.
  • The rarely seen sketch “The Dentist,” with Tim Conway and Harvey Korman - One of the funniest sketches on the show has been included here.  Its original air date was March 3, 1969, although I saw Tim Conway and Harvey Korman recreate it live not long before Korman’s death and it was just as funny.  It’s great that this one was included as an extra.

Summary (4 out of 5 stars) 

There are few shows that have had the lasting power of “The Carol Burnett Show”.  Eleven years and twenty-five Emmys are nothing to sneeze at and these sketches are still wildly popular.  A lot of the best ones have been included here including the famous send-up of Gone With the Wind known here as “Went With the Wind” and it too has a dress made from a curtain window, although this one includes a curtain rod.  If you haven’t seen this very funny show then this set is a great introduction to it and its fantastic stars.  As a bonus, just about every episode had a great guest star too so it’s always fun to watch and it serves as something of a time capsule as well.  Some of the jokes and song and dance routines may seem dated now, but it’s still a very funny show and I highly recommend it!
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