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Saturday, September 22, 2018


If you grew up watching "The Carol Burnett Show", you know why so many people regard it with such warm nostalgia.  It was funny in a smart, yet comfortingly lowbrow sort of way, with a cast of likable and often brilliant performers we enjoyed spending time with. 

It has now been half a century since the show premiered, an occasion marked last year by a CBS-TV retrospective now available on DVD as THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL (Time-Life). 

The most likable castmember of all, of course, is Carol herself, one of the brightest, funniest comediennes of all time and a genuine television icon.  Her famous rapport with her studio audiences is hinted at with some amusing exchanges that demonstrate how unassuming and down-to-earth the comic superstar has always been.

The show whisks us through a series of montages that give a hint of her versatility with brief snippets of skits in which Carol plays such characters as Scarlett O'Hara, Norma Desmond, and the ever-popular Eunice.

Likewise, the rest of the cast each gets the spotlight briefly with their own highlight clips.  Vicki Lawrence, who got her start on the show, appears in person to reminisce with Carol as we see some of her best moments as "Mama."  A white-haired Lyle Waggoner also drops by to bask in the shared nostalgia for these wonderful old times.

Some serious laughs come when the show focuses on the contributions of Harvey Korman and Tim Conway.  In addition to cracking each other up, these two had studio audiences in convulsions on a regular basis with such classic bits as "The Dentist", the "Family" (the infamous elephant outtake is shown), and the recurring sketch in which Conway played the befuddled Mr. Tudball to Carol's screamingly funny inept secretary Mrs. Wiggins.

Coming as a welcome sight are visits from some of Carol's old friends, including Steve Martin, Steve Lawrence, Martin Short, and Bernadette Peters, along with longtime costumer Bob Mackie.  (Tom Selleck and Pat Boone are in the audience.) Clips from past shows offer more familiar faces such as Jim Nabors, Eydie Gorme, Dick Van Dyke, and Jimmy Stewart.

Unfortunately, the roster of more current personalities assembled to help Carol celebrate her anniversary is hardly as stellar.  Getting things off to an icky start is Stephen Colbert, who introduces the show and later returns to, of all things, duet with Steve Lawrence. 

Jim Carrey shows up to creep everyone out.  Jay Leno and Harry Connick, Jr. are merely bland.  Various ex-SNL regulars and other mostly uninteresting personalities also parade past to amp up the show's "yawn" factor. 

Bonus features for the disc includes some red carpet footage, backstage interviews, and anniversary wishes from some of Carol's celebrity friends.  There's also an illustrated booklet as well. 

Carol Burnett's many fans can't help but derive some degree of pleasure from THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW 50TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL.  But I would like to have seen more of the classic performances in their entirety and less yakkity-yak from a bunch of  talking heads.

Type: DVD Single
Running Time: 95 mins.
Genre: TV DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 (16 x 9)
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1/Stereo 2.0



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