Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In had changed sketch comedy with its rapid fire clips and quips. So many other shows wanted to duplicate the modern pacing including Hee Haw. The Carol Burnett Show arrived on the air around the same time, but didn’t feel the need to speed things up for an audience watching CBS at 10 p.m. on Mondays. Even though it was 1967, Carol, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner weren’t going all groovy. They were playing to an audience that wanted to be entertained without ingesting pills made in San Francisco. Carol wasn’t completely square as Lawrence Welk, but she wasn’t bent on freaking out America. She just wanted to put on a fun show. The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes – Treasures from the Vault is another 15 episodes from the early years of the series that aren’t part of the highlights running on MeTV this evening.
The first episode features guests Jonathan Winters and Dionne Warwick. Carol brings out Jonathan during her chat with her audience so he can bring the mayhem. Vicki Lawrence was originally hired to be on the show because she looked like Carol. She gets to prove it once more on the Carol and Sis sketch. Dionne joins Carol on a musical medley that includes “Valley of the Dolls.” Another show really mixes it up when Carol brings out opera singers Eileen Farrell and Marilyn Horne. They create an opera version of The Three Little Pigs. Since this was the Christmas episode there’s a batch of holiday songs with Isabel Sanford before she became Weezy on The Jeffersons. Barbara Feldon and Joan Rivers join Carol on beauty contest spoof. Shirley Jones and George Chakiris team up for musical fun. Jones does a good job reminding us that she’s more than Mrs. Partridge. Sonny & Cher seem to be getting ready for their own variety show even so early in their careers. Soupy Sales and Mel Tormé get upstaged by the arrival of Ronald Reagan. The future president is there to help out with a musical tribute to Warner Brothers studio.
The episodes are still entertaining even though most of the sketches last eight minutes or more. Carol put on a show and didn’t merely go for quick jokes. Nanette Fabray shows up in four episodes. Paul Lynde has two episodes where he gets to enjoy the reaction of the audiences. It’s nice to see so many of these episodes back and in their proper context with the sketches and musical numbers together. It’s a relief to see more of Lyle Waggoner before he split for Wonder Woman. The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes – Treasures from the Vault is another welcomed return from the classic variety show.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The series was shot on standard definition video. The resolution is fine for nearly 50 year old videotape. The audio is Dolby Digital mono. The musical numbers sound great. The episodes are Closed Captioned.
The Song and Dance: Crooners, Hoofers & Balladeers (15:54) talks about the singing and dancing segments. Everyone loved how the show went all out with orchestra and choreography. The stars appreciate how it felt like a Broadway production.
Expecting the Unexpected (29:33) is how the cast could cut each other up and try to hold it back. There’s talk of how Carol was able to work with a cast that could easily lead on their own comedy show. They knew how to improv their way out of the flub.
The Making of a Mackie (18:58) reveals the genius of fashion designer Bob Mackie. He did so much for the show. Can I nominate Bob Mackie for a Kennedy Center Honors? His costumes performed.
Interviews include time with Tony Bennett, Pat Boone, Steve Carell, Vikki Carr, George Chakiris, Kristin Chenoweth, Tina Fey, Shirley Jones and Burt Reynolds
“Carol and Sis” sketch from Show #411 (11:50) aired on December 7, 1970. Don Rickles loses it with the ladies as he paints their house.
Outtakes (4:03) are crack ups that didn’t make it on the air.
As the Stomach Turns sketch from Show #301 (14:39) aired on October 10, 1969. This is historic since Tim Conway plays his old man character for the first time.
“Alice Portnoy” from Show #121 (7:19) aired on March 10, 1969. Harvey hits on his sectary (Vicki) only to get it ruined by the Fireside Girl.
Bonus Show: The Garry Moore Show (25:01) from May 23, 1961. Carol was part of the cast. The guests include Mel Torme and Jackie Mason.
Time Life presents The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes – Treasures from the Vault. Starring: Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Lyle Waggoner and Vicki Lawrence. Boxset Contents: 15 Episodes on 6 DVDs. Released: February 9, 2015.
Tags: Cher, The Carol Burnett Show