Saying that Harvey Korman is underrated as a TV comic sounds rather foolish. He won the Emmy four times for his work on The Carol Burnett Show. But over the decades, Harvey’s work in the late ’60 and ’70s has been obscured by some of the names that were on Saturday Night Live and SCTV. In a sense he’s reduced down to a square who hammed his way through a variety show. Which is so wrong. There’s plenty of times where Harvey gave a bit of edge to his characters even though he was in primetime. He wasn’t afraid to play the old lady instead of Carol or Vicki Lawrence. The Carol Burnett Show: The Best of Harvey Korman has four episodes that give him time to shine in various roles.
The first episode has no guest star, but I get this sneaking feeling that they thought they could land Elvis Presley since this was about the time of the ’68 of comeback. They dress up Lyle Waggoner in an Elvis-style and even let him sing. The sketch that follows has him as a popular singer that’s friends with one of Harvey’s pals. Harvey has to play the husband who has to see his wife and daughter lose it for the singer.
During the sketch spoofing Richard Nixon’s “spontaneous” fireside chat at San Clemente, Harvey doesn’t do Nixon. He just plays it straight as a man trying way to hard to humanize himself to the TV audience with his wife and daughter. The lack of Nixon-ism makes it seem almost makes him a universal political phony still operating today. There’s plenty of laughs when Nixon tries to touch his wife and she can’t handle it.
The episodes are from early in the show’s run so there’s just one featuring the amazing work between Harvey and Tim Conway (a guest at this time). Harvey is the ringleader for a team attempting to robbing a bank vault. Tim is the ancient guy who supposedly knows how to crack a safe. Half the sketch is Harvey holding back laughs as Tim fumbles with everything. He makes sure we appreciate Tim’s remarkable performance.
Harvey Korman might not have been the most dangerous man in sketch comedy, but he could do so much from playing straight man, second banana and even the lead. He could be the victim of frustrations and dish out comic frustrations. He was such a well rounded performer on the TV screen. He could even sing if it was time for the musical medley salute at the end of the show. The Carol Burnett Show: The Best of Harvey Korman is fine way to get a taste for his talents.
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The series was captured live on standard definition video, but the transfers are fine enough. The audio is Dolby Digital mono with good levels. The episodes are Closed Captioned.
No bonus features.
Time Life presents The Carol Burnett Show: The Best of Harvey Korman. Starring: Harvey Korman, Carol Burnett, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner and Tim Conway. Boxset Contents: 4 episodes on 1 DVD. Released: August 1, 2017.
Tags: harvey korman, The Carol Burnett Show