DVD Review: Carol + 2: The Original Queens of Comedy

Ever start watching TV and ponder how exactly someone got famous? This is often a question when watching Dancing With the Stars and having no clue which one is the star and which one is the pro dancer. Thankfully the mystery of what elevated Carol Burnett into becoming a TV icon has been answered with the release of Carol + 2: The Original Queens of Comedy. Sure you might know that she was a regular on The Gary Moore Show, but how did Carol land that gig? The disc brings together three important elements that established her into the hearts of millions with The Carol Burnett Show. You get to enjoy the musical that brought her to the attention, the special that gave CBS the confidence to grant her a variety show and finally the first appearance of her Charwoman character.

Carol + 2 (55:39) is the last variety show special she performed before landing a full time gig from CBS. Who are the “+ 2” for Carol in 1966? The first is Zero Mostel. He was doing well in the late ’60s with Broadway fame from Fiddler on the Roof and movie star A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He’s soon make Mel Brooks’ The Producers. The other half of the two is none other than the first lady of CBS comedy Lucille Ball (I Love Lucy). While Lucy had Vivian Vance as her partner in TV crime, Carol was her comedic partner. As Carol explains on the introduction, when she asked Lucy to be her guest star, there was no hesitation. This shows with their amazing connection during sketches. The two guest stars get to share segment long sketches with Carol and a few musical interludes. Zero does his hits from Fiddler. Carol and Lucy wrap up the show as cleaning ladies spiffing up a producer’s office. They end up breaking into song for the finale. This really sets the tone for The Carol Burnett Show.

Once Upon a Mattress (90:56) was Carol’s big break as she took the lead in the Tony Award winning musical in 1959. This reworking of The Princess and the Pea had the same effect on Carol’s career as what’s happening to the guy from Hamilton. She had previously brought the production to television back in 1964, but that was a black and white telecast. At the height of her Carol Burnett Show fame, she revived it on CBS with a mix of past Broadway stars and her favorites from the variety show. It’s a very colorful production that must have impressed people with color TVs back in the ’70s. Jack Gilford returns as King Sextimus. Prince Dauntless is now played by Ken Berry (Mama’s Family). Bernadette Peters glows as Lady Larken. The Jester is properly played by Wally Cox (Mr. Peepers). Without a sense of irony Lyle Waggoner is Sir Studley. Even 13 years after her Broadway debut, Carol is perfect as the girl who would be a princess if she can just know if there’s something wrong with her mattress. This is the level of production and talent people ought to be expecting with those recent network musicals.

“Charwoman Sketch” from Carol & Company (11:29) includes an introduction from Carol as how the character evolved from a radio DJ’s introduction to “The Stripper.” Carol never gave her a name. The sketch has her taking off a few items while strutting to “The Stripper.” She does remove a few clothing items during the tease. There’s plenty of prop comedy to make it more bawdy than seductive. The sketch ends with Carol breaking into a serious song.

This is the perfect DVD for anyone who watches The Carol Burnett Show highlight series on MeTV. This collection represents how Carol captivated the world. How this plucky girl conquered Broadway and eventually primetime TV. This is vital viewing for fans. The fact that you can find this new on various websites for under $10 makes it the perfect gift for the Carol Burnett fan in your life.

The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The specials were all shot on video so there’s a little fuzziness. The colors do pop for both the musical and special. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono.

Introductions from Carol are on all three segments. She does a fine job giving background and impact.

Time Life presents Carol +2. Starring: Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, Zero Mostel and Ken Berry. Boxset Contents: 2 specials on 1 DVD. Released: May 17, 2016.

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