DVD Review: The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes (Ultimate Collection)



While reruns of The Carol Burnett Show have been on TV since the show ended its run after the spring of 1978. The reruns were half hour versions of the hour long variety shows. The condensed versions of the show focused on the the sketches with recurring characters. The musical and dancer numbers were snipped. The “Best of” featured the final six of the 11 season run. There would be a generation that would only think of Lyle Waggoner as the star of Wonder Woman. The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Epiosdes – Ultimate Collection contains 45 complete episodes from those early years when Carol, her casts and guests put on show for all.

Carol had been popular on Broadway, guest starring on sitcoms and part of Gary Moore’s variety show. She knew what to do when finally given her chance to host in 1967. She lined up a proper small group of actors as regular comic support. Harvey Korman had a long career as guest actors on sitcoms so he knew how to play a variety of roles at different levels. Vicki Lawrence was “discovered” when she sent Carol a newspaper article that said she looked like a younger Carol. This was good timing since Carol needed an actress to be her sister in a recurring sketch planned for the show. Lyle Waggoner was cast for his fine announcing voice and hunky looks. Most of the male roles went to Harvey and Lyle didn’t seem too frustrated. Before the show is biggest feat was being runner up to Adam West for Batman. They were a tight unit that could make any sketch work with the slight addition of a guest star or two. Carol had plenty of people she worked with over the decade including Lucille Ball ready to play on her big set (that would eventually become the studio for The Price Is Right). While Tim Conway didn’t become a regular cast member until Lyle departed, he was such a regular guest star that he seems always in the credits.

What made The Carol Burnett Show so inviting to watch was Carol. She comes out at the start of each show wearing a dazzling Bob Mackie gown yet ready to take questions for the audiences. There’s casual and friendly way with Carol that puts everyone at ease. She also uses the time to set up the guest stars. People featured on this collection include Bing Crosby, Bob Newhart, Chita Rivera, Paul Lynde, Jim Nabors, Don Rickles, Jonathon Winters, Barbara Feldon, Joan Rivers, Sonny & Cher. Plus lots of Tim Conway. In a weird wonderful world, she brought together George Carlin and Lucille Ball in 1969. Each show ends with a musical finale featuring a medley of songs and plenty of dancing.

While these shows lingered in the vault for nearly 50 years, they remain vibrant and fun. By having the complete show, fans can refresh themselves with the entire experience instead of merely getting a few of the comedy sketches. The musical numbers are things we no longer experience on TV that’s averse to the variety show format. The Carol Burnett Show: Lost Episodes – Ultimate Collection needs to find its way onto your DVD shelf or at least be a gift for mom. If you crave a good sampler, The Carol Burnett Show: Lost Episodes – Classic Carol is 14 episodes on 6 DVDs. Guests include Ray Charles, Cass Elliot, Robert Goulet and Lucille Ball.

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.

A Writers’ Roundtable: A Conversation with The Carol Burnett Show’s Writers (32:49) has four writers mention they never sat around a table. They had separate offices. One of the showrunners didn’t like having the writers talking to each other. They discuss writing for the various talent.

Edward Villella (57:11) ballet dancer is an enthralling journey through his life as a dancer. He also remembers his time on the show.

Randy Doney (18:13) was a dancer who started with Carol on The Gary Moore Show. She had him on for all 11 seasons.

The Garry Moore Show episode (25:23) featuring the “Accidents” sketch from June 27, 1961.

The Garry Moore Show episode (25:24) featuring the “Princess of Morovia” sketch from October 10, 1961.

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.

The Garry Moore Show (25:01) from May 23, 1961. Carol was part of the cast. The guests include Mel Torme and Jackie Mason.

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.

Fabulous Firsts (29:19) focuses on when Carol and cast broke in new characters, guest stars and her Tarzan yell.

On the Spot (20:04) addresses why Carol opened the show by taking questions from the audience. Bob Mackie talks about having to come up with gown for just the segment.

Uncut Q & A (9:54) from the first episode. This is just the camera on Carol.

A Backstage Tour: Carol and Company Return to Studio 33 (19:41) has Carol, Lyle, Tim and Vicki return to the place they called home for 11 seasons. They performed the show twice in a day. Sometimes they’d use the dress rehearsal footage if the audience cracked up the breakdowns.

The Dentist (9:36) has Tim Conway getting to drill on his first patient (Harvey Korman).

Morton of the Movies (14:54) has Carol discover that her romantic date (Alan Alda) ends with the same lines being used in a movie being aired on TV.

Outtakes (3:26) includes Carol’s saggy striptease, Paul Lynde losing it and a tongue twisted Mountie.

Opening Number from Julie and Carol at Lincoln Center (8:41) starts with Carol explaining how she did her own hair highlighting before the special. The two have great chemistry as they break into song after a fine catty moment.

Interviews with Carol Burnett, Don Rickles, Julie Andrews, Bill Hader, Gloria Loring, Queen Latifah, Jack Jones, Carol Channing, Vikki Carr, Alan Alda, Burt Reynolds, Leslie Ann Warren and Jim Nabors. Those that appeared on the show talk about its impact on their career.

Once Upon a Mattress (90:56) is the CBS color TV-movie version of Carol’s big Broadway show based on “The Princess and the Pea.” She’s Princess Winnifred the Woebegone, Ken Berry as Prince Dauntless, Jane White as Queen Aggravain, Bernadette Peters as Lady Larken, and Jack Gilford reprising his stage role as King Sextimus. This originally aired on December 12, 1972.

Carol + 2 (55:39) was a TV special starring Carol, Lucille Ball and Zero Mostel from March 22, 1966. This was the test for Carol getting her own show.

Carol Burnett on the Origins of the Charwoman (11:29) features the first appearance of the “Charwoman” character as part of the Carol & Company special from 1963.

The Golden Age of the Variety Show (24:15) talks about how there were dozens of variety shows in the ’70s. Many of Carol’s dancers used time off to dance on other variety shows. Carol enjoyed being able to be so many different characters each week. Lot of recent stars discuss how the show impacted them.

Messages to Carol (6:13) has the stars interviewed for the boxset writing notes to Carol in an autograph book. Carol’s quite touched.

Interviews feature Alan Alda, Carol Burnett, Randy Doney,Tina Fey, Bill Hader, Julie Andrews, George Chakiris, Shirley Jones, Buz Kohan, Gloria Loring, Marty Ingels, Arnie Kogan, Chita Rivera & Saul Turteltaub

Outtakes (5:03) has Carol bust herself up with an accidental fart joke along with other flubs. Harvey was not a one take wonder.

A Writers’ Roundtable: A Conversation with The Carol Burnett Show’s Writers, Part 2 (39:25) continues the conversation. They talk about the genius of Bob Mackie.

Time Life presents The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes – Ultimate Edition. Starring: Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner. Boxset Contents: 45 Episodes on 22 DVDs. Released: August 30, 2016.

Time Life presents The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes – Classic Carol. Starring: Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner. Boxset Contents: 14 Episodes on 6 DVDs. Released: October 4, 2016.

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