With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, and December bearing down, it’s natural to want some Christmas related entertainment to get you into the holiday spirit. If you’re like me, and the countless made-for-tv Christmas schmaltz fests don’t quite do it, a little Christmas cheer courtesy of Carol Burnett and the cast of her long running variety show, might be just the ticket. Released in October, The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Lost Christmas which has three specials that haven’t been seen on TV since the show ended its original run in 1978.
The first show aired in December 1967. While the entire episode isn’t centered on Christmas, it’s certainly featured. Guest stars include comedian Jonathan Winters, and Barbara Eden, then at the height of her I Dream of Jeannie fame. In the first sketch, Winters plays an absolutely crazy Santa showing off his new mechanical girl doll. Jonathan Winters was a comic genius, and watching him always makes me laugh. He even cracks Harvey up. If you’re a fan of his and haven’t seen this sketch, I highly recommend it. The “Carol and Sis” sketch involves a surprise party that gets rather strange. Barbara Eden performs a fun version of “Bend It,” while “Invisible Man” has Carol trying to deal with a family she can’t see. There’s a cameo at the end of the skit by Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) as Spock, and by the look of things, his appearance was a shock to Carol. In the final sketch, Carol appears as the charwoman character. She gets her spirit restored by the voices of children, while she’s cleaning up a playground. Breaking character, Carol sings, “I believed It All.”
Airing in December 1969, the second episode is more Christmas centric. Carol guests are former co-stars Gary Moore and Durward Kirby and old friend, Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.) Kirby and Moore are perfect as slick hucksters pushing Christmas toys to kids that are in no way age appropriate. The highpoint here is a Neil Simon penned courtroom sketch originally performed on Gary Moore’s show that is classic comedy of that era. The humor still holds up and features a surprise guest handling the stenography. The last half of the show features a lot of singing, including Harvey doing a hilarious Tom Jones impersonation, and an appearance by the Bob Mitchell Singing Boys singing, “Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?” with some help from Carol and Vicki.
Airing in December 1970, Durward Kirby is back. He is joined by Steve Lawrence and 16-year-old Julie Budd, singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Budd does a very nice job, and Lawrence’s renditions of “Let There Be Peace on Earth” and “One Day,” are beautiful. The episode isn’t as funny as you might expect though, because The Early, Early Show movie parody “Goldman’s Boy” featuring Steve Lawrence in a fat suit, doesn’t quite hit the mark.
Despite some minor lulls, Carol’s Lost Christmas is a wonderful addition to your holiday viewing in the weeks before Santa’s big day. The songs and skits aren’t too Christmasy (some aren’t at all), but there’s enough to get you in the mood without driving you nuts. Unfortunately, the episodes aren’t complete likely due to song rights issues, but that still doesn’t take away from the fun of The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Lost Christmas.
Presented in the 1.33:1 full frame, this standard definition transfer shows a slight fuzz throughout the image. However, considering that these episodes are more than forty-five years old, they look quite good.
The audio is presented in Dolby Digital mono. The levels are fine so that the audience applause and laughter doesn’t drown out the cast. Dialogue is clean and clear. The episodes are Closed Captioned.
There are no extras.
Movie title: The Carol Burnett Show (The Lost Christmas) (2017)
Director(s): Dave Powers, Clark Jones
Actor(s): Carol Burnett , Harvey Korman , Vicki Lawrence Jonathan Winters Durwood Kirby , Leonard Nimoy