During its eleven year run from 1967-78 on CBS, The Carol Burnett Show racked up an impressive 25 Emmys, eight Golden Globes, and three People’s Choice Awards. Even now, thirty-five years after the series went off the air, and with variety shows having been replaced by reality television, Carol Burnett remains a beloved figure, and many of her sketches are regarded as among the funniest moments in television history.
However, some of the series most memorable moments came whenever Carol and her cast mates just couldn’t stay in character, overcome by laughter. The recently released six-DVD collection The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups offers several of those moments, each of its seventeen uproarious episodes contains at least one instance when a cast member succumbed to the giggles. As any fan of the series knows, Tim Conway seemed to make it his life’s mission to make his co-workers crack up, and often, Harvey Korman was his helpless target.
Like Time-Life’s other recent Carol Burnett Show releases, the episodes in Carol’s Crack Ups are offered in their original, unedited, hour-long format. If you’ve only ever seen these shows in syndication, seeing them unedited, complete with Carol’s question and answer sessions from the audience, the occasionally Kitschy musical performances—Andy Griffith sings a spiritual, “Turn Your Radio On,” during his guest spot, and Gloria Swanson does a surprisingly active tango during hers—are a joy to watch. While it’s true that a few of the skits haven’t aged to well, every time I watch The Carol Burnett Show, I can’t help but feel like Carol, Harvey Korman, Lyle Waggoner, Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway, and for the final two seasons, Dick Van Dyke, built a familial like relationship. They seemed so comfortable together; they made the comedy look easy.
Never particularly cutting edge, Carol and friends made audiences laugh over the mundane; everyday things someone out there in TV Land could relate to: soap operas, pop culture, spoofs, feminism, etc. Burnett’s love for classic movies shines through in skit after skit, and the famous “Family” sketches, with Carol as Eunice, Harvey Korman as her husband Ed, and Vicki Lawrence as “Mama” would later give birth to the long running series, Mama’s Family. As crazy and loud as the Harper/Higgins family was, most viewers understood where they coming from.
As a huge fan of The Carol Burnett Show, it’s wonderful to see seventeen more episodes available on DVD. Here’s hoping Time-Life continues to release more sets, and we’ll end up getting most if not all of the series’ 287 episodes. Crack Ups largely consists of episodes from seasons six and seven (which I think featured some of the strongest shows), and seasons ten (when Dick Van Dyke joined the fun), and eleven (when Harvey Korman and Tim Conway overlapped as regular cast members).
StarVista’s The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups consists of the following episodes and extras spread over six discs:
- Show # 605 (September 27, 1972 — Andy Griffith, Helen Reddy) “Turn Your Radio On” musical number with Andy Griffith; “The Movie Fan” sketch; “I Am Woman” Helen Reddy performance; “The Prison Visit” sketch; “The Strine Lesson” comedy song with Carol and Helen Reddy; “Rebecky” movie parody; “The Chain Of Life” musical number with Andy Griffith, Helen Reddy and cast.
- Show #1107 (October 22, 1977— Family Show: Dick Van Dyke) “The Peeping Tom” sketch; “No-Frills Gas” sketch; “Lights Out” sketch; “Love on a Trapeze” sketch; “Magazine” musical number.
- Show #615 (January 6, 1973 —Tim Conway, Jack Cassidy) “World’s Oldest Orphan” sketch with Harvey, Carol and Tim Conway; “Gesticulate” musical number with Jack Cassidy; “The New Angel” sketch with Harvey and Tim Conway; “The Story of a Star” movie parody with cast and Jack Cassidy.
- Sketch: “As the Stomach Turns,” with Valerie Harper and Tim Conway (from show #620)
- Featurette: “Almost Live” Recollections from Carol, Tim, Vicki, Lyle, costume designer Bob Mackie and numerous show guest stars about the goings on behind-the-scenes.
- Featurette: “Breaking Up Is Hard . . . Not to Do” The cast recounts some unscripted moments.
- Show #603 (November 29, 1974 — Carl Reiner, Melba Moore) “Let’s Make a Bargain” sketch with Carol and Carl Reiner; “You’ve Got A Friend” musical number with Melba Moore; “Terminal Hospital” sketch with Carl Reiner, Melba Moore and cast; “The Writer #1” sketch with Carl Reiner, Carol and Harvey; “Have A Little Talk With Myself” musical number with Melba Moore and Carol; “The Plot To Hurt Hitler” sketch with Carl Reiner and cast; “Rip-Off” musical number with cast, Melba Moore and Carl Reiner.
- Show #705 (September 29, 1973 — Gloria Swanson) “Carol and Sis: Dinner Invitation” sketch; “I’ve Been Around/New Fangled Tango” musical number with Gloria Swanson; “The Old Folks: The Golf Tournament” sketch; “Tonight at Eight/If Mama Was Married” musical number; “The Guilty Man” sketch; “Charwoman: Silents Is Golden” sketch with Gloria Swanson and cast.
- Show #701 (September 22, 1973 —Tim Conway, Charo) “Unisex Salon” sketch with Tim Conway, Carol and Vicki; “Midnight Guitar” musical number with Charo; “Boring Speech” sketch with Tim Conway, Vicki and Lyle; “Interview with Chiquita” sketch with Charo, Tim Conway and Carol; “A Day in the Life of an American Housewife” sketch with Tim Conway, Carol and Lyle; “Scorpio” musical number with The Campbellock Dancers (The Lockers); “As Long As He Needs Me” sketch; “Luck Be a Lady” musical number with Charo and cast.
- Sketch: “Open Wider Please,” with Carol and George Carlin (from show #1122).
- Sketch: “Two Man Sub” (from show #719).
- Sketch: “The Interrogator” (from show #720)
- Featurette: “Tim Conway: Cracker Upper In Chief” Tim was often the cause of a lot of crack ups, according to the cast.
- Interview: Tim Conway.
- Show #712 (December 15, 1973 — Ruth Buzzi, Richard Crenna) “Adam and Eve 12” sketch with Richard Crenna and Carol; “Just Squeeze Me/Oh, You Beautiful Doll” musical number with Ruth Buzzi; “Celebrities and Peasants” sketch with Ruth Buzzi, Carol and Lyle; “Salute to Bad Girls” parodies with Ruth Buzzi, Richard Crenna and cast; “Raised to Be Rotten” parody with Ruth Buzzi, Richard Crenna, Carol and Harvey; “Mimeo” musical number with Ruth Buzzi and cast.
- Show #711 (December 1, 1973 — Family Show) “TV Commericals” parodies; “The Models” sketch; “The Shape of Things” musical number with Carol; “Carol and Sis” sketch; “Ships In The Night” musical number with Vicki; “Back Alley” sketch; “Those Were The Days” musical number with cast.
- Show #815 (January 11, 1975 –- Tim Conway) “Beniha-ha” sketch with Tim Conway, Dick Van Dyke and Harvey; “The Old Folks: X-Rated Movie” sketch; “All Of Me” musical number with Carol; “The Boxerette” sketch with Tim Conway, Carol, Harvey and Vicki; “Wild Party” musical number with The Ernie Flatt Dancers; “The Witness” sketch with Dick Van Dyke and cast; “The Other Secretary” sketch; “Mack The Black” musical number with Tim Conway, Vicki, Carol and Harvey.
- Sketch: “The Oldest Man: Fireman” with Tim and Harvey (from show #620).
- Sketch: “Group Therapy” with cast, James Garner and Ken Berry (from show #1122).
- Featurette: “We Love You, Harvey.” A tribute to the late funnyman.
- Featurette: “Tim on the Street” More Conway!
- Show #617 (January 27, 1973 –-Tim Conway, Kaye Ballard) Service Station Attendant” sketch with Tim Conway and Harvey; “Go in the Best of Health” musical number with Kaye Ballard and Carol; “The Luncheon” sketch with Kaye Ballard, Carol and Vicki; “The Dater’s Game” parody with Tim Conway, Kaye Ballard and cast; “Salute to the Palace” musical number with Kay Ballard, Tim Conway and cast.
- Show #1115 (January 8, 1978 – Roddy McDowall, Ken Berry) Tacky Lady” sketch; “The Family: Honorary Degree” sketch with Roddy McDowall, Carol and Vicki; “Pool Fools” sketch with Ken Berry and Tim; “A Romantic Moment” sketch with Roddy McDowall and Carol; “High Hat” musical number with Ken Berry, Roddy McDowall and cast.
- Show #1014 (December 18, 1976 – Dick Van Dyke) “The Interrogator” sketch; “My Coloring Book” musical number with Dick Van Dyke and Carol; “Two Lonely People” sketch with Dick Van Dyke and Carol; “Little Miss Showbiz” musical parody with Dick Van Dyke and cast.
- Show #1103 (October 1, 1977 – Steve Lawrence) “Danny Draft” sketch with Steve Lawrence, Carol and Tim; “Every Time I Sing A Love Song/I Could Never Really Sing” musical number with Steve Lawrence and Dick; “TV Holdouts” sketches with Steve Lawrence and cast; “Fran Sancisco” movie parody with Steve Lawrence and cast.
- Show #1105 (October 8, 1977 – Family Show) “Company Man” sketch with Carol and Dick; “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like That Anymore” musical number; “Lucky Stiff” sketch with Carol, Tim and Dick; “Goodbye at the Airport” sketch; “Till Death Do Us Part” sketch with Carol and Tim; “Once in Love with Amy” musical number with Dick.
- Show #619 (February 10, 1973 – John Byner, Petula Clark) “I Can’t Remember (How It Was Before)” musical number with Petula Clark; “Comedy Spot” sketch with John Byner; “The Old Folks: The Garage Sale” sketch with Carol and Harvey; “TV Commercials” parodies with Carol, Vicki, Lyle and Petula Clark; “Alice Portnoy: The Kidnappers” sketch with Carol, Harvey and John Byner; “Modern Artist” sketch with Carol and Harvey; “The Firing of Donald Duck” sketch with Harvey, Lyle and John Byner; “Turn Around/God Bless the Child” musical number with Petula Clark and Carol.
- Show #723 (March 23, 1974 – John Byner, Francine Beers) “The Diner” sketch with Carol, Harvey and Lyle; “Comedy Spot” sketche with Carol and John Byner; “Carol and Sis: The Neighbor” sketch with Carol, Vicki and Francine Beers; “Mama’s Gonna Make It All Better” musical number with Vicki; “Humanoids” sketch with Carol, Harvey, Vicki and John Byner; “The Annual Rural Music Awards Show” musical number with John Byner and cast.
- Show #1011 (December 4, 1976 – Alan King) “Sleep No More My Lady” sketch with Carol and Tim; “You Say The Nicest Things” musical number with Carol and Alan King; “The Session” sketch with Carol and Alan King; “Salute To Warner Bros.” parody with Alan King and cast; “Busby Berkeley Musical” musical number with Alan King and cast.
Time-Life/StarVista includes a warning on the discs about the inherent audio-visual flaws, but in truth, the transfers look pretty good. While it’s obvious that no real remastering has been done, and colors are a bit faded, only a few age related scratches and specks appear across the discs.
The simple mono track is fine; typical of 1970’s television it’s not dynamic, but does the job. No subtitles are provided.
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