A while ago, Mom said, “Hey! Let’s get the Carol Burnett show. That could be fun.” So, I tried to locate it on Netflix. Unfortunately, I only succeeded in ordering a “Reunion of the Cast” type of special, which featured cast members reminiscing, and short clips of what they were discussing.
We didn’t get a good feel for it, at all.
I checked again, to see if I’d missed something, or maybe Netflix had added the full-length show episodes. I found them! They are said to be Carol Burnett’s picks, and so they come in random order, but they are full episodes.
A friend gave me an idea to watch 2 episodes and then do a report of some sort here on my blog. Hi, friend!
Here is my report.
First of all, for those of you as clueless as I am about the ’70’s, Carol Burnett and the Carol Burnett show, here are the basics!
Carol Burnett was born in 1933.
The show ran from 1967-1978. The 2 episodes I watched were aired in 1976 (so, near the end of the show’s running.). (I wanted to watch 2 episodes from different seasons, but those were the first two that came up first in the first disc…)
For comparison to other hosted variety TV shows:
Monty Python’s Flying Circus ran from 1969-1974.
Saturday Night Live ran from 1975-now.
A Bit of Fry and Laurie ran from 1987-1995.
The episodes I watched started with an intro or a Q&A, then moved right on into a sketch. There were (depending on the episode) multiple sketches, then a song, then a sketch, then a finishing song and dance. Then Carol Burnett ended with a closing ditty, and as credits roll the guest signed the guest book proffered by Ms. Burnett, and the cast members then greet each other and dance a little Can-can. As the credits continue to roll, a voice says, “The preceding program was recorded in front of a live audience. — (and in one episode. “X song was prerecorded”) — This is your announcer speaking.”
According to IMDB, Carol Burnett’s program was the “last truly successful major network variety show to date.”
Now for some of my thoughts on the 2 episodes I watched of the Carol Burnett Show:
I liked how she didn’t use death as a gimmick – where there was a chance for a frustrated boss to jump out of the window, he was actually just trying to use the ledge to get back to his office; when a mistreated patient says, “The only way (you’ll film this operation) is over my dead body”, they don’t kill him, they instead get the idea to film the operation from overhead. Differed from some British comedies such as “A Bit of Fry and Laurie” and “Monty Python.” Sometimes I’m a bit too sensitive to enjoy a joke if it involves death.
The fashion in the audience was interesting to see. If anyone had glasses, they were 2-tone and large, roughly tear-dropped in shape – everybody had the same style. One girl had a pinky purple sweater, with a darker pink-purple shade skirt, with a lighter pink-purple shade scarf, topped with pink glasses. Quite the fashion statement. I find it fascinatingly weird how styles of clothing change without there even being an obvious driving force.
Some years back, I sat through an agonizing 4 hours to watch the “classic” Gone With the Wind. In one of the episodes was her (apparently FAMOUS) sketch “Went with the Wind”, which parodies “Gone with the Wind”. So, unfortunately because I found Gone with the Wind to be so utterly boring, and deplorable, even though I went through the work to be educated in one of the classics for future reference, I couldn’t remember enough to really follow the parody. What I could follow I found clever, what I couldn’t follow, I found funny!
I thought it was really cool and ‘transparent’ how the announcer said whether it was prerecorded or not, and made it blatantly obvious who he was — ‘Your announcer speaking!”
I did enjoy these episodes, though I wouldn’t list them as my favorite. Merely because I don’t like song and dance numbers. It isn’t her fault -she did a terrific job-, I just have always not really enjoyed song and dance productions. Maybe I’m too modern, maybe it’s normal, but I just get bored with them.
But, I thought the sketches and (just) songs were enjoyable, and delightfully free of death, and innuendo.
I often couldn’t tell who was Carol Burnett and who was her co-star Vicki Lawrence. As I looked I thought “Okay, so that’s Ms. Burnett.” Then another lady would come in and I thought, “Wow! She is playing two parts.” Then I really became confused when it became apparent that these were live sketches. There is no excuse for my lack of being able to differentiate faces, but at least it was common. People thought they were look-alikes, like sisters. 🙂
My favorite part of the episode was the Q&A in the first episode. She actually answered questions, and always had a sense of humor (that I found quite funny) with it. She also seemed to me to be rather brave. She did a “Tarzan” call on request, in front of everybody. Her voice even cracked the first time she attempted it, but she tried again, full strength.
I know how hard it can be to stand on a stage, and give your best. One wants to crawl into a shell, and not risk too much. But it seems to me Ms. Burnett tried her best, and laughed if it didn’t go well, and refrained from what made her uncomfortable, which is probably some of what made the show so popular.
It was great to finally see some of the show in its entirety, and learn a bit more about who Carol Burnett is and what her show was all about! Thanks for the idea!
Have you ever watched any TV variety shows? What is your favorite?
Anything you would like to say about the Carol Burnett show, or Carol Burnett?