StarVista’s New Carol Burnett Show Box Set Will Have Viewers Cracking Up

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life

StarVista Entertainment has done it yet again. On Tuesday, April 15th, StarVista Entertainment will release the latest collection of episodes from The Carol Burnett Show in the form of The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups. This six-disc box set is one of the few box sets this year that has earned itself a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s best overall new box sets. From the episodes collected for this set, to the equally hilarious bonus material, to the video’s once again high quality footage and the packaging, so much was done right concerning this set. So much was done right in fact that there is simply not enough time or space to discuss every single positive aspect of the set. All of these factors and more make The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups a box set well worth purchasing for any fan of The Carol Burnett Show and more than worthy of a place on this critic’s list of the year’s best overall new box sets.

The primary reason for any fan of The Carol Burnett Show to pick up this latest compilation of episodes from Burnett’s landmark show is the episodes themselves. Each of the set’s seventeen total episodes is jam packed with hilarious jokes and gags, and enjoyable musical numbers. Make the deal even sweeter, StarVista Entertainment has once again given audiences the ability to choose not only given shows, but the separate segments within each show. While the jokes and gags have a certain edge about them, they are quite tame in comparison to the majority of what’s out there today. Their edge proves that comedy can still be funny even in the 21st century without being overtly blue. One of the prime examples of this comes in the bonus skit, “The Oldest Man: Firefighter.” This skit sees Tim Conway playing his familiar “Old Man” character once again. This time the old man is a firefighter dispatched to stop a fire at the home of Korman’s unnamed character. The physical comedy and the jokes shared throughout the skit will leave any viewer laughing so hard that they cry. It certainly did that with this critic. Bonus skit or not, it shows just why The Carol Burnett Show is still such a beloved show even decades after it ended its original eleven-season run on CBS.

The largely family friendly humor shared throughout each episode in this latest box set is just part of what makes the episodes the cornerstone of the set’s success. Audiences will enjoy just as much, the musical numbers included in each episode. The Carol Burnett Show was not the first, nor the last to incorporate musical numbers into its overall structure. The Smothers Brothers—Tom and Dick—incorporated musical numbers into their show in the late 1960s as did Sonny and Cher in their variety programs—The Sonny & Cher Show and The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. This then raises the question what would make the musical numbers in The Carol Burnett Show so enjoyable. The answer to that is the same answer to what made the musical numbers in the other variety shows so enjoyable. Unlike a show such as Saturday Night Live, The Carol Burnett Show and its fellow variety shows didn’t stick just to pushing the most current radio hits of the day. The radio hits were there. But they weren’t all that got the focus. So simply put, the musical numbers were so fun because they weren’t part of the massive marketing machine that today’s talk shows are. The musical numbers included in The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups sees the likes of And y Griffith (The Andy Griffith Show, No Time For Sergeants, Matlock) Gloria Swanson, Ruth Buzzi and more singing songs that are just as enjoyable today as they were decades ago. Those songs include: ‘Just Squeeze Me/Oh, You Beautiful Doll’, ‘Turn Your Radio On’ and ‘I’ve Been Around/A New-Fangled Tango.’ Those songs and all of the others included in each show serve to add even more enjoyment for viewers of all ages as they make their way through all six of the set’s discs.

The comedy and the musical numbers included in each of the seventeen total episodes on this set make for so much enjoyment. Making things even better for viewers is the fact that StarVista Entertainment has once again given viewers the option to choose not just from the episodes on each disc, but also to choose from specific skits and musical numbers within each episode. This option means that viewers will once again not have to sit through the entire episodes in order to their favorite segment in each episode. That in itself could be argued a bonus feature separate from the bonus features which will be discussed later. It is the finishing touch that makes the episodes included in this set such a joy to watch.

The episodes included in The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crackups are the foundation of the success of the set in question. The bonus features included in the set make that foundation even more solid for audiences. This time out, StarVista has included as bonus material, special separate looks at the impact of both Tim Conway and Harvey Korman on The Carol Burnett Shows. Those examinations include footage of other classic Carol Burnett Show skits that really exhibit their talents both by themselves and together. Among the most memorable of those skits are “The Dentist” and Conway’s now famed “Elephant Skit” from The Family. It’s too bad that neither of those skits was included in this set in their entirety. That’s because of their level of hilarity. It was so funny to learn that in “The Dentist”, Tim Conway made Harvey Korman laugh so hard that he wet himself. And the bonus discussion on “The Peeping Tom” is definitely not for children, ironically enough. Carol and company discuss the comedy in guest star Dick Van Dyke and Tim Conway switching places in the skit and how Carol used a body suit with fake breasts to flash the peeper. Yes, that is what she did. And she shows the body suit, too. Again, it is not for children. It’s one of the rare moments that is not kid friendly. The other bonus material included in this box set is relatively safe for all viewers. And it is sure to have anyone watching laughing just as hard as ever.

Having discussed the role of the episodes themselves and the bonus features in The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups, there is one last part of the set to examine in the set’s success. That last factor is its packaging. StarVista Entertainment has once again wisely packaged its set, placing each of the six discs on either side of three separate “plates” inside the box. Bizarrely enough, there is actually a fourth plate, which has been left empty. Perhaps this is only the case with review copies. But it was very much the case with previous Carol Burnett Show box sets, too. So it is definitely a head scratcher of sorts. That aside, the fact that StarVista has maintained that high standard of packaging, protecting the discs is one more reason the company is quite deserving of its share of applause. It is the last touch on a set that is more than worth the purchase for any viewer whether new to The Carol Burnett Show or not.

The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Crack Ups will be available Tuesday, April 15th. It can be pre-ordered now via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Carol-Burnett-Show-Carols-Crack-Up/dp/B00HXWV2JQ/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1396874564&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=The+Carol+Burnett+Show+Carol%27s+Crack+Ups. More information on this and other Carol Burnett Show DVD sets is available online at http://timelife.com and http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Eagle Rock’s New Doors Documentary A Whole New Look At A Legendary Band

Courtesy:  Eagle Rock Entertainment

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment

Eagle Rock Entertainment has released a number of pieces centered on The Doors in recent year.  Between the likes of Mr. Mojo Risin’ to Live at The Hollywood Bowl to this most recent release, Eagle Rock has painted a fully vivid picture of just what continues to make this band beloved by fans of all ages decades after the band’s final performance. R-Evolution is another special addition to Eagle Rock’s growing catalogue of recordings and documentaries from The Doors for a number of reasons.  The primary reason for its success is that it examines the band from an angle which it has never done so before.  That angle is how the band evolved over time in the public spotlight of television. Audiences get to see the band performing its hits on the likes of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Jonathan Winters Show, and so many others.  These performances offer a whole new glimpse into the band.  Making this latest release even more enjoyable is its compliment of bonus features.  Included with both the DVD and Blu-ray presentation of R-Evolution are: an extra near hour-long documentary as well as a bonus live performance of ‘Break On Through (To The Other Side).  That’s not all that fans get, either from the included bonus.  The real highlight of the bonus features will be discussed at more length later.  The last aspect of Eagle Rock’s latest in its ongoing tribute to The Doors that makes it so worthwhile for fans of this groundbreaking band is that it will be available in both a standard and deluxe edition when it is released later this month.  It’s the last part of what makes this latest release a must have for any true fan of The Doors.

The first aspect of R-Evolution that audiences will appreciate is the fact that it presents the band in a fashion like never before.  Eagle Rock has shown the band from a personal level in Mr. Mojo Risin’.  It has shown the band in its natural live setting in Live at the Hollywood Bowl.  Now, fans of this groundbreaking band see the band grow through the use of television in this release.  Knowing the band’s reputation—and especially that of its equally legendary front man Jim Morrison—it’s kind of odd to see Morrison and his band mates dressed so prim and proper early on in its performance on Shebang.  Here was a band that was the antithesis of bands like The Beatles dressed almost like John, Paul, George, and Ringo.  The change in the band is obvious as the years pass.  It’s especially interesting to see the remaining band members perform in the post-Morrison years.  It’s something that audiences can only appreciate by seeing for themselves.  It should be noted on the side that there is some brief nudity in the main presentation.  So viewers should use their discretion in viewing it.

The performances themselves that have been culled for this musical documentary are of course the foundation of its success.  They aren’t however the only part of its success.  Making this latest release even more of a joy for fans of The Doors is the extensive bonus features included as part of the whole.  Audiences are treated to a bonus live performance of ‘Break On Through (To The Other Side)’ as part of the collective bonuses.  Also included as a bonus is a near hour-long documentary on The Doors titled ‘Break Through The Lens.’  This documentary adds more depth to the songs and performances included in the main feature. It also serves to expand on the Doors documentaries already released by Eagle Rock Entertainment in recent years.  As nice as these additions are, the real gem of R-Evolution’s bonuses is the picture-in-picture commentary. The option of having PIP allows viewers to take in the main feature all while taking in the remaining Doors members’ thoughts on the recordings.  It knocks down two obstacles at one time.  For that addition, those behind R-Evolution are to be highly commended.

Those behind R-Evolution are to be commended for making available PIP commentary.  They are just as worthy of praise for the last factor in this presentation’s success.  That factor is the availability of R-Evolution in both standard edition and deluxe edition.  R-Evolution has been made available both in standard edition and expanded deluxe edition on both Blu-ray and DVD.  The deluxe edition comes complete with a bonus forty-page booklet loaded with trivia on the band, photos, lyrics and so much more.  This collection of extras is well worth the extra cost for any true blooded Doors fan.  Regardless of whether one picks up the standard or deluxe edition of R-Evolution, there is no denying that this upcoming musical documentary is quite the way for Eagle Rock Entertainment to kick off 2014.  More information on this and other releases from Eagle Rock Entertainment is available online at http://www.eaglerockent.com and http://www.facebook.com/EagleRockEnt.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

New Carol Burnett Set One Of 2012’s Best Box Sets

Courtesy: Timelife/Star Vista

Television today is at a critical point.  Regardless of one’s server, a single trip through the channels shows the dominance of very specific styles of shows.  It shows increasingly that the last bastion of family friendly programming is indeed PBS and its digital sister stations.  Politics aside, that speaks volumes.  So what’s a person to do in the search for something family friendly other than just PBS?  The answer:  The Carol Burnett Show.  Thanks to Timelife and Star Vista, this classic family friendly variety show is available once more for the entire family.

The Carol Burnett show and its namesake were groundbreakers in every sense of the word.  Burnett herself was the first female to host a variety show.  And the show itself can and should be credited as an influence for Saturday Night Live, which didn’t even air until years after The Carol Burnett Show was well into its prime.  And in comparison to shows such as The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour—both of which ran around the same time as The Carol Burnett Show–, it was a groundbreaker in that it went in a somewhat different direction than those shows.  Ironically, as audiences will see, Burnett actually had the Smothers Brothers on her show during its run.  And that episode is one of many highlights of the complete twenty-two disc retrospective box set released by Timelife and Star Vista.

The Smothers Brothers’ appearance is only one of so many highlights from The Carol Burnett Show.  What really makes The Carol Burnett Show stand out is its skits.  It’s obvious the influence that these skits had on Lorne Michaels and all involved with Saturday Night Live.  And the way that Burnett’s show mixed its musical performances and skits is a near identical mirror to the format that SNL has used ever since its inception years after The Carol Burnett Show hit the airwaves.  There was more influence there than from say, The Smothers Brothers or even Sonny and Cher.  Audiences will see that throughout The Carol Burnett Show:  The Ultimate Collection.  Staying on the topic of the whole box set, audiences will be pleased to go through each separate box included in this new complete set.  The first noticeable factor of each set is that within each box, the discs each get their own spot on an inserted “leaf.”  Placing the discs in this fashion not only is ergonomically smart, but it also protects the discs from scratching, thus increasing their longevity.  This is a very smart packaging manner.  This is just the beginning of the packaging’s positives.  Another positive to the packaging is the inclusion of a booklet in each box.  The booklet in question includes outlines of each episode along with some added history specific to each history.  This adds even more enjoyment to the overall viewing experience.  On top of the boxes is an even larger commemorative collector’s booklet that includes even more history behind the show, and even quotes from the cast.  One of the most interesting pieces of extra history is centered on Burnett’s co-stars, Harvey Korman and Tim Conway.  It is noted in the extra booklet that Korman couldn’t look at Conway without breaking out in total laughter once Conway did certain things.  Audiences will see that for themselves throughout certain episodes of the show, too.

The laughs provided by Korman, Conway, and the rest of the cast are again just another tiny piece of the overall puzzle that makes The Carol Burnett Show: The Ultimate Collection a must have for any classic television fan.  Bringing things full guest spots from the likes of The Smothers Brothers, Betty White, Joan Rivers, Telley Savalas, and so many more make for so many more laughs.  They’re included in their own skits, as well as episodes of the show’s most beloved and longest running skit, “The Family.”  Speaking of “The Family”, how many variety shows have managed to take its skits and turn them into such a success as that.  Sure, Saturday Night Live has taken its skits and tried to make them into movies.  But save perhaps for Wayne’s World, none of its other skits have ever really had any true success.  Mama’s Family by comparison was a huge hit throughout its run on television.

The guest stars and the overall set packaging of The Carol Burnett Show: The Ultimate Collection are impressive to say the least.  The quality of the footage is just as impressive.  Timelife and Star Vista make note on each disc that the footage may contain some discrepancies.  But the reality, it’s amazing how well the footage has stood the test of time.  And that it looks as good as it does so many years after the show’s end will create that same sense of nostalgia that an old jazz vinyl will create.  It will take anyone who remembers the show back to another time; a better time.  And it will show newer audiences everything that was at one time right with television.  It’s something which so many of today’s television execs should revisit as it shows that television can be funny and family friendly, even in the twenty-first century.

So much more could be said of The Carol Burnett Show: The Ultimate Collection.  Doing so would take up far more space than is possible.  Audiences will see for themselves everything that this set has in store when they pick it up for themselves.  Fans of this legendary show can purchase it online now via Timelife’s online store, http://timelife.com/products/the-carol-burnett-show-the-ultimate-collection

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

New Steve Martin Box Set Is One Wild And Crazy Retrospective

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory has proven time and again throughout 2012 why it is one of the leaders in home entertainment.  With releases of so many classic Nicktoons and even the entire original G.I. Joe series alongside the release of the horror classic, They Live, and so many great music releases, one can only wonder what Shout! Factory will do next to top itself.  What to do?  What to do?  How about a triple disc DVD box set profiling the early career of entertainment legend Steve Martin?  Bingo!

“Steve Martin:  The TV Stuff” is the latest release from Shout! Factory’s stable of top notch releases.  Anyone who is a fan of this veteran comedian/actor/musician/author (heck, just call him a jack of all trades), will find this to be an invaluable addition to their own home library.  The triple-disc set follows Martin’s career from 1978 – 2005.  While audiences won’t find much in the way of his work on Saturday Night Live, they will love seeing his 1978 stand-up act taken from HBO archives.  This nearly hour-long performance is funny.  There’s no arguing that.  But audiences should also know that it isn’t meant for younger audiences due to language and other content.  That aside, it’s still a great piece of nostalgia for any comedy fan or fan of Martin himself.  Some of the best moments in this performance include his banjo playing and his magic (yes, magic) act.  On a similar note, audiences will really enjoy the commentary included on each disc. 

The commentary included on this first disc of the set includes some history from Martin himself.  He explains how he eventually came to work in front of the camera versus behind it.  He explains that he originally wanted to be a magician when he was growing up.  That would account for the addition of the little magic act in his original 1978 stand up set.  He also adds some interesting other tidbits such as how he started his early television career writing for very famous television shows including:  The Smothers Brothers, Sonny & Cher, and The Cher Show.  There’s even mention of where is now famed bit with the fake arrow through the head came from.  Each disc contains its own commentary from Martin.  This is just a tiny sample of what audiences can expect.  And as this reviewer has pointed out so many times before, factors such as this are more proof of the importance of bonus features on DVD’s and blu-rays.  This is one of those cases where the bonus commentary adds so much more to the entire viewing experience.  So kudos once more to Shout! Factory for this inclusion.

His 1978 HBO stand-up act and the commentary are just a couple elements that make this box set enjoyable for any Steve Martin fan.  Also included in the set are his NBC television specials.  Those specials include many of the skits from throughout the years that he’s done.  Fans will love the likes of “Turtle Boy.”  And hearing country legend Johnny cash discussing astrophysics with Steve in his Steve Martin Variety Show skit is hilarious.  There are even appearances by Martin’s SNL cast mates in one of his later TV specials. 

“Steve Martin:  The TV Stuff” may only be comprised of three discs.  But in those three discs, Shout! Factory has managed to compile so much footage from Martin’s career.  Whether it be the skits, the interviews, the standup material, or even the bonus commentary by Martin, this triple-disc set is a wonderful retrospective on his career on the small screen.  The new set will be available in stores and online tomorrow.  It can be ordered direct via Shout! Factory’s website at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com.

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.