Traditiooooooon. Tradition! Sorry, folks. This critic had a brief Fiddler on the Roof moment there. Why? That’s because this critic was thinking about the traditions in which people take part each year during the holiday season. One tradition in which so many people take part during the holiday season is the watching of the annual holiday specials on TV’s major networks. Those specials are wonderful in their own right. But they aren’t the only specials out there. Time Life Entertainment and Star Vista have released a new compilation from The Carol Burnett Show that more than deserves to be a part of any family’s annual holiday viewing tradition in The Carol Burnett Show: Christmas with Carol. Those that watched the sketches included here will enjoy them just as much as those that are new to the comedienne’s talents. Audiences will appreciate first and foremost that the episodes culled for this compilation are presented exactly as they were presented in their original broadcasts. They will also appreciate that in comparison to so much of today’s comedy, it is actually quite family friendly. Just as important to this compilation is the inclusion once more of a thorough episode guide included inside the box. All three of these aspects make this latest compilation more than deserving to be part of any family’s holiday viewing tradition.
The Carol Burnett Show: Christmas with Carol includes two classic holiday themed episodes from the show’s original run. While there are only two episodes, those two episodes are presented exactly as they were done in their original broadcasts. Nearly thirty years has passed since the first of the pair originally aired. And almost thirty-six years have passed since the latter of the pair originally aired. Needless to say that in watching both episodes included in this set, the classic footage has stood the test of time quite well. Of course, those charged with preserving it and restoring it where necessary have done their jobs expertly. So they too deserve a round of applause. The same can be said of the set’s bonus holiday sketches. That the footage still looks as wonderful as it did in its original broadcast will instill in some viewers a sense of nostalgia. For others, it will hopefully help to garner respect for one of television’s greatest programs.
The quality of the footage alone in the included shows and sketches goes a long way toward making this new holiday collection a joy for the whole family. The material in the shows helps it to go just as far. That’s because unlike so much of what’s out there today, the sketches included in the set are largely family friendly. Given, there is some material that is slightly edgy at best. But it’s nowhere near the level of the material in some of today’s sketch comedy shows. No names will be used here. A prime example would be Burnett’s sketch with Alan Alda (M.A.S.H.) , “Morton of the Movies.” Alda’s Morton is a department store Santa that falls in love with Burnett’s character. The catch is that Morton uses a bunch of movie quotes and character styles to make her fall for him. Her reaction to discovering this is everything that makes physical comedy so great. The way that her eyes bug out and her mouth drops open as she watches the lines that Morton just used being recited on television is classic in every sense. It’s the type of comedy that viewers of every age will appreciate and enjoy. ON the other end of the spectrum is a slightly edgier sketch with Burnett playing the beloved secretary, Mrs. Wiggins. Mrs. Wiggins is celebrating the holidays with her boss, Mt. Tudball. And the ditzy secretary ends up causing Mr. Tudball more trouble than he bargained for as a result. This is a moment that older audiences will appreciate more. It’s nowhere near the level of today’s comedy. But it at least has substance. That’s more than can be said for so much of what currently classifies as comedy. There is much more comedy included in the material collected for than what is listed here. Audiences will find their own favorite moments when they order the DVD for themselves as it is available now. Of course, the material included on this DVD isn’t the last commendable portion of the presentation. Audiences will also appreciate that Time Life and Star Vista have once again included a relatively thorough episode guide with the collection that is itself a bonus.
The episode guide included with this new DVD is its own bonus. So often, DVD compilations (both single and multi-disc sets) lack guides for viewers. This should be considered a cardinal sin. Time Life and Star Vista have thus done very good. Not only are the episodes outlined in the bonus guide, but thorough summaries of the set’s main sketches are included along with a handful of photo stills from different portions of the included episodes. The inclusion of the sketch summaries helps to set expectations before viewers even put the DVD into their DVD players. And the inclusion of photo stills helps to heighten those expectations. In turn, these two elements make the overall presentation of the DVD that much more enjoyable. These elements work together with the previously noted elements to make The Carol Burnett Show: Christmas with Carol a wonderful addition to any family’s holiday viewing tradition this and every holiday season. It is available now on DVD and can be ordered direct from Time Life Entertainment online at http://timelife.com/products/christmas-with-carol. More information on this and other releases from Time Life Entertainment and Star Vista 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.