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.
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