Television today is largely anything but family friendly. As Peter and Lois Griffin joke in the opening to Seth McFarlane’s hit cartoon, Family Guy, “all you see is violence in movies and sex on TV.” While that line is meant entirely in a tongue-in-cheek manner, there’s a certain modicum of truth to it in today’s television culture. Thank goodness for companies such as Time Life. Time Life officially released yesterday what is one of the greatest sketch comedy/variety programs of all time and one of the greatest family friendly programs in television history in The Carol Burnett Show.
Time Life released “The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Favorites” yesterday. The six-disc compilation contains seventeen episodes considered among the “best” of the show’s roughly eleven year run on CBS. The episodes compiled for this new set leave no doubt that Burnett’s show was one of the influences behind NBC’s Saturday Night Live. The sketches from this show clearly hint at the bits that would come from the latter. The Carol Burnett Show even spawned a little show called “Mama’s Family” that would last a total of six seasons on television. Saturday Night Live, on the other hand, has tried multiple times to spin off its sketches to both the big and small screen with little success. That goes to show the importance and staying power of The Carol Burnett Show to this day. It’s even been spoofed by a number of television shows that have come since. And after all, it is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
“The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Favorites” is a wonderful collection for those who are unable to pick up the complete twenty-two disc collection. That collection was released yesterday alongside this compilation. It contains every episode from the show’s run. Among some of the best episodes included in the six-disc “Carol’s Favorites” are the ones that include the hilarious skit, “The Family.” That skit was the precursor to Vicki Lawrence’s hit TV sitcom, “Mama’s Family.” Fans of “Mama’s Family” will be happy to know that on this set is the very first episode of “The Family.” Guest star Roddy McDowall even gets his own role in the skit. McDowall is just one of a bevy of guest stars to make appearances on the show. Also appearing on the show in this compilation are the likes of: Joan Rivers, Johnny Cash, The Jackson 5, Steve Martin, Betty White, Vincent Price and loads more.
From the original skits to the guest stars, The Carol Burnett Show offered so much great entertainment for the entire family. That’s not all that makes this set such a great addition to the library of any classic television fan. The set’s packaging is another bonus. While the box may seem slightly bulky, the packaging for the discs themselves is very impressive. Three inserts hold all six discs inside the box. Each disc has its own spot on the inserts, thus protecting them and increasing their longevity. This may come across as something minor. But the longer the discs last, the more families will get to enjoy this TV classic.
The packaging goes a long way to making “The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Favorites” a joy for families and fans alike. But one would be remiss to ignore the most obvious factor of this set that makes it such a joy. That factor would be the footage itself. There are those who would speak badly of the footage quality. But as with so many shows from that era, watching it from its original airing recordings is like listening to an original classic jazz song on vinyl. The static on those old original vinyls creates a certain sense of nostalgia. In the same vein, seeing this show as it originally aired will bring back that sense of nostalgia, too. Trying to enhance it would only decrease that sense of nostalgia. So kudos to Time life for keeping it how it was.
There are shows that deserve to be resurrected on DVD and blu-ray. And then there are those that are better left dead. The Carol Burnett Show is one of those shows that belong in the prior category. Despite what some critics may have to say, this newest reintroduction of this classic show is quite welcome. Now a whole new generation can experience what is an example of television with real heart. “The Carol Burnett Show: Carol’s Favorites” is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct via Time Life’s website, http://timelife.com.
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