Time Life’s Latest Carol Burnett Show Collection Was Well Worth The Wait

Courtesy:  Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: Time Life Entertainment

Three years ago Time Life Entertainment resurrected one of the greatest series in television’s modern history when it brought to audiences the first of its now multiple box sets from The Carol Burnett Show.  Since the release of those early box sets by Time Life back in 2012, audiences have also seen those early sets released in an “Ultimate Collection” late in 2014, with said collection being followed by even more compilations.  The latest of those compilations, The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes, was released late last month.  The six-disc collection features a healthy offering of episodes from the hit variety series’ first five seasons.  As Burnett explains in the introduction to the collection’s liner notes, these episodes (which will likely be followed by more collections) were held up for years due simply to lengthy legal matters.  Those legal matters having been settled, audiences have finally gotten at least some of those early episodes in the form of this collection.  And that within itself is plenty of reason for any Carol Burnett Show fan to add this box set to their own home DVD library.  The writing and acting within each of the set’s episodes will put just as much of a smile on viewers’ faces.  Rounding out the presentation is its bonus episode guide.  The episode guide is, much as with previous Carol Burnett Show sets not just an episode guide, but yet another history lesson that enriches viewers’ overall experience in watching the featured episodes.  Each noted element makes the compilation enjoyable it in its own right.  All three elements together make this latest addition to Time Life’s ongoing series of Carol Burnett Show compilations yet another enjoyable addition to any fan’s home DVD library.

Time Life Entertainment’s latest installment in its ongoing series of releases from The Carol Burnett Show is yet another enjoyable addition to the home DVD library of any one of the show’s fans.  The main reason for that is the very availability of these episodes.  While it obviously is not the full run of the series’ first five seasons it still presents a healthy offering of episodes from that run.  Burnett herself notes in the collection’s liner notes that the episodes featured here have until now been unavailable to fans of the classic variety series due to certain legal issues.  Thankfully it looks like at least some (if not all) of those issues have been settled, thus resulting in the release of the episodes featured in this collection.  One can only hope that it is just the first of the episodes from the show’s early seasons to be released, too.  That is because in an age when there is so much sex and violence dominating television, every one of these largely family friendly episodes provides a much welcome and needed respite from those other shows.  Each episode is such a welcome break from today’s television thanks in large part to the work of the show’s writers, which is the next reason for its enjoyment.

The episodes featured in Time Life Entertainment’s latest Carol Burnett Show collection are in themselves plenty of reason for fans of the series to add the box set to their own home DVD libraries.  That is because until their release this year, they had been unavailable to audiences on any platform.  They are just part of what makes this new compilation well worth the watch, too.  The work of both the writers and actors within each of the presented episodes adds even more to this set’s enjoyment.  One of the prime examples of the writers’ ability to entertain audiences within this set comes early on in an episode that sees Burnett and guest star Nanette Fabray play a pair of pregnant women waiting to see their doctor.  The comedy contained within this episode is timeless.  The dialogue shared between the duo will have every woman out there laughing uproariously because of their ability to relate to said topics.  On a related note, the pair’s portrayal will have women laughing just as much regardless of whether or not they have been pregnant.  Later in the set’s run, viewers are treated to a handful of equally entertaining performances by the late, great Andy Griffith.  Griffith’s take on the tale of the mouse and the lion will have viewers just as entertained.  It stays largely true to Aesop’s original tale. Of course there are some changes and updates to the story that will put a smile on any viewer’s face.  The same can be said of Griffith’s portrayal of Joe in the skit “Mr. Law and Order” will entertain viewers just as much.  That’s because it is a full-on spoof of his former character in The Andy Griffith Show almost in the vein of Mad Magazine.  If that’s not enough for fans, Don Adams’ appearance in the collection is one more great example of how the writers’ efforts will entertain viewers.  That is made clear in “The Donny Bishop Show,’ which openly throws jabs at The Late Show With Johnny Carson.  Adams fills in for Carson while Harvey Korman takes the place of Ed McMahon.  The whole presentation is intentionally terrible complete with the worst possible camera and mic operators.  Burnett is a laugh riot as the “show’s” special guest.  Seeing Adams constantly covering his face in his attempts to keep from completely breaking down in laughter will have viewers laughing just as much.  It’s just one more way in which the work of both the show’s writers and actors keeps audiences laughing nonstop throughout The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes.  There are plenty of other episodes that could serve as example of their ability to keep viewers entertained such as Harvey and Carol’s work in the show’s beloved “The Old Folks” skits, Carol’s work with famed singer Mel Torme in “The Tin Pan Alley Story” and Jim Nabors’ partnering with Carol in “The Ski Lodge” just to name a few more key episodes.  Whether one chooses one of those episodes, one of the ones more directly addressed, or any of the others, every viewer will agree that the collection in whole presents plenty of great examples of how the writers and actors make The Lost Episodes a laugh riot from beginning to end.

The work of The Carol Burnett Show’s writers in conjunction with that of the show’s cast and guest stars makes for plenty of enjoyment for viewers throughout every episode included in The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes. For all of the enjoyment that they bring viewers, they are not the only elements of this set that fans will appreciate. The companion booklet included with the set is just as important to the set’s presentation as the previously noted elements. That is because it is, as with previous Carol Burnett Show box set booklets, it isn’t just a companion booklet. Yes, it is an episode guide. But it is more than that. Throughout the course of the booklet, fans are presented with a rather rich history on not just the episodes themselves but of the series in whole. For example, audiences learn in the summary for Show #006 that this audience marked the debut of both Lucille Ball and Tim Conway on Burnett’s show. There is an additional tidbit noting Conway’s notoriety coming into his debut thanks to his work on McHale’s Navy. Burnett also reveals in the companion booklet that her love for “backstage movie musicals” was her inspiration behind the “Tin Pan Alley” sketch in Show #107. And in regards to Jim Nabors’ appearance in Show #003, it is revealed that he was the very first guest star to appear in The Carol Burnett Show in what would then become an eleven year-run on CBS. The discussion here goes on to note that his appearance was such a success that the show’s heads had him back on the season premiere of every season that followed. Interestingly enough, Nabors, as is explained in the show’s summary here, was not exactly an unknown upon his first appearance on The Carol Burnett Show. In fact, he was already enjoying his celebrity of his own hit sit-com, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., which itself was a spinoff of The Andy Griffith Show. So it should probably be no surprise that Andy Griffith himself would go on to appear on The Carol Burnett Show, too. The information on Nabors’ appearance on The Carol Burnett Show is just one more of so many examples of the depth of information provided by Time Life Entertainment in The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes. There is so much more interesting information shared throughout the set’s companion booklet that fans and audiences in general will enjoy learning. Together with the enjoyment brought by both the show’s writers and cast, the set in whole proves itself in the end to be yet another joy for any fan of The Carol Burnett Show and for lovers of classic television in general.

The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes is not the first collection of episodes to be released by Time Life Entertainment. And more than likely it will not be the last thanks to the efforts of certain parties to obtain the distribution rights for the show’s first five seasons. With any luck fans will hopefully one day see the release of this series in whole rather than just in a continued series of compilation sets since those matters have been settled. Until then though, this latest collection of episodes will more than please any Carol Burnett Show fan. That is thanks to the work of both the show’s writers and its cast. The attention to detail in the set’s companion booklet adds even more enjoyment as it helps provide even more interesting background information on the series. All in all, the combination of those elements combined with the very availability of these episodes makes The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes yet another collection one that any of the show’s fans and any lover of classic television will want to have in his or her own home DVD library. It is available now and can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Carol-Burnett-Show-Lost-Episodes/dp/B011QLAYCU/ref=pd_bxgy_74_img_y. More information on this and other titles from Time Life Entertainment is available online now at:


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Paramount, CBS DVD’s Gomer Pyle Full Series Re-Issue Is One Of 2015’s Best New Box Sets For Families

Courtesy:  CBS DVD/Paramount Studios Home Entertainment

Courtesy: CBS DVD/Paramount Studios Home Entertainment

Well surprise, surprise, surprise! Gomer Pyle is back! This past March, CBS DVD resurrected the classic sitcom Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. in its entirety for a whole new generation of audiences and for the show’s original viewers. Last month’s re-issue is only the first time since its original release in 2008 that entire series has been released in one collection. And regardless of one’s familiarity with the series, audiences will instantly be impressed by the set’s packaging. By comparison to the series’ 2008 release, this box set is far more ergonomic than that 2008 release. In other words, the packaging, while slightly bulky, is far less bulky than the series’ 2008 box set. The writing behind the series’ five-season run is just as entertaining today, too as it was in the series’ original run from 1964 – 1969. The material included as bonuses in this set rounds it out. That is not to discount the still impressive look and sound of the series’ footage, either. Even that should be noted. Whether for that element or for any of the others noted here, audiences will agree in watching CBS DVD’s newly re-issued full series set of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. that there is plenty to like in this box set. Audiences will also agree that because there is so much to like, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.: The Complete Series is more than deserving of a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s Best New Box Set For Families come December.

Paramount and CBS DVD’s newly re-issued full series set of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. is one of this year’s best new box sets for the whole family hands down. Considering that this classic sitcom’s full series set has already seen release in 2008, the instant question that is likely raised by many is with such a short span of time having passed between its (so far) two releases, what sets this set apart from the sitcom’s previous release? For that matter, what sets it apart from all of the other TV sets released so far this year, too? One answer is the new set’s packaging. In comparison to the packaging of the series’ 2008 release, the packaging is far more ergonomic than that of the 2008 box set. Rather than just placing five stand-alone box sets in a larger box, Paramount and CBS DVD have taken all twenty-four discs that make up the series and placed them into one large box set. Each of the discs is placed on one side or another of twelve separate “plates” inside the box. While the end result is still slightly bulky, it saves far more space on any fan’s DVD rack than the series’ previously released full series set. While many people take packaging for granted, this is one of those times in which packaging shows to be just as important as any other element in a box set. It leaves one wondering how much space could be saved with a Blu-ray release since so much more information can be stored on a BD than on a DVD. Time will tell. But maybe Paramount and CBS DVD will take that subtle suggestion into consideration and perhaps re-issue the full series on Blu-ray in the not too distant future. In the meantime, this set will definitely do if only for its packaging.

Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C: The Full Series’ packaging in its new re-issue is a subtle element in considering what makes it such a welcome re-issue. But when compared to the series’ 2008 release, it proves to be far more important than one might think. It’s a rarity for packaging to play such an important role in a box set. But it truly does play an integral role in this case. It’s only one element of this box set that makes it so enjoyable. The work of the show’s writers is just as important to the whole as the packaging if not more important. And so much could be said of the writing, too, beginning with Gomer’s relationship with Sgt. Carter. The relationship in question comes across as almost that of a surrogate father and son with Gomer filling out the role of the son and Sgt. Carter the father. Considering this, one can’t help but root for Gomer as he constantly tries to do the right thing and impress Sgt. Carter just as a son would a father yet stumbling and learning the whole way along. As audiences will see throughout the series, right up to its finale, even Sgt. Carter himself finds himself truly appreciating Gomer in his surrogate father role. It is a really entertaining and at times touching aspect of the series writing that despite its subtlety plays one of the most important roles of all in regards to the series’ writing. On a larger scale, the work of the writers in regards to the episodes should be noted, too. Of the series’ 150 episodes there is not one bad episode. That is evident right from the series’ premiere in which Gomer first arrives at the base and begins his training as a Marine. The gags and jokes that are written for Nabors are just as funny today as they were in the show’s original broadcast on CBS so long ago. Audiences know this especially from that episode’s closing scene just what’s in store for Gomer and Sgt. Carter from that point on. It goes without saying that the show more than lives up to those expectations from there on out. Audiences will love seeing Gomer capture a submarine without even trying during his platoon’s training with its Navy counterparts. This even after he caused so much havoc for Sgt. Carter and the others along the way. Gomer’s trip back home to Mayberry late in the series is one of the series’ best. He discovers that all of his old friends and his cousin are all gone on vacation. His sadness is something to which so many viewers can relate even today whether they are military or just someone coming home from college or even from visiting their old home town after having lived elsewhere for an extended time. Making this episode even more enjoyable is that while all of his old friends are away, Gomer helps Andy’s replacement catch a pair of crooks. If this great episode isn’t enough example of why the series’ writing is so important, there is another episode that sees Gomer encounter “men from Mars” that are actually actors in a movie being filmed near the marine base. Gomer’s reaction to the actors is hilarious as is Sgt. Carter’s reaction to Gomer’s continued assertions. The series’ finale is one more wonderful example of the importance of the series’ writing in the success of this re-issued box set. This episode is that rare moment when both Gomer and Sgt. Carter show the bond formed between them but of which they have never spoken. It is such a moving moment and one of the best of the best from this classic series. And it is one more way that the writing proves to be so important to the enjoyment and success of the set.

The episodes noted here are each great examples of what makes Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. such a hit for audiences of any age. The notation of those episodes is not to take away from any of the series’ other episodes either. Every one of the series’ 150 total episodes could just as easily be used as examples of what makes the series’ writing so impressive. It would take far too long to go into detail about each one, obviously. So moving on, there is one more element of this box set that makes it so enjoyable. That last element is the set’s collective bonus material. Included as bonus material in the set are audio introductions for every one of Season One’s episodes as well as commentaries on specific episodes. Also included is the complete pilot that led to the birth of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. As if that isn’t enough, Paramount and CBS DVD have also included clips of Jim Nabors on The David Frost Show and on his own show, Jim Nabors Hour. Paramount and CBS DVD even went as far as to include a clip from the classic series The Lucy Show. The bonus clips are themselves enjoyable in their own right. But the bonus audio introductions in Season One are the real highlight of the bonus material. The select audio commentaries live up to the title of bonus material, too. It would just have been nice to have even more. In the same vein it would have been wonderful to have the audio introductions throughout all five seasons. Beggars can’t be chooser, though. Perhaps if Paramount and CBS DVD should re-issue the series on Blu-ray in the not too distant future then perhaps that would be a possibility. Even if not, the intros and commentary provided here still does plenty to make the overall viewing experience of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. so much more enjoyable. They help to prove once again exactly why Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. is one of this year’s best new box sets for the whole family.

Whether for the material included in the set, the work of the series’ writers or for the much more ergonomic packaging, it is obvious to see that there is a lot to say to the positive of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.: The Complete Series. One could even note the set’s quality production values (I.E. audio and video). The series looks and sounds just as impressive as it did in its previous full series release. It could even be argued that it looks and sounds as good as it did in its original broadcast on CBS so long ago. Regardless of what element(s) viewers choose to note, every one of the elements that can be noted all lead to the revelation that this set is a great addition to any family’s home DVD collection. It is available in stores and online and can be ordered direct via CBS DVD’s online store at http://cbshe.com/PyleCS. 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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.