‘The Carol Burnett Show — Carol's Favorites'
One of the last of television's great comedy-variety shows was “The Carol Burnett Show,” which aired from September 1967 to September 1979, and featured the perfect-chemistry ensemble cast of Burnett, Vicki Lawrence (who looked enough like Carol to be her kid sister), sketch-comedy master Harvey Korman and the guy who could always crack him up, the hilarious Tim Conway, who was a frequent guest until he became a regular in 1975.
Some of the best episodes have been collected in four different DVD configurations, including the one- and two-disc “Best of” packages, the 22-disc “Ultimate Collection,” which contains 50 episodes, and the six-disc “Carol's Favorites,” which offers 17 complete, unedited episodes handpicked by Burnett herself.
The “Favorites” package is recommended, containing many of the cast's most memorable and uproarious sketches and characters, and those side-splitting parodies of movies and TV commercials of the day. There's the “Sunset Boulevard” satire, with Burnett as the unhinged former silent movie star “Nora Desmond,” Korman as “Max,” her butler and former director-husband, and Conway as “Mr. Hastings,” an advertising man who comes calling with an offer of a role in a TV commercial for Knock 'Em Dead bug spray, and almost gets knocked dead himself.
Then there's the classic “Went With the Wind” spoof, with Burnett as “Starlet O'Hara,” who makes her entrance wearing window drapes for a dress — complete with curtain rod — and telling her guests she “saw it in a window and couldn't resist it.”
The “Mr. Tudball and Mrs. Wiggins” sketches, with Burnett as an inept blonde secretary and Conway as her frustrated little boss with Swedish accent, are still as funny as they were 30 years ago, as are the “Family” routines, with Burnett and Korman as “Ed and Eunice,” an uptight, Southern-drawling married couple who are constantly at odds with each other and Eunice's cranky “Mama,” played with straight-faced hilarity by Lawrence in a curly blue wig and frumpy dress. One of those sketches features a priceless Betty White as Eunice's snobbish and catty older sister, who married into money and loves to rub Eunice's face in that fact.
Other great guest shots come from Carl Reiner, Steve Martin, Shirley MacLaine and George Carlin, and extras include a cast reunion with Burnett, Conway, Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner, a rare interview with Conway and the late Korman, and a vintage episode of “The Garry Moore Show,” featuring a young Burnett in the classic “Supergirl” sketch — the first time she did her famous Tarzan yell on television.
The multi-talented Burnett (arguably the funniest redhead of TV's first two decades) was the glue that held the show together, but it lasted well beyond the golden age of variety shows thanks to a top-flight team of writers and an incredibly well-matched cast of supporting players. As Burnett's theme song says, you'll be “glad we had this time together” again with some old TV friends.
— Gene Triplett