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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Skits > TV Variety Show > Stand Up Comedy > The Carol Burnett Show: Carolís Favorites (Time Life DVDs)/Louie Anderson: Big Baby Boomer (2012/Image DVD)

The Carol Burnett Show: Carolís Favorites (Time Life DVDs)/Louie Anderson: Big Baby Boomer (2012/Image DVD)


Picture: C+†††† Sound: C+†††† Extras: B-/D†††† Main Programs: B+/C+



Without any doubt, one of the funniest, most talented human beings in entertainment industry history is Carol Burnett.A comic natural, she first appeared on stage and on the great Gary Moore Show, establishing her as a talent to be reckoned with.A sense of pure joy was always part of her and it easily flowed into her work.After all that success, she too advantage of a TV contract she had with CBS in the 1960s and little did she know that those specials would lead to the greatest TV variety show of all time.


Part of a larger mega DVD box set, The Carol Burnett Show: Carolís Favorites offers choice episodes of the wildly successful comedy variety show that kept CBS the #1 network and spawned many, many imitators, including on CBS.She has chosen 16 hour-long shows (a nice change from the half-hour syndicated shows that did not represent the work very well) with often forgotten lavish musical numbers, some of her best skits (her many classic film send ups only start with lampooning Gone With The Wind as she was uncanny in being able to imitate any Classical Hollywood actress) and she also had the best supporting cast of players in variety show history.


She started with Lyle Waggoner (the man who almost became Batman before Adam West and later left to be Steve Trevor on the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman), Harvey Korman and the uncanny look-alikeness of Vicki Lawrence, who turned out to be more comically brilliant on her own than anyone had first expected formed the main troop, but Tim Conway started guest starring and eventually became a regular more on than off.


They were very good at going after TV commercials, melodrama (As The Stomach Turns was the perfect send-up of the very serious soap As The World Turns), her Mrs. Wiggins with Conwayís Mr. Tudball was perfect feminist comedy as women and their role in the workplace was slowly changing and The Family skits (which spawned the very long running Mamaís Family) dealt with the pain of dysfunctional families very effectively and long before most people knew what that was.It struck a chord and became an iconic classic of the show.


Burnett was bold, fearless and innovative just on her own and she probably could have done a solo show with different guests each week, but having a team with her dynamic talent, energy and sense of pure humor just turned every show into a gigantic laughfest.That the writing on the show was on the cutting edge and always funny was great, but with these talents, they exceeded that strong, often classic material and took in into another zone of pure comedy and humor we have rarely seen on TV or in any other medium.I loved this show when it was first shown, always thought it was great, did not know how great at the time and continuing to stand the test of time remains an all-time television classic.


The reason the variety show died is because it peaked with The Carol Burnett Show and even with other fine such shows at the time (Sonny & Cher, Tony Orlando & Dawn, Flip Wilson and even the original Saturday Night Live and SCTV, the later two of which proved you had to go underground to get bolder and funnier) could match some of it and did, but the show was just that amazing and terrific.It is to the variety show what The Avengers and Mission: Impossible are to Spy TV, I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners are to the sitcom and Star Trek, Dr. Who and Space: 1999 are to Science Fiction TV: the highest gold standard to which all others are measured.


Guest stars in this set include Roddy McDowell, Dinah Shore, Carl Reiner, Rock Hudson, Joan Rivers, Shirley MacLaine, Joanne Woodward (who wins for the best southern accent in a Family skit), Steve Martin, Carl Reiner (of the landmark Your Show Of Shows), Ken Barry, Vincent Price, Jim Nabors, Jean Stapleton, Phil Silvers, The Jackson 5 towards the end of their run at Motown and the immortal Betty White.Event he top talent in the business was there every week and you wonít see that today.


Extras include various interviews with stars and guest stars on the show, three great featurettes (Ahhhh, Mrs. Wiggins?, Harvey Korman & Tim Conway Ė Together Again and Letís Bump Up The Lights with the Burnett, Conway, Lawrence and Waggoner), Carolís hilarious Superwoman skit on The Gary Moore Show and the Korman/Conway The Dentist skit that is rarely seen but shows their unbelievable chemistry early on.



We fast forward about 40 years for Louie Anderson: Big Baby Boomer (2012) in which the enduring stand-up comic (after a semi-recent personal scandal) takes to the microphone for a 44-minutesĖlong routine.We get some good, jokes, obvious jokes, some jokes that donít work and some self-deprecating humor that is not bad (he wakes up, sees four fast food chains and calls it his Mount Rushmore), but I was not always entertained and this being too short was part of the problem.


The obvious humor creeping up in such a short program was another, but I give him points for showmanship and the invisibility with which he works the crowd here.That is something that has been missing on so many stand up comedy DVDs that it is refreshing to see someone who knows better.


There are no extras.


The 1.33 X 1 image on Burnett and anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Anderson are oddly equal with Burnett looking very good remastered from the original 2-inch reel-to-reel professional NTSC videotapes with few flaws or aliasing errors, while the HD shot Anderson looking softer than it should in the tradedown to DVD and with some color limits.The lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Burnett has been remastered nicely and cleanly in a way it would have never sounded this good in original TV broadcasts, but I wish it were PCM sound to get a little more out of the original audio, while the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Anderson is simple and mostly him talking with sound from the occurrent but not there in a strongly surround soundfield manor, even if you use Pro Logic on a home theater system.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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