The Carol Burnett Show: The Lost Episodes Ultimate Edition (Time Life) features original broadcast episodes from Seasons 1 through 5 (1967-1972), personally selected by Carol Burnett herself. Across 45 shows, not seen since their original airing more than 40 years ago, viewers will see the first steps of a classic TV variety program, the ensemble cast coming together, and an amazing series of guest stars including Lucille Ball, Eddie Albert, Bing Crosby, Phyllis Diller, Bob Newhart, Don Rickles, Chita Rivera, Joan Rivers, Mel Torme, Nancy Wilson, Jonathan Winters, and many more.
Having become a comedy star on The Garry Moore Show (1958-1964), Burnett signed a 10-year contract with CBS which required her to do guest appearances and a special each year. After five year, CBS wanted Burnett to do a sitcom called Here’s Agnes, but she said she preferred a variety format where she could play different characters each week with a regular ensemble cast. She had achieved success in this format on The Garry Moore Show. Original regulars of The Carol Burnett Show included Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, and Lyle Waggoner. Each week’s show was taped twice in front of different audiences and the best parts from each taping were edited together.
Variety shows haven’t been seen on a regular basis on TV in some time, so it’s both nostalgic and exciting to see how a variety hour was put together. There were guest stars who participated in comedy skits, singers, a regular dance troupe, a talented resident ensemble, and Carol’s signature Q & A opening. The greatest joy of this set is seeing the introduction of characters and skits that became iconic: “Carol & Sis,” “The Old Folks,” “As the Stomach Turns,” Tim Conway as “The Oldest Man,” and Carol as “The Charwoman.” Some of the show’s funniest sketches are here, among them loving movie spoofs and the hilarious “The Dentist,” with Tim Conway and Harvey Korman, in which a novocaine needle misses its intended target. There are 45 complete episodes, which allow the viewer to see the shows as originally aired. These programs were not previously released because the rights were tied up so, for fans of Carol Burnett, this release is truly a lost treasure.
Included on this 22-DVD box set are seven featurettes, including “On the Spot: Carol’s Q & A,” “Fabulous First,” “The Making of a Mackie,” “The Golden Age of the Variety Show,” “Messages to Carol,” “Expecting the Unexpected,” and “The Song and Dance.” There are also 20 new interviews with celebrities Alan Alda, Julie Andrews, Tony Bennett, Pat Boone, Steve Carell, Vikki Carr, Carol Channing, Kristin Chenoweth, Tina Fey, Bill Hader, Shirley Jones, Queen Latifah, Gloria Loring, Burt Reynolds, Don Rickles, Lesley Ann Warren, and others. Of special interest to fans of the show is a backstage tour of CBS Studio 33, where the show was originally taped, never-before-seen bloopers and outtakes, and two TV specials: “Once Upon a Mattress,” starring Carol, Ken Berry and Bernadette Peters, and “Carol-2,” featuring Lucille Ball and Zero Mostel.
The DVDs are contained in a deluxe collector’s box along with a glossy 40-page collectible Guest Book that contains autographs from guests, fans and friends, archival production photos and notes from Carol.