Tuesday, September 9, 2008

DVD Review: "The Carol Burnett Show," Vol. 2

My new DVDs of The Carol Burnett Show arrived in the mail today. I saw the box in my mailbox and my heart leapt with joy. I got inside, ripped open the packaging, and couldn't wait to see what episodes I had received. Yeah, I was like a kid at Christmastime, but I didn't care. It was Carol, after all!

Volume 2 of the Collector's Edition features two episodes. The first one has guest stars Jack Weston and Ken Berry. The second one guest starred Rock Hudson and Steve Lawrence, who was a semi-regular during the show's run, especially during the eleventh season.

The DVD opened with Carol, Harvey and Tim, circa early this decade, talking about how the Q&A portion of the show came about--and it segwayed nicely into the first episode, which had a great Q&A with Carol talking to four Campfire Girls. There were a couple of other questions after that, but Carol's moment with these tweens was really precious. The girls gave her three Campfire Girl dolls, one for each of her daughters. Carol jokingly asked why she didn't get a fourth doll for herself.

The first sketch featured Carol with Jack Weston. I had never heard of Jack Weston until now, but apparently, he was quite the character actor in the 1970s. Anyhoo, Carol and Jack starred in a sketch about computer dating, playing two people who initially believe they don't have much in common--until they start talking passionately about world records. Carol plays a very innocent, naive character in this one, with short, curly hair, a cute red bow, and a Bob Mackie minidress in a floral pattern. (More on Bob Mackie later).

Following this sketch is a musical number with Ken Berry, whom I had previously known as Vint in Mama's Family, a show my sister and I watched religiously as we were growing up. Ken sings and dances to the song "It's Not Where You Start." He goes from being dressed in a graduation gown, to performing for the troops, to performing in Vegas. I had no idea he was such a song and dance man. I also had no idea that he was the spokesperson for the now-defunct Kinney Shoes chain. I found him to be very talented.

Next comes a sketch where poor Ken is on the operating table, anxiously awaiting his appendectomy. Harvey is the main surgeon, ready to operate, with Carol as his nurse--and his wife, who announces at that very moment that she wants a divorce. What follows is a true slapstick mixup of marital displeasure--and wait till you see who finally gets to perform Ken's operation. :)

We then move from the operating room to a fancy restaurant, where Jack Weston is watching a performance of Ethel "Herman"--and Carol does a brilliant job of impersonating the loudmouthed Broadway legend. Everything Miss Herman says is a line from a Cole Porter song--and she sings it loud and proud, gradually driving Mr. Weston to the brink of insanity.

Next comes a spoof of that classic tale, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Only here, it's Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde. This sketch features all four regulars--Harvey, Vicki, Carol, and Lyle--in the story of "a man who not only turns to the woman he loves, but turns into the woman he loves."

This episode wraps with the number "Thou Must Do Thine Own Elizabethan Thing"--a clip which I actually posted a while back. I was delighted to see this clip on DVD. Yay!!

The next episode begins with a Tudball and Wiggins sketch. I absolutely loved Tim Conway as Tudball. (In the preview, Tim explains how he came up with the idea for this sketch; it's actually based on real life). Anyhoo, in this edition, Mrs. Wiggins is splitting up with her husband, and tells Mr. Tudball that she's going on a lunch date with a new guy--Rock Hudson's character, a millionaire who owns a chain of hardware stores. Tudball can't quite understand what Mr. Hudson sees in Mrs. Wiggins, but it's clear to see that Cupid shot his arrow hard enough that it left Rock's character blinded by love.

Steve Lawrence follows with a song from Rocky that I had never heard of. It was a nice song, and I enjoyed it. But I really enjoyed the outfit he wore in this number--dark brown leisure suit, collar turned up on his white shirt, and enough buttons opened up to expose some chest hair and the requisite 70s gold chain. Ahhh, 70s fashion. I love it!

After this little musical interlude, Carol and Rock appear as a married news anchor team, who reveal their feelings for each other through bitter exchanges of the news. Somehow broken marriages seem to be a common theme for many Carol Burnett Show sketches. Very interesting...

The episode ventures back to the silly as Harvey, Vicki, Carol, and Tim return for a recital number, where, in black tie, they perform a version of Glenn Miller's "In the Mood"--clucking like chickens. You've really got to see this one. It's hilarious.

In the penultimate sketch, Vicki and Harvey play a married couple that asks another couple, Steve and Carol, to be the guardians for their children. Again, here's a sketch that portrays the "warts" side of marriage, although much more outrageously than the fashion used in the Carol/Rock sketch earlier in this episode.

The finale is a tribute to the music of Jule Styne, where the cast and dancers portray sailors and their girlfriends in the 1940s. It's fun to watch everyone dance in this scene--and they dance remarkably well.

There were two things I especially appreciated in this DVD. One, is that this really made me realize how versatile Carol Burnett is as an actress. She is a freakin' chameleon. She goes from playing a sweet little innocent in the first Jack Weston sketch to a loudmouthed, outrageous Ethel Merman wannabe to a stunning Elizabethan wench. And her chameleon looks are due to the work of the second thing I appreciated: Bob Mackie's costume designs. Carol keeps saying that this man is a genius--he truly is. He really has an eye for how people should look in certain time periods. He really mastered the look of the 1940s in the Jule Styne finale, as well as the look of Elizabethan times. He also helped create a lot of characters just by the way they looked--one look at Mrs. Wiggins and you know she's a ditz. Bob Mackie didn't help create characters; he helped create icons.

Volume 3 also arrived today, but I won't have time to write about it, much less watch it, till later in the week. I did read the previews in the DVD sleeve, and they look really promising! Stay tuned!

No comments: