Monday, November 10, 2008

DVD Review: The Carol Burnett Show, Vol. 4

I received my latest batch of DVDs of The Carol Burnett Show several weeks back, but haven't had a chance to review them until now. We'll start with Volume 4.

The first episode on this DVD features Rock Hudson and Nancy Walker (the gal best known as Rosie the Waitress from the old Bounty paper towel commercials, or, depending on who you talk to, Ida Morgenstern, Rhoda's mother). Anyhoo, the show opens with a wonderful Q&A segment between Carol and her devoted audience. I don't remember any specific questions at the moment, but any Q&A with Carol is wonderful. The first sketch after the opening credits features Hudson and Walker in a parody of a Fred-and-Ginger style dance. For this top-hat-and-tails number, you need to keep the following in mind: Rock Hudson was 6 foot 4. Nancy Walker was 4 foot 11. Nuff said.

We continue the shenanigans with the annual Carol Burnett Show salute to the year's funniest commercials. I really wish they included the original commercials they parodied in the DVD, because there were some parodies where I really missed the point. Then again, I was only two years old when this show went off the air, so of course I would not remember the original commercials.

After the salute to advertising, we have a semi-serious sketch between Harvey Korman, who plays a ventriloquist, and his dummy. I use the term "semi-serious" because there were hardly any laughs in this sketch. In fact, the monologue between ventriloquist and dummy contains some statements that are rather sad, that make you feel sorry for Harvey's character.

Finally, we're treated to a mini-musical parody of the Betty Grable movie, When My Baby Smiles at Me. Carol and Rock star as a husband and wife vaudeville team. Rock is the hard-living, hard-drinking husband who takes his wife for granted, and Carol is the starry-eyed, naive wife who overlooks all of her husband's flaws. You can see, in this parody, why the mini-musical was one of the hallmarks of The Carol Burnett Show. It's a damn shame that these segments couldn't go into syndication, what with all of the music rights clearances and what not. I'm glad that some of them (out of over 278 episodes) made it to DVD.

The second episode on this DVD features Roddy McDowall as the guest star. It opens with a Carol-Harvey sketch about a marriage proposal that went south. I'll leave it at that, as I don't want to provide any spoilers.

We continue with a duet between Carol and Roddy, where Carol asks Roddy why so many British actors sound so eloquent and articulate. Roddy's answer? Tongue-twisters. The two then engage in a clever duet featuring many tongue twisters, a duet called "Moses", from the movie Singin' in the Rain. (A movie which I have never seen. Yes, you may call me names and slap me now).

A Harvey-Tim sketch follows. Our comedic duo stars as two divorced men who seem to be, on the outset, really happy about their single status--but are they?

Speaking of marriage, we then get a chance to watch a sketch among Carol, Tim, and Roddy, about three assembly line workers in a love triangle. This seems to be a theme among Carol Burnett Show sketches; I have seen quite a few of them, both on the DVDs and in syndication.

All five regulars, and guest star, are featured in a Bette Davis parody called The Little Foxes. Again, I have never seen the movie on which this is based; if anything, maybe Carol's movie parodies may motivate me to go to Blockbuster and maybe, just maybe, may make me a movie person after all.

We finish with an unusual mini-musical: The music of Cole Porter, set to a Baroque theme. You have to see it to believe it. Bob Mackie, legendary designer and Carol Burnett Show costumer, really outdid himself on this one.

So that's a review of Volume 4, Kittens. Tomorrow, I'll review Volume 5, as well as (if I can get it from iTunes), a review of a CD I've been really wanting to buy: Patti LuPone at Les Mouches. If the previews are any indication, as well as the other reviews I've been reading, this should be an excellent CD!

No comments: