It's been a while since I've viewed any episodes of the Carol Burnett Show on the various DVD collections received as Christmas or birthday gifts or on the various platforms that display chopped-up 22 min. versions of the originals. A few weeks ago, I attempted to view missing material at the Paley Center in Manhattan, but it's still closed for COVID. In the first 15 installments of this series, I just went after episodes that contained sketches that interested me, such as all of Carol's brilliant movie parodies or segments from the first five seasons previously unavailable. So, until the Paley Center re-opens, my only option is to go back to my DVDs and online and analyze the episodes I haven't gotten to yet, perhaps in chronological order. Maybe I'll find unexpected gems.
Sept. 11, 1967: Jim Nabors
|Carol with Jim Nabors during |
one of his many appearances on the show
Carol's very first show in its entirety is contained on both the Best Of and Lost Episodes collections. There's nothing particularly outstanding here, expect, obviously, for a bunch of firsts. The debut of Jim Nabors' annual premiere appearance of each season, the first Carol and Sis sketch, the first Q&A with the audience, Carol's first awkward drooling over Lyle, etc. During the opening, we learn the show is on opposite I Spy and The Big Valley and Carol jokes that she might have Pearl Bailey on so they can do a take-off on I Spy's interracial casting. (This idea was done later with Carol and Barbara McNair.) Carol does the first of many VIPs mock interviews with Harvey as a newscaster. Here she is Shirley Dimple and there are gag references to the foray into politics of the real-life Shirley Temple and other show-biz has-beens like George Murphy and Ronald Reagen. The most interesting and revealing bit comes during Carol's Broadway duet with Jim. After partnering on songs from West Side Story, How to Succeed, and Annie Get Your Gun (with Carol imitating Merman), they switch gender roles and Carol warbles Billy Bigelow's Soliloquy from Carousel. Naturally, this leads to Jim holding his hands primly and intoning "When I Marry Mr. Snow." The audience laughs at the absurdity of big, tall Jim acting like a coy girl. But Nabors' gay sexuality makes the joke doubly significant. Especially when Carol then asks "What about Rex Harrison?"