Thursday, March 26, 2020

Reconstructing the Carol Burnett Show: Part 9

Lyle Waggoner
The corona virus lockdown continues. I am too disgusted with Donald Trump to comment on his hideous actions. With no theater or movies to go to, I have time to watch old Carol Burnett Show reruns on MeTV and Amazon. As noted in the previous blog, these are highly edited versions of the original, but I have found some missing pieces on YouTube. Also, Lyle Waggoner, Carol's ultra-handsome, muscular, gorgeous hunk announcer and supporting comedy player, has passed away at 84. One of my first TV crushes, he was on the show for 7 seasons, then played Steve Trevor on Wonder Woman. He appeared on numerous TV shows after that including Maude, Charlie's Angels, The Love Boat and The Golden Girls as well as the horrible Catalina Caper on MST3K. But he concentrated on his business of renting trailers for movie shoots. Perhaps he realized you can't be a handsome hunk forever. He will always have a special place in my TV-loving heart.

Season One
Sept. 18, 1967: Sid Caesar, Liza Minnelli
The edited version of this one is really heartbreaking. It's the second aired episode and a very young Liza Minnelli is one of the guests. Carol announces she will be on and says "I don't know where she
Liza Minnelli with Carol
gets her talent," referring to Liza's mother, the legendary Judy Garland. This was only a few years after Liza won a Tony for Flora the Red Menace and before she won an Oscar for Cabaret. So it would have been great to see her and Carol sing a duet. But the only appearance this multi-talented lady makes in this 22-minute slashed version is at the end signing Carol's autograph book. Whoever makes the editing decisions could easily have gotten rid of the stupid LBJ daughter sketch or the Carol and Sis vignette featuring a sleepy Carol trying to stay awake during an interview with Chris' college admissions director (played by Rhetta Shaw who later appeared in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.) (The writers recycled the same material a few episodes later with Carol being too drunk to speak with Chris' algebra teacher.) Sid Caesar did have a sorta funny monologue about an expectant father imagining his future relationship with his son.

Fortunately, while looking for pictures of Liza and Carol on Google, I found YouTube clips of four of Liza's appearances on Carol's show. From deductive reasoning, I figured which segments went with which shows, so this really was a reconstruction--the original intention of this series of posts. During this episode, Liza solos on Randy Newman's "The Debutante's Ball," which she sang on her first album. She also does a beautiful medley of songs containing the word "time" in the title with Carol.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Coronavirus Crisis Devastates Broadway

The COVID-19 or coronavirus outbreak has silenced Broadway and will likely have a devastating impact long after it has passed. To prevent the spread of this highly contagious disease, all theaters in New York City, and many across the country, are closed and two new productions have announced they will not be playing when the stages re-open. Martin McDonagh’s
Dan Stevens and Gaby French in Hangmen,
the first Broadway casualty of the COVID-19 crisis.
Credit: Joan Marcus
Hangmen and the revival of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? have officially been cancelled. Producers cited lack of funds and scheduling conflicts respectively as reasons for the shutterings. These will likely not be the only shows to face elimination. All 41 Broadway theaters were shut down on March 12 in response to an order from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to curtail all gatherings of 500 or more people. 

This followed reports of an usher who had worked at the Booth Theater where Virginia Woolf was playing, and the Brooks Atkinson, home of the rock musical Six, testing positive for the virus. Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League, stated that theaters would re-open on April 12. But that date appears to be uncertain since the Center for Disease Control has issued guidelines that there should be no large public events for a total of eight weeks. That would mean the lights of the Great White Way would not shine again until May 7. Even that date is not for sure given the uncertainty of the virus’ course and the response of local, state and federal government. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Florida Trip Day Six/Seven: Miami, Florida Keys

Dolphins leaping at Theater of the Sea
in the Florida Keys
The state of Florida could become the epicenter of coronavirus cases soon. Heedless spring breakers have been congregating on beaches and at bars ("I'm young, nuthin' gonna stop me from partyin', bro"), the governor refused to close them down, and thousands flocked to Disney World just before it closed. A 34-year-old man visited Disney World a few weeks after I did, went home to California, started showing symptoms, was diagnosed with coronavirus and then died. I worry that even this horror show will not be enough to keep MAGA morons from re-electing Trump. Even though it's clear he has been minimizing the crisis, deeming it a Democratic hoax, and he eliminated the pandemic response office set up by Obama, some people will say, "Oh look--a check for $1,000. Sure I'll vote for Trump again. Cough, cough."

I'm very lucky I got to go to Florida when I did during the Presidents Day week vacation. With all of that in mind, let's continue with my chronicle of the Sunshine State trip with my brother Jonathan and my husband Jerry. We finished up at Animal Kingdom on Wednesday night.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Florida Trip Day Five: Animal Kingdom

At Disney's Animal Kingdom
The coronavirus pandemic continues to restrict movement in the US and around the world. Here in NYC, the schools are closed, Broadway has shut down, and restaurants only offer take-out. Even the small Off-Broadway theaters are shuttering including the last hold-outs Len Cariou in Harry Townsend's Last Stand, The Perfect Crime, and that parody of The Office. Now the CDC is saying there shouldn't be gatherings of more than 50 people for eight weeks, taking us into the second week of May.

I had my last dining-out meal Saturday night with friends. We were the only ones in the restaurant and had a lovely time. One of the party said it reminded him of the scene in Casablanca at the La Bell Aurore where Rick, Ilsa and Sam are drinking champagne on the night before the Germans invade Paris. "This oughta take the sting outta bein' occupied," quips Sam.

It may seem frivolous, but I want to continue chronicling my recent trip to Florida with my brother Jonathan and my commentaries on the Carol Burnett Show. Disney World is now closed, but last night the Magic Kingdom was wall to wall with people for a final night. (Bad idea.) Please know that this blog is an attempt to take your mind off these scary times, and not an endorsement of ignoring the very real threat of this virus. I have fond memories of my trip, but gathering in massive numbers like those people did last night was pretty dumb.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Florida Trip Day Four: SeaWorld

With the coronavirus shutting down Broadway, sports, and theme parks, I'm grateful I went to Orlando a few weeks ago and I was able to enjoy Walt Disney World and other attractions. To distract you from quarantines, social distancing, and Trump's incompetence, here's a continuing rundown of the trip with my brother Jonathan.

At SeaWorld's Antartica: Empire of the Penguins
Our plan for the fourth day was to get up at dawn and try once again for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios. But after three straight days of nonstop rides and park-hopping, we were both kinda tired. It was decided to take it easy and relax by the hotel pool for a while, then decide. There was one day left on my Disney four-day ticket and an extra day was built into our schedule. The Marriott Courtyard had a lovely breakfast, though it wasn't free. The pool and jacuzzi were stress-relieving. We decided to take a break from Disney and head to SeaWorld at noon after a mellow morning. The hotel concierge, a nice lady with a Southern accent, got us discount tickets. I had wanted to go since I had never been and the crowds were supposed to be much less than at WDW.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Reconstructing the Carol Burnett Show, Part 8

There are two fantastic developments in the eternal quest to reconstruct all of the missing Carol Burnett Shows: First, MeTV has finished with the previously syndicated Seasons 6-11 and began showing the heretofore unseen Seasons 1-5 in chopped-down, half-hour segments. Second, I happened to be on Amazon Prime and discovered they are now streaming all of the first six seasons, plus season eight. I was so excited. I thought, now I don't have to buy that expensive second DVD collection, the Best of the Carol Burnett Show which has episodes not in The Lost Episodes DVD set I got for Christmas. So I eagerly clicked on the first episode expecting the entire hour, but all they have is the 22-minute edited version MeTV is running. If I want to see complete episodes, I will have to buy the DVD and even then, a lot of material will be missing from the MeTV/Amazon segments. Based on the complete list of episodes in Carol's book, In Such Good Company, there also seems to be a few episodes not included in either MeTV or Amazon.

Anyway, here is a rundown of the edited segments running on both platforms. Episodes already reviewed in the previous seven Carol Burnett blogs are not included, nor are those which can be found on the large DVD collections which will be reviewed later since there is access to the complete show on the DVD.

Season One:
Oct. 23, 1967: The Smothers Brothers, Diahann Carroll, Richard Kiley
Carol with Tommy Smothers
Not much going on in this one. Carol introduces the Smothers Brothers as her neighbors from across the hall since they were filming their relatively short-lived variety series at CBS then. Tommy Smothers is a blissed-out yogi and Carol is buxom Hollywood starlet in a sketch satirizing the 1960s trend of celebrities seeking enlightenment. Then Carol, Diahann, and the chorus dancers are kids braving a haunted house in the musical finale. Richard Kiley has been cut out entirely. He probably sang "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha. Diahann and he co-starred in No Strings on Broadway. I wonder if they did a number together.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Florida Trip Day Three: Presidents' Day at Hollywood Studios

In the determined hope of getting on Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, my brother Jonathan and I rose at 5:45 am on President's Day, Mon. Feb. 17, to get to Hollywood Studios in order to be in the
At Galaxy's Edge at WDW's Hollywood Studios
park as it opened and get a position in the virtual queue with a boarding group number. My brother had to be coaxed out of bed, and even though we skipped breakfast and rushed to the park, there were massive lines at the entry gates. We got in the park at about two minutes after opening at 8 am and all the slots on the virtual queue were filled up. It was very disappointing, but not surprising. Even if we had gotten into the park at 7:30 and whipped out our I-phones at the right moment, we still might not have gotten on because the whole thing is a lottery.

We consoled ourselves with tea and coffee, then started exploring Galaxy's Edge which we had gone through the night before after visiting Epcot. In addition to the rides, there is a droid-building workshop and a Jedi Knight training session where you battle Darth Vader, but you have to be a kid to join in that. Our first fast pass was for Star Tours, Disney's original Star Wars attraction which had undergone several changes since I had ridden it 20 years ago. The idea is you are on a star cruiser piloted by
Hangin with the Droids
CP30. But Darth Vader appears, accusing us of harboring a spy for the resistance (a picture of one of the guest riders is then projected on the screen.) We are chased by Vader, steered by a nervous, dithering CP30, ramming into the Death Star, shooting through space, Princess Leia begs us for help, and finally we land safely. (Did I mention I have seen all 11 Star Wars films and my favorite is Rogue One, seen in Rome with Italian subtitles.)

We had time to kill until our next Fast Pass, so we decided to wait in line to one of the more popular rides Slinky Dog Dash in Toy Story Land, another area not in existence since my last visit. The whole section is filled with giant toys from the late 1960s--Tinker Toys, balsa wood airplanes, board games, etc. Slinky Dog is relatively new and extremely busy. The wait was excruciatingly long--almost two hours--but it wasn't too bad (I could have seen the Muppets in 3-D while Jonathan stood in line. I should have made him do it since he made us miss the opening by staying in bed.) Anyway, there was a nice lady in line with us and Jonathan went for more coffee, tea, and pastries for all of us. The lady was from Winnipeg and
Slinky Dog Dash
she was also holding a place in line for her husband and two small children. Cast members dressed as green-faced combat soldiers entertained us by playing drums. The ride was fun--a sort of roller-coaster made of a slinky dog which rocks back and forth. I don't know if it was worth standing in line for close to two hours.

Our next Fast Pass was Toy Story Mania, but even with the Fast Pass, the line was a bit long. This one was remarkably like Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin at the Magic Kingdom and Men in Black at Universal where you shoot at targets for points with a cute little gun.

At some point we encountered Frozone from The Incredibles (voice by Samuel L. Jackson in the movie). It was a nice change to pose with a Pixar character rather than a Disney one.

Before our lunch reservation at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater, we took in Voyage of the Little Mermaid, a condensed 20-minute version of the movie and Broadway show combining film, puppets, special effects, actual rain, and live actors who actually sang rather than lip-synched. The young actress playing Ariel had a lovely voice and held her own against a gigantic Ursula machine. The presentation was fast-paced and entertaining, but

Friday, March 6, 2020

Florida Day Two: Hollywood Studios to Epcot (Part Two)

At Galaxy's Edge in Hollywood Studios
Once my brother Jonathan and I made the transfer from Epcot to Hollywood Studios, the Star Wars voyage began (I was not gonna waste that extra money I spent on the Park Hopper option, so we made sure to go between parks on the same day at least twice). The new Star Wars area of WDW's Galaxy's Edge was one of the big draws for the whole trip. And if you haven't been living under a rock, you know that the new Star Wars ride Rise of Resistance is supposed to be the most exciting theme park ride of all time and if you don't get on it, you will regret it for the rest of your life. No pressure or anything! I'm not that much of a Star Wars nerd that I would die of disappointment if we missed this one-but I figured we should at least try to get on Resistance. (I have seen all of films of the franchise include the stand-alone single shots Rogue One and Solo.) The ride is so popular they don't even have lines to get on. You have to enter a lottery for boarding times via the MyDisney app the minute the Hollywood Studios park opens every morning at 8AM and they usually fill up one minute later.