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?"
|Carol (l., holding a purse) |
with Elizabeth Montgomery and
Dean Martin in
Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?
In another frustrating move, not only are all the segments on Amazon incomplete, but you have to watch them with commercials now. Carol opens up her third show (the second one with Sid Caesar and Liza Minnelli is analyzed in previous blogs) introducing her guests Eddie Albert from Green Acres (he doesn't make the cut here until the goodnights) and a "real nut" Jonathan Winters. During the audience Q&A, Carol introduces Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched in the audience. She explains she and Liz appeared in a horrible movie together which was on ABC the previous evening. Liz tells her they were on an airplane where the movie in question was being shown and they had 17 walk-outs. For the record, the movie was called Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed (1963) and I recall watching it on black and white TV. It was something about Liz and Dean Martin, playing a TV doctor, about to get married and Dino gets cold feet. Carol was the goofy best friend of Liz, I think. I think she had a drunk scene. This sort of harmless sex farce used to be a staple of cinema before TV loosened up in the 1970s and people could watch lame double entendres at home for free. You notice these kind of films never show up on TCM.
|Jonathan Winters shows Tim Conway|
isn't the only one
who can crack up Harvey
|Carol, Mickey Rooney, and John Davidson in|
The Four Funns of Broadway
other variety shows of the era with this segment featuring The Funn Family of Broadway, the first extended movie musical parody with full production numbers. Movie take-offs would become the highlight of each episode as Carol got to fulfill her childhood fantasies of becoming Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth, or Lana Turner. Many of these divas would turn up as her guest stars. Here the imitation movie musical takes up twenty mins. and an entire segment of the hacked-up version on Amazon, MeTV or ShoutFactory! Mashing together elements of Yankee Doodle Dandy, Show Boat and There's No Business Like Show Business, this mock musical relates the familiar tale of the Funn family of entertainers from the days of vaudeville in 1917 to a futuristic farewell in the far-off year of 1970. Carol, Vicki, guest stars Mickey Rooney and John Davidson are a family quartet struggling to make it (just like the four Cohans in Yankee Doodle Dandy). Harvey as a Ziegfeld-type producer enters their dressing room and agrees to star them in his next show, but only as a trio. The father Mickey nobly steps aside and allows his wife and kids to ascend the ladder of fame while he wallows at the bottom disguised as the kindly stage door man (just like in Show Boat). While son John becomes President of the US and daughter Vicki garners multiple Nobel Prizes as a doctor, mother Carol remains at the top until 1970 (three years from the time if the show) when she retires amid weirdly dressed chorus people who look like they just stepped out of Barbarella. (Bob Mackie really went to town here.) Mickey throws off his disguise at the last minute and there's a tearful reunion.
|Ken Berry and Carol in Show Down|
on the Show Boat
was starring on Mayberry RFD, the sequel to the Andy Griffith Show. A versatile song and dance man, Berry would become an almost ubiquitous presence on TV from Carol's show and Mama's Family to The Golden Girls. In the edited version, we only get Ken singing and dancing a cleaned-up version of Mack the Knife followed by Show Down on the Show Boat, or She Wasn't Much of a Swimmer But She Knew How to Float a Loan. Like the Four Funns of Broadway, this parody of Show Boat featured full production numbers plus a miscast Trini Lopez as the captain of the showboat. ("You come from a different part of the South," Carol quipped when he read a line with a heavy Spanish accent.) Lopez was a popular recording artist who dabbled in acting, appearing as one of the Dirty Dozen. The Show Boat was a fun diversion with colorful costumes from Bob Mackie and moustache-twirling from Harvey as the villain Nathan Nasty. Carol would return to the source material several seasons later with guest Hal Linden.
|Jonathan Winters and Carol|
as a TV-obsessed couple
Frickard as the world's oldest new mother at age 83. He's also funny in a brief sketch with Carol as a TV-obsessed couple who speak to each other in commercial talk. Warwick performs the theme from Valley of the Dolls, Children Go When I Send Thee with the dancers, and duets with Carol on Tomorra, an obscure show tune from Bloomer Girl. In Carol and Sis, Carol insists on staying up all night so her hair will be perfect for a wedding the next day. Somehow she gets stuck inside a space helmet Crissy wore to a costume party. (Don't ask.) The whole insane hour ends with Carol cracking up as a whip artist is supposed to whip all her clothes off, but he misses his cue and whips too early, leaving Carol standing in her underwear for several minutes while she sings the end of "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me."
|Carol and Betty Grable in the first|
As the Stomach Turns
|Carol, Gloria Loring and Vicki|
in Valley of the Dollars
Ann, Neely and Jennifer posing on a bed as in the famous publicity shot of the three leads. Here's the problem: Gloria Loring is not listed as a guest star and she does not show up in the goodbyes. But, this sketch is included in the Amazon/MeTV episode with Soupy Sales which is dated as March 25, 1968 and Loring does show up in that one in the goodnights. So why did the producers of the DVD insert this sketch into another segment? Or maybe it was part of that show and the original producers used it again a few weeks later? (Not very likely.) The world may never knew, as the guy in Tootsie Pop commercial said.
|Carol as Katharine Hepburn, Art Carney, Harvey,|
and Nanette Fabray as Ethel Mermaid
in Guess What's Coming to Dinner