Sept. 30, 1968: Carol Channing
Sept. 30, 1968: Carol Channing
(Previously reviewed on Reconstructing the Carol Burnett Show, Part Ten: Carol and Carol Q&A, Bored Political Wife sketch, Golddigger sketch)
|Carol and Carol|
Previously missing material includes Carol Channing recreating "Homesick Blues" from the Broadway production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The song about missing America while in Paris did not make the film version and neither did Carol, as she was replaced by Marilyn Monroe. Channing is delightful in her 1920s garb, warbling about Mutt and Jeff, Texas Guinan, and bathtub gin.
There's also a Carol and Sis sketch, employing the overused plot point of a misunderstanding leading to an awkward martial situation. Husband Roger (Harvey) finds a wristwatch in the living room with the current date inscribed on it. He assumes it's an anniversary or birthday that he's forgotten and rushes to buy his wife Carol a pearl necklace. Turns out the watch was a present for another couple for whom Carol was holding onto, so she uses Harvey's forgetfulness to leverage the necklace into a matching set of earrings, because all women just care about jewelry, right?
The extended finale is another of the show's themed extravaganzas centered on a Zodiac sign. This time it's Taurus the Bull, Carol's sign. There are the usual quickie bad puns based on famous Taurans including US Grant, Sigmund Freud, Fred Astaire, William Shakespeare, and Salvador Dali (Carol croons "Hello, Dali" to the moustachioed surrealist, played by lead dancer Don Creighton. Ouch!) There are short bits based on characteristics of Taurus. For stubbornness, Carol B. plays a bank teller who forces a hold-up man (Lyle) to fill out a withdrawal slip in triplicate. For gluttony, Vicki and Harvey, dressed in Elizabethan-era fat suits sing "Suppertime" from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. The horoscopic sequence concludes with Carol Channing as an astrological matchmaker, pairing up Carol and Harvey, Vicki and Lyle, and Don Creighton with a rather mature-looking blonde dancer. Everybody sings "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" from Fiddler on the Roof as Carol B. connives to switch Harvey for Lyle (of course). This segues into "The Two of Us," then the dancers run on (the men have zodiac signs on the backs of their tuxedo jackets) and do a big production number to electronic music. The principals rejoin them for a reprise of "Matchmaker" and Carol Channing, not Carol Burnett is given the big close-up at the end as she drops her voice several octaves for a big "Oh, yeah" finish.
As a side note, let me just say I have grown to adore Carol Channing's TV work. I met her once when she spoke at a Drama Desk luncheon and she was charming. I only saw her on stage in one of her many Hello, Dolly revivals (the one in the 1990s), so I know her mostly from TV. In the 1960s and 70s she was on virtually every variety series of which there were many back then including Flip Wilson, Dean Martin, Laugh-In, the Kraft Music Hall, the Kopykats, etc. Perhaps I'll write a separate post on Carol C.'s delightful video oeuvre at a later date.
Nov. 3, 1969: Gwen Verdon, Pat Boone
|Gwen Verdon and Pat Boone in|
As the Stomach Turns
The segment also contains the first Ham Actors sketch with Carol covering up her flu symptoms while playing a love scene with Harvey, the Old Folks getting ready for bed, and commercial parodies with sexual innuendoes. The musical numbers are pretty entertaining with Gwen as a seductive toddler dancing with the male chorus members dressed as little boys and Pat as a clown in the pretty and evocative "Molly." The circus theme carries over in the finale with Carol, Gwen and Vicki as lady clowns with exaggerated bosoms and behinds. The song "(Let's Go Where) The Grass is Greener" doesn't quite fit the mood somehow.
Sept. 20, 1970: Pat Paulsen, Cass Elliott
(MeTV) This is one of the 22-minute MeTV edited versions I DVRed a while back and have finally gotten around to. It's also one of the episodes of which a complete edition has not been made available either through the Paley Center, the original Masters series, or on DVD. So pieces of it are still missing. I recently bought Wesley Hyatt's The Carol Burnett Show Companion: So Glad We Had This Time on Amazon. It's a 500-plus page book listing all of the episodes and there are some even the excellent author hasn't seen in their complete version.
|Pat Paulsen visits the Tenth Avenue|
Family with Carol as Stella
The bulk of this hacked-up segment is taken up with a visit to the Tenth Avenue family, a recurring sketch which was dropped before I started watching regularly. Slovenly Stella and Harry are expecting a visit from the gentleman caller of their daughter Dulcy (Vicki), who at 11 is fully mature and boxum. Cass climbs through the fire escape as upstairs neighbor Bitsy Walsky, aka the Widow Walsky because she's buried four husbands. Pat arrives as Dulcy's date, a 40-ish would-be politician, playing off Paulsen's real-life, sort of presidential campaign. There are jokes about political corruption, one of which is strangely prescient, "I'm starting with the basic stuff--graft, rigging the voting machines." Cass returns and Pat immediately falls in love with her, dumping Dulcy who promptly calls her car-thief boyfriend for a date. "The kid's gonna be alright," Stella reassures Harry and the sketch ends.
There's also a short series of commercial spoofs, introduced by Lyle with the warning that TV spots are getting more and more sexy. Harvey strips during a cigarette ad. Carol is surprised by the return of her husband while in the arms of another man ("I came back" was the tagline). Lyle boasts of acquiring the woman he's kissing by redeeming coupons.
Oct. 5, 1971: Carol Channing, Steve Lawrence
|The two Carols in|
As the Stomach Turns
Jan. 26, 1972: Tim Conway, Ray Charles
|Ray Charles signing Carol's autograph book;|
Tim is at right
March 16, 1974: Roddy MacDowall, The Jackson 5
|16-year-old Michael Jackson with Carol|
in the musical number interrupted
by an earthquake.
Roddy also appears in his Planet of the Apes make-up for a satiric medley of love songs with Carol and as Philip, the famous writer visiting the crass Higgins-Harper family (the Family sketches are discussed in detail in previous blogs.) MacDowall appeared in all five of the original Planet of the Apes movies, which I saw at the Plymouth Meeting Mall's Twin Cinemas over the course of several years.
In their first appearance on Carol's show, the Jacksons perform Dancing Machine and then in the finale as rowdy students taught by stuffy substitute music instructor Carol. In the middle of the scene, there was an actual earthquake. The Jacksons appear nervous and flustered, but Carol saves the situation by ad-libbing, "No visiting, no visiting. The earth just moved. You see what can happen when you pay attention." The lesson leads into the group singing their hit "ABC" when Carol's uptight teacher letting her hair down and boogeying.
Carol later wrote that the Jacksons were very shy, especially Michael and she felt badly when she learned he thought he was unattractive. "I thought he was beautiful," she wrote in her book In Such Good Company.
There's also a humdrum sketch with Carol, Harvey, Vicki and Lyle fighting over a ringing public phone booth which may be a call from a quiz show. The most memorable part is one of the chorus guys as a drunk hanging up the phone while the quartet bicker. Wesley Hyatt's book identifies him as Stan Mazin who overacts the part wildly.
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