The Best of The Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition 21-DVD Set Review

Fans should be quite pleased owning a quarter of the entire series.
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Two years later and Time Life is still celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Carol Burnett Show, which debuted on September 11, 1967 and ran for 279 episodes until March 29, 1978. The latest release is a 21-disc set that collects 60 episodes from previously released material. The Carol Burnett Show was a variety show filled with comedy and musical numbers, although the latter were cut when the show aired in syndication, which repackaged sketches from seasons six through ten into a half hour. Just a few months ago, MeTV got the rights to the early seasons and began airing them.

Burnett was joined by a talented company of performers: Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman (seasons 1-10), Lyle Waggoner (seasons 1-7), and Dick Van Dyke (season 11). I was surprised to learn Tim Conway wasn't an official member of the cast until seasons 9-11, but he made frequent appearances throughout the first eight seasons. They were also joined by numerous guest stars nearly every week. Throughout this collection, viewers can see why the series was so popular and fans can rewatch their favorite recurring sketches like, such as “Carol and Sis,” “The Oldest Man,” “The Family,” “As the Stomach Turns,” “Mrs. Wiggins,” and movie parodies like “Went with the Wind!”

The Best of The Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition 10-DVD collects 32 episodes and repurposes five discs (#1, #2, #4, #7, #8) from The Best of The Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition 6-DVD set. The sixth from that set is the Final Show, which is available here in its own case.

The Bonus Features are:

On Disc #1, “11 Years of Laughter on The Carol Burnett Show” (27 min) is the story of show told through interviews with Burnett, Conway, Waggoner, Vicki Lawrence, Steve Lawrence, and Bernadette Peters. On Disc #4, “Bonus Blooper: The Brown Derby” (1 min), “Bonus Blooper: Dog's Life” (4 min), and an interview with female impersonator Jim Bailey (10 min). On Disc #5, “Fashion Forward: 11 Years of Style on The Carol Burnett Show” (17 min) looks at the work of Bob Mackie who is interviewed. On Disc #6, “Bonus Blooper: The Plot to Hurt Hitler” (4 min). On Disc #7, “Bonus Blooper: Bifocals” (1 min).

The Best of The Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Edition: 11 Years, Together Again 10-DVD set presents 27 episodes. Three of the discs are from The Lost Episodes set (#1, #3, #4) and though not labeled like the others, Disc 5 is here as well.

The Bonus Features are:

On Disc #1, “A Backstage Tour: Carol and Company Return to Studio 33” (20 min) - Recorded on April 2, 2015, the cast minus Korman return to the show's home and reminisce. Interviews: Julie Andrews (10 min), Carol Burnett (11 min), Don Rickles (2 min) Bonus Sketch: Opening number from Julie and Carol at Lincoln Center (9 min) - Carol tells a story about dying her hair before filming the show and then the number is shown. Three Outakes (3 min).

On Disc #2, “On the Spot: Carol's Q&A” (20 min). Interviews: Alan Alda (15 min), Burt Reynolds (14 min), Lesley Ann Warren (34 min). Bonus Sketch: “Morton of the Movies” from Show #813 (15 min) with Alda (12/21/74). On Disc #3, “Fabulous Firsts” (29 min). Interviews: Bill Hader (16 min), Gloria Loring (11 min), Queen Latifah (5 min). Bonus Sketch: “The Dentist” from Show #120 (9 min) with Conway and Korman (3/3/69).

On Disc #5, Interviews: Vikki Carr (12 min), Carol Channing (8 min), Jack Jones (29 min). On Disc #6, “This Time Together”: Cast reunion with Carol, Vicki, Tim, and Lyle (30 min). Interviews: Tim Conway (19 min), Steve Lawrence (15 min). On Disc #10, “Gag and Gowns - A Tribute to Designer Bob Mackie” (20 min). “Side Effects May Include... - About the TV Commercials” (10 min), Interviews: Carol Burnett (19 min), Vicki Lawrence (16 min).

The Final Show - Airing March 29, 1978, “A Special Evening with Carol Burnett” is a two-hour special with old clips and sketches with favorite characters. There were two heartfelt moments from Burnett that really stand out. The show surprised her with an appearance by her favorite actor Jimmy Stewart, who sang “Ragtime Cowboy Joe,” and played piano. Dressed as the Charwoman, Burnett speaks directly to the audience about why she felt it was time to end the show and thanks all those involved in making it.

The Bonus Features are: “The End of 11 Years: Saying So Long” (11 min) finds cast members, guest stars, and famous fans talking about the show and the final episode. “Interview: Carol Burnett” (16 min) presents an overview of the show, some which was used in other bonus material above.

For those that don't already own some of these discs, this 21-DVD set offers a lot of entertainment. Fans should be quite pleased owning a quarter of the entire series and the extras offer a lot of insight into what it took to make The Carol Burnett Show the classic variety show it became.

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