The Carol Burnett Show: Carol's Crack Ups DVD Review: So Funny the Cast Couldn't Help but Laugh

Although packed with guest stars, the sketches with the main cast are the best.
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Carol's Crack Ups presents 17 episodes of The Carol Burnett Show, the popular CBS variety show that ran for 11 seasons, beginning in 1967. Spread over six discs at random (for no apparent reason), Burnett selected the collection's episodes, which aired between 1972 and 1978.  I first discovered the show in syndication when they were cut down to half an hour and had the musical numbers removed.  Here, they are presented uncut.  Viewers get to see Burnett was more than a comedienne as she held her own singing alongside the musical guests, as well as the dance numbers that closed the show.

Featuring one of the medium's funniest ensembles, Burnett is joined by cast mates Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner (who left in 1974), Harvey Korman (who left in 1977), Tim Conway (a frequent guest star who joined the cast in 1975), and Dick Van Dyke (who replaced Korman in 1977).  The guest stars, familiar names to fans of classic television, who appear are Andy Griffith, Helen Reddy, Jack Cassidy, Carl Reiner, Melba Moore, Gloria Swanson, Charo, Ruth Buzzi, Richard Crenna, Kaye Ballard, Roddy McDowall, Ken Berry, Steve Lawrence, John Byner, Petula Clark, Francine Beers, and Alan King.  Be on the lookout for Fred "Rerun" Berry, as a member of the Campbellock Dancers and a quick visit from Burt Reynolds during a Q&A.   

Did you know they cracked each other up and left the flubs in the show?  It's pretty well known, but in the extras they never let you forget, like an old person telling the same story repeatedly.  Conway was frequently responsible for causing the mayhem.  The episodes would be recorded twice.  The first time through he would follow the script, but the second time he was free to explore ideas and jokes on his unsuspecting cast mates.  Korman was the worst at keeping things together, although to be fair, Conway does get ridiculous at times. 

There are over two hours of bonus features that include six bonus sketches and six featurettes about the show and cast members.  The guest stars here are Valerie Harper, George Carlin, Ken Berry and James Garner.  Yet, just like the uncut episodes, the sketches with the main cast are the best.  Two of the best known feature the unpredictable Conway as a Nazi interrogator trying to break U.S. solider Waggoner with a puppet and his Oldest Man character working as a firefighter to Korman's dismay. 

The show is a bit dated.  Some sketches move at a relaxed pace compared to today's standards as the gags slowly build.  A couple of times Conway plays Japanese characters who speak broken English or phonetic gibberish that, while not intended to offend, likely wouldn't go over well with the #CancelColbert crowd understandably since no Japanese actors appear in these shows.

For fans of classic TV comedy and variety shows, Carol's Crack Ups is a great addition to the video library.

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