February 25, 2019  (Web Review)

The Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Special

Time-Life, 95 min., not rated, DVD: $12.99

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

Originally broadcast on CBS in December 2017, this one-shot special celebrates the comedy and musical highlights of Carol Burnett’s 1967-1978 variety show, a classic series that featured many great moments, including the Gone with the Wind parody, painfully hilarious dentist sketch, and surreal “Siamese elephants” outtake. This special seems to place secondary emphasis on the show and more on heavily rehearsed fawning provided by celebrities who claim fandom with all things Burnett. So, viewers are bombarded with Jay Leno, Jim Carrey, Martin Short, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, and Kristin Chenoweth gushing unctuously over Burnett’s genius, while Steve Carell offers a brief videotaped attempt to replicate Burnett’s Tarzan yell. Vicki Lawrence turns up to recall the evolution of her Mama character while Lyle Waggoner is given very little attention in both his guest appearance and in the classic clips. Burnett explains that Tim Conway’s absence from the proceedings was a case of being “under the weather” (last summer, Conway’s family publicly acknowledged his diagnosis with dementia), and frequent Burnett guests Steve Lawrence and Bernadette Peters offer fleeting input in a musical sequence with an intrusive Stephen Colbert. Burnett’s variety show has been the subject of earlier TV specials and DVD collections, but this tribute does not add much. Extras include bonus footage, backstage interviews, and a booklet. Optional. (P. Hall)