The Carol Burnett Show: Let's Bump Up the Lights! does a retrospective clip show good.
I was obsessed with the Carol Burnett Show when I was a little kid. It's been years since I've seen it, and I often wondered if I would still think it as good as I did back then. I remember some of the funniest moments, some of the famous skits—but I also remember that much of it was very much had the variety show feel of that era. But the one thing it did have that they just don't do anymore is the opening Q&A. in this made for television special, running only 42 minutes without commercials, Carol, Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, and Lyle Waggoner sit before a live audience, and once again, take questions from the audience. These questions work as a kick off to flashing back to some of the funniest questions Carol was asked by audience members during the show's long run: The number of blushing audience members who have asked for a kiss, not only from Carol, but from the rest of the cast—even Harvey; the Maude look-alike who asked to come up on stage to perform and be part of the show; a woman who needed to know where the bathroom was, whether Carol is actually a natural redhead. And in the present day, Carol gets a request for the Tarzan call—and even sings a cheesy but funny song about it before doing it for us live. Vicki gets requests to do Mama. We find out why Carol pulls her ear. And each cast member recalls memorable moments of the Q&A sessions, and they are just as funny now as back then, and even more willing to cross the line with some of their comments—particularly Tim Conway. And to top it off, the show has been carefully edited so that you never know where there were commercials, thanks to excellent fades.
Watching the clips of the Q&A session, one thing becomes very clear—this was a cast that may have been following scripts most of the time, but when it came time for improvisation, they were masters—and this could possibly have been the best part of the entire show. I spent 42 minutes literally laughing out loud as I watched Carol (as well as the rest of the cast) deal with the unexpected with the greatest of ease, seeming to know just where to go to keep things on the most hilarious of levels. The warmth of the show that brought in loyal fans for years stems right from Carol's willingness to actually recognize that the audience is there, and that each person is an individual. The only person who I feel comes close to capturing this connection with her audience now is Ellen DeGeneres. And just like Ellen now, Carol and her gang always left you wanting to come back for more. The only downside to this hysterical retrospective is that you'll wish it would go on for another hour!
The special is full frame, as originally presented on television. This is a much better transfer of a TV show than most I've seen. The colors are rich and vibrant (maybe a bit oversaturated). The blacks offer shocking contrast to the colors and brights. The faces are a bit pale, but probably in part due to the stage lighting. The image is relatively defined, if not a bit soft around the edges. The print is clean with no signs of damage.
The 2.0 stereo sound is excellent—of course, the only thing really being separated from left to right is the audience claps and laughs. But the dialogue is crisp, clear and loud.
Sadly, there is not a single extra on this disc, not even chapter selection.
The Carol Burnett Show: Let's Bump Up the Lights! is a retrospective that focuses on the brilliant improvisational skills of Carol and her cast during the Q&A sessions at the beginning of each episode of the long running show. While it only runs 42 minutes, you're sure to be laughing straight through—and wish that you could once again turn on your TV to see Carol in action on a weekly basis.