The Carol Burnett Show: "Let's Bump Up the Lights!"
Go ahead and call me a big square (or a male hairdresser), but I happen to think The Carol Burnett Show is funny. Sure, we grew tired of Vicki Lawrence milking that Mama character (and on that show! Mama's Family!) and yes, Tim Conway went on to the illustrious Dorf series, but those performers, combined with Burnett, Lyle Waggoner and of course, the inimitable Harvey Korman could sometimes create laugh out loud comedy.
And one of the reasons the combo could be so funny was their loose style. Certainly they practiced these routines old pros that they were, but they also came from a tradition of off-the-cuff gags, something true comedians (like Don Rickles, Bob Newhart and Martin and Lewis) pulled off without a hitch. For Burnett and company (who often broke into laughter during skits), they displayed their ease during the show's famed Q&A session--the time when Carol would yell "Let's bump up the lights!"
In this DVD (which originally aired on TV last year) all of the original cast skip down Q&A memory lane with a modern live audience. Sitting on stage, the cast takes questions from the audiences--some seem natural others a bit canned--but answer them with a good natured humor that veers from the sweetness and self deprecation of Brunette to the frequently bizarre antics of Korman and Conway. These guys have not softened with age.
But more enjoyable than the current questions are the clips of vintage episodes, introduced by different cast members. We, of course, see Carol's Tarzan yell (she tells an amusing story about forgetting her ID at a department store and having to use that yell as identification for a check), Waggoner's kisses (so many women wanted to get all over the hammy-handsome Waggoner whom we learn was a door to door Encylopedia salesman before doing the show!), Carol's age (she thinks of varied ways to skirt this answer) and many of the odd queries (like "What kind of cleaner do you use on the floor?" Or, "Where's the bathroom?") all met with Carol's infectious, genuine laugh. The best moment has a woman (who looks a lot like Bea Arthur circa Maude) asking if she can come up on stage to do something resulting in a bring-the-house-down rendition of "You Made Me Love You." What's so delightful is the woman can really, really sing. She puts American Idol contestants to shame.
And since the show ran eleven seasons (garnering heaps of Emmy Awards), we also witness Carol's various hairstyles, wigs and costumes that range from brightly tacky to fashionably simple to Bob Mackie-a-licious. If you're a fan (and I know people like my mom are), this is great fun to watch, reminding you how fresh television could be. Burnett's humor still holds up today--even in a lime green panstuit.
Paramount presents The Carol Burnett Show: Let's Bump Up the Lights!" in its original full frame (1:33:1) format. The transfer from new footage to old looks fine and colorful.
The audio comes in Dolby Digital and sounds great--even in the old footage.
Sadly, no extras.
A treat for fans. And if you love Harvey Korman, well...you simply must watch.
Read more Kim Morgan at her blog Sunset Gun