An oddly unspecific tribute to the distinguished clown
The Story So Far...
There are so many great moments from Korman's run on Burnett's series that a release like this, The Best of Harvey Korman, is truly a mystery. You'd expect that this would be a clip fest, like the enjoyable Saturday Night Live best-of collections, which really put the focus on the cast member in the spotlight. But instead, this disc just offers four seemingly random episodes of the series, which means that there's a much larger percentage of this collection without Korman than with him.
It's a genuine shame, especially when one episode barely has an Korman in it at all, though it does feature a memorable appearance by the funnyman in drag. In fact, you could almost make the argument that this is a best of Tim Conway set, as he has nearly as many stand-out moments. Yes, there are some wonderful Korman sketches, including a classic "Old Folks" sketch where he trades double entendres with Burnett, one where he sends up the President and a very Korman character named Count Fettuccine, in an extended sketch about Europe, but they are so few and far between, and you must wade through so much just to reach them.
On the plus side, there are several moments included that show Korman's ability to crack up his castmates and his predilection for cracking up, whether it's Burnett (who falls victim to Korman's samba-dance slip and fall) or himself, as he can't control himself with Burnett and Conway (though the Conway bit comes in a sketch in which he plays an aging burglar, and it's legitimately hilarious from all angles.) These are fine episodes, with guest spots by Diahann Carroll, Ella Fitzgerald, Sid Caesar, Nancy Wilson and Bernadette Peters. Just having Carroll, Fitzgerald and Peters alone would make these episodes worth watching, so there's nothing wrong with this set, but it's just not enough Korman to represent his supposed "best".
The episodes are presented with mono tracks, which do a fine job at presenting the dialogue and the songs in the musical numbers, making it an enjoyable listen (with the minor presence of some background hiss being an easily ignorable flaw.)
The Bottom Line