The Carol Burnett Show: 11 Years of Laughs

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Tom_Tagliente19, Feb 14, 2011.

  1. Tom_Tagliente19

    Tom_Tagliente19 Stunt Coordinator

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    For those who are fans of this TV classic, it is time to find out who the powers that be are who own this hilareous TV seriers and make it available to all Carol Burnett Show fans who have been weaiting what seems rto be like forever for this one to come out on DVD.

    Just the other night I was watching the Reunion Show DVD that I bought a few years ago with a great clip of Tim Conway breaking up Carol, Vickie and Dick Van Dyke with a story about Siamese Elephants "that were joined at the end of their trunks like this." PRICELESS stuff!

    It's time for the owner of this classic to unveil it in remastered glory for all to enjoy again and again. Can this be looked into and see who owns it so it can be requested for DVD/BluRay disc release? Show your support by participating in the poll attached to this post.

    Regards,

    Tom
     
  2. David Rain

    David Rain Screenwriter

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    Any Carol fan would love this but it's not likely to happen. They can't even get season sets out, they certainly are not going to restore it for Blu-ray, if that's even possible. Music rights have likely killed any chance this series has of ever coming out in any complete form. I would certainly be willing to buy properly done comps of the skits if that's all that could ever be released.

    Carol has also publicly stated that she thinks the earlier seasons of the show are of lesser quality than the later seasons. So you are never likely to see those eps released. I'd settle for them being reshown in some form in syndication. I'd like to see any of the seasons shown in the original format including the musical numbers. A huge section of this show's history is languishing in a vault, unseen.

    Everyone wants this show out in complete form. But I doubt it will ever happen.
     
  3. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer
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    Personally, I think that a complilation of the various film and television parodies they did would be the most commercial release. The parodies seem to be the most fondly remembered part of the show. Music rights issues would exist as the parodies often used music cues from the film or series, but perhaps those issues could be reduced if they released the product through a studio that owns many of the relevant rights (like WHV).
     
  4. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
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    While I'd love complete series sets, the music rights issues won't let that happen. But barring that, I'd love to see compilation sets of all the Family skits bundled together, all the As the Stomach Turns (trouble here is that they are all the same sketch repeated over and over), and, most especially the movie parodies. How many titles can we recall?

    Babes in Barns
    Ransid Harvest
    Mildred Fierce
    A Swiped Life
    Lovely Story (Now nothing can keep us apart! cough, cough...)
    Rebecky
    The Enchanted Hovel
    The Lady Heir
    The Putrifed Forest
    Mr. Schleppington
     
  5. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer
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    For the most part, I I don't think I can remember most of those. I do recall Rebecky (Rebecca) and Mildred Fierce (Mildred Pierce). Mildred Fierce was especially good as they retold the entire film. Other parodies that stand out in my mind include:

    Jaws (Harvey Korman does a great Robert Shaw)
    Laura
    The Wolf Man (Vicki Lawrence does a great Maria Ouspenskaya)
    Gone with the Wind (Went with the Wind)
    Star Trek
    Kung Fu (Young Fool)
    Columbo (Cobumble)

    The funniest parody imo is the Kung Fu with Jim Neighbors playing Caine as Gomer Pyle and Harvey Korman as Master Po. I probably haven't seen it in at least 20 years, but I can still recall Neighbors look of extreme pain when he tries to break a wood board with his arm. Master Po then tells him that it he may have broken his arm, but his arm will grow stronger, and he will continue to break his arm and each time it will become stronger, but . . . "of course, that's only a theory."
     
  6. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer
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    The Lady Heir" is one of my favorites ("...although I do see by the clock that you are three years late!"), as is the one of The Little Foxes (can't remember their name for it.)

    I would love to see all the uncut Family segments. Great stuff.

    Since they are selling full episode collections via Guthy-Renker, the music rights can't be killing them all. I've been thinking about ordering, but the price is akin to the old Columbia House videos ($19.95 per volume, although they do have specials.) Here's the link for anyone who wants to take the plunge:
    http://www.carolburnettshowvideos.com/index.php ,
     
  7. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    Quote:

    Sixty-two complete episodes have been releaesed on DVD over 31 volumes (two per volume), first by Columbia House and the re-released by Guthy-Renker. Just be aware, they are pricey: $20 or so each (beyond the cut-price initial volume). So, the above statement isn't 100% correct. You'll never see complete seasons (let alone all of the episodes) in brick and mortar stores, but you can buy volumes of some complete episodes by mail order/direct marketing.

    Before you complain at the high price there is a reason these are $20 each: it is those expensive music rights. Carol worked out a special arrangement with the musicians in the Peter Matz Orchestra (the 'house band' on the show), who accepted, one would assume, reduced royalties.

    So, royalties presumably had to be paid to all the musicians and probably the composers of the songs, too. You want complete episodes, they're going to cost more than a buck or two apiece. This is why there are no retail sets: you'd never get the per-episode cost down to a price that the average person would be willing to pay ($100 or more a season in-store: they'd be luck to sell more than a couple in today's DVD marketplace).

    If you want uncut episodes, I'd suggest subscribing to the Guthy-Renker ones. I bought all 31 volumes back when Columbia House had it and, considering it's the only option available, am pleased with them.




    That's been the official "line" for years (also quoted by Harvey Korman), but I think the truth probably has a bit more to do with the fact that one of Carol's ex-husbands has co-ownership of those earlier seasons and they went through a bitter divorce. Maybe she doesn't want him earning any residuals, maybe the two sides can't agree to terms, but that's probably the big reason those seasons weren't even represented in the Carol Burnett & Friends syndication package. All you ever see of the early years are clips.

    Another possible reason for those episodes not getting released is that a totally different house orchestra was used in those seasons, conducted by Herman Zimmerman. Likely, they'd have had to work out separate arrangements with those musicians if they released earlier episodes, so with that mess and the co-ownership mess of the earlier seasons, it was probably just easier to restrict the Columbia House/GR releases to 1972-forward.




    since this show was shot on videotape, then no, it most cerainly will not be "restored" to BluRay, because you cannot get any better resolution out of the master tapes than already exists in the specification for DVD. The only advantage to putting it on Blu-Ray would be that you could cram more episodes on fewer discs and maybe some reduction in compression artifacts, but certainly, no chance of any increased resolution.
     
  8. Jack P

    Jack P Producer

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    I don't think that can be the reason because first off, her ex-husband who was producer of the show was Joe Hamilton and he's been dead quite a few years now.



     
  9. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
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    The early years were produced under the "Burngood" production company, which was a partnership of Carol Burnett and Mark Goodson. Any release would have to be negotiated with the Goodson estate and I've heard that this was the break-up that was bitter. Carol owns the later years outright under how own production companies. Her divorce from Joe Hamilton wasn't bitter and there's no hang-up involving her ex-husband that I've ever heard of.

    But Carol's right -- the early years have a different flavor and in general can't come up to the later ones. The writing was actually at times smuttier, relying on stale old burlesque gags and was always repetitve, reworking the same gags week after week,especially in the "As the Stomach Turns" series of sketches. There's nothing in the early years that can compare with the Family sketches. But, in a perfect world, I'd still like to see the entire series on DVD!
     
  10. Garysb

    Garysb Screenwriter

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    How well can people remember the early years of the show since its been over 40 years since they have been shown? I know the Paley Center has the very first show.
     
  11. Neil Brock

    Neil Brock Cinematographer

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    I never really watched the later shows very much so I don't remember them too well. I did watch the early seasons and I thought they were quite good actually. I believe Bob Banner had something to do with the first 4 or 5 seasons and has partial ownership which explains why they have never been released in any form.
     
  12. Executive

    Executive Stunt Coordinator

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    Only being 42 I was too young to stay up late enough to watch the early years of The Carol Burnett Show, so the first five (??) seasons up to 1972 would ALL be new to me. I don't know how funny they were before Tim Conway was a regular, but being the period in which it was produced the fashions were certainly a lot better -- particularly women's.

    Carol had great legs too and she probably got to show them off more in the beginning. I never liked that she favored a short hairstyle though, but throwing on a wig in the Mr. Tuball & Mrs. Wiggins sketches she was more alluring as that character required her to be. Recently I've re-watched some of the DVD releases from the later years, and they were chock full of laughs too! Not as many "Mama's Family" sketches in the last season (after Harvey Korman left) though, but they were always worth watching. At least they got Harvey to play Ed Harper again in the early 80s when the concept was revived as a CBS special and an NBC sitcom in its own right.

    The 1978 show with Steve Martin, George Carlin, and Betty White as the guests, however, was not as sharp as I hoped it would be given the talent involved. Although can anyone deny that Vicki Lawrence was sexy in that bikini in the "Beach Party" movie parody sketch? :)
     
  13. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    Ah, with Mark Goodson. Guess I only half remembered the story correctly! Still, I imagine that Carol probably feels (quality withstanding or not) that it's a lot easier to simply have selected episodes she owned outright than try to negotiate with whoever owns the other 'half' of the rights to those earlier seasons (and likely have to negotiate separate music royalty arrangements with Herman Zimmerman's orchestra members).
     
  14. Dave B Ferris

    Dave B Ferris Supporting Actor

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    In this discussion of a 'traditional' variety show, I'm curious: did anybody pick up 'The Rich Little Show - The Complete Series' (MPI), released yesterday? I ordered the set for in-store pickup at my local Barnes & Noble, but it has yet to arrive - seems to take them a little longer to receive stock from smaller 'studios'.
     
  15. William B.

    William B. Stunt Coordinator

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    The other company involved in the show's early years, besides Burngood, was Bob Banner Associates (Banner had been associated with the comedienne from her days as a regular on The Garry Moore Show - which Banner also produced - from 1959 to 1962). It is Banner himself (as Neil Brock surmised a few posts up) who co-owns those first five seasons - and perhaps the main reason why not only have those earlier shows not seen any DVD release, but no comedy sketches edited for Carol Burnett & Friends. (Indeed, in recent years Ms. Burnett has let on that in her show's earliest years, Banner even served as executive producer though in his years in that capacity, that position was never even mentioned in the end credits, and wouldn't be until Joe Hamilton was promoted from producer effective with season 4.)

    Nor is the issue of musical directors necessarily at play. Harry Zimmerman only wielded the baton in the first four seasons (1967-71) - and Peter Matz took over in the final year of Ms. Burnett's 10-year contract with CBS that had commenced in 1962 - and under which all her shows (not just the weekly series, but one-off specials such as Carol + 2 which aired the year before her show started) were produced under the Burngood/Banner aegis. Furthermore, in 1974-75 some shows were scored by Irwin Kostal, and at least one other show from 1975 by Jack Elliott.

    And can anyone else vouch for the "-good" part in Burngood being Mark Goodson? I know that, in the early 1960's, Ms. Burnett had made some appearances on such Goodson-Todman shows as What's My Line? (as occasional mystery guest) and Password (as an occasional celebrity contestant). (And in the 1970's, series regular Vicki Lawrence occasionally pulled double-duty at CBS Television City Studio 33, when making appearances among the panel in the "wild and crazy" Charles Nelson Reilly/Brett Somers incarnation of Match Game.)

    And per 'Garysb', the Paley Center has that first show in two forms: as a B&W kinescope, and via the color videotape source.
     
  16. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    William:
    Thanks for the additional information.

    I'm sure you're right about the co-ownership of the first five seasons by Bob Banner being the reason that none of those shows have been presented or raided for clips in syndication.




    Not overall, but for releases of the Columbia House/Guthy-Renker type, that might still be a stumbling block, as Carol's agreements for the episodes that have already been released were a special arrangement with Peter Matz's orchestra. If releases were ever to resume (and there's been no indication that is even likely to happen), I'd be surprised if Carol went to all the extra trouble to try to work out a similar arrangement with Zimmerman's orchestra personnel when there are still many unreleased Matz shows. As for the Kostal/Elliott shows, I suspect it might be the same situation where new, separate deals would have to be negotiated (at least with the orchestra director himself, if they were simply conducting Matz's orchestra in his place, or a wholesale new agreement if he was conducting other musicians).

    I suspect, though, that the 31 releases of complete shows we have now are the only ones we're likely to ever have. The audience for this show keeps ageing and interest in variety shows is at least perceived as being less than more mainstream shows. Add to that the headaches/expense of music rights/royalties (and the musicians probably wanting bigger payments than the 'special' negotiated fee if we're talking a general release) and you can see why no one would probably even attempt to take it on.
     
  17. darkrock17

    darkrock17 Supporting Actor

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    I want to see this on DVD, I love Carol and the gang, this show is television greatness. I want to see the ever frustrated Mr. Tudbull and Mrs. Wiggins and nothing beats the pre-soap parody "As The Stomach Turns".
     
  18. William B.

    William B. Stunt Coordinator

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    The very first "As the Stomach Turns" sketch aired on Feb. 12, 1968 (guests: Betty Grable and Martha Raye, both of whom even appeared in that sketch) as an intended "one-shot" sketch whose premise (as introduced on-camera by Lyle Waggoner) was how a long-running soap opera would come to an end after 15 years on the air. From the very first sketch, it was set in Canoga Falls; and Carol's character's name was the same throughout (though in that first sketch we learn her full name: Marian Clayton). One recurring gag was certain characters running through their life story only to be drowned out by the ubiquitous organ - and at one point one of the ladies (I think Ms. Burnett) finally shouted "Will you cut that out?" and threw something in the organist's direction to shut the instrument up. (I've seen that whole sketch in its pristine original color videotape form - albeit digitized to be able to be shown on computer monitors - at the Paley Center for Media.) Evidently, enough positive feedback from viewers and audiences assured that, from Season 2 onwards, "ATST" would be a permanent recurring sketch on the show. But the year it first appeared puts the lie to As the World Turns co-star Eileen Fulton's claim that she put the bug in the Burnett show writing staff's ear for the sketch in the early '70's (as mentioned in Wikipedia).
     
  19. Mark Y

    Mark Y Supporting Actor

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    Sorry to drag up this old thread, but thought I'd chime in here. In case anyone's interested, I found a list on line of the 31 Columbia House volumes:
    http://reviews.ebay.com/Carol-Burnett-Show-Columbia-House-Video-Guide?ugid=10000000004059858
    Columbia House stopped offering the series some years back, but it's available again through Guthy-Renker. I took the plunge and got the set, which consists of the first 21 volumes plus the "Show Stoppers" reunion special from 2001. (It includes that, but not the other one, "Let's Bump Up The Lights.") But it looks like the final ten volumes aren't being offered. They have a website but it has very little information, basically they just tell you to order the first DVD cheap, then they'll send another every couple months and bill you. Or you could go for the whole thing in about 4 or 5 payments and they'll knock off the price of one or two DVDs, which is what I did. (I must be crazy.) But they don't even say how many volumes they are offering, let alone which shows are on them.
    I would love to get the remaining ten volumes, which are out there on ebaY and Amazon, but you know how that goes, supply and demand.
    I was a little surprised to see that the final show isn't among the ones they released. Also, the set I got has one episode with Dick Van Dyke, but it's a guest appearance a couple years before he became a regular in the final season replacing Harvey Korman. Although my family watched the show every week back then, I oddly had no memory of this at all. I've read that his tenure on the show "didn't work out" and he left part way through the season. One site mentioned that he left "abruptly." I just wonder what the heck happened. I get the impression that he and Carol Burnett were friends, they'd performed together before, and he'd been a frequent guest star (as Tim Conway also had before he joined the show). Van Dyke is really good in the show I saw (Tony Randall is excellent too). But maybe it wouldn't have mattered who they brought in for the final year, since Conway didn't have Korman to play with. The whole thing just seems bizarre to me. There are a few shows from Van Dyke's tenure as a regular on those final ten volumes, maybe some day I'll get to see them...
    I'd love to see season sets released, but for the reasons everyone has mentioned, I'm not gonna hold my breath and this is probably the closest it will get. I do highly recommend them, it's a good collection and I've really liked what I've seen so far.
     
  20. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    So, G-R didn't do all 31 of them? Glad I got mine from Columbia House when I did!
    I, too, was surprised the final show wasn't released, but my guess is that it was probably planned (since we got two of the final four shows), but never made it out when the decision was made to pull the plug. I think the way these things worked out was if sales warranted, they'd get approval for new releases in batches of two or five, if I recall correctly (at least, earlier in the range). Volume 31 seems such an odd stopping-point. I suspect more were planned, but then the order came down to close their reTV division.
    The "Van Dyke as a regular" shows that were released are (one each) on volumes 24, 26 and 28, respectively. As for why it didn't 'work out': one report said he couldn't get used to being a second-banana. He did leave to do his own variety show, as I recall, so it may be just that he left for his own show, which is understandable.
    A couple of the final-season episodes (the ones without Van Dyke, I recall) still even had their mini "sponsored-by" plugs/commercials left that directly followed the opening credits!
     

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