THE DVD SHELF: The Grandly Theatrical "A Double Life," Plus "A New Leaf," "E.T.," "Annie" and "The Carol Burnett Show"

By Steven Suskin
30 Sep 2012

Cover art for "The Carol Burnett Show — Carol's Favorites"

For 11 seasons, from 1967 to 1978, "CBS" had a double meaning: Columbia Broadcast System and The Carol Burnett Show. Every week, millions of fans stopped by to see what Carol and her team of fellow-buffoons — headed by Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner and Tim Conway — might come up with.

Time Life has culled the 278 episodes for laughter, with input from the star, and given Carol's fans something to cheer about. Several things to cheer about, really. The object in hand is The Carol Burnett Show — Carol's Favorites, 18-plus hours' worth on six DVDs. That is to say, 16 complete episodes. Carol's favorites, we suppose. These include the iconic "Went with the Wind," Burnett's parody of "Gone with the Wind" (and far funnier); sketches galore; and guest stars including Steve Martin, Carl Reiner, Betty White, Joan Rivers, Shirley MacLaine and The Jackson 5. Bonus features include a cast reunion with Carol, Vicki, Tim and Lyle; an interview with Harvey and Tim; the featurette "I Want to Push That Button. . . The History of the Carol Burnett Show"; and the 1962 "Supergirl" sketch from "The Garry Moore Show," in which fledgling comedienne Carol introduced her Tarzan yell to TV audiences.

The Carol Collection is available in three other configurations — which alas, don't have different titles. Besides the six-DVD edition (with a goldish/reddish cover), there is a two-disc edition (with a green cover), which contains "7 all-time classic episodes chosen by Carol Burnett"); and a one-disc edition with "Went with the Wind" and classic sketches. And for the true Burnett fan, we have The Carol Burnett Show Ultimate Collection. Not everything, naturally; just 50 episodes, plus more than 20 hours of bonus features and a 20-page "memory book."



*

Cover art for "Annie"

With the 35th Anniversary production of Annie fast approaching previews at the Palace, this seems like an opportune moment for Columbia's 30th Anniversary release of John Huston's 1982 film version of Annie. This was a somewhat different Annie, yes; and it met a decidedly uneven reception. But to those generations of "little girls" — as Miss Hannigan calls 'em, gritting her teeth — this is the Annie they remember. The passage of years, and the gazillions of TV and VHS and DVD viewings by young and old alike, allow the cinematic "Annie" to stand on her own.

The film had the sort of stars Broadway couldn't hope to afford, namely Albert Finney as Warbucks and Carol Burnett as Hannigan. The featured players include always interesting performers like Bernadette Peters, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry and Geoffrey Holder. Annie is played by young Aileen Quinn, who did not springboard to enduring fame. But she will, always, be Annie.

The Blu-ray bonus features include a "sing-along edition" for viewers who wish to, well, sing along. A perfect excuse for those who can't wait to start, once more, warbling "Tomorrow." And please: don't try doing this at the Palace.

(Steven Suskin is author of "Show Tunes," "The Sound of Broadway Music: A Book of Orchestrators and Orchestrations," "Second Act Trouble," the "Broadway Yearbook" series and the "Opening Night on Broadway" books. He also pens Playbill.com's Book Shelf and On the Record columns. He can be reached at Ssuskin@aol.com.)

*

Visit PlaybillStore.com to check out theatre-related DVDs for sale.