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The Carol Burnett Shows
by Billy Ingram

Eunice of Mama's FamilySeemingly out of the blue, NBC picked up the half-hour sitcom Mama's Family as a midseason replacement in January, 1983. The series was based on the sketches (and a 1978 special) featuring the bickering family from 'The Carol Burnett Show'.

The production was headed by Joe Hamilton and Carol Burnett made several appearances during the show's first season as Eunice, and these episodes stand as some of the funniest sitcoms ever filmed (believe it or not).

Mama's Family Regulars were Ken Berry as dullard brother Vint, Rue McClanahan ('Maude') as Thelma's sister Fran and Dorothy Lyman (Opal on 'All My Children') as the slutty neighbor Naomi Oates. Eric Brown and Karin Argoud played the bratty kids.

Mama's family cast membersBack (occasionally) were Betty White as sister Ellen and Harvey Korman (who directed many episodes) served as the show's narrator. When the program returned for a second season, Carol Burnett turned up only one more time; she and her husband had split up - Burnett got the house and he got the show, presumably.

That same year, Burnett also returned for a few episodes of the daytime soap 'All My Children', something she first did for fun in 1976.

Mama's Family TV showAfter limping through the second season, 'Mama's Family' was canceled by NBC in 1984, resurfaced for re-runs in the summer of 1985, then returned in a long syndicated run with all-new episodes in 1986. The syndicated version had a slightly different cast, inferior scripts, and no more Burnett or Korman (Betty White appeared on only one episode of the syndicated series, a slight reworking of a funny 'Carol Burnett Show' skit).

NBC replaced 'Mama's Family' with 'The Golden Girls' - starring 'Mama's Family' regulars Betty White and Rue McClanahan - and got the hit they were looking for.

Carol Burnett ShowThroughout the rest of the Eighties, Carol Burnett could be seen sporadically in specials (like Julie and Carol: Together Again in 1989), but there was no regular series for the comedienne until March 31, 1990, when Carol and Company debuted on NBC. This half-hour series was part variety show, part movie of the week.

Carol Burnett : Carol & CompanyCarol once again greeted the audience at the opening of each episode just as before but without taking questions. The rest of the half-hour had her playing a different character in an unusual but relatively realistic situation each week (like attending a high school reunion). There would be no reprising old characters from her long-running variety series of the Seventies, instead these new mini-plays would be less broad, with more down-to-earth portrayals.

Carol and Company was highly acclaimed, but ratings were mild. That a bold show like this lasted two seasons qualifies it as a success.

Carol & CompanyIt must have impressed CBS, because they launched a brand new 'Carol Burnett Show' in 1991, just weeks after the NBC series left the air. Back in the familiar one-hour variety show format, Burnett was in her element once again, with a brand new cast of regulars.

But the production seemed dated and America wasn't ready for the return of variety shows, even hosted by the first lady of the genre. The series lasted only seven weeks.

Carol Burnett ShowToday Carol Burnett can be seen occasionally as a sitcom guest-star, on the stage in New York and on retrospectives of her former CBS series that turn up every few years.

The Carol Burnett Show - A Reunion in 1993 landed big ratings; The Carol Burnett Show - Showstoppers in November, 2001, garnered nearly thirty million viewers to deliver the best performance in its time period (non-sports programming) that CBS had seen in over a decade.

A May, 2004 reunion special, The Carol Burnett Show: Let's Bump Up The Lights, also scored blockbuster numbers and is now on DVD.

Almost fifty years after beginning her television journey, Carol Burnett has hopefully found a home on our television screens forever.


"Thank you for bring back a piece of 'America' to the electronic age. I would like to write Carol Burnett and have her over for dinner. I am a mother of 8 and this is THE kind of video that I allow our children to view. Where can we purchase the reruns? And where do I mail her a Thank you note? We love you, Carol!"
- God Bless, (pulling our ears!) from Texas

"I just loved your Carol Burnett page! I have been a fan of Carol Burnett's since before I can remember. I recently took the bus from Toronto, Canada to New York just to see her in "Putting it Together". She was absolutely wonderful and after the show I got to meet her! It was honestly the greatest moment in my life. She was very warm and kind despite the fact that I could barely speak I was so overcome by emotion."

- Thank you, Shannon M

"If Carol Burnett has an email address, I would really appreciate having it. Ms. Burnett reigns as my favorite female entertainer/role model. It was a blessing to see someone bring so much joy in other folks' lives when I know she had struggles of her own. She always projected her own style, versus a carbon copy of someone else and at the same time promoted others versus competing against them.

Carol Burnett"I appreciate the way she was tasteful and respectable with the content and quality of her shows, and in just plain English, the star is simply "good people!" Every time I ever saw a comment about her made by one of her fans, she's always mentioned as down to earth, but with a touch of class. I'd really like to relay that to her if possible. Thanks!"

- PaTella Berkley

Carol Burnett
The Carol Burnett Show
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Carol Burnett Show on DVD   

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Carol Burnett
The Carol Burnett Show
Other Carol Burnett Shows

Carol Burnett Show on DVD  

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Carol Burnett
in the 80s
...

Carol Burnett Show
Carol, Carl, Whoopie and Robin was a highly-rated CBS special in 1986. In a unique twist, one of the skits was performed first as written, and then again with Robin Williams improvising.

Career Low Moment?

It might be guest-starring on a Neil Diamond Special in 1989 and reprising her Eunice role - but somebody forgot to write the jokes and the bit falls flat. And say, isn't that Carol's old set behind Neil Diamond?


Here's a behind the scenes moment from The Carol Burnett Show.

Outtake from The Carol Burnett Show.


Of all the pages on TVparty, this one seems to get the most positive responses. Carol Burnett is considered cool again - a whole generation of kids discovered the half-hour cable rebroadcasts of 'The Carol Burnett Show' (called 'Carol Burnett and Friends') just as previous generations took to 'I Love Lucy' and 'Gilligan's Island' reruns in the afternoons.

Here are some typical email messages we get:

"I was in NY, NY a few weeks ago with my seven year old son who met Carol with my sister while on the elevator in the Russian Tea Room. He did not even know who the nice lady was that was talking to him about his nice Christmas tie but my sister sure did!!

"We grew up watching the Carol Burnett show and I can still laugh just thinking about Carol Burnett and Tim Conway together! We, of course, rushed home to try to find ways to show my son who it was that he was talking to, when a friend suggested the version of "Annie" with Carol in it. It was great...and Tyler (my son) is still watching it almost daily and bragging to his friends that he has met Carol Burnett!

"This web page really helped me to explain who Carol is and why I enjoyed her so as I was growing up. As I have read from some of the other comments, I too, would like to know if she has an e-mail or mailing address that my son and I might write to her to let her know what enjoyment she has brought to my life as a 38 year old and now to my seven year old and thanks to all the people that put this website together. Great job!!"

- Tammy and Tyler Hook - Atlanta, GA

 

 

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