(Shout! Factory TV)
Digital entertainment streaming service Shout! Factory TV is programming all 11 seasons of the celebrated The Carol Burnett Show variety series on streaming platforms in June, following a 48-hour marathon of curated episodes this weekend (May 30 and 31).
One of the most acclaimed and influential TV series—and winner of 25 Emmy Awards--The Carol Burnett Show stream will be available June 1 at ShoutFactoryTV.com; Shout! Factory TV’s Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, and Android apps; and the following digital streaming platforms: Twitch, Samsung TV Plus, Comcast Xfinity, Xumo, YouTube, Redbox, Vizio, Pluto TV, IMDb, and STIRR.
Viewers will also be able to chat live on Shout! Factory TV’s Twitch channel and the Shout! Factory YouTube channel, and answer trivia questions on Twitter @ShoutFactoryTV.
The episodes being streamed are the half-hour repackaged versions of the hour-long original episodes, many of which were syndicated to TV stations as Carol Burnett and Friends and are currently being shown weeknights on the MeTV network.
Some of these episodes have also been released previously to home media, while many of those being streamed through Shout! Factory TV will be on view for the first time since their original broadcast over 40 years ago.
The series, which starred Burnett, Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway, Harvey Korman and Lyle Waggoner, ran from September, 1967, through March, 1978, and has been cited as one of the best TV shows ever by the likes of TV Guide, Entertainment Weekly, Time and Rolling Stone.
Hailed among the originators of the sketch comedy format, it featured guests spanning the biggest film, TV and music stars of the time, in immortal segments like the soap opera spoof “As the Stomach Turns,” Conway’s “Oldest Man” character and “Tudball & Wiggins” bit with Burnett, and the uber-dysfunctional “The Family,” in which Lawrence played “Mama” to daughter Eunice (Burnett) and son-in-law Ed (Korman)--and which was spun-off into the sitcom Mama’s Family.
Burnett was a huge movie fan who once worked at a theater as an usherette, and her show was also famous for its movie parodies, most notably Gone With the Wind’s “Went With the Wind,” in which she wore a Bob Mackie-designed dress made out of a window curtain—curtain rod included—that is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution.
The Carol Burnett Show run ended just as Saturday Night Live was gaining momentum, and Tina Fey is one of a legion of performers who look up to her as an influence.
“In her great [autobiographical comedy book] Bossypants, Tina Fey says that Carol was her No. 1 influence,” says Jeffrey Peisch, senior VP or programming and new business development at Shout! Factory TV’s sister company Shout! Factory, who continued a close working relationship with Burnett that began a few years ago when he helped produce DVD compilations of The Carol Burnett Show for Time Life.
“Without exception, she always comes up when younger comedians talk about who influenced them,” says Peisch, also pointing to Ellen DeGeneres, who in January received the Golden Globes Carol Burnett Lifetime Achievement Award and extolled Burnett in her acceptance speech.
After Peisch joined Shout! Factory last year, he led the charge on the Carol Burnett Show streaming project.
“Time Life started putting out the DVD sets in 2011, and they were very successful. But even though they put out a lot of material—about 75 to 100 episodes—it was barely one-third of the 279 that were produced. And little of it was available for streaming, so I contacted Carol’s management and worked out an agreement, and it’s great to now bring all 11 seasons of the show to the streaming world.”
Peisch adds that although it has been out on DVD--and many clips can be seen on YouTube—“the audience for The Carol Burnett Show is constantly regenerating,” such that “there are always people who are discovering it.”
“It’s hard to talk about it without resorting to clichés, but these shows stand the test of time—and they’re as funny now as when they were first broadcast. There’s so much great material that you can discover sketches and segments you hadn’t seen before, and much of it is part of the marathon.”
The weekend marathon encompasses 96 episodes, curated according to 16 themes including the “Family” and “Tudball” sketches.
“In going through the material many times, we discovered that certain episodes had this or that sketch that we wanted to include,” says Peisch. “The great thing about ‘Family,’ for example, is that it offered the perfect structure for regular characters played by guest stars like Roddy McDowall, Tommy Smothers, Ken Berry and Betty White--who themselves fit in perfectly, and without needing any explanation. Same with ‘As the Stomach Turns,’ which was the only sketch that ran all 11 seasons.”
Burnett worked with Shout! Factory to find long-lost masters of many of the episodes. As she has supported the MeTV programming of her shows on the network with creative promo spots, she was all set to do a similar turn for Shout! Factory TV when the coronavirus pandemic postponed such activity.
“But she did record some audio introductions instead, and they’ll be available as part of the marathon,” says Peisch.
Fans of The Carol Burnett Show already well know the amazing scope of the indefatigable Burnett’s talents, as she joked, sang, danced, did voices, took pratfalls, and was quick to quip in response to the audience questions that she famously sought at the beginning of each show. Now 87, the Kennedy Center Honors recipient and Mark Twain Prize for American Humor holder “still has a lot of energy when you see her [touring] shows,” per Peisch.
“She’s on her feet for two hours answering questions and telling anecdotes and introducing clips,” says Peisch. “She’s fun and generous--a classic case of what you see is what you get: the nicest person in the world.”
And to top it off, Burnett is very excited about the Shout! Factory TV streams of her landmark show.
“She loves having her material available in as many outlets as possible, and loves the fact that multiple generations continue to discover them,” concludes Peisch.