The Carol Burnett Show-TV's Best Comedy Ever!
My favorite show from the "classic" TV shows of the 1960s and 70's is The Carol Burnett show, which ran for 1967 to 1978. Luckily, for us and those who have no clue who she is or her show, there are 278 episodes available to stream and watch and enjoy. While the show was a variety show of sorts, it primarily was home to comedy's most revered group: Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence. This was the core comedic group that shared immense chemistry between them during their performance, at times, each tried to make the other members in the skit break character. This made watching each skit very enjoyable.
Carol Burnett and her equals all made the show one of the most revered shows of the Top 100 shows in TV history. Tim Conway and Harvey Korman often were in skits together and often one of them would go "ad lib" without the other cast knowing it and this created numerous odd and funny moments as the skit seemed to go awry. When this happened, the characters in the skit often had problems keeping a "straight face" and remaining in character. The most famous of them all (but certainly not the only one) is the Dentist Skit. The backstory of this was that Tim Conway and Korman had a friendly bet that Tim could not get Korman to laugh during the actual skit on TV. So, during the skit, Tim totally went "ad lib" for much of it, catching Korman off guard and struggling to respond in a coherent manner. As the skit unraveled, Tim became more unpredictable, each time amazing Korman who, as it went on, had a harder time in not laughing at Tim. By the end of the skit, even Tim was having a hard time not breaking character.
Another hilarious one with similar results is "The Interrogation" skit, with Conway playing a Nazi interrogator. Carol and Tim had a serious hilarious skit in, Wrong Number" skit and "Elephant's Story".
In the 1990-94 period, Carol Burnett and company (minus Conway and Korman), tried to have a comeback, but times had changed and the elements of magic (Conway and Korman) were missing and the show was ultimately cancelled.
As what has been said of The Beatles, that each Beatle was vital for the success, it also held true for the Carol Burnett show. Like the Beatles after their breakup (none had achieved the same level of success as when they were a band), with Tim Conway and Harvey Korman (died in 2008) gone, Carol Burnett and others simply lacked the spark and magic. She, herself, is hilarious at times, but when you have three superb comedians in the same skit, trying to out perform the other and Conway frequently improvising unexpectedly, it is unbeatable. They were "The Beatles" in the comedy world.
Ironically, the first five seasons (1967-1972) have never appeared in syndication and have not been released on home media due to legal issues. In 2012, a DVD set of 50 shows was made available for sale. The show in the last season (1977-78) also had an up and coming comedian that today's audience would know.
His name is Steve Martin. Another was Robin Williams.