There is going to be a two-hour special tonight celebrating Carol Burnett’s career on the day she turns 90. The odd thing is it will air on NBC, not CBS, which was home to her iconic show over eleven seasons, the anchor leg on a Saturday night schedule that defined Must See TV before that was even a thing. The initials of the “Carol Burnett Show” spelled out CBS, fer chrissakes.
What knucklehead executive there passed on the project? Did they think the demographics would skew too old? Can’t be. Most CBS viewers have been around longer than Tom Selleck’s mustache.
I hope the special has more than the usual retread of clips solely from her primetime show. You know the ones. Her Tarzan yell. The dress made of curtains in the “Gone With The Wind” parody. Harvey Korman trying to keep a straight face while Tim Conway did his thing. Carol and Vicki Lawrence reminiscing on how the former hired the latter, followed by a few minutes of the two of them in “Mama’s Family” sketches. Hell, they might even include a Lyle Waggoner deepfake.
Not to mention a stream of other celebs praising Carol, even some with no connection to her whatsoever. If I had to guess, I’d name Kristen Wiig, Sofia Vergara, and Billy Porter.
Five years ago, I wrote a piece suggesting other topics interviewers should ask Carol, such as her appearance with Garry Shandling in the spider episode of “The Larry Sanders Show,” her co-starring in Alan Alda’s movie “The Four Seasons,” and the TV movie “Friendly Fire” (in which she co-starred with Ned Beatty as parents of a son killed by his fellow soldiers in Vietnam). I’ll add two more: the specials she did with Julie Andrews and her role in the final season of “Better Call Saul.”
Will clips of any of those be included in tonight’s festivities? I doubt it, and that’s sad, because the woman has had an extraordinary career far beyond her primetime sketch show of several decades ago, legendary as it was.