Netflix’s rapidly expanding roster of reality shows is getting a little help from a living legend: Carol Burnett.
It might not be the full-fledged return to sketch comedy or sitcoms her fans would no doubt welcome, but it does offer Burnett plenty of opportunities to show off her effortless charm and flawless comic timing.
Vulture recently reached Burnett by phone for a half-hour chat in which she talked about why she decided to take this gig, how Netflix’s hands-off handling of talent reminds her of the first golden age of TV, and why it might be a while before the full series run of The Carol Burnett Show comes to streaming.
You seem to have a little bit of a special connection with one of the kids on the show, Caleb, who was in the trailer for the series.
April marked 40 years since The Carol Burnett Show ended on CBS. The half-hour reruns featuring just the comedy sketches ran in syndication and are still on MeTV. You’ve worked with various companies, including Time Life, to put out select episodes on DVD. But the whole library of 279 episodes – the hour-long version that runs on CBS with the musical guests and production numbers – that’s never been available.
It’s such a shame the full episodes aren’t all out there, because for people my age who missed the original run, we mostly know The Carol Burnett Show as a sketch comedy because that’s all we’ve seen in the edited versions.
You mentioned “The Family,” which of course turned into the spinoff TV show Mama’s Family.
You decided to end The Carol Burnett Show even though CBS had renewed you for another season.
After the show was over, you took some interesting artistic chances.