Without question, if you want to enjoy Carol Burnett’s In Such Good Company, the audio edition is the way to go. Most importantly, Burnett herself is the reader/narrator which allows her personality to shine through from beginning to end. Along the way, we also get audio inserts from archived interviews from Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, Tim Conway, and costume designer Bob Mackie. We also hear clips from an interview with Burnett by Dick Cavett, her final speech on the last episode of the series, and Burnett’s final rendition of “I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together.” And yes, one Tarzan yell is sneaked in.
In Such Good Company is all about the 11 years and 279 episodes of the classic Carol Burnett Show that ran on CBS from September 11, 1967 to March 29, 1978. Naturally, the book includes sketches of the recurring cast including Lawrence, Korman, Conway, and Lyle Waggoner along with behind-the-scenes participants from directors to musicians. She shares her memories of memorable guest stars including Bing Crosby, Roddy Mcdowell, Steve Lawrence, Edie Gorme, Betty White, Ken Berry, Vincent Price, Rita Hayworth, Betty Grable, and Mickey Rooney. She explains why Waggoner and Korman left the show and how Dick Van Dyke tried to fit in for three months of the last season.
Much of the story is Burnett’s retellings of her favorite sketches, especially the show’s parodies of classic films and musicals such as their take on soap operas (“As the Stomach Turns"), and Burnett’s favorite sketch, the 1976 “Went with the Wind!” Spoofing the scene in Gone With the Wind where Scarlett O'Hara must fashion a gown from curtains, Burnett, as Starlett, descends a long staircase wearing a green curtain complete with hanging rod. The outfit, designed by Mackie, is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution.
And, of course, Burnett discusses her favorite characters like Eunice Higgins in “The Family,” The charwoman, Nora Desmond, and “The Old Folks,” the latter featuring Burnett and Korman as Molly and Bert. Often, her memories are told using the voices of these characters. As she’s shared many times before, Burnett shows how her format was greatly influenced by The Garry Moore Show on which she was a player, notably the unrehearsed question-and-answer segment with the audience that opened each broadcast.
For serious Burnett fans and many not so serious, In Good Company isn’t going to be especially revelatory as Burnett covers much trodden ground. Beyond the synopses of her favorite skits and bits, she sticks to the behind-the-scenes anecdotes of what happened over the happy 11 years at Studio 53. There’s no dirty laundry exposed and she even refuses to name the one guest who was a pain in the ass. She’s justifiably proud of the show’s 25 prime-time Emmy Awards, being ranked No. 16 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time in 2002, and the “sandbox’s” many other awards.
In her final pages, Burnett admits nothing like The Carol Burnett Show could be produced on television now, especially due to the costs involved. Clearly, she was very glad to have spent 11 years in such good company, and that means we, her audience, as well as those who played in that “sandbox,” as she continually refers to her show. If you were glad to have spent time with that good company, this is a fine way to remember it.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Nov. 8, 2016 at: