The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for November 30th, 2012

A Very (Television) Special Christmas: Legendary Brings Como, Burnett, “Sesame Street” to CD and DVD

with one comment

Carol Burnett ChristmasHoliday specials have long been a television tradition, from the beloved (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas) to the programs their creators would rather forget (The Star Wars Holiday Special).  Legendary Entertainment Alliance has recently drawn on the archives of producer Bob Banner for three new releases, each available as a DVD, a CD soundtrack and a CD/DVD combo pack.  Christmas with Carol Burnett reaches back to the earliest tube appearances of the famed comedienne, presenting three episodes of The Garry Moore Show for the first time on home video.  Christmas Around the World with Perry Como is a two-hour special (previously available on VHS) drawing on the relaxed crooner’s annual Christmas specials as recorded in various locales.  And last but not least is A Special Sesame Street Christmas, one of the only Sesame Street programs to be produced without the participation of Children’s Television Workshop (CTW) and one of the oddest instances of Muppet-related arcana.  All three releases feature guest stars galore and are throwbacks to the nearly-gone days of Christmas variety programming.

The Garry Moore Show launched the television career of the young Carol Burnett, star of Broadway’s Once Upon a MattressA Carol Burnett Christmas includes three episodes from the 1958-1964 iteration of the CBS program.  Burnett was a regular from 1959 to 1962, and the selected holiday episodes date from 1959, 1960 and 1961.  (The 1961 episode has, alas, been edited from its broadcast length.)  In addition to Moore and Burnett, you’ll see performances from Jonathan Winters, Durward Kirby, Cliff Arquette as Charley Weaver, gospel great Mahalia Jackson, Broadway’s legendary Gwen Verdon, comedienne Marion Lorne (Bewitched’s beloved Aunt Clara) and Burnett’s pal and future TV co-headliner Julie Andrews.  Fans of The Sound of Music (and who isn’t?) should delight in Andrews’ performance of the musical’s “My Favorite Things” long before she was cast as Maria Von Trapp in the film version.  The 1959 episode also features Candid Camera interludes from Allen Funt.  Special features include a music-only mode and an image gallery of Christmas cards based on the episode stills of Burnett.

Christmas Around the World with PerryIn a similar vein is Legendary’s Christmas Around the World with Perry Como.  A Como tradition was an annual Christmas special from a different locale, including Mexico, Austria, Paris, New York, London, Hawaii and San Antonio.  Vignettes from sixteen of Perry’s holiday specials were recut into one two-hour program by producer Bob Banner, and this compilation was previously released on VHS from Reader’s Digest.  Now the two-hour special arrives on DVD (with musical highlights on CD).  Among the guest stars joining the laconic crooner are John Wayne, Debby Boone, the Vienna Boys Choir, Angie Dickinson, Richard Chamberlain, Sid Caesar, Toni Tennille, Vikki Carr and Dorothy Hamill.  Songs include Como classics like “It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas” and “Home for the Holidays.”  Special features include a music-only mode and a “Perry-oke” mode “where the whole family can croon karaoke-style with Mr. Christmas himself.”  This makes a fine companion to Real Gone’s recently-reissued Complete RCA Christmas Collection collecting all of the late crooner’s classic Christmas recordings for his longtime label.

After the jump: the story of A Special Sesame Street Christmas, plus track listings and order links for all titles! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

November 30, 2012 at 10:54