Carol Burnett, who will receive the Life Achievement Award at Saturday’s SAG Awards, has had a long TV career, dominated, of course, by her acclaimed variety show. But she’s also done dozens of guest appearances (ranging from “Mad About You” to the “Hawaii Five-O” reboot) and was in the cast of one of the tube’s biggest oddities. We’re talking about “Fresno,” TV’s first comedy miniseries — whose story of dueling raisin-growing dynasties in that California city parodied the prime-time soaps of the late 1980s. Here are five things to know about “Fresno,” which will mark its 30th anniversary this fall:
1. Burnett played Charlotte Kensington, the matriarch of a dysfunctional family who had to defend its fading raisin empire against the nefarious Tyler Cane (Dabney Coleman).
2. “We’ve struck oil,” Burnett told TV writers in the summer of 1986. “Or raisins. It was a joy to do, a joy to be in, a joy to deliver. It’s satire at its best. I can say this unblushingly because I didn’t have anything to do with it. I didn’t write it, I didn’t create it, I didn’t produce it, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
3. The five-part, six-hour “Fresno” cost $12 million to produce.
4. Of the 55 days of shooting, only two were done in Fresno. (The rest was in the Los Angeles area.)
5. Alas, most critics were not kind to “Fresno.” The New York Times’ John O’Connor wrote: “ ‘Fresno’ comes out looking like the kind of comedy idea that years ago could have been condensed into a 20-minute sketch on ‘The Carol Burnett Show.’ The only elements missing are Harvey Korman and Tim Conway.”