I himmed and hawed about purchasing the Carson DVD package. I always loved Johnny’s anniversary shows where he would break out old clips from over the years along with the highlights of the year just ended. So the package seemed intringing, but I decided to rent first. Good decision.
It is not that the content of the shows is terrible. Far from it. It’s just woefully short on material to justify the rather steep pricetag of a 3 disc set. Understanding that a lot of the tapes from the early years were destroyed years ago, there still had to be over 20 years of material to put together several more hours. Instead, there is a “Best of the 60s/70s”, “Best of the 70s/80s” and “Best of the 80s/90s” segment, each about 45 minutes each. Many of the classics are here (the Ed Ames hatchet throw, George Gobel’s brown shoes joke, the marmoset using Johnny’s head as a restroom, Jimmy Stewart’s poem about his dog Bo, even a very funny intro of future president Clinton), but there had to be more. There were no Floyd R. Turbo (who I consider the first right wing militant) bits nor was my favorite Carnac the Magnificent moment included (the answer is Sis-Boom-Bah, the question: What sound does an exploding sheep make). The latter omission is interesting because I seem to recall Carson saying at one time that that bit garned the biggest laugh in the show’s history.
There’s also Carson’s last shows, which I actually already have on tape, so other than a better picture, it doesn’t do it for me. There’s also a show from 1982 when Johnny went back home to Nebraska to visit old hangouts and friends that was interesting.
In summary, some great moments, but there should have been more!
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As one of the millions that sorely miss the wit and wisdom of Johnny Carson, I was especially pleased to receive this “best of” DVD collection. The three DVD’s feature the best moments from the show – divided by decade – from the 60′s through the 90′s, and also include the complete second-to-last show (with Bette Midler and Robin Williams) and the final show, along with a documentary on Johnny I had never seen before. The remastering quality is great. There is a fun little short film called “Danger Johnny”, and one of the most interesting things about the DVD’s are the ISO CAMS, that allow you to pick the camera angles to view some of the programs. You can even view scenes from Johnny’s perspective. The menu options are terrific, and the packaging very deluxe. If you are a fan of classic television, this is a great addition to your library – and I plan to send them as gifts to family members I know miss Johnny too.
No matter what happens, Johnny Carson was, is and always will be the greatest late night host ever and one of the most towering figures in television history. David Letterman is terrific, but even he pales next to Carson. It’s amazing to think that it’s already been ten years since Johnny retired. This DVD collection brings it all back and reminds us all of just how great Carson was. (The Ed Ames tomahawk throwing segment just might be the funniest moment in TV history) The only disappointing thing about this set is that it does not include that much material from the first ten years. It’s sad that so much classic material was lost. However, the set has a very comprehensive sample of Carson’s funniest moments from over the years and show why Johnny will always be the King of Late Night.