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The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends


Like The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: The Vault Series (6 DVD Set Collector’s Edition), previously reviewed right here, Time-Life’s The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends is a remarkable set of complete Tonight Show episodes from the Nineteen Seventies-‘90s, rather than a clip display of highlights, so entire in reality that these 28 full shows consist of all of the unique (community) commercials, that are sometimes captivating all by means of themselves. It’s every other fantastic, nicely selected set, and although I’ve barely cracked its monstrous content material, I’m having a grand vintage time watching these shows.
Unlike The Vault Series, Johnny and Friends has one big trouble (read on) but fortunately that does not effect the content material in any respect.

After Carson left this system in 1992, excerpts have grew to become up on locations like YouTube, and there were DVD clip show releases. And at the same time as Tonight Show episodes have became up on “cable television” in current years, those packages are, so I hear, heavily edited, in particular due to track licensing problems. However, the 28 shows accrued here now not only include all the musical guests and their whole performances (near as I can inform), but also the whole lot else, consisting of movie clips from stars promoting their films, community television classified ads and sponsor spots featuring announcer Ed McMahon and musical director Doc Severinsen. There are even promos for then-contemporary NBC shows and TV-movies no longer seen in 12 months and years.

Of path, The Tonight Show nevertheless exists, hosted considering 2014 by way of Jimmy Fallon, however the series not is so engrained in the public awareness because it changed into the 30 years below Carson, arguably the maximum well-known man in America during that time. David Letterman, himself stimulated in part by way of original Tonight host Steve Allen’s antics, converted past due night talk into something a ways eliminated from Carson’s more classical style.

Carson, who died in 2005 at 79, wasn’t a great actor, nor changed into he a mainly wonderful interviewer. As a comic he was really only truthful, however as a talk show host there has been no person like him, and none extra talented. The equally proficient Jack Paar, who had preceded him, was more highbrow and emotional compared to Carson’s more circumspect (on personal subjects), Midwestern everyman attraction. Mike Douglas, Dick Cavett, Tom Snyder, or even Merv Griffin all had their proper factors with their respective speak shows, Cavett in particular, but because the early days of David Letterman none of the talk display hosts due to the fact have come everywhere close. These DVDs go an extended manner to remind viewers of The Tonight Show’s effect.

This set consists of scads of appropriate episodes, ten discs with nearly three full suggests in step with disc. Each disc spotlights one precise favored visitor, typically 3 shows in which the highlighted performer appears. They are: Don Rickles, Robin Williams, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Burt Reynolds, Steve Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, Eddie Murphy, and animal professional Jim Fowler. Top-heavy with stand-up comedians, their three episodes normally display the performer’s first Tonight Show appearance, one at the peak in their reputation, and one near the stop of Carson’s long Tonight Show run.

That ordering is frequently in reality fascinating. With the David Letterman indicates, it is brilliant to observe the evolution of his stand-up comedy, to listen Johnny’s loud (offscreen) laughter in the course of Letterman’s performance, and Carson’s immediately high-quality response to a performer he may well be seeing for the primary time.

The Letterman shows, also, for instance, characteristic masses of other notable guests equally a laugh to look: James Garner and Ellen Burstyn (selling Sam Time, Next Year) precede Letterman’s Tonight Show debut, for example. Garner’s in pinnacle shape, telling several fun testimonies, and whilst Burstyn seems, it turns out that they had worked together on degree 20-abnormal years before and hadn’t visible each other because, promoting extra proper tales.

But you’d in no way even understand they were there, and therein lies the set’s biggest hassle. Unlike the Vault Series set, nowhere at the packaging is everybody aside from the eight highlighted stars mentioned. Not on the duvet artwork, now not at the discs, and there is no insert (unlike the Vault set) list guests or airdates. Even the menu monitors of the DVDs themselves are of no help.

The most effective option is to start the display and desire for the pleasant. Fortunately, none of the entire suggests I sampled disenchanted. All have been loads of a laugh. I just wish I knew in advance of time what I become in for.


By Max Schindler