Other reviewers have done a great job at detailing what is on this new Carson collection - and as a huge Carson fan who owns all the DVDs I want to offer a few tips to potential buyers.
The library of Carson DVDs are divided into "clip shows" that have clips of the best moments in the history of the program, and cutdowns of "full episodes", like the ones included in this collection. If you want to see the really famous clips (Ed Ames throwing the tomahawk, classic banter between Johnny and Ed or Doc, and the other really monumental moments), then the best collection to start with is the three disc Ultimate Collection, which has the best moments of the thirty years of the show, divided up by decade. If you are even a bigger fan, buy the "Heeres Johnny" Collection, which contains the Ultimate Collection discs, and all the other clip DVDs and few full episode DVDs, including the second to last episode with Bette Midler and the final episode. Both The Ultimate Collection and Heeres Johnny have been out a few years, so if you are buying a gift for a fan they might already own them.
This new collection, "Tonight", is the first new release from the Carson library in several years, and features cutdowns of full programs, so when you watch it you get a much better feeling for what it was like to sit down at 11:30 pm and watch an episode of Tonight Show, versus watching random but great clips from different shows. These are wonderful programs with great guests, and it is like a time capsule of America over thirty years. Carson sets the standard for talk show hosts, and as you watch these shows you see that almost all of today's hosts are simply trying to replicate (most of them unsuccessfully) the magic that made Johnny's show the best.
I have also found it interesting to play Carson episodes for people too young to have experienced him. Without exception - he is still funny, and suprisingly very hip - and young people love him! If they like watching Mad Men - they can watch Carson episodes from the 60's and see how people really dressed and acted during the period.
Some reviewers have been upset that these are not full unedited episodes - since some of the material is cut out. This is a true and a matter of personal taste. These are thirty minutes long - not the 60 to 90 minutes of the original shows - and I know there are some that want to exactly replicate the original shows. Of course the commercials are gone, and some of the material is edited down or eliminated, probably due to clearance issues. However, the upside of this is that you get cut downs of many more episodes and get to see many more guests, as opposed to fewer episodes that are longer and my have material that is not up to par. Still, myself and many Carson fans have been asking for a full episode collection, and this is a great start. The best moments of the episode are there - including the monologue and guest segments, and you still feel like you are watching an entire show, albeit a shorter one than the original.
And along with the great material, you will love the packaging. It comes in a beautiful box with a great collectors book, and the remastering is top-notch, though some of the edits between episodes could be smoother. There is a total of 1800 minutes of The Tonight Show, so this is a major collection. It is a set that belongs on the shelf of any serious fan of television. In the past I have given the other collections as gifts, as it is the kind of DVD set that virtually everyone would appreciate. This is by far the nicest packaging of any of the sets, and would look really impressive.
So if you are new to Carson, you might want to start with The Ultimate Collection or better yet, Heeres Johnny, which will have the most classic moments from the show. If you own those collections, or are buying for an established fan, you / they should consider this box set.
on September 25, 2010
Complete Episode List on this DVD Collection:
Episode 1: December 31, 1965
Woody Allen, The Muppets
Episode 2: September 23, 1971
Della Reese, Bob Uecker
Episode 3: May 19, 1972
Adelle Davis, Robert Blake, Gwen Davis
Episode 4: September 15, 1972
Vikki Carr, Peter Falk, Albert Brooks
Episode 5: November 13, 1972
Mayor Lindsay, Muhammad Ali, Harry Chapin
Episode 6: September 12, 1973
Joan Embery, Bette Midler, David Steinberg
Episode 7: February 20, 1974
Joan Embery, David Brenner
Episode 8: April 9, 1974
The Jackson 5, Jerry Van Dyke
Episode 9: September 2, 1974
Doris Day, Rodney Dangerfield, Burt Mustin
Episode 10: September 26, 1974
Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Art Carney
Episode 11: May 6, 1975
Luciano Pavarotti, Maude Tull
Episode 12: September 19, 1975
Don Rickles, Robert Blake
Episode 13: September 23, 1975
Glen Campbell, Fernando Lamas
Episode 14: December 9, 1975
Carol Burnett, Burt Convy, Tom Dreesen
Episode 15: July 28, 1976
Burt Reynolds, Robert Blake
Episode 16: November 12, 1976
Frank Sinatra, Don Rickles, Olivia Newton-John
Episode 17: May 4, 1977
Chevy Chase, Richard Pryor
Episode 18: June 14, 1977
Alice Cooper, Jay Leno
Episode 19: September 9, 1977
Sid Caesar, Eubie Blake
Episode 20: March 24, 1978
Donna Pyle, Milton Berle Episode 21: May 2, 1978
Sammy Davis Jr.
Episode 22: February 21, 1980
Engelbert Humperdinck, Steve Landesberg, Loni Anderson
Episode 23: September 26, 1980
Steve Martin, The Mighty Carson Art Players
Episode 24: November 11, 1980
David Letterman, Pete Fountain
Episode 25: March 4, 1981
Episode 26: March 5, 1981
Episode 27: March 18, 1981
Richard Benjamin, Garry Shandling
Episode 28: May 5, 1981
Jimmy Buffett, Thalasa Cruso
Episode 29: October 14, 1981
Episode 30: October 28, 1981
Lance Burton, Reba McEntire, Dick Cavett
Episode 31: October 30, 1981
Episode 32: November 12, 1981
Dom DeLuise, Jerry Seinfeld, Betty White
Episode 33: November 19, 1981
Suzanne Pleshette, Luciano Pavarotti
Episode 34: November 25, 1981
Episode 35: August 31, 1982
Bill Maher, Joe Garagiola
Episode 36: December 31, 1982
Tina Turner, Joe D'Auria & Jonathan Brown
Episode 37: January 5, 1983
Teri Garr, B.B. King
Episode 38: May 17, 1983
Albert Brooks, Brooke Shields
Episode 39: September 8, 1983
Bill Cosby, Chuck Mangione
Episode 39: September 8, 1983
Bill Cosby, Chuck Mangione Episode 40: January 4, 1984
Dabney Coleman, Paul Rodriguez
Episode 41: May 17, 1984
Garry Shandling, Stéphane Grappelli
Episode 42: May 24, 1984
John Denver, Michael Davis
Episode 43: November 20, 1984
Robert Blake, Louie Anderson
Episode 44: November 22, 1985
Jim Fowler, Marty Pollio, Rubén Blades
Episode 45: December 17, 1985
Episode 46: March 27, 1986
Billy Crystal, Buddy Rich
Episode 47: April 18, 1986
Episode 48: June 27, 1986
David Letterman, Judge Wapner
Episode 49: November 26, 1986
George Carlin, Barney Odom & Flat Nose
Episode 50: January 8, 1987
Robert Goulet, Waddie Mitchell, Baxter Black
Episode 51: May 21, 1987
Eddie Murphy, Ellen DeGeneres
Episode 52: July 28, 1988
Bill Clinton, Joe Cocker
Episode 53: July 29, 1988
Michael Landon, k.d. Lang
Episode 54: November 23, 1989
Lea Johnson, Tom Wilson
Episode 55: January 18, 1990
Joan Embery, Art Donovan
Episode 56: April 6, 1990
Bob Hope, Jeff Dunham, B.B. King
on September 26, 2013
If you love Johnny Carson as I did, and still do, you probably own, or have seen all of the popular clips and segments from The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. And if you are like me, and crave and yearn to see complete shows of the Tonight Show, then this is "as close" as you are going to find. I say this because although there are many highlighted shows included in this wonderful collection, the shows contain the monologues, guests and musical entertainment, there are small sections missing from the shows. Johnny used to go to the desk after his opening and spend 20 minutes or so just goofing off with Ed, or Doc or Freddy, and those are not there. On certain shows, certain guests never come on. But that's probably because they were no factor and not very entertaining. Nonetheless, the set is awesome, has shows dated, and most of the famous shows are in this set. I like the way the box is set up, And it is a true addition to your collection, like me, whereas you can see JC in his prime through the years, and it is a great reminder of how great he was and what domination he had on late night. And remember, this collection has really old black and white shows out of New York, in great condition, and also you can follow the transition into the nineties when he was king in LA. As a side note, there is another collection for the Tonight Show. It has the curtains of the show on the box. Don't do like I did and get misled into buying that set because it is not good at all. Be sure you order the one that has Johnny with his sheepish smile, in a tux on the box to get the true collection of shows. Happy viewing!!!!
on December 26, 2010
I received this set as a Christmas gift (purchased from Amazon), and I must disagree with some of the reviews. Is the set perfect? No. Would I love to see complete shows instead of edited ones? Sure. Having said that, this is the closest we've been able to come to "hanging out" with Johnny, Doc and Ed in nearly 20 years. The shows, while not complete, are very enjoyable to see again, and it comes close to what it used to be like to watch Johnny' show in its heyday.
There is certainly enough to keep the viewer very entertained, and any complaints would be minor ones. This is not just a clip show, as some reviewers have said. In most cases, of the episodes I have seen so far, the interviews are presented mostly in complete form.
I'm sure we all have favorite guests we would like to see, which are not contained on this set, but it simply wouldn't be possible to include every favorite. I would suggest to those reading the reviews, to keep an open mind - if you aren't expecting absolute perfection, you will not be disappointed. This set certainly does justice to Johnny Carson.
I would encourage all Carson fans to purchase this - if this is a big seller, it may show that there really is a market for Carson shows, and we may see more in the future. I highly recommend this, warts and all.
on March 30, 2012
There's nothing I'd like more than a website or cable station devoted to showing all of Johnny's shows, uncut. The man truly earned his King of Late Night moniker. But given that it would probably be too cost prohibitive to offer all the surviving shows (gotta give those "poor" performers who apperead on the show their royalties, you know) this is probably the best we'll get for now. While I agree with other reviewers that the shows are really cut down (and sometimes the editing is bizarre; interviews don't end, they just cut to the Carson logo and the show's over), I had to give this 5 stars because, as the Amazon stars say "I love it." Until the powers that be decide to issue more of Johnny's shows (complete, preferably) this set is the only place you're going to get a feel of what it was like to watch the Tonight Show. Johnny's plaid suits and Doc's funky threads from the 70s are almost worth the price alone :) It's really too bad more people today don't get to see Johnny's show somewhere. When it comes down to it, if you love Johnny, you'll love this set. It's not perfect, mind you, but it's a glimpse back to a time when the humor was gentler, the guests classier and the host impeccable. Try to get past the abdridged shows and just turn down the lights and enjoy. Hi-yoooooooooooooo!
on December 4, 2014
So nice to see the old Johnny Carson tapes. I feel you will enjoy this, if you love to laugh. I just about split my tummy laughing.
I give it a five star for good entertainment. Kathy in Wisconsin
on August 11, 2010
Before Jay Leno, before David letterman, and before all the late-night drama that has unraveled in the last little while, there was the sole king of late-night, Johnny Carson. In this beautiful 15 disc DVD set, "The Tonight Show-Starring Johnny Carson" comes to viewers for the very first time in a complete deluxe edition featuring some of the best "Tonight Show" episodes ever. 50 shows have been restored from their original NBC master tapes and look absolutely flawless.
The crowning jewel here, however, are the rare "lost" episodes from the 1960's that were thought lost forever. NBC, stupidly, erased most of the episodes of "The Tonight Show" from Johnny's first night that aired in October, 1962 that featured movie legend Joan Crawford, right up until the time when the show moved to Hollywood in 1972. So, having these rare episodes is a real treat for Carson fans. There are also numerous new interviews from those who appeared on Johnny's show over the years including Loni Anderson, David Brenner, and Jim Fowler.
No one will ever take Johnny's place. He was simply original, personal, and everyone's favorite late-night personality. We miss you Johnny!!!
on May 21, 2014
...if my DVD player worked I'd say I got everything that I wanted out of this set. I will have to do more extensive testing with a better DVD player than a spare heavily used Pismo PowerBook G3 with a dead battery, but now that I am the official owner of the set the one episode I could play before I was ready to throttle the device that was tasked with playing it played what I wanted so well I could cry.
I, unlike the average Tonight Show viewer regardless of whose at the helm, watch it for the host rather than for the guests. As I was primarily interested in the later episodes where Johnny was at the peak of his power, I was infinitely more frustrated with the instrument through which I played it than the show itself. I will update when I have a more ideal DVD playing mechanism in place (can't use my various slot-loading DVD Macs because they'll scratch the disks and the show is fullscreen, so my full high-def tray loading DVD-drive encrusted vintage professional Mac minitower is out.)
I have a way around it as regards the electronics, but not the furniture on which to deploy them. So I have them sitting up in a special cabinet awaiting their time to shine that we store all our critical DVDs in.
If they fail using the right DVD playing equipment on the right furniture, then I will note displeasure. As of the testing I could get in, it's 5 stars for having what I wanted and skipping what I didn't.
I don't give anything about the overcompensated stars who were guests. And if what I saw holds true for all the episodes as much as possible, then this will be worth 10 times what I paid for it used.
In short, it shows a lot of promise and so until it can fail me, I'm going to give it top ratings for delivering what I wanted most.
After going to great lengths to properly play the DVDs, I finally had to settle on the best available option. As regards the best available option, they play great, at least with the restrictions that I and other reviewers have noted, which the only thing I have to add is the older an episode is, the harder it is to get it in perfect condition without destroying the historical originality of the footage.
With that said, do not play the DVDs while sun is shining through a window directly behind you and in front of your DVD playing system. If you do this, the DVDs will become unwatchable because the sun won't allow you to be in the mood. In other words, you won't get the proper effect.
But with that said, I have yet to be disappointed, except as regards the conditions under which I play a given episode-my all time top technology group on average fails miserably if you don't act like it's a live show and that means watching it when the sun is thoroughly and irrevocably down.
But what do I know? I was less than 3 and a half when Johnny Carson was last on the air, so I want to act like this is all new to me even though to a lot of people it's old hat.
Take from my review what you will, I just have to report on my experience.
End Update 5-23-2014.
I've since begun watching the DVDs like they were the real live episodes, and as long as you watch them with the appropriate 1980s kitsch mindset on (preferably with a Mac 128k, 512k, 512Ke, Plus, SE, or SE/30 in the room with Johnny) then if you're like me and you never got to see Johnny live then it's most exhilarating. And seeing as how all the episodes I've watched all the way through have had no issues, then I really can't argue with it except for the fact that for multitudinous and varied reasons they're not full episodes, but that also allows me to get to bed earlier, which is especially important in the summer.
I'm not saying it's perfect for everyone or that it will continue as auspiciously as it has started, but it's preflight paradigm system checks all passed, and when the paradigm of 128k plus Johnny Carson was activated, I was given the intended effect despite the limitations. I was blown aw ah, to use Alex language.
(The fact that I overcame a test of faith while doing so is all the better for those who choose to believe.)
End Update 5-24-2014.
on August 28, 2013
I purchased this product as a gift for my parents and myself. I grew up in the era of Carson late night and this entire group of DVD's has provided my family with great memories and many laughs. Oh, how I miss Johnny and his guests. This collection takes me back to a place in my childhood and teenage years and brings only laughter and great memories. My parents will attest to this also. There will NEVER be another Johnny Carson as I'm sure others would also agree.
on November 17, 2010
Being born in 1945,I saw my first Johnny Carson Tonight Show on a black and white TV in my college dorm. I have had the good fortune to witness not only the progression of Johnny Carson's career, but also the progression of technology. This collection takes me back with some incredible memories and lets me relive them with Mr. Carson and his wonderful guests. It is such a treat to be reminded of the changes in hairstyle, clothing, music and content that have occurred over the years and I will treasure this collection for allowing me to witness it all again. As I said, "you should have been there"...........and now you can.