Enjoyable, early Johnny
J. O'Preska | Heidelberg, Germany | 03/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Roughly 95% of this DVD is pre-Tonight Show Johnny Carson. Included are two 1955 episodes of "The Johnny Carson Show;"
one episode of "Who Do You Trust" from 1958 (with Ed McMahon as part of the program); a 1955 "Jack Benny Show" (with Johnny as guest); and a couple of 1972 "Tonight Show" excerpts, featuring Johnny, Ed, and Doc. All of the programs are in black and white
-- with the exception of the "Tonight Show" portions -- but the video and sound quality are fairly good throughout. All shows are pretty much complete, including commercials of the day. For the price, this is a very good purchase and for the Johnny Carson fan, a must have. I wasn't too sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised at the amount of enjoyment I received from this disc. Recommended."
Rare Old Carson Footage Worth A Look For Comedy Historians
sundayclub | 04/24/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This budget-priced collection offers four half-hour shows from 1955-58 (mostly with original commercials) along with a rarely-seen promotional film from 1972. You get two episodes of Carson's ill-fated prime-time variety show from September 1955, one episode of his hit daytime quiz show from October 1958, and a guest appearance on Jack Benny's live comedy show from November 1955. At the time, Carson was a thirty year-old comic with jet-black hair and a gaunt frame; long-time Carson fans may have trouble recognizing him in these early films.
Carson's 1955-56 prime-time show on CBS was fast-paced and tightly scripted, leaving him little time for ad-libbing. The first episode features Carson's amateurish impression of TV showman Ed Sullivan doing an all-British show; many of his quieter lines are drowned out by exploding laugh tracks. The second show features an amusing take-off on 1950's psychic Dunninger The Mentalist (later adapted by Carson for his El Moldo character). Original Jell-O commercials are included, one of which offers recipes for Jell-O Salad that you'll never try to make.
Carson jumped to ABC in 1957 to host a daytime quiz show that would later be known as 'Who Do You Trust?' It was here that he developed his reputation as a fast-thinking ad-libber; his informal comedic style helped disguise the fact that the entire show was scripted and rehearsed. The episode included here features an interview with a contestant who works as a butcher but moonlights as a chiropractor, and apparently he didn't think of shaving before the program. Ed McMahon does the announcements, and Carson louses up a live commercial (yet another Jell-O recipe).
The highlight of the disc is Carson's 1955 appearance on the Jack Benny Program. Carson called Benny his comedy idol, and Benny returned the favor by predicting that Carson would outlast every other comic on TV. Benny generously shares the stage with Carson for five minutes, and you can see the genuine affection the two had for each other. Benny even allows Carson to take his place in a cigarette commercial with Don Wilson. Benny fans are welcome to read my review of 'The Jack Benny Collection' on DVD.
In 1972, Carson helped launch Budweiser's new ad campaign by starring in a promotional film where he did a brief monologue and a Carnac sketch with Ed McMahon and Doc Severinsen. Unseen for years, this film appears in edited form on this DVD. Carson serves up lame material tailored for the Anheuser-Busch suits in the audience; the tacky studio set is cheap and the jokes are even cheaper. Example: a pretty girl walks onstage wearing shorts that resemble cans of Budweiser, and Carson cracks, "I have an opener for those shorts!"
Technical note: this DVD was issued by Timeless Media Group, which means you'll have to endure the occasional 'TMG' brand in the lower right corner of the screen. The films in this disc represent a missing chapter in the career of the most admired and respected talk show host in history; that's why I'm recommending this DVD for long-time fans of Johnny Carson and Jack Benny as well. It's a piece of history at a budget price."
A Nostalgic trip back in time
Janis Bistritz | St Petersburg, FL USA | 08/10/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a fun, nostalgic trip back in time to see how Johnny Carson started out his career. We've come a long way in TV from those days, but you can see how he carried over some of his skits to later years. The Jello commercials were inserted like part of the show--so funny. Anyone who enjoys a trip back in time will appreciate this DVD set. So glad they were preserved. This will be a cherished collection."
Johnny Carson Shows
J. Walker | Gardendale, AL | 08/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My favorite time for watching the DVD's are when my children, who were babies during the early Johnny Carson era, and their children are visiting. It's a pleasure to share the memories and the comedy with them."