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The 'almost' Ultimate Johnny Carson Collection...
on April 11, 2005
Despite the name, this DVD collection is not really the Ultimate Johnny Carson collection. For those of you old enough to remember, this collection was first released on VHS videocassette way back in the mid-1990's. However, something happened during the transition from VHS to DVD as there are some scenes that have been edited out of the DVD version.
I find it ironic that on the box of the DVD collection, it mentions Madonna as being one of the guests, yet her clip never made it to the DVD version. However, she is in the VHS version. It fact, it appears that about 5 mins or so have been cut from each of the main shows (Best of the 60's & 70's; Best of the 70's & 80's; and Best of the 80's & 90's), to make room for some additional backstage footage. Or, what the footage that was cut out because Johnny no longer felt those scenes were some of his greatest moments? Or, maybe the scenes were cut because of the very lengthy intro each of the disc's have (just push the menu button on your DVD player's remote control to get to the main menu).
For those of you lucky enough to have the VHS version don't throw out your VHS tapes just yet, as you actually will be missing out on some of the funniest scenes. Because of this, I did not give the overall collection a perfect 5 stars. Instead, I 'discounted' stars as a result of the editing.
I found the bonus prime-time special "Johnny Goes Home" rather boring actually, and actually took away from the funny 'show' moments seen in each of the three main shows listed above. Also, when viewing some of the back-stage footage, my DVD player froze on me twice, to the point that I actually had to turn it off and re-boot the DVD player. Maybe this was just my collection, I am not sure if others also have had this problem.
Despite these some of the shortcomings mentioned above, this is a good collection of Carson's work and unfortunately will probably only be the only collection every offered. But, most of the scenes are with Johnny and his guests, which really don't show Johnny shining at his best, and that of course would be when he was performing the monologue. Instead of the 'Johnny Goes Home' special, I wish the producers of this DVD collection instead put together some of Johnny's best monologue jokes over the years - because it was the monologue where Johnny really did shine.
For those too young to really remember Johnny Carson, or believe that the current Leno/Letterman late night war is where it is at, really missed out on a good thing and an amazing entertainer. To paraphrase Letterman on his tribute show to Carson, it was actually very upsetting to the audience to tune into the Tonight Show and find out that there was actually a guest host on instead of Johnny. After I heard that statement from Letterman, I do remember that when I used to watch the show and sometimes would just turn off the TV set in disappointment because Carson himself - the real deal- was not hosting that night.
I truly feel that Letterman's kind and truthful words just show what a late night monarch Carson was and how he will be so sadly missed in a world of late-night pretenders.