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Tonight: 4 Decades of the Tonight Show

3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Tonight - 4 Decades of The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson
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Product Details

  • Actors: Johnny Carson
  • Format: Box set, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 15
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Funimation! Unidisc
  • Release Date: Nov. 2 2010
  • Run Time: 1800 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B003V0FW9K
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6,527 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

"Tonight" is an all-new release featuring over 30 hours of material Never-Before-Released to DVD! Includes over 50 shows hand-selected by an original Producer as the best episodes from 4 decades of the most popular late night show in history! For more than a decade Johnny Carson DVD s have sold millions of copies and continue to sell strong year-after-year - especially during the Q4 holidays! "Tonight" makes the ideal holiday gift for the Johnny Carson or Television fan in every family! DVD Bonus features include: Over an hour of rescued footage from shows originally airing in the 1960 s. All new interviews with some of the most celebrated and regular guest stars. Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: TELEVISION Rating: NR Age: 823753370097 UPC: 823753370097 Manufacturer No: 3700


Here's Johnny in a massive, mixed-blessings of a boxed set that in the immortal words of Stephen Sondheim offers something for everyone (but mostly comedy Tonight). Unlike previous DVD collections of certified classic Tonight Show clips, this set offers a more representative retrospective of Johnny's 30-year reign as the King of Late Night, a bygone era when there were only three networks and Jerry Seinfeld opened for Andy Williams in Bloomington, Minnesota. These episodes are truncated, yes, but you get the good stuff: Ed McMahon's iconic "And now, here's Johnny" intro; the topical monologue; a comedy bit (Carnac the Magnificent, the Mighty Carson Art Players, Stump the Band); and a diverse array of stars, who seemed to shine a little brighter when doing panel with Johnny. Even on an average night, there was the feeling that anything could happen, and these episodes offer a plethora of great water-cooler moments: Robert Blake showing up as Baretta during a Columbo sketch; an unannounced Don Rickles interrupting a Frank Sinatra appearance (with Frank himself telling Rickles's signature "Hey, Frank, can't you see I'm eating" story); Michael Landon tearing into a TV Guide reporter; Johnny shanghaiing David Letterman's beat-up truck from his Malibu home; Steve Martin ordering dinner during his panel set; and a great barroom-brawl stuntman demonstration (featuring future Smoky and the Bandit director Hal Needham). For comedians, Johnny was a career-making kingmaker, and this set features some great standup sets by Seinfeld, Letterman, Garry Shandling, David Brenner, and Jay Leno. But as good as Johnny was with celebrities, he was even better at interviewing who Sarah Palin calls "the nice folks," ordinary citizens with some extraordinary talents, such as champion hog callers, and a senior citizen adept at martial arts. The Tonight Show also spotlighted weird, wild acts, like the guy who blows cigarette smoke bubbles. Chapter stops would have been nice. There are also some technical issues (a couple of clips featured in a new interview with Loni Anderson--one of several Most Favored Guests who share reminiscences of appearing on The Tonight Show-- have no sound). But these are minor quibbles. You do get some bonus unearthed vintage '60s-'70s clips such as Johnny's interview with Jay "Tonto" Silverheels, a stirring appearance by the crew of Apollo 13, and a nice bit with Charlton Heston in which he and Johnny take turns reading limericks. Let's hope there's "More to Come." --Donald Liebenson

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a keepsake. Carson paved the way for all of today's performers. Laugh 'til you cry skits. Great product.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Although this item was as advertised, I was looking for the all time funniest moments from the "Tonight Show".

I did not want to see the opening comments from Mr Carson, as well as his skits.

I would not recommend this product, and found it not worth the money. Actually, one of the discs did not work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa6d8ebe8) out of 5 stars 81 reviews
381 of 386 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6d9c738) out of 5 stars Tips On Buying Carson DVDs Oct. 30 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
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.
175 of 181 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6d9c78c) out of 5 stars HERE IS THE LISTING OF WHAT IS ON THIS SET! Sept. 25 2010
By Classic Movie Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
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
David Brenner

Episode 26: March 5, 1981
Slim Whitman

Episode 27: March 18, 1981
Richard Benjamin, Garry Shandling

Episode 28: May 5, 1981
Jimmy Buffett, Thalasa Cruso

Episode 29: October 14, 1981
Robin Williams

Episode 30: October 28, 1981
Lance Burton, Reba McEntire, Dick Cavett

Episode 31: October 30, 1981
Michael Landon

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
Kenny Rogers

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
Bette Midler

Episode 46: March 27, 1986
Billy Crystal, Buddy Rich

Episode 47: April 18, 1986
David Letterman

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
131 of 149 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa70bc9f0) out of 5 stars a REVIEW from an OWNER of the set! Nov. 1 2010
By Richardson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Go ahead and rate me NOT helpful for this...because I don't give it 5 stars...and stop reading. Or ...perhaps save a hundred bucks? I'm being generous with 3 stars...and that is because even with the lousy DVD picture quality, truncated shows, chopped up interviews and all...there is still so much of ....Johnny. Anybody else and I'd have a hard time raising my rating above a 1 for this overpriced abortion.

I love Johnny, grew up watching him, and often think during todays crazy news cycle..I wonder what Johnny would have opened his monologue with. I'd give Johnny 5 stars for just being Johnny but this review is of a DVD set

Sadly...these are hugely truncated episodes...so essentially their advertising is at least incorrect or more likely complete marketing nonsense. The tonight show was not a 30 minute show so to represent this as ANY number of episodes is a lie. The history of Johnny and the Tonight Show on DVD has been poor ....lots of DVDs little actual content and duplication much duplication. I was hoping that they finally got it right and were actually going to produce a serious number of full episodes that would give a great representation of the history of his amazing show....but its just not much more than clips as other reviewers have mentioned.

I'm also deducting another star for the ridiculous packaging....hey, when you don't have a lot of content..put it in a big box just in time for the Holidays and the kids can all pitch in and get grandpa a big present. This could have been all in a very manageable box and on a lot less DVDs quite frankly...but this is tailor made for the big box stores and I expect to see them stacked up at Costco soon!

The booklet that comes with this $120 list set is really not much either...and the half hour clips don't even have chapter stops....its just plain cheap cheap cheap.

Am I still glad to have Johnny back on my tv and in my home YES YES YES...but do I have to rate this set 5 stars when its not?

Don't get your hopes up, clear a big spot to stick this BOX and enjoy the snippets as they come....I enjoyed the episode featuring Robert Blake...well for less than 20 seconds after he entered a scene where Johnny was pretending to be Columbo with the mighty Carson art players...but hey that 20 seconds got him listed on that episodes guest list so read that carefully and just because one of your favorite stars is listed....don't get your hopes too high!

I have not watched all 30 hours but have just sampled around some to see if they were as remembered. The quality is also variable but most fans know the story of that as well.

UPDATE:... I put in a few Discs of favorites and already problems...on disc 13 there are problems half way through episode 49 which ruins the George Carlin segment with pixelation and flickering... and on top of that...they edited his stand up...why..they only presented 28 minutes from that episode anyway!!! sheesh...and now disc 4 is jumping just when Sinatra begins his song....I'm leaning toward a return at this point.

UPDATE 2:....I did return this set and then found it (surprise) stacked up at Costco today for $69 so I gave it another try...and the same problems with the same discs so...I think the other reviewer that used the word "flawless" to describe the visual content was not an owner because this isn't a bad DVD replication but the actual authoring and or source material...and its too bad because Olivia Newton John looks amazing for the few seconds she isn't suffering the effects of horrible transfer.
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa70bc378) out of 5 stars Passable (but only barely) yet overpriced box for Carson fans - far, far from perfect in many ways. Nov. 3 2010
By Ivan Closhnovitz XVIII - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I was excited to receive this box set of 50 "classic" episodes of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show. While Jay Leno and David Letterman may be great, Carson was the all-time King of Late Night. No one had, or has, the charisma, charm, timing and panache of the late, great Carson. This is why, during his 3 decade tenure behind the Tonight Show desk, no one could compete with Johnny or unseat him.

First the limited praise for this set. If you love Johnny Carson, you'll like this set because of his presence. Each episode contains his monologue (complete with ribbing from Ed McMahon, Doc Severinsen and the audience, as well as Doc's wild outfits). A handful of truly classic episodes (but most of the episodes in this box are NOT classics) with a wide variety of guests from huge entertainment luminaries to regular folks with unusual talents. Skits, animals, stand-up and music as well. For the most part, what you get is very entertaining and hilarious. All in all, this set is decent if you truly appreciate classic TV comedy, Johnny Carson, and/or The Tonight Show.

But having said all this, I must say this box set is far from being everything I hoped it would be. As others have said here, we were led to believe that these were 50 complete episodes. Not true. All of the episodes are edited down by 40 to 60%. None of them contain the original opening or closing sequences and most of them end abruptly while Johnny is in the middle of a conversation with a guest, which is very annoying. The 1976 episode with Frank Sinatra features Mr. Sinatra singing one song. Later during his conversation with Sinatra, Johnny says that Frank will sing another song, but we don't get to see that because these clowns edited that performance out. So aggravating!!!!

The quality of the packaging itself is 2nd rate and impractical with a cheaply constructed, flimsy cardboard & paper fliptop box containing four foldout subsets with 3-4 discs each, that require both hands to pull out and put back in. The box looks like it will begin falling apart if moved around or handled too much. Considering the quality of entertainment contained therein, you'd think the Carson organization would have more lovingly designed the package of a much higher quality. There is only one episode from the 1960's, several from the 1970's, but the bulk are from the 1980's which isn't necessarily bad, but it would have been nice to see a more evenly spread out crossection of episodes from each decade.

These episodes are NOT remastered and, as a result, most of them suffer from poor visual and sound quality (in the 12/09/75 episode, as one of many examples, the sound completely drops out for 30 seconds as Johnny is introducing comedian Tom Dreesen). There is so much pixelation in several episodes, that they are practically unwatchable IMHO. Very disappointing considering the cost of this set and the fact that it's the CARSON organization who put this out. They should let Shout Factory do a Carson box set. Shout Factory excellently and lovingly remasters and beautifully packages all of their classic TV content. The 100+ dollars Amazon is charging for this set is WAY TOO MUCH considering the poor packaging, the chopped up content and the poor picture and sound quality.

Lastly, not all of these episodes, in my opinion are really "classic". Many of them are, in fact, somewhat lackluster and dull, leaving me to ponder why they were chosen for inclusion when I can remember so many great episodes that are not included in this box. But I suppose all of this is subjective and based on opinion. In closing, Johnny Carson was a true icon of television. His legacy deserves and demands much better than the 2nd rate quality of this box. If other classic TV programs can get the remastering and excellent packaging, doesn't the great Johnny Carson at least deserve this?!

So my final word on this is, if Respond2 Entertainment had chosen 50 unedited, complete and truly recognized classic episodes of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show that were fully remastered for perfect audio and visual quality and well packaged in a high quality box and subsets; I for one would have been willing to pay more money for it. For this, I would have been willing to pay $200+ dollars. Hopefully someone with sense at Respond2 will read this and some of the other well-written reviews here and take heed for future Tonight Show box sets.
30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6d9e0a8) out of 5 stars On October 26th ... (I was disappointed) Aug. 11 2010
By Matt Barnett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
::: This review has been edited :::


At precisely 11:30pm, I will place a DVD in my DVD player, hit play and finally ... FINALLY ... 11:30pm will feel like 11:30pm once again.

This has been a long time coming for fans not only of Johnny Carson, but of classic TV. I wasn't smart enough to roll video on "The Tonight Show" in the 80s, so I've been "Carsonless" for nearly 20 years now. Don't get me wrong, the compilation Carson collections have been nice, but to have the actual telecasts themselves is something altogether different. I have high hopes for this release.

I never thought this day would come.


And apparently it still hasn't.

This is probably the most disappointing DVD release I've ever experienced. I thought, for one brief moment, that we would finally have FULL "Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson" episodes to add to the endless "clip" volumes that have been released over the years. Sadly, we've been presented with yet another, essentially, hacked up collection of "clip" shows.

I don't know why this is so hard for the managers of Carson Entertainment to understand:

We, as Johnny Carson fans, want no further "edited, hacked up, best of, the ultimate, we really mean it this time" "Carson collections." We want FULL, UNEDITED, START-TO-FINISH "Tonight Show" episodes. Complete and straight through! Look at the Carol Burnett Show collection for guidance. No edits.

I would give this latest release half a star if I could based on the sheer promise of what might be, followed by the crushing disappointment of reality for what it really is.

You all blew it ... hard.