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The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends

Score: 98%
Rating: Not Rated
Publisher: Time Life
Region: 1
Media: DVD/10
Running Time: 28 Hrs., 53 Mins.
Genre: Comedy/Classic/TV Series
Audio: Stereo


  • Bonus Features Appearing as an Additional Show or Film Clip on Disc:
    • Don Rickles: Show 3 - NYC Award Reels 1968
    • Rodney Dangerfield: Bonus Clip: Dated August 01, 1979
    • Jerry Seinfeld: Show 3 Dated June 09, 1988
    • Eddie Murphy: Show 3 Dated July 30, 1982
    • Steve Martin: Show 3 Dated December 19, 1991
    • David Letterman: Show 3 Dated May 15, 1992
    • Burt Reynolds: Show 3 Dated March 12, 1992
    • Jim Fowler: Show 3 Dated June 23, 1983
    • Jay Leno: Show 3 Dated May 16, 1991
    • Robin Williams: Show 3 Dated September 19, 1991

Time Life has once again provided viewers with a knock-out series in The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends including 28 never-before-released shows from the '70s, '80s and '90s featuring a powerhouse of comedians including Don Rickles, Robin Williams, David Letterman, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Burt Reynolds, Steve Martin, Rodney Dangerfield, Eddie Murphy, and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom animal handler Jim Fowler, plus bonus material and vintage commercials (at the viewer's option) from the day and time of show date. Of course, you'll be blessed by Johnny Carson himself, his co-host Ed McMahon, and Doc Severinsen and Tommy Newsom with the NBC orchestra. Each of the 10 DVDs in this series contains full shows highlighting fan favorite guests together with some of the most cherished moments from 30 years of The Tonight Show.

The Tonight Show always begins with Johnny's comedic monologue touching on social and political topics of the day, with comments on California's wonderful weather. Occasionally, the show moves into productions by the Mighty Carson Art Players with Johnny in the lead as Art Fern in "Tea Time Movies" with Carol Wayne or Teresa Ganzill as the Matinee Lady, "Carnac the Magnificent", "Mother Tums", "Aunt Blabby", "Floyd R. Turbo", and the "Queen of England." There's also a sketch where Johnny plays a Congressman working late with his secretary. These skits can appear as Bonus features or in the regular shows, and you might get a chance to watch Johnny play "Stump the Band" with the audience. This late-night variety show collection consists of 10 discs with exceptional bonus film footage of excerpts from various shows, some including stars such as Rodney Dangerfield, Lucille Ball, and James Mason. Names of some other celebrities that will appear in the shows are Buddy Rich, John Byner, Leo Durocher, McLean Stevenson, Dyan Cannon, Jimmy Stewart, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwartzenagger, Susan Sarandon, Dr. Joyce Brothers, and even Mike Reagan (son of the President).

The comedy on these 10 discs are priceless. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends is quite a comprehensive amount of viewing. Each disc contains two full shows and an additional bonus feature, so I will just give the highlights of the 10 discs in this series:

Don Rickles
You'll see Don Rickles ("Mr. Warmth") commenting on Ed's recent marriage, and performing exercises with Johnny, and at one point, Rickles attacks Ed in a compromising manner. The Bonus on this disc reflects a New York City Award reel from 1968 that was preserved in order to be submitted for an Emmy Award consideration. Here, Johnny plays the lead as a bather in a Japanese Bath House with two beautiful masseurs when Rickles blasts into the bath House and steals the scene.

Eddie Murphy
Eddie Murphy makes one of the most famous first-time appearances of The Tonight Show. In his comedy stand-up routine, he shares the (contrived) first names of some siblings, and what it would be like if there were a black President. In the second show, Murphy begins with a stand-up routine where he compels the audience to use the "N" Word with his permission. He also does what he calls a tasteless impression of Stevie Wonder, and talks about life in his childhood neighborhood. In the Bonus material, Murphy requests the ladies to check out his nice butt.

Rodney Dangerfield (Mr. "No Respect")
Dangerfield does stand-up that is hysterical, but not suitable for children, and promotes his movies "Caddyshack" and "Easy Money." Johnny plays "Carnac the Magnificent" and Rodney shares a show with James Mason with more hilarious comedy.

Steve Martin
Steve Martin shares with Johnny that he has written lyrics for The Tonight Show's theme song, and he introduces his banjo playing as his "happy sound." In the two shows, he promotes his upcoming movies "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" and "Father of the Bride," and the clip he brings for "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid" is an absolute scream.

Burt Reynolds
There is always anticipation of the unknown when Reynolds appears on The Tonight Show. First, he'll discuss his new movie "Hooker," but all decorum is gone when he pours a cup of beverage down the front of Johnny's shirt with him reciprocating with a bag of ice cubes down the front of Reynolds' shirt. But wait -- that is not all, you'll find Johnny has a sneaky surprise when Reynolds is leaving. In the second portion, Reynolds plugs "City Heat" and "Stick" movies and talks about his recent illnesses. Reynolds' best friend, Dom DeLuise, joins the talk and everything ends up with whipped cream for everyone.

Robin Williams
Williams is a superb actor and comedian and is always "on." He always delights and amazes his audiences with his unexpected humor. Williams is a spectacle to behold with intelligent beyond belief and a mind that goes like a speeding train. Williams promotes his movies "Moscow on the Hudson", "Awakenings", "The Fisher King", and "Hook." Good friend and comedian Jonathan Winters joins the pair and their outrageous comedy keeps Johnny laughing throughout the show.

Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry's comedic career skyrocketed to fame with his popular "Seinfeld" series, and became the most popular and successful sitcom on American television. His first appearance on The Tonight Show was on May 6, 1981, when Carson made the decision to keep him as a regular guest. In his further appearances, he discusses Johnny's role as Rambo in the skit "Mr. Rambo's Neighborhood." Seinfeld's act covers changes in society, leadership, wisdom, and integrity regarding the Republican and Democrat mascots.

Jay Leno and David Letterman
Both Leno and Letterman have more than engraved their successes in comedy and late-show hosting, so most viewers are familiar with their brand of late-night entertainment. In the 1980's, Carson wanted to reduce The Tonight Show's hours to 60 minutes. NBC negotiated a contract to accommodate the change, thus creating a space to be filled for the difference and that space became The Late Show with David Letterman. When Carson decided to retire, he was replaced with Jay Leno on May 22, 1992 (even though Letterman had desired the earlier spot). At Carson's direction, Letterman left to join a rival network, CBS, airing in the same slot as The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on the opposite network. Now, both Letterman and Leno have retired their positions to pursue other interests -- but the late-night talk show beat continues going on.

Jim Fowler
For many years, zoologist Jim Fowler was the sidekick of host Marlin Perkins of the Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom nature show. He appears several times in The Tonight Show spots in this Collection. He's very entertaining and has brought an assortment of animals to the show such as vultures, cranes, leopards, bears, and many other exotic wildlife that he sometimes requires Johnny to participate in the handling -- and this can be a form of comedy in itself.

The Tonight Show is an American television icon. It is the world's longest-running talk show and the longest running regularly scheduled entertainment program in the United States. The Tonight Show began broadcasting in 1954 and this Emmy award winning show is still entertaining today. There are 10 comedians in this Collection that have risen to the top of the comedy sector and their names brighten America's history. Even though some of the shows have minor flaws in preserving their content and may have duplicate programming in other series, this selection is certainly essential in your Tonight Show collection. The content is humorous, informative, and entertaining even though some content may not be suitable for children. I am certainly pleased to add The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Johnny and Friends to my library while thanking God for the good times The Tonight Show has given me and my family.

-Kambur O. Blythe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jan Daniel

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