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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Stand-Up > Sketches > TV > The Johnny Carson Show (1950s/CBS)

The Johnny Carson Show (1950s/CBS)


Picture: C     Sound: C     Extras: C+     Episodes: B



It is known that many of the earliest years of The Tonight Show are lost by default, as NBC went out of their way to get every dollar they could out of the new videotape format.  This included expensive professional tapes, which would be recycled until they could not be used anymore.  That is how most of the early shows are gone.  However, some of the episodes from the half-hour Johnny Carson Show from September 1955 have been issued by Passport and they are really good.


At first, you notice how young he is, but soon the natural comic talent the world came to know and love is on target and what he was even able to do with the television medium then is ingenious.  The skits are hilarious, his interaction with the audience is authentic, his timing in delivering jokes remarkable.  That CBS did not know how to capitalize on this and lose Carson to NBC becomes even more amazing, but this was the concentration of talent on television in its early years.


A precursor to Karnack The Magician and great spoof of Toast Of The Town, the early version of The Ed Sullivan Show where Carson does Sullivan as British.  Johnny’s knack for knowing what could be simply funny is one of the keys to his success and knowing how to deliver it made him a legend.  That is why it is great to have this pair of shows on DVD.  If you have picked up the compilation of his shows on DVD reviewed elsewhere on this site or want to see something you have never seen before, this Johnny Carson Show is for you.


The 1.33 X 1 image is a bit muddy, but is fun to watch, from the old video technology all the way to the amusing Jell-O ads.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is a few generations down, but it is not too bad.  There are extras here, both from a thankfully captured Rat Pack show in Vegas.  Joey Bishop’s back was out and Carson stepped in at the last minute.  The footage is split between his monologue and the actual performances of Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Frank Sinatra.  That wraps up a nice disc, especially for the price.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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