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DVD Review: Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Selected On Demand DVDs

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The CreateSpace Company has come up with an interesting twist on selling DVDs. As part of the Amazon.com corporation, they offer DVDs created on demand for the consumer. This allows them to make literally hundreds of classic television episodes available to the customer, without the expense of manufacturing them until actually purchased.

The launch of the platform is with two iconic television shows, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. The initial batch of Mister Rogers episodes features 100 of them, covering four decades of the series.

The one I received is the very first, which aired February 19, 1968. For the first three years the program was in black and white. It was also titled Misterogers’ Neighborhood. Nearly all of the famous elements of the series were in place right from the start. Fred Rogers comes in and changes into his sweater and tennis shoes, Mr. McFeely pops in with a “speedy delivery” letter, Trolly takes us into the land of make-believe, and Fred sings “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”

Fred Rogers wrote the theme song “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” among a reported 200 others for the program. An element of the show that rarely gets mentioned is the wonderful jazz-influenced music that accompanies each episode. The main driver of this was Fred Roger’s brother-in-law, Johnny Costa. His wonderfully understated piano was played live as the show was filmed – and adds a charming, and calming element.

The first wave of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson is 56 episodes, from 1965-1990. The DVD I received is from April 9, 1974. This was a pretty good night, and featured guests The Jackson Five and Jerry Van Dyke. The Jackson Five are a wonder, performing two classics: “Never Can Say Goodbye,” and “Dancing Machine.” Michael does his patented Robot dance during “Dancing Machine” and it is brilliant.

For fans of either of these classic programs, this On Demand technology is something special. Rather than being forced to buy a huge box set, or settle for whatever makes up a “Best Of” collection, one is able to get the full, original episodes of their choice.

CreateSpace has come up with a nice solution to the age-old problem of having to carry a deep inventory in a situation like this, where there are so many individual programs to choose from. Each DVD is very reasonably priced as well. Here’s hoping it works, and other long-running programs can be made available this way also.

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About Greg Barbrick