The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons

January 28, 2012 10 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

Recently, when this viewer viewed an episode of a season of the Simpsons, creator Matt Groening made a statement that he said would be the big quote from him. It was concerning a guest that he felt the show was the meanest to, but in recording was a great sport. Groening went as far as saying he had the best talk show. He was of course referring to the immortal Dick Cavett and his beloved ABC late night talk show and recently has sprung another life when it comes to the music world of that time as he brings along many Rock Icons.

Featured on the first of three discs, Dick welcomes the bunch from Woodstock along with a few holdovers in an episode on the last day of the rock fest. Following that is the unique personality of Sly Stone who matches his unintentional comic charm on Debbie Reynolds, Senator and his wife from Oklahoma and Pancho Gonzales
as well as a short but sweet interview with David Bowie.

Moving right along to disc two is the ever present Janis Joplin as she shows her great vocal ability as well as mixing in with the guests and one improvisational group amongst three episodes on one disc.

Finally on disc three are the song stylings of Stevie Wonder and Tex Ritter along with a rare but intriguing interview with former Beatle George Harrison preceded by Gary Wright (who would go on to sing the hit Dream Weaver) and the group Wonderwheel and is joined in the interview by Ravi Shankar and finishing off is a multi-selectioned visit from Paul Simon along with a unique situation for Dick, three people, one interview and the subject?? Dick himself after the release of his autobiography aptly titled Cavett.

Watching these episodes brings a time when the mood was loose, any smoking acutriments were legal during the interview and a sitdown with a performer can last the entire 90 minutes (an hour and change without commercials). This is never a bad thing as host Dick carries his show with his wonderful wit and humor as well as the occasional surprise here and there.

One thing that was always admirable about his show is his vast breathing room with the guests as he allowed in the mix of his solid on the spot questions a sense of letting the guests be themselves and be comfortable in front of an audience whether at home or in the studio.

There are many times when this viewer laughed and loved the episodes here and his musical guests have many moments both musically and when they sit down to talk to Dick. While the Woodstock episode has the equivalent of a great concert filled with little talk but great music with great performances (doesn’t Joni Mitchell have a beautiful voice) and the ending is more than memorable, the Sly Stone episode has many puzzling sit down moments with the guests and the mixing with them is a sight to be seen whereas the David Bowie segment is a great interview (look for Luther Vandross as one of the backup singers) but as told by Dick at the beginning, a reason for why the episode is so short (more puzzling is with Bowie’s jacket on during performing and a pic on the case of Bowie without the jacket performing, sadly lost).

As for the Janis Joplin episodes, there was much to love with this one as in all of her episodes, she presents herself in a fun manner with the guests and plays along well amongst all the precedings throughout all three.

Finishing it out, Stevie Wonder has two great performances and Tex sings the theme from High Noon wonderfully with the interviews in between a good way to familiarize today’s world with the other two interviewees (Elsa Lanchester, aka The Bride of Frankenstein is specifically a hoot!).

With Paul Simon and the self-assessment of Cavett making for a wonderful potpourri to finish off the set, a real find is the George Harrison interview which captures a lot of spontaneous moments with the former Beatle along with playing with the slight nervousness making for a very good interview along with everything in between along with not only displaying a great interest in this viewer of The Concert for Bangledesh (review upcoming) but also what makes this show one of the best when it came to interviews and performances and this set is a great introduction to a superb talk show that didn’t rely on fluffy questions but got honest answers and an affable host to go along with it.

Video: How does it look?

The Rock Icons set of The Dick Cavett Show is properly in full frame as it was originally seen on ABC and the videotape on a few episodes has a few slight glitches but not much else and the best that you can expect from a videotaped show of that time. The picture quality holds up quite well and never has any severe burn in problems or issues with clarity as it presents a quality picture and it holds up well throughout the entire set.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track is well served to the center and front channels with all musical performances benefitting with some muteness and sound beyond blast apparant. The theme of the show plays clearly and quite well and some of the dialogue through a few of the episodes have slight chopped sound (for obvious reasons) but but all comes out clearly despite the time and age of the track. Sadly, there are no subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Before the meat is served for this set of extras, I want to call attention to two things in particular. First is the menus which keep the mood of the Rock Icons alive with it’s multi color and it’s great use of music throughout these menus which when you select the episodes option, have terrific replicas of the tickets of The Dick Cavett Show (I have one at home and its right on the money so big time kudos)

The other is all episodes have an intro by Dick himself and he gives great comments in a minute or less about the episode. It’s also very good to note that this package sets a standard for what most talk shows looking to cross the realm into DVD should follow in that in has the entire episode of the show (9 in all) on here with all guests and not resorting to just highlights and just interviews as it packs more than expected. WELL DONE!!!!

The main extras are contained on disc 1 starting with The Dick Cavett Interview where Bob Weide, exec producer of Curb Your Enthusiasm, conducts a little more than thirty minute interview with Dick and how these two met and goes over all episodes briefly with the acts featured on the set along with the different pluses concerning the shows.

Also included is Cavett Meets The Rolling Stones which is sixteen minutes mixed with present day and 1973 interviews with Cavett discussing when he got to interview Mick Jagger in between concerts at Madison Square Garden and they both share some interesting moments learning and sharing a laugh or two in between. A very nice extra indeed.

Along with this there are promos in the beginning of disc one for Joni Mitchell concert DVDs and The Jack Paar Collection (a great one and a great set) and one easter egg which can be found on disc 3 and going down to songs to hit right to have another drawn Cavett head and hitting enter after that will have an advanced surprise for one episode on that disc and it is a short treat.

The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons is a set that should be featured in any DVD collection whether TV or Movies at it presents a talk show of a great kind with wonderful guests, surprises, solid interviews, and full length episodes that will entertain the slightly curious and the extras along with the shows themselves make this a must buy/must own.

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