Time offers perspective – that's perhaps the most resonant theme of the two-disc set The Dick Cavett Show: John & Yoko Collection. With the demise of the Beatles still fresh and his controversial marriage to avant-garde artist Yoko Ono still incurring the wrath of Beatles fans everywhere, John Lennon consented to his first American television interview, post-Fab Four, with Cavett, who at least in the early going, appears to quite nervous about wrangling this occasionally eccentric pair.
Lennon & Ono would only appear twice on Cavett's show – a third appearance was cobbled together from their initial visit – but the interviews stand out as relaxed and genial; Cavett develops a genuine rapport with the couple, indulging them in Ono's truly nerve-grating short films (if I never have to see an excerpt from "Fly" again, I'll die a happy man) and even getting a couple live performances out of them.
Of course, Beatles fanatics will treasure the brief, unromanticized amount of time Lennon spends discussing his former day job ("I don't want to be singing 'She Loves You' at the age of 50, you know ...") but Lennon's more interested in plugging the couple's current activities and interests, which he does to an almost exhausting degree. Cavett displays honest, real chemistry with the Lennons, who delight in non sequiturs and wry puns, adding a touch of poignancy when considering that in less than a decade, Lennon would be murdered by a psychotic fan. While time has helped to heal the loss of Lennon, these interviews are glowing reminders of his superstar quality and continued relevancy nearly three decades later.
Packaged in a fold-out keepcase, the first two episodes are contained on disc one, while the final episode and bonus material are found on the second disc.
The episode breakdowns are as follows:
Episode One: Sept. 11, 1971
There are no songs performed but the experimental films "Fly" and "Erection" are shown, along with promo clips for "Imagine" and "Mrs. Lennon." This first episode can be viewed one of two ways: since the couple's first interview with Cavett produced much more material than could fit in one show, it was originally broadcast as a full 90 minute show and three addition segments that were included in another show (broadcast two weeks later on Sept. 24). This first episode is viewable either as originally broadcast or with the entire interview, which incorporates the extra segments – although with the Sept. 24 episode available on this set, this seems like a slightly redundant feature.
Episode Two: September 24, 1971
Again, there are no songs performed but Cavett highlights three excerpts from his previous John & Yoko interview.
Episode Three: May 12, 1972
Songs performed: Lennon's "Woman is the Nigger of the World" and Ono's "We're All Water."
The Dick Cavett Show: John & Yoko Collection presents the episodes as originally broadcast in 1.33:1 fullscreen – unfortunately, the image looks aged and slightly smeary; it has a distinctly dubbed appearance which only makes Cavett's vintage set look all the more horrible. A fairly disappointing image.
Dolby 2.0 stereo is the only option available and is solid, if unremarkable – there's no distortion or drop-out and for the most part, the Lennons and Cavett sound terrific. The conversations aren't muffled and every witty aside is heard loud and clear.
Cavett has recorded brief, casual introductions for each of the episodes and also sat down for the featurette "Cavett and The Lennons," which runs 19 minutes, nine seconds. It's a warm, heartfelt look back that reveals the genuine affection this trio shared; a great inclusion to this admittedly thin set.
Fans of the Lennons and DIck Cavett alike will find much to revel in here – it's a set that's light on extras but heavy on charm; the genuinely warm rapport the Lennons share with Cavett will bring a smile to the face of most every music fan. Recommended.