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Case Number 08904: Small Claims Court

Buy The Dick Cavett Show: Ray Charles Collection at Amazon

The Dick Cavett Show: Ray Charles Collection

Shout! Factory // 2005 // 210 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // March 24th, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge Ryan Keefer quietly wonders how old Jamie Foxx was when The Dick Cavett Show was on the air.

The Charge

"I have the greatest sight in the world, the sense of touch. You can't beat it, man."

The Case

I'm one of those people who never could really grasp the appeal of The Dick Cavett Show and its host of the same name. In seeing Cavett on various television shows through the years, including one in the late '80s, I find him as someone who on the surface is fairly bland and boring. And my generation has currently put Ryan Seacrest on shows covering two different television channels (even if one of them is E!).

Nevertheless, Cavett's interviewing skills seemed to hold their own with most other interviewers of the era, and in a testament to those behind the curtain, the Cavett show helped bring in a lot of musicians into its fold, from Janis Joplin to George Harrison. The ABC show ran for 5 years, with each 90 minute episode ranging from interesting to somewhat morose, depending on whether or not Cavett's interviewing and charisma decided to show up. As part of a recurring series, Shout! Factory has been releasing various Cavett compilation videos over the last several months. This one includes a three-episode collection with Cavett and Ray Charles, who seemed to share a relationship larger than the usual host-guest dynamic. The episodes break down as follows:

Disc One

• June 26, 1972
Cavett comes out on stage, and instead of the usual mundane comedy routine, decides to "electrify" the audience by showing them the wonders of a then-new technology to television, the slow motion effect. After six sense-testing minutes of this, he finally gets to business, and Charles is introduced. He performs a solid version of "America the Beautiful," but the overall sound quality really does take away from enjoying it. Afterwards, Charles and Cavett sit down for some time, and the two really hit it off. The charming, "aw, shucks" self-deprecating nature of Charles really does come through, and Cavett is quite the fan, apparently. One of his first questions is about Charles' blindness and his daily activities, so you've got to admire that kind of honesty in this day and age. Charles returns to the piano for the instrumental "Blues for Big Scotia" and Cavett joins him for an impromptu duet of "Am I Blue" which is admittedly a little painful. Before leaving, Cavett invites Charles back for another time, which Charles takes him up on. The subsequent other guests in this show are The Odd Couple's Tony Randall and anthropologist Margaret Mead.

• January 26, 1973
Charles is the sole guest on this show, and he provides more details into his life that are simply surprising to the amateur fan. Who would have known that Ray knew how to fly, or was a chess player? Charles talks with some candor about his parents and his musical influences, and it's a really interesting look at the musical legend. In terms of the songs he plays, he kicks things off with "I Feel So Bad," followed by an amazing version of "Georgia on My Mind" that must be heard to be appreciated. During an interview break, Charles mentions his dislike for playing on television, because of the lack of providing a proper sound for musical acts (a-friggin' men) before going back to the piano for a different, but uniquely Ray Charles version of "Eleanor Rigby." After playing "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Lift Every Voice and Sing," there's a version of "Shake" that's OK (I prefer the Otis Redding version myself), followed by a version of "America the Beautiful" that was better than the first. And Cavett and Charles reunite again for "Am I Blue" for some reason, perhaps to torture, but forgivable considering how much quality music was here.

Disc Two

• July 9, 1973
Charles' last appearance on the show is started, oddly enough, with a fire engine siren during Cavett's monologue (not the first time you can hear a fire truck during this set). Cavett's first interview is with then-New York City Mayor John Lindsey where they discuss, both seriously and in jest, the Nixon White House (this was shortly after the release of Nixon's infamous "Enemies List"). Charles performs "I Feel So Bad" and "Born To Lose" and the two slowly draw out some suspense before performing "Am I Blue" yet again. Charles resumes a previous discussion on the lack of sound quality on television programming, followed by a discussion with Dr. Samuel Rosen, who was responsible for a medical procedure that involved hearing restoration. The segment was a little cryptic for whatever reason. Charles asks some questions about hearing loss because unknown to many, Charles felt that he was losing his hearing, which was moderately surprising.

By and large, the video quality improves with the times (the first episode looked dreadful), and the audio was OK, and the only extra of note (aside from Cavett's episode introductions) is an extended interview with the host himself. Cavett spends about 10 minutes with thoughts, recollections and general memories of Charles. He doesn't really add too much of note to this package. Quite frankly the eight page booklet that came with the set is better than Cavett's recollections, which says something. Overall, for fans of Charles this is more than entertaining and well worth your time, but wait for this to appear in the cutout bin before you add it to your library.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 72

Perp Profile

Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 210 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Concerts and Musicals
• Performance
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Episode Introductions
• Cavett Remembers Ray Interview Featurette


• IMDb
• Ray Charles Official Site

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