It seems that everyone who was anyone gets a retrospective DVD nowadays. Fifteen minutes of semi-fame BITD equals two hours of talking heads and grainy clips on DVD. While we wait for “$2 Per Diem and a Peanut Butter Sandwich — the E. Factor Saga,” let’s take a look at 2008’s “TV Party” (Brink Films), which answers the musical question “How can a documentary have so much footage of prime-era Debbie Harry and still be so hard to watch?”
In its original run from 1979 to 1982, “TV Party” was, well, a TV party! It literally was a weekly party that was televised. Every week, the hoi polloi of the Lower East Side got together for an hour of chemically enhanced conversation and hijinks. Filmed with zero money, zero script and zero technical know-how, it’s kinda what you would get if you let the art class kids loose in the AV room.
There’s a lot of self-conscious acting up, forced fun here. Do you really think your Uncle Vin always wore a lampshade on his head, just because he did it in all your birthday party videos? Sorry kid, he was pimping it for the cameras, and that’s what most of the on-camera party-goers here were doing. No one is that ON all the time. There’s no doubt that it was fun to be there, but it’s a headache to watch.
There’s a montage of the weekly musical guests, and most of the artists were equally tough to listen to. To quote Chris Stein, who was the co-host of the show, it was “weird f*cking stuff — noise rock!”
One exception to the drone, and the obvious draw from our Dictators-centric point of view, were the appearances of our hero, Andy Shernoff. He shows up twice, both brief spots. The 1st clip is of him with Tish + Snooky, doing “Be True to Your School.” The 2nd clip is directly from Mars, and he’s a wanna-be Jamaican, extremely relaxed (coughBAKEDcough) doing a reggae tune called “Dreadlocks the Time Is Now.”
Digging around at the Brinks website reveals that individual episodes are available, forcing you to drop more sheckles if you want to see these tantalizing bits in their entirety. The interviews that went with the clips proved to be a lot of fun, and somewhat revealing:
George O’Brien: “So Andy, the Dictators played their last gig a few months back, do you want to talk about that?”
AS: “No, sorry, I don’t. I have a new project, we’re rehearsing — I just can’t do that punk rock stuff anymore!”
Grab “TV Party” if you want a glimpse into the “anything goes” atmosphere public access was capable of. Make sure the fast-forward button on your remote is in working order, because it’s going to get a work-out.
— Salvi C.
Dictators content rating: 4.5 RTBs out of a possible 5
Bad movie rating: 2 Tors, docked a full Tor for making me buy the entire shows.