Glenn O'Brien's TV Party: The Sublimely Intolerable Show [DVD] [1979]

Glenn O'Brien used to begin each episode of his television series TV Party -- which ran on New York cable's public access network from 1978 to 1982 -- by describing it as "a cocktail party but which could also be a political party," but try as he might to inject some social commentary into the mix, O'Brien was clearly hosting a gathering that was more about the refreshments than incisive conversation on January 8, 1979, the episode (called "the Sublimely Intolerable Show" after the fact) featured on this DVD release from Brink Film. Glenn O'Brien's TV Party: The Sublimely Intolerable Show has been transferred to DVD in its original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the transfer is accurate enough to reveal just how low-budget this production truly was; while there were a handful of famous names on board (including Deborah Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie, Adny Shernoff of the Dictators and new wave space-age counter-tenor Klaus Nomi), this was a public access cable show created by people who had no idea what they were doing from a technical standpoint, and the lackadaisical camerawork, low-budget technical facilities and addled pacing (O'Brien and his cohorts drink booze and smoke weed on camera throughout the show) makes this a bit of a challenge to sit through. The audio is just as rough if not more so, especially during the opening minutes when the sound goes out for a bit more than two minutes before anyone in the control booth notices, and the Dolby Digital Stereo mastering (which maintains the original monophonic mix) presents the original broadcast warts and all. The songs and interviews are in English, with no multiple language options or subtitles included. As a bonus, several highlights from other installments of TV Party are included (including a segment in which Nile Rodgers from Chic joins the cast in taking abusive phone calls from viewers), which roughly doubles the length of the disc. As an artifact of a time and place that's a fading memory today, TV Party: The Sublimely Intolerable Show is worth a look, but as entertainment, this is too clumsy to be more than a curiosity.
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Glenn O'Brien's TV Party: The Sublimely Intolerable Show
Chaos gives way to art as a live television broadcast of the legendary, late 1970s public access show TV Party experiences some serious technical difficulties before getting under way with appearances by such special guests as Debbie Harry, Klaus Nomi, Adny Shernoff, and The Patty Smith Group's Richard Sohl. The sound-man has gone missing, ensuring that the opening segments of this episode of TV Party from January 8, 1979 gets off to an alternately amusing and artistically agonizing start. Later, when the sound board gets working, Blondie singer Harry and host Glenn O'Brien back up Compton Maddox in a typically droll performance by the underground singer/songwriter, futurist soprano Nomi takes the microphone to deliver a post-modern aria, and The Dictators' Shernoff covers The Beach Boys' "Be True to Your School" as Manic Panic designers Tish and Snooky cheer along with pom-poms. Later, director Eric Mitchell announces the grand opening of the New Cinema theater and shows a few clips from the latest film Kidnapped. "White people talk about reggae" in a segment featuring British director David Silver and photographer Kate Simon, and the episode winds to a close as Blondie singer Harry, her band-mate Chris Stein, and good friend Sohl sit down to puff on a joint while taking calls from viewers. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Image coming soon
    Glenn O'Brien
  • Deborah Harry
    Deborah Harry
  • Image coming soon
    Chris Stein
  • Image coming soon
    Eric Mitchell
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