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The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder: Punk and New Wave [2 Discs] [DVD]

Release Date:01/24/2006
Tom Snyder made a valiant effort to keep up with the times during the nine-year run of his talk show Tomorrow, and when punk rock began to appear on the nation's cultural radar in the late '70s, Snyder invited a few noted figures of the new movement onto the show, though there was usually a puzzling (or amusing) degree of disconnect between host and guest, since it was invariably obvious that Snyder just didn't understand the stuff. Eight episodes of the Tomorrow show are included on this two-DVD set from Shout Factory, each of which features at least one noted act from the punk/new wave scene. The first and most unintentionally comical is an October 11, 1977, show in which noted concert promoter Bill Graham, Los Angeles Times rock critic Robert Hilburn, and producer Kim Fowley discuss the (then) brand-new phenomenon of punk; within minutes, it's painfully obvious that Fowley is the only one who knows the slightest thing about punk, and he'd much rather talk about himself than anything else, so the result is like watching a handful of vegans attempting to explain how to throw a pig roast. Later on, Paul Weller of the Jam and Joan Jett (then still in the Runaways) drop by, and while they're obviously much better clued in, Weller's level of cool prevents him from bonding well with his fellow guests, and Jett has to explain that while she likes punk rock, that isn't quite what she does, leading to further confusion. Television has seen few such moments since Steve Allen thought it would be funny to force Elvis Presley to sing to a dog in 1956. The other seven shows feature interviews with Patti Smith (loopy but charming) and John Lydon (somewhere between hostile and deliberately blank), and both performances and chat segments from Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop, the Ramones, the Jam, and the Plasmatics (the latter featuring Wendy O. Williams blowing up a car to the delight of her fans). Technically, all the shows are presented in their original full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and the audio has been mastered in Dolby Digital Stereo, retaining the original monophonic sound mix of the initial broadcasts. The programs are in English, with no multiple language options or subtitles included. In addition to the interviews and performances featuring musicians, the bulk of the rest of the original shows have been included as well (though Rona Barrett's segments from the Tomorrow Coast to Coast edition of the show have been excised), meaning some incongruous but interesting interviews also appear on the set, most notably a chat with veteran filmmaker Frank Capra. The quality of the original source materials is generally good; while some occasional flaws are apparent, these discs look quite well considering the age of the tapes, and this set is a fascinating time capsule for folks looking to recall a day when punk rock wasn't readily available at the local shopping mall.
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    The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder: Punk and New Wave
    From Elvis Costello to the Ramones, this look back into the history of punk rock offers a compelling look at the artists who bucked the trends to do things their own way. By showcasing the works of such extreme musicians as Iggy Pop and the Plasmatics, and giving the musicians an open opportunity to discuss their craft, The Tomorrow Show host Tom Snyder opened the eyes of the public to an underground genre of music that was as controversial as it was groundbreaking. In addition to a revealing roundtable discussion of punk rock featuring Joan Jett, Paul Weller, Bill Graham, Kim Fowley, and Robert Hilburn, this release also offers live performances by Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Iggy Pop, the Plasmatics, Patti Smith, John Lydon, the Jam, and the Ramones. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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