Shout! Factory // 1979 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // September 20th, 2006
Aging '70s wannabe hipster takes on hippies.
Tom Snyder was the insomniac king of late night talk from 1973 until 1982 with The Tomorrow Show airing on NBC after Johnny Carson's chat fest. The difference was that Snyder chain smoked, swilled martinis, and tried to come off as hip even though he had been a dry newsman for most of his life. Even better he always seemed respectful but nonplussed by his guests, and would have no hesitation to ask tough questions about their lives and work. He wasn't a schmoozer, but a curious, deep-voiced man who was always wondering what all of this pop culture crap meant. He wasn't comfortable all the time, and neither were his guests. That's what made Tomorrow feel so refreshing even today when you sit down to catch a few episodes on DVD.
Rather than traditional season releases, Shout! Factory has wisely decided to unleash themed sets of Snyder's show. At the start of this year the distributor released a two disc set called The Tomorrow Show: Punk and New Wave which centered around Tom's innovative scheduling of bands on the cutting edge of music (many of whom remained there without ever crossing over in to larger commercial success). The set now before DVD Verdict's court is called The Tomorrow Show: Tom Snyder's Electric Kool-Aid Talk Show which features the Grateful Dead as well as Ken Kesey, Dr. Timothy Leary, and Tom Wolfe. Oddly enough these four episodes aired between 1979 and 1981 meaning their counterculture movements had already crested, and most of them were seen as aging hippie has-beens by the time Snyder got them on his show. Most fans will seek this disc out to see Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead playing an acoustic set of four songs live.
The disc itself is presented as the show aired with fullscreen images on shoddy videotape. None of it has been remastered or cleaned up, but that is part of the nostalgic fun. I actually adore the fact the transfer looks like crap, because it takes me back as if I were watching the show back when rabbit ears provided the signal. There are no extras on the disc, but you can chose an option to see only the Dead songs if you want to skip the interviews. So the disc is certainly aimed at fans of the band as much as it is for collectors of Snyder's unique talk show.
The episodes include:
* May 7, 1981 with the Grateful Dead and Ken Kesey
The band performs "On the Road Again," "Cassidy," "Dire Wolf" and "Deep Elem Blues" after Tom interviews Jerry Garcia and Ken Kesey about LSD experiments by the US government back in the '60s. After the performances the band is quickly interviewed.
* August 6, 1979
Tom Snyder takes on author Tom Wolfe focusing on The Right Stuff.
* October 14, 1980
Tom Wolfe appears on the show a second time to discuss his latest project In Our Time which is a collection of his drawings.
* August 9, 1981
Dr. Timothy Leary makes a rare live appearance on Tom's set after his appearance as a "standup philosopher" in New York.
Overall this is an interesting collection for Deadheads and people who are interested by the counterculture musings of Tom Wolfe and Timothy Leary. It's fun to see Tom Snyder laugh uncomfortably as LSD and drugs in general are dished about in frank and unapologetic ways. He seems to visibly squirm at several points, and that makes the whole thing seem even more compelling. Shout! Factory provides us with a fun glimpse in to the past looking even further in to the past. Fun stuff that'll make you want to either light a cigarette or a joint depending on your predilections.
Review content copyright © 2006 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Shout! Factory
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1979
MPAA Rating: Not Rated