TVTV: Video Revolutionaries

color & b/w. 82 min. Paul Goldsmith, dist. by First Run Features, www.firstrunfeatures.com. 2018. DVD UPC 720229917704. $24.95. Closed-captioned. TV
In 1968, Portapak, the first portable video recorder, was introduced to the market. Though it wasn't a hit, a few artists and social activists saw the possibilities. This documentary recalls the efforts of counterculture figures to establish TVTV, short for Top Value Television. By the 1960s, mainstream TV had become a cultural desert, largely irrelevant to young people. To fill this "empty canvas," TVTV set its sights on the 1972 Republican National Convention. While the networks covered Nixon's "coronation," activists focused on protesters outside the arena, notably paralyzed antiwar veteran Ron Kovic. Living in a communal collective, they moved on to covering gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, fugitive radical Abbie Hoffman, and an early Super Bowl, featuring players and their wives rather than owners. Largely ignored by East Coast establishment journalists, TVTV moved west, where increasing coverage of entertainment issues split the organization; the group disbanded in 1979.
VERDICT Former members recall their hits and misses, proudly noting the roles of actor-comedian Bill Murray and future director Harold Ramis, plus their mixed legacy as reality TV pioneers.
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