December 6th, 2013


How Do You Handle A Problem Like Maria?

Give Me A Break

What's up with all the hostility? Sure there's an iconic Julie Andrews movie of The Sound of Music. So?

In theatre, plays are restaged all the time. Sure, it's an ephemeral medium -- I mean you can't see the original production of Hamlet. But theatre is also about roles and intimacy. Lots of actors want to play a Hamlet or a Lear or a Juliet or a Lady Macbeth from "The Scottish Play" or any number of roles from plays written by anyone other than Shakespeare.

And that includes Maria, et al, from the Rogers & Hammerstein musical of The Sound of Music.

So what irks me about the I-Will-Never-See a non Julie Andrews version, we're not even talking about remaking the film. It's a play. And like the theatre, it's done in realtime, aka live. Which is pretty amazing for modern television.

NBC says there hasn't been a musical done live on television in fifty years. Don't know if they're including PBS or just the old fashioned three networks in the U.S. But there were some great ones -- Cinderella, Peter Pan, Amahl and the Night Visitors. Some made people's careers, including Julie Andrews, Mary Martin, Lesley Ann Warren. Some were broadcast for years after their live debut.

While theatre people might make fun of doing one live show, instead of a run of live theatre performances, live television offers its own problems. So it's a real thing.

And carping that a Carrie Underwood isn't a real actress, puh-lease. The other year we saw The Wizard of Oz Live in Concert with Jewel as Dorothy and it was terrific.

And anyway it's the musical and not the movie. The same as we saw the Calumet Players do in Calumet MI in the U.P. back in the late 80s. And they did a marvelous job. And it's theatre -- who the hell cares that a black woman is playing an Austrian mother superior?

Aren't You Being A Hypocrite?

In a word -- No.

Look, some remakes shouldn't exist because they're BAD. Miami Vice missed the mark completely, despite Michael Mann. And I resent the modern trend to do comedic movies of old TV series. 21 Jump Street, Dukes of Hazard.

But sometimes remakes are better -- The Italian Job -- or equally confusing -- Dune. Or completely different.

The Sound of Music LIVE
NBC Thursday 5 December 2013 8-11pm

We had a lovely time. Carrie Underwood had a beautiful voice, though her Midwestern flat accent contrasted with those trying to do European. The guy playing the captain acted better than he sang, but he wasn't bad. The children were terrific. The nuns, especially including that mother superior, were lovely voices. Max and the Frau Whatshername were younger than the movie, but fit the period just fine.

The sets were decent -- the woods were probably the weakest, but the main hall and the Abbey were excellent -- and I loved the costumes. Maria's wedding dress was very different than Julie Andrews' but fit the era. The stage seemed small for the Big Festival, feeling small time stagey, but it's theatre! You're supposed to fill in the blanks.

I would be curious to find out the lenses used, because it really had that early 60s feel in live camera angle and lack of zooming. I suspect the original TV lenses couldn't be used because of HDTV and higher fidelity. But it had that live look.

One real problem was a strong background hiss. I wonder when this comes out on streaming or Blu-Ray whether they'll make an effort to reprocessing the sound.

We've never gotten to one of the sing-a-long showings of The Sound of Music, but we were at home, watching television. We knew the songs and the words. We could sing along anyway.

Bottom line? This was a lovely version of The Sound of Music, and I'll be curious to see if NBC repeats the experiment with another beloved musical.

Well done, Carrie & cast. And boo to the whiners, who missed a good show.

Dr. Phil


A Facebook meme...
>>>>10 Books in no particular order that have stayed with you in some way. Books that still resonate, regardless of quality or author. Don't take more than few minutes and don't try to list the "right" or "great" works. No more than one book by any given author, and nothing too recent.<<<<<

I chose just SF works -- I could make a million lists -- and all of these I read repeatedly. The edict of no duplicates by author is tough. Clarke, Heinlein, Crichton, Verne -- all have bibliographies of Best Ten works. (grin) Still, I've done these before, so I'll play nice. Though I did move anthologies to a separate short list. (double-grin)

1. Dune / Frank Herbert

2. Star Surgeon / James White

3. Childhood's End / Arthur C. Clarke

4. Ender's Game / Orson Scott Card

5. Marooned / Martin Caidin

6. Gateway / Frederick Pohl

7. Janissaries / Jerry Pournelle

8. Andromeda Strain / Michael Crichton

9. Ringworld / Larry Niven

10. Grass / Shari Tepper


A. The Green Hills of Earth / Robert Heinlein

B. Where Do We Go From Here / ed. Isaac Asimov

C. Best Science Fiction of 1972 / ed. Terri Carr

Your turn?

Dr. Phil