Thursday, October 18, 2007

One way to get me to watch a TV show in which I otherwise would have had no interest

I had no intention to watch Viva Laughlin, the new musical drama-comedy on CBS tonight.

But then I read the New York Times review:
"Viva Laughlin" on CBS may well be the worst new show of the season, but is it the worst show in the history of television? ...

"Viva Laughlin" is not even in the same league as "Cop Rock," a 1990 experimental series created by Steven Bochco that leavened a gritty police drama with Broadway musical moments: cops and criminals breaking into song and dance. "Viva Laughlin" also features musical outbursts and is far worse. ...

Hugh Jackman's in it. He's a Broadway musical song-and-dance veteran. Surely he's good, right?
Ripley's nemesis, Nicky Fontana, is played by Hugh Jackman, who is also an executive producer, and his signature song is the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil," which Mr. Jackman lip-syncs, even though he is a successful Broadway singer and dancer. Actually it's not quite lip-synching: the actors sing, softly, along with the original performer, a little like commuters mumbling along with oldie hits on the car radio.

Isn't that the basis for that other new show, Carpoolers?
There has never been a better time for offbeat manipulations of music on television dramas, yet "Viva Laughlin" isn't even a near miss.

I should say at this point that I watched Cop Rock on its original airing--well, at least the first episode or two--and while it was not great, you had to give it points for trying. And, hey, the music was by Randy Newman (for the first ep, anyway.) And the actors actually sang.

Salon adds for good measure:
Tea time. Plaid skirts on grown men. Bangers and mash. There are just some things that Brits can pull off that we Americans can't, and now we can safely add made-for-TV musicals to that list. The BBC's "Viva Blackpool" was a reasonably amusing tribute to the far more breathtaking "Singing Detective" miniseries. Does that mean it belongs on American TV? Hell, no, but if you don't see it with your own eyes, you won't believe it.

Oddly, the last sentence of Salon piece is like a paraphrase of the Times:
What in the world were they thinking? Don't get us wrong: Nothing could be better than a fun, imaginative, well-produced musical comedy on TV. Sadly, "Viva Laughlin" doesn't even come close.

I am so there.

Oh, and if you've never The Singing Detective, starring the current Prof. Dumbledore, do rent it. It's bloody brilliant. (But very dark, so consider yourself warned. And don't rent the American movie remake with Robert Downey by mistake.)

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