“The Sound of Music Live!” has become the new definition of “hate-watching.”
Anyone with a Twitter account has noticed the tidal wave of tweets about NBC’s TV event, which aired for three hours on Thursday night, but that can’t exactly be taken as a good sign. (You know a TV show isn’t going well when live tweets from DiGiorno Pizza are considered one of the best parts.)
From the moment NBC announced its live TV version of the Broadway classic, a number of “Sound of Music” fans responded with a resounding “why?!” So when the network unveiled its one-take-only “Sound of Music” on Thursday — starring Carrie Underwood and Stephen Moyer in the untouchable roles of Maria and Captain Von Trapp — it seems viewers were primed to tear the production to shreds from its opening note.
And shred it they did.
Critics have commended country star Underwood for attempting live theater without acting experience, but they haven’t been able to ignore the result.
“As her multiple Grammys and her legion of country music fans will attest, the quality of Underwood’s singing voice is not the problem,” said USA Today’s TV critic Robert Bianco. “It’s that she doesn’t know how to use that voice to sing in character, or what to do with her face when she’s trying.”
Even though it’s been repeated that NBC was re-creating the stage version of “Sound of Music,” rather than the beloved 1965 film starring Julie Andrews, the comparisons between the TV musical and the movie were inevitable. At one point, Underwood had to go on the record to tell her critics that she’s completely aware she is not Andrews. “I would never pretend that I was,” the “American Idol” champ recently told Entertainment Weekly. “I know my place.”
Yet that place may not have been in such an iconic role. There are some things that are so revered in pop culture it’s nearly criminal to try to re-introduce them (see: the widely reviled plan to create a sequel to “It’s A Wonderful Life”).
Underwood is an undeniable talent, but the singer is now facing complaints for even attempting to portray the young nun.
“When Carrie Underwood stepped out on the (wooded, not grassy) hills and started singing, I wished the hills were alive with the sound of hungry mountain lions,” said Time magazine in a review. “Why wasn’t she Julie Andrews? Is being Julie Andrews so much to ask for? No chic pixie cut either. Heidi braids.”
The Hollywood Reporter wondered if it was “perhaps unfair to ask so much of Underwood, to have to make Maria’s journey in three scant hours.” And, to make matters worse, “True Blood’s” Moyer — so familiar to audiences as vampire Bill that some viewers found it difficult to see the actor as anyone else — didn’t live up to expectations, either.
“Moyer is a better singer than Russell Crowe,” said THR. “But he’s no Hugh Jackman. Or Neil Patrick Harris. Or Taye Diggs. Or even Nathan Fillion. His attempt at conveying an emotional hollowness just reads as mildly constipated, his furrowed eyes and pursed lips doing all the work. He doesn’t look stoic, he just looks clenched.”
So it wasn’t a home run. But that’s not to say that there weren’t highlights, with Audra McDonald’s spectacular performance being chief among them.
Some have emerged has defenders of the show — the first attempt at a live TV musical production in almost 50 years — while a few more have tweeted their hope that the intense criticism of the production won’t stop NBC or other major broadcast networks from giving live theater in primetime another try.
As for Underwood, it sounds like she slept well after going off the air Thursday.
“Glory to God tonight…I couldn’t be more proud,” she tweeted. “What a tough thing to pull off and we did it! I am so blessed!!!”