As I’ve mentioned previously, I love “The Sound of Music” deeply and unironically. In case you haven’t heard, a new version is going to air live on NBC early next month. (Well, tape-delayed, for those of us on the West Coast.) There’s a preview of it here, along with some very funny observations about the original film from NPR pop-culture blogger Linda Holmes. Sample: “When Mother Abbess tells Maria, ‘Climb ev’ry mountain,’ she is setting a very unrealistic expectation of success, especially since they are in the Alps. It’s one thing to use a metaphor about uninterrupted mountain climbing if you’re in Nebraska, but when you look out of the window every day and see more mountains than you could ever climb in your entire life, that’s just setting you up to feel like a failure.” (Also: bonus points to the commenter who used the phrase “manic pixie dream nun” to describe Maria.)
I have no problems poking fun at “The Sound of Music” and I agree with Holmes that to my adult eyes, it does seem like the Captain should really have married the Baroness. Nevertheless, the music’s fantastic, the scenery is beautiful (I still can’t believe that I’ve never managed to visit Austria), and the movie is packed with plot. It’s almost three hours long, and it earns every one of those minutes. There’s nothing I’d cut out of it. Not even “The Lonely Goatherd”!
You might expect that I’d be prepared to ignore and/or scoff at the NBC remake, starring “American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood as Maria, but no, I’m so eager to watch it that I’ve even marked Dec. 5 on my calendar so I don’t schedule anything else that night. I want to watch it live(-ish). I got really excited when I heard that the legendary Audra McDonald had been cast as the Mother Abbess (that means she gets to sing “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” which will no doubt bring the house down).
What I like about NBC’s approach is that they’re not remaking the movie. They will be broadcasting an adaption of the theatrical production, which ran for almost 1,500 performances on Broadway. I’m all for more theater on television. (“Great Performances” on PBS has a couple must-sees for theater lovers coming up this month: Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” tonight–the one with Stephen Colbert!–and “Oklahoma!” starring Hugh Jackman next week.) Sure, it’s always better to see live theater, but TV is a mass entertainment and can reach millions of people. Who knows, if “The Sound of Music” is a ratings hit, perhaps there will be more to come. And if casting former “American Idol” contestants brings in viewers, why not? Though I have to admit I’m grateful that NBC didn’t cast Chris Daughtry as Captain Von Trapp.