Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Enabling Part One

Sometimes I worry that, as a member of the viewing public, I am an enabler. This has been a concern twice this week.

First example: A strange excuse for entertainment entitled How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?. Based on a British series of shows that set up a very public competition for a lead role in a high-end musical, this is CBC's quest to cast the role of Maria in an upcoming revival of The Sound of Music in Toronto.

First off, let me clarify this: I have never watched American Idol nor Canadian Idol. I don't watch So You Think You Can Dance. I don't even watch Are You Smarter than a Canadian Fifth Grader? (For one thing, we don't call it the Fifth Grade in Canada; it's Grade Five.) So, I go into this thing thinking: Younger daughter loves Sound of Music; there'll be Broadway tunes; we can all watch this together.

Okay, so the first two shows are basically documenting the winnowing process. The first concludes with a rather silly reception in London where the twenty hopefuls are called upstairs in twos and threes to be told, on camera: "We don't think you are Maria"/"You could be Maria". Pretty artificial and definitely humiliating for those who don't make it, but perhaps only marginally more brutal than the cattle-calls they've all experienced.

The second show was live-ish. (we have six time zones in Canada, so there was a designated voting time for the great unwashed public.) This featured ten show stoppers in groups of two, followed by some more rather brutal critiques.

Then there was the third show, a third of which was taken up with superfluous footage of the "Marias" in Saltzburg. Why? Presumably because they have the budget for it. The rest was Gavin Crawford, our hapless host from This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Second City among other things, trying to feebly yuck it up while they take an unforgiveable amount of time telling groups of girls they will make it to the next round until the final two are forced into a "sing-off".
After being told by the judges that they are deservedly the least popular.

But, oh no, there's a final bit of degradation. The loser of the sing-off, having had her hopes crushed and her short-comings catalogued, must stay on the stage and have the remaining Marias surround her in a rainbow of dirndl skirts and serenade her with "So Long, Farewell, Au Wiedersehen , Good Night".

No, no, wait. Then Loser Girl has to finish the song with "Good Night...Good Night....Good Night...."

Pardon me, but am I the only person who is appalled? How about if we just go back to public executions, or feeding Christians (or your bĂȘtes noirs of choice) to the lions?


Jonas Dickinson said...

Dear Sharon,

I understand entirely. There are many problems in this world. Maria is only one of them.


Persephone said...

Dearest Jo-Dick,

Many thanks for your support. Thanks also for your link --- right next to the skinned rabbit(?). Please write more posts, so that picture will move down and off the page....

The Un-Sharon

Jane Henry said...

Persephone, I didn't see the original show in the UK, nor Joseph which they did last year, but I have to fess up to being totally hooked on I'd Do Anything, which looked for a Nancy for Oliver! (Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh chose Oliver). This time around the loser got to sing As Long as He Needs Me, while the one who got saved took off her Nancy pendant. That was horribly cruel... but...

The talent on display was awesome. There were three seventeen year olds, Jessie, Niamh, and Samantha who were incredibly talented. They all made it to the final five and Jessie and Samantha to the final three (where they got coaching from Liza Minelli no less). I was surprised by how kind ALW was - I'm not a fan particularly, but I was after this show.

Am convinced that pretty much all the girls will get work after being on this anyway. (Noticed when we went to see the SoM recently that the understudy is someone who was on the original How do you solve a problem like Maria?)

Downsides are Graham Norton is the host (but he was pretty kind to the girls I thought) and John Barrowman is on TV, AGAIN. He and Denise van Outen put the boot in occasionally, but they aren't nearly as cruel as the judges on X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing.

It was won in the end by a girl called Jodie, who pleasingly wasn't young and skinny (29 and size 14/16 I'd say) - definitely the people's favourite.

Mind you Sir A and Cameron Mackintosh had pronounced their Nancy to be Jessie, so one does wonder how things are going to go at rehearsal (!)

Have to say we were all hooked and even forgave the show for making Dr Who on so much earlier at the start of the run!

(They also showed the final on the same night as Britain's Got Talent which made for a rather surreal night - particularly as the winner of the latter a 14 year old who breakdanced to a hip hop version of Singing in the Rain was easily NOT the most talented person there. And two of the most talented acts, an astonishing 12 year old singer and an amazing electrical violin quartet didn't make it to the final three. Which probably goes to show you shouldn't involve the public in something as important as voting...)

Persephone said...

Elder daughter and younger daughter are, alas, hooked: E.D. because she watches these kind of shows upstairs (leaving crumbs in our bed and a odor of chewing gum in the air), and Y.D. because she loves the music which feeds her not-so-inner diva.

This week, as I hunched over the computer and deperately tried to ignore it, two of the top-runners ended up at the bottom of the list, thanks to the wonders of the public vote. The judges were stunned and practically tearful. They made the two sing-off "Another Suitcase in Another Hall" from Evita, a particularly devastating choice if you pay attention to the lyrics. Time to bring back bear-baiting, I guess...