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Entries in musicals (431)

Wednesday
Oct262016

Judy by the Numbers: "Vaudeville Medley"

Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

On September 29th, 1963, The Judy Garland Show finally premiered. With a backlog of several episodes already in the can, CBS chose to start the show with the seventh filmed episode, which guest-starred Donald O'Connor. Reviews of Judy were favorable, though reviewers were less enamored of Jerry Van Dyke and the variety show format. But unfortunately the network's fears about Bonanza were realized: The Judy Garland Show garnered a miserable (for the time) 18 rating, compared to Bonanza's juggernaut 35 rating. As always, the network and the production team was left scrambling to make new changes.

The Show: The Judy Garland Show Episode 7
The Songwriters: Various, arranged by Mel Torme
The Cast: Judy Garland, Jerry Van Dyke, Donald O'Connor, directed by Bill Hobin

The Story: Despite some dismal Nielson ratings, the Donald O'Connor episode would prove to be a sweet walk down memory lane for Judy Garland. Though they had never starred in a movie together, O'Connor and Garland knew each other from their days on Vaudeville, when O'Connor was a child dancer and Garland was still one of the Gumm Sisters. Garland and O'Connor reminisce, sing, and dance together, inadvertantly proving something Norman Jewison hadn't quite figured out yet: Judy Garland's power on television came from her long history on stage and screen. While Jewison would continue to make segments poking fun at Garland's legend, fans were tuning in precisely for that legend, and they were very protective of how their star was shown. As Saturday Evening Post reviewer Richard Sherman Lewis lamented,

"The absurd notion of debasing Judy's reputation as a legendary figure and molding her show into an imitation of other prosaic variety shows has been a disaster where it hurts most, in the audience polls."

Despite these protestations, Judy Garland - and by extension her show - would garner a devoted television fanbase that tuned in every Sunday night at 6pm.


previously on Judy by the Numbers

Friday
Oct212016

Review: "Rocky Horror" Loses Its Edge

by Eric Blume

Last night, Fox TV gave us a remake/update of the cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show, a staple of midnight movie screenings for decades.  This update, with the tag "Let’s Do The Time Warp Again," aired at the family hour of 8pm, which pretty much sums up everything that’s wrong with it.   

The original 1975 film is the definition of “lightning in a bottle.” There had been nothing quite like it at the time. It was genuinely transgressive, and featured one of the all-time out-there performances by Tim Curry as Frank-n-Furter, everyone’s favorite "sweet transvestite".  While it’s easy to romanticize the original and ignore its weaknesses, the film does deliver as a warm-heated parody of sci-fi and horror movies as intended. What's more it's actually kinky, sexy, unsettling, and fun...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct202016

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” S1 in Ten Songs

With Crazy Ex Girlfriend returning Friday evening for Season 2, here's new contributor Jorge Molina surveying season 1's songs

Season 2 premieres Fri 10/21 at 9 pm on The CWMaking a Top 10 Best [blank] is pretty much impossible. Top 10s are never final, accurate, or objective. 

So I decided not to do one. 

After all, how could I rank and, even worse, decide on the best musical numbers of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s amazing first season? They all represent a different aspect of the show, and it would be unfair to compare them on equal terms.  So I instead came up with a compilation of what are not necessarily the ten better numbers, but the ones that best showcase the show’s style, tone, and humor. What would be in a “Crazy XGF 101” course.

TEN SHOWCASE NUMBERS FROM SEASON 1

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct192016

Judy by the Numbers: "Just Imagine"

Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

By episode 6, The Judy Garland Show was in trouble and it hadn’t even aired yet. CBS, still spooked by the Bonanza’s killer ratings, wanted The Judy Garland Show to be more, well, everything: More Hollywood glamour, more slapstick, more music, more ratings. With that in mind, after Tony Bennett fizzled and a planned episode with Nat King Cole fell through, the network fired most of the writers and producers by Episode 6. TV wunderkind Norman Jewison – who’d directed the original special – was brought on to save the show before it even got a chance to fail. Jewison’s first directives: More guests, more duets, and let’s knock Judy off that Hollywood high horse...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Oct122016

Judy by the Numbers: "Lena Horne Medley"

Anne Marie has been chronicling Judy Garland's career chronologically through musical numbers...

If you watch the full Judy Garland Show from start to finish in the order in which it was filmed rather than the order in which it was broadcast - which is what we're doing in miniature - a few patterns emerge early on. First, there is the legendary talent that crowds the first episodes: besides Judy herself, we've seen Garland reunited with Mickey Rooney, swinging with Count Basie, introducing her daughter Liza, and now she's belting Lena Horne numbers to Lena Horne herself. For any midcentury music geek, this show is the gift that keeps on giving. However, if you push past the fabulous talent to watch the format itself, you'll notice something else: for a variety programme, The Judy Garland Show doesn't have much variety.

The Show: The Judy Garland Show Episode 4
The Songwriters: Various, arranged by Mel Torme
The Cast: Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Terry-Thomas, directed by Bill Hobin

The Story: Only four episodes in, The Judy Garland Show had already fallen into something of a rut. The basic format never wavered - Judy sang first and introduced the guest(s), the guest(s) performed, star and guest(s) chatted, star and guest(s) performed, then Judy wrapped everything up with "Born in a Trunk." CBS execs had noticed - as had Judy Garland. By episode 4 her bad behavior had resurfaced, causing Lena Horne to reportedly lose her cool after Judy missed every rehearsal day.

Despite that conflict - or maybe because of it - Lena performs sparklingly on the show. In variety and expression, she even outperforms Judy. (Lena's references to Louis Armstrong during "Meet Me In St Louis" especially charm.) Nonetheless, missed rehearsals or no Judy Garland can carry a number, and the overall musical montage works well, even when a beat or two is missed. Unfortunately, the next week's show would not be so kind.

previously on Judy by the Numbers