The Sound of Music - Live!, on NBC
A.V. Club; IMDb; TV.com; TV Tango; TV Tropes; Universal; Wikipedia
streaming sites: FandangoNOW; iTunes; Vudu
A live performance (on December 5, 2013) of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1959 musical. Which, of course was previously made into a film in 1965. The 2013 version stars Carrie Underwood (with whom I'm not particularly familiar, though I was at least aware of her name) as Maria Rainer, and Stephen Moyer as Captain Georg von Trapp. The rest of the cast is unknown to me, mostly or entirely made up of Broadway performers. Anyway, it's fun to watch a live musical on TV, which apparently hasn't happened in like fifty years. (Though I'm a bit distracted by using the internet at the same time, which people didn't do fifty years ago.)
It begins at an abbey in Austria, not long before World War II, in 1938. Maria is a postulant, planning to become a nun. But she can't control her love of singing... which seems like a minor problem, because all the nuns sing, but musicals don't have to be logical. (And not all the singing in the story necessarily really happens, I suppose one can assume sometimes when we hear them singing they're really just talking. I guess.) Anyway, the Mother Abbess sends Maria to become a governess for a few months. Captain von Trapp is a retired Navy man, and a widower. He spends a lot of time away from home, so he needs someone to look after his seven children, Liesl (age 16), Friedrich (15), Louisa (13), Kurt (11), Brigitta (9), Marta (7), and Gretl (5). Captain von Trapp runs his household like a ship, even calling his children and servants by using a whistle. He doesn't want any music in his house, and doesn't seem to want his children to have any fun. Naturally, the first thing Maria does is teach the kids to sing.
And then during a commercial break, I guess a month passes unseen. The captain returns home with a couple of guests, a guy named Herr Max Detweiler, and a woman named Frau Elsa Schrader (who is planning to marry Georg). At first Georg is upset at the way Maria has been doing things in his absence, but soon he comes to appreciate the return of music to his life, and takes a fresh interest in getting to know his children. Meanwhile, Max is planning a music festival, and when he hears the kids sing, he wants them to perform at the festival. And there's a subplot about the impending war, of course. Austria will be annexed into Nazi Germany, which Captain von Trapp is very much against. Max and Elsa might not like the Nazis, but they're willing to submit, for their own safety, and wish Georg would do the same. And it particularly becomes an issue when the Nazis try to force Georg into a new commission in their navy. Meanwhile... there are new developments to the romantic part of the story which ultimately play into the dramatic part. And even though I expect everyone knows all this, as well as how it all ends, I don't want to say any more about the plot, just in case.
Anyway... it remains a good story, with awesome songs (most of which I knew from the movie, but there were at least a couple I didn't know). And I guess I dunno what else to say. It was a perfectly respectable performance and a fun way to spend an evening, but I'll probably never feel the need to see this version of the story again. I'm really glad to have seen it this once, though. Oh... and when I watched and reviewed the 1965 movie a year after this aired, I started thinking about adding links in this review, to facebook posts I had made while watching the TV version. But while I did find a couple of posts I'd made about it, they weren't what I was looking for. I'm sure I said some things at the time, which I just can't find now, for some reason. Chiefly, I wanted to defend Underwood's portrayal of Maria, because I know some people weren't very impressed. What I recall saying, more or less, was that even if I generally prefer Julie Andrews's performance, in a way I think Underwood's was more appropriate to the character. Because I found her more believable as a flibbertigibbet than I do Andrews. And that's how Maria should be, at least in the beginning. Anyway, I probably said other things on facebook that I should mention here, but I don't really remember, and I do think that was the most important one.