Ken Tucker's TV Prime-Time TV commentary

Category: Music (1-10 of 83)

A Dick Clark appreciation: The deceptively laid-back, conservative revolutionary

Dick Clark’s on-camera image — that of the relaxed, welcoming presence, whether as host of American Bandstand, the Pyramid game-shows, or Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve — belied the fact that, just beneath the surface, was an ambitious man who succeeded through hard work and shrewd business decisions to become one of the best-loved personalities in TV history. READ FULL STORY

'Smash' review: Uma Thurman dug deep, but was it deep enough?

After last week’s hour-long tease of Uma Thurman’s Smash guest-star appearance — which proved to amount to a cameo more brief than the friendship of Julie Taymor and Bono — this week’s Thurman-palooza proved she fit right in to this series. Which is to say, just like nearly every other character in Smash, her behavior and motives altered from scene to scene; they should call this show Schizo! READ FULL STORY

'Smash' review: Staging a 'Coup.' Badly. How badly? 'Toxic garbage,' she said.

“The Coup,” the first episode of Smash since its second-season renewal was announced, and the first since The New York Times reported that Smash show-runner Theresa Rebeck would not be returning in that role next season, was a confounding mess, and I write that as someone who’s rooting for this show to succeed. The hour consisted of one major plot-line that began and ended, thus adding nothing to the forward momentum of the show but gave Katharine McPhee a handy pop-music video for her resume. The Julia-has-an-affair storyline ended with absurd abruptness, as Michael Swift met Julia at a playground, pointed to his family and said, “They’re everything to me and I’ve been really stupid.” McPhee’s Karen was enlisted to rehearse a new, non-Julia-and-Tom-written, godawful song with the band One Republic but didn’t feel right about it, because “Julia has been so kind to me.” Really? Have Julia and Karen shared one scene together? If so, it was so slight it escapes my memory. READ FULL STORY

'Smash' review: So the 'Workshop' performance was a stinker: Bravo!

You gotta hand it to Smash: This series is so willing to portray the making of a Broadway musical so realistically — well, in a heightened, exaggerated form of realism, in which a music mogul thinks he can make a pop star of Katharine McPhee’s Karen and hunky bartenders fall for Anjelica Huston’s Eileen — that the show is willing to present the workshop version of the Broadway musical we and they are supposed be invested in, and make it a very rocky, often mediocre creation. Unlike Glee, in which everyone snaps into place with perfect pitch and nary a false step, Smash offers carefully placed stumbles and lyrics rhymed with intentional poorness. The hell with the ratings a boffo showcase might attract: bravo, Smash! READ FULL STORY

'Smash': Why is it not a smash? Some theories

How did the season’s most-promoted show, one most eagerly praised by both critics and industry observers as fresh and original, turn out to be more like the Marilyn Monroe musical it’s chronicling — a flop waiting to happen? READ FULL STORY

Confessions of a former 'The Voice' skeptic

When it premiered last year, all I saw in The Voice was the cheesy glitz — the swivel chairs; the tiresome song choices of the contestants; the overweening egoism of Christina Aguilera. As the season went on, I kept dipping in and out of it (more than I can say I’ve ever done for any season of American Idol), and the first element of The Voice that won me over was Blake Shelton, whose easygoing charm was refreshingly free of coyness, irony, and self-absorption. And — oh, right — I started listening to the voices of the contestants chosen by Aguilera, Shelton, Cee Lo Green, and Adam Levine. Quite a few of them exhibited something rare as well: They were, for the most part, free of the ornate mannerisms and studied calculation that Idol enshrined as the winning standard for TV singing competitions. READ FULL STORY

'Smash': Measuring its success, and its importance to NBC

Smash returns for its second week this evening, the eager wagging tail behind the big-dog success The Voice. Tonight’s episode, titled “The Callback,” pits Megan Hilty’s Ivy and Katharine McPhee’s Karen against each other for the role of Marilyn Monroe, and I think — I hope — you’ll be impressed with the way Smash deals so forthrightly, and so quickly, in confronting the competition that a lesser series might leave slack for weeks to come.

Here are a few thoughts about Smash, in my weekly video review:

Twitter: @kentucker

'Smash' opening-night review: Reasons to root for Marilyn, the musical?

Smash premiered on Monday night right after the most agreeable lead-in NBC could possibly muster: The Voice, thus having musical-reality television lead into musical-fiction television. There’s been a lot of TV-industry reporting about how many millions of dollars NBC has spent promoting Smash, and I’ve done some speculating of my own about whether or not Smash will become a ratings hit. But let’s put all the biz stuff aside and concentrate on the show itself: Did it deliver? READ FULL STORY

Madonna at the Super Bowl review: A shockingly sincere, joyous performance

Madonna was careful, in interviews before the Super Bowl, to say how nervous she was, how no one had to worry about her plotting to incite controversy. But instead of resulting in a cautious, tedious performance, Madonna gave a joyous, unironic, openhearted one. She deployed guest stars including Cee Lo Green, Nicki Minaj, and M.I.A., but they never stole her glowing spotlight. From her entrance hoisted aloft by Roman-soldier dancers to the massed choir that sent her off, she was both in full command and full of generosity toward her massive audience.  READ FULL STORY

'Smash' premiere review: Break a leg, and break some ratings records?

Smash is an admirable risk for a network television series. Given that the size of the Broadway-show audience, if every ticket-holder tuned in, would probably fit into the bodice of The Voice‘s Christina Aguilera, the notion of a weekly show chronicling the behind-the-scenes creation of a Great White Way musical about Marilyn Monroe is gutsy. And optimistic. And, let’s face it, Glee-fully, exhilaratingly over-reaching. READ FULL STORY

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