Tony Bennett Unplugged

It's hard to figure exactly what endears Tony Bennett to the Generation X set , and this hourlong showcase of the crooner's best works should only exacerbate the headscratching.

With:
Band: Ralph Sharon, Doug Richeson, Clayton Cameron.

It’s hard to figure exactly what endears Tony Bennett to the Generation X set , and this hourlong showcase of the crooner’s best works should only exacerbate the headscratching.

Bennett’s career has experienced a resurgence of late, thanks in part to his penultimate disc, a tribute to Frank Sinatra, and his newfound popularity among the twentysomething set that find the jazzy stylings of the sixtysomething singer sexy.

Show’s producers wisely incorporate a pair of contemporary artists to help Bennett sing and sway, but in this setting it seems more of an effort to keep all but the most diehard of fans from lapsing into comas than a creative statement.

A warm and fuzzy reading with k.d. lang on one of Bennett’s signature nuggets , “Moonglow,” has lang doing her best Miss Chatelaine impersonation, and is the show’s sole highlight.

An inexplicable pairing of Bennett with Elvis Costello follows, with each artist’s credibility suffering in the process.

Naturally, classy versions of Bennett’s best knowns “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and “Fly Me to the Moon” are rewarded with thunderous applause, and show’s finale of “Steppin Out” is met with a standing ovation.

But this spec does little to explain why Generation X’ers have glommed onto Bennett so aggressively, other than to illuminate what most of us have long recognized: The man can sing.

Other than that,this lethargic presentation — with unimaginative direction and a big gun set list as tailored as Bennett’s expensive suits — is difficult to watch, and viewers who tape the seg will likely find themselves with their fingers glued to the fast forward button on their remote.

Tony Bennett Unplugged

(Weds. (1), 10-11 p.m., MTV)

Production: Executive producer, Carol Donovan; producer Alex Coletti; line producer, Audrey Johns; director, Beth McCarthy; production designer, Tom McPhillips; lighting designer, Allen Branton; audio, John Harris, Mitch Maketansky.

Crew: Editor, Jon Vesey.

Cast: Band: Ralph Sharon, Doug Richeson, Clayton Cameron.

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