The Ovation tagline urges viewers to “expect more from television.”
Thing is, guys, we already do. More, at least, than the current offerings on the network, a desiccated bastion of long-attention-span theater.
A recent sampling of the channel’s stone-faced programming — recycled BBC docus, mainly, along with old concert footage of music greats like Nina Simone and U2 — wouldn’t do much to disabuse the masses of the notion that the performing arts are the starched, joyless pursuit of constipated bores.
A half-hour look at Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the drag comedy-ballet troupe, focused so stolidly on the discipline involved in training men to dance on pointe that it barely had time to mention the fact that Les Trocks’ shows are supposed to be fun.
The juiciest tidbit in “Theatre Biz,” a reality-TV look at the U.K. legit industry, was the British accent inexplicably affected by Yank thesp Gillian Anderson during her interview spots. (Method work during the shoot of “Bleak House” or Madge-like pretension?)
And “Flashmob — The Opera,” a moderately cheeky sendup of familiar arias performed at Paddington Station with an impromptu aud, might have seemed edgy back when the show originally aired in 2004, before the flash-in-the-pan flashmob fad had faded from memory.
There was an unexpected whiff of topical interest in an hourlong examination of “My Fair Lady” — the classic tuner turns 50 this year — but the show’s hook, the rehearsal process for a 2001 West End production starring Jonathan Pryce, was long past its expiration date.
Ovation execs hoping to step up their programming have some tough competish in PBS, the home of superior docs (like Ric Burns’ “Eugene O’Neill,” which aired March 27) and critically praised lit adaptations from the BBC, (like “Bleak House”).
After all, why should they expect us to pay for Ovation when we can expect more from PBS for free?