Last night 18.5 million viewers tuned in for NBC's special production of "The Sound of Music" starring Carrie Underwood. This delivered NBC their biggest Thursday night in 4 years.
Why would so many people spend their Thursday night watching an old (1959) musical about a postulant who finds love in the hills of Austria? Well, there are several reasons. Perhaps viewers were curious about how the live production would go (it went off without any production or techological problems). And Carrie Underwood's star power definitely drew interest; people wanted to see if she could hold a candle to Julie Andrews' brilliant portrayal of Maria in the original movie.
But I know why I watched: "The Sound of Music" is an uplifting story, with powerful, positive messages about life and love. The musical encourages characters and audience members to "climb every mountain until you find your dream." Other themes include "the love between a man and a woman can be holy too," and "wait a year or two." Maria learns to open her heart, face her fears, and embrace the life that God has for her. The children learn to be a family again (and a family where there is a balance between discipline and fun). The movie also has a political message. Captain Von Trapp remains true to his principles when he refuses to serve or salute Hitler's Third Reich.
I apologize if I sound like a prude, but it was kind of refreshing to have a few hours of TV where everyone kept their clothes on and tried to live their best lives.
Sadly, wholesome, positive stories like this can be hard to find in today's evening TV lineup. Typically, evening news shows are filled with alarmism or scary stories about crime or corruption. Other entertainment shows often feature dark plots, shady moral themes, or the postmodern blur between right and wrong.
Say what you want about the singing or acting from last night… I was just encouraged to see a family-friendly, engaging and classic musical celebrated on television. Clearly, there is demand for more programming like this. TV executives, take note.