God Bless Cable, KQED, and the French

June 2, 2011 § 4 Comments

I think I’ve just died and gone to entertainment heaven. Or ooh, maybe I’ve been raptured. Hard to tell the difference.

Since we moved to Mountain View in March, we’ve been trying to get by without cable television. Cable is just too dang expensive, and we’d like to retire before we’re 90, so we bought an HD antennae for $25 and tried living with just the few channels that it provided. Unfortunately, our new home is directly across the street from the police station, from which they apparently broadcast all sorts of signals that jammed up our antennae reception to the point where the TV was pretty much unwatchable.

We finally gave in to the dark side after a few months and called Comcast. We’re resigned to funding their retirement plans, I guess. They hooked us up yesterday, and last night I flipped around all our glorious new channels until I landed on a broadcast of the 25th anniversary concert of Les Miserables on our local PBS station, KQED. This show alone is worth the price of cable.

I’m a sucker for musicals–the sappier the better. Les Miserables is right up there with Phantom of the Opera as far as the sap level. The 1-2-3 emotional punch of “Drink With Me,” “Bring Him Home,” and “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” in the second act always leaves me in a puddle. Then they slay me completely with the wedding, Valjean’s death, and the rousing finale. By the end I’m a giddy, sobbing, ecstatic, emotional wreck. HOW DO THEY DO THAT!?

At the end of this 25th anniversary performance, a quartet of past and current Valjean stars sing “Bring Him Home” together. I challenge you to watch this without tearing up! Each of the tenors brings such a unique quality to the performance.

Nick Jonas from the Jonas Brothers plays Marius. Although he is very sweet and earnest and adorable, and he can sing in tune, he doesn’t have the acting or singing chops needed for a performance of this caliber. Contrast his version of “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”:

…with the performance of a real Broadway professional, Michael Ball, who was in the original London cast. They’re in completely different leagues.

KQED is my new bff, not only for broadcasting this and other amazing shows on TV, but for all the great NPR shows they broadcast on the radio. Just the other day Michael Krasny hosted a great Forum on summer reads. I was listening as I was driving to work, and callers were rattling off so many book recommendations that I wanted to pull over so I could write them all down. But no need–they posted the list online, whoo hoo!

Just 10 years ago I thought PBS and NPR programs were boring, pretentious, and only for old, snobby people. It must be some sort of right of passage into middle age that I now watch and listen to their programs all the time. I even recently bought tickets for the live Prairie Home Companion show at the Mountain Winery…AND for a “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” show at the Flint Center! My 25-year old self would be throwing down her new-wave headband and stamping her leg-warmer wrapped legs in disgust if she could have seen this coming!

Ah, who cares. That’s one of the great things about getting older–I honestly don’t give a hoot what other people think. (I suppose I should be a little alarmed that I just used the word “hoot,” but I’m too excited about all the new things I now have to watch, listen to, and read.)

It’s gonna be an entertaining summer!

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§ 4 Responses to God Bless Cable, KQED, and the French

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