The live television Broadway adaptation trend continues. Fox presents a live production of “Rent” (7 p.m., TV-14), starring Kiersey Clemons, Brandon Victor Dixon, Jordan Fisher, Vanessa Hudgens, Brennin Hunt, Mario, Tinashe and Valentina.
It’s curious that Fox airs “Rent” on the football-deprived Sunday between the NFL championship playoffs and the Super Bowl. In the great high school of life, it’s a little like letting the musical theater crowd take over while the jocks (and their fans) wait for the big game.
On the other hand, if television teaches us anything, it’s that athletes and the musical crowd aren’t always mutually exclusive. At least that was the lesson of NBC’s “Rise,” the serious (or seriously pretentious) drama about musicals that had a star athlete leave the locker room to appear in his high school’s production of “Spring Awakening.” Before that on “Glee,” Cory Monteith played football star Finn, who was prone to bursting into song. And Zac Efron’s character Troy, in “High School Musical,” was the captain of the basketball team.
With storylines about AIDS, poverty and the bohemian dream of life as art, “Rent” is a departure from the run of TV musical adaptations that have tended toward the safe. Unless of course you find “The Sound of Music,” “Grease” or “Peter Pan” too hot to handle.
“Rent” does fit in with one theme of these adapted productions. It’s a remake of a show from one era looking back at another. “Grease” wasn’t so much about the 1950s as it was 1970s nostalgia for that decade. Similarly, both “Dirty Dancing” and “Hairspray” offered a late-1980s take on the early 1960s.
An adaptation of Puccini’s “La Boheme” set in 1989 New York City, “Rent” is very much a product of the mid-1990s, a time when the squatter boho fantasy imagined in the musical was fast vanishing, the victim of rising rents and efforts to make the city safer, if not sanitized.
Is “Rent” accessible or relevant to 2019 viewers? While created decades before the era of social media, the script is crammed with meme-worthy quotes and mottos. It’s themes of “no day but today” and “forget regret, or life is yours to miss” just might show up on your newsfeed come Monday.
- Scheduled on “60 Minutes” (6 p.m., CBS): public access to millions of photos from private satellites; a profile of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz; a couple whose system won them millions from state lotteries
- Nia visits her family on “Supergirl” (7 p.m., CW, TV-14).
- Megan Mullally hosts the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (7 p.m., TBS, TNT, TV-14) from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Honoring acting performances from both television and film, the SAG awards are seen as an early indication of Oscar trends.
- “The Circus: Inside the Wildest Political Show on Earth” (7 p.m., Showtime, TV-14) begins its fourth season
It’s a Swayze shade of winter on Sundance, featuring back-to-back helpings of “Roadhouse” (5:45 p.m.) and “Ghost” (8:15 p.m.).
Stuck inside on “Big Brother: Celebrity Edition” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... Dwayne Johnson presents “The Titan Games” (7 p.m., NBC, r, TV-PG) ... Be kind, rewind on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” (7 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) .
© 2019 United Feature Synd.