"Sylvia Fine Kaye's Musical Comedy Tonight -- II" was written and produced by Sylvia Fine Kaye and stars Sylvia Fine Kay. Guess who takes the last bow to the crowd's applause at the very end. Why, who's that? Oh, it's Sylvia Fine Kaye.
The 90-minute program, at 9 tonight on Channel 26, epitomizes a particularly egregious strain of bicoastal egomania -- a tribute to Broadway staged in Hollywood, like last year's "Musical Comedy Tonight," which somehow sneaked by without Sylvia Fine Kaye's name in the title.
This woman is toooo much. Whoever operated the canned laughter machine gave her sizeable chuckles for everything but "good evening." She gets a laugh quoting Samuel Goldwyn's line (if it was Goldwyn's line) about restricting messages to Western Union. She gets a laugh quoting for the umptillionth time George S. Kaufman's observation that satire is "what closes on Saturday night."
This stuff is so moth-eaten it's probably considered banal even by People magazine. We know those "creative" souls in public television have no shame, but have they no taste, either? They gave Sylvia Fine Kaye the showcase for a full-scale tribute to Sylvia Fine Kaye.
There is, however, one fine Kaye on the premises, Sylvia's husband Danny, an inveterately hammy and unstoppable as ever. "From "Lady in the Dark," that uneven mixture of psychoanalysis and diaphanous gowns, he sings "Tchaikovsky," the first big novelty number of his long career. In fact he sings it twice, the second time to break his own record of 38 seconds for completing the song "right here," he says accurately, "in the sleepy village of Los Angeles."
One might propose having Danny Kaye bronzed except he would never be able to hold still.
Other recreated numbers on the show came from the musicals "Finnian's Rainbow" (Jack Lemmon does not let a broken leg keep him from singing "When I'm Not Near the Girl I love"), "South Pacific" (with Bonnie Franklin an appealing Nellie Forbush) and "Sweet Charity." If the numbers are well-staged, you can't tell, because director Tony Charmoli has no idea how to shoot them from television. He chooses the wrong shots roughtly 65 percent of the time.
One other certified highlight is lyricist Burton Lane's rendition of his own song "The Begat," from "Rainbow." A line like "sons of habitues, they begat" is from a Broadway that will never glow quite so dazzlingly again, and from a treasury too rich for the kind of slapdash approach brought to it by Sylvia Fine Kaye. May her grants cease and her underwriters go underground