This much-maligned TV production of Meredith Wilson’s classic ranks as one of the most underrated musical films of the decade. There’s really nothing wrong with it, and yet most critics excoriated it and potential audiences refused to give it the chance it deserves. But the film has a great deal going for it, and is worth seeing for Kristen Chenoweth’s performance alone. The future Broadway star, still a year away from her career-making triumph in Wicked, gives an absolutely luminous performance as Marian, and is quite possibly the best person to play the role since Barbara Cook. The supporting cast all do a fine job, especially Debra Monk as Mrs. Perdoo and Victor Garber as Mayor Shinn, and the teleplay treats the show quite faithfully and even uses the glorious “My White Knight” in place of its inferior Hollywood replacement, “Being In Love”. The real complaint most people have about this film is that Matthew Broderick has a very different way of playing the part of Harold Hill than Robert Preston did. But what people have to realize is that Preston is simply not available to play the part anymore, being, you know, dead and all, and frankly I’d rather see a fresh interpretation like Broderick’s than the warmed-over Preston impressions we usually get in revivals of this show. Broderick’s brand of spellbinding is much more subtle and low-key than Preston’s, but he draws you in just the same and ultimately turns in a valid and convincing performance. I will readily admit that this film is inferior to the legendary Preston-Shirley Jones film version, and if you look at it as a film resource and try to compare it with _that_, it seems worthless and redundant. But if you ignore the fact that it happens to be a film and look at it as a _revival_ instead, it starts to look very good in comparison to the competition. It’s a fresh and fascinating take on an old-guard classic that is rarely performed with such freshness nowadays, and I would highly recommend giving it a chance.