Taped before an invited audience in London (before that nasty Heathrow incident), this self-indulgent special provides La Ross a forum in which to run down her greatest hits ("Upside Down," "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"), introduce material from her new album ("Not Over You Yet"), prance around in myriad designer gowns, and field extremely sanitized questions from her fans. The "Q&A" segments are the most boring and patently scripted; new fans won't learn anything remotely substantial, while old fans have heard it over and over again. (Not too surprisingly, nothing even slightly controversial is discussed.) Diana Ross remains a singularly charismatic performer, and even her worst critics have to marvel at how she can work a crowd. But once upon a time, she was an innovator; TV specials like 1977's "An Audience with Diana Ross" show a performer who took chances and created spectacle and excitement. Now, Ross retains the surface glitter but no longer seems interested in digging too deep for new ideas. Because of the claustrophobic television studio setting, this special has none of the immediacy of her live concert performances; and as a TV special, it contains practically no novelty value--basically, Ross just runs down her hits. No sets, no sketches, no production numbers. Granted, with an entertainer of Ross' experience and stature, jumping through hoops is not always necessary. But it would make for a more exciting show.
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