Picks and Pans Review: Stevie Wonder's Characters

updated 05/02/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/02/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

MTV (Wed., April 27, 10 p.m. ET)

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It's dangerous to invite singers, actors or artists of any sort to talk freely about their art—just watch the self-serving sycophancy on most Barbara Walters specials. But you needn't worry when you see Stevie Wonder sitting on a sparsely decorated stage, just talking about his songs. Stevie is different. He usually has something to say and almost always finds new ways to say it. Here, he and MTV came up with a fresh, exciting and new brand of musical special. Alone and along with Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jody Watley, Wonder sings songs from his Characters album. He talks about those songs—but not too much. He shows scenes from his past—real footage of Little Stevie singing Fingertips at the Apollo Theater in 1963 and a dramatization of kids making fun of Stevie, "the blind kid." And all of this is presented with a startling and neat new video look. My only complaint: Wonder is generous to a fault, sharing his show with kids chanting "Ooh baby, baby, push it good" to that brainless, epidemic rap beat; they are not the future Stevie Wonders of the world.

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