Let's Do the Time Warp Again! A liveblog of FOX's Rocky Horror Picture Show

It’s been 41 years since a pair of red lips showed up on a black screen and an asshole and a slut got a flat tire outside a sweet transvestite’s castle. And now, because TV executives like to exploit anything that people enjoyed in the past for some cash, FOX is turning The Rocky Horror Picture Show into a two-hour television special.

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It’s a strange choice (how strange is it?) for FOX, considering that their last TV special was the family friendly Grease Live!Rocky Horror Picture Show is a cult favorite featuring sex, cannibalism, and aliens and known for the raunchy stuff audience members yell at the screen (how much do you charge for a blowjob?).

Nevertheless, FOX is keeping the premise of the young, virginal couple (played by Ryan McCartan and Victoria Justice in this version) who seek shelter on a dark and stormy night at a creepy castle and find a creepy butler (Reeve Carney), a mean maid (Christina Milian), a groupie (Annaleigh Ashford), and a mad scientist from Transsexual, Transylvania (Laverne Cox) who’s created a sex toy in tight gold underwear (Staz Nair).

Tim Curry, who played Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the stage and film adaptation of Rocky Horror, will play the Narrator/Criminologist. Adam Lambert will play Eddie, the ex-delivery boy/brain donor to Rocky, and Ben Vereen will play Dr. Everett von Scott, Brad and Janet’s former professor.

The television special is directed and choreographed by Kenny Ortega, who has the impressive credits of  Xanadu and Newsies and the less impressive Hocus Pocus and High School MusicalYou read that right. I think Xanadu and Newsies are more impressive than Hocus Pocus and High School Musical and I stand by it!

Anyway, the pre-filmed special received lukewarm to negative reviews from critics but as usual, we the audience will decide if the TV special is worthy enough.

So grab your confetti, your newspapers, and your toilet paper and let’s liveblog this thing!

Liveblogging will commence at 8:00 PM (EST). Updates will be done chronologically, so just scroll down the page when you refresh the page.


8:00 PM

It’s curtain time!

Rocky Horror has been part of the zeitgeist for a long time, but I think Glee had a large part in making it relevant for younger audiences. I’ll admit that “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” was my first introduction to the movie/musical and as I hate to give Ryan Murphy credit for anything, it was a pretty good episode. John Stamos did an excellent job singing “Hot Patootie” and Jayma May’s rendition of “Touch A Touch Me” nailed the naughty, breathy ecstasy of  Janet’s (SLUT!)sexual awakening. Amber Riley’s powerful vocals surprisingly fit “Sweet Transvestite” although she didn’t have the same cheekiness that Tim Curry’s Dr. Frank-N-Furter did.

Glee handwaved the issue of a cisgender female playing a character traditionally played by a man having Mercedes claim she just wanted the spotlight for a little bit but there has been controversy and confusion over Laverne Cox’s casting as Dr. Frank N Furter.  Considering the fact that “transgender” and “transvestite” were often conflated together (and the latter being a non-PC term today), what does it mean for a trans woman to play a cisgender male who enjoys cross dressing, if it means anything at all?

Cox has gone on the record in Vanity Fair saying:

I had a conversation [with director] Kenny [Ortega]. We talked about the word ‘transvestite,’ ” the Emmy nominee recalls. That term was once an acceptable way to describe a transgender person who had not completed their medical transition; now, Cox says, it is an “antiquated term that trans folks certainly don’t use” anymore. Despite being part of the L.G.B.T. community’s lexicon through the 70s, when Rocky Horror is set, she was worried that identifying as “a sweet transvestite” would confuse audiences today. So to be clear: “Historically, the terms have changed [and] it doesn’t mean the same thing today that it meant in the 70s,” she says. “It’s not appropriate to refer to trans people as a transvestite [today], but it is [used here as] the character in that specific moment in history.

So I guess that statement can be summed up as “Shut up and watch the show and don’t call anyone in real life a sweet transvestite.”

I don’t particularly mind the casting choice but I know some people are adamant that the whole point to Dr. Frank N Furter is that he is a sexually deviant and hence it’s shocking that he is male dressing in female clothes.

8:01 PM

I like that they are having the Usher sing “Science Fiction” although I miss the red lips.

8:03 PM

So it looks like they are paying  a nod to “Rocky Horror”‘s midnight movie status by using the framing device of a movie theater.

8:04 PM

Did anyone else yell, “WHAT THE FUCK IS A TRIPID?” at their screen? No? Just me, then.

8:05 PM

I just Googled it and the Usherette, who is doing a very good job with this song by the way, is named Ivy Levan and she is a pop star, according to Wikipedia.

Oh! They did a close up on Ivy’s red lips so I kinda get get my red lips onscreen.

8:06 PM

This special was pre-filmed so the show has more of a cinematic feel. There are more elaborate sets and a wider variety of camera angles.

8:07 PM

Okay, the wedding scene is almost over so we’re about to get into the first number, “Dammit Janet”!

8:08 PM

This Brad is more an awkward, stiff mensch than Barry Bostwick’s Brad, who in my opinion was adorably pompous.

8:09 PM

Was that a hearse in the background? Brad knows how to put the “fun” in funeral.

8:10 PM

Okay, Victoria Justice and What’s His Name are very cute but I’m feeling a lack of chemistry. Come on, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick had a little something there.

As stated, Tim Curry is The Narrator/Criminologist. They had the “movie audience” shout out “How strange?” during his first lines. Is this going to be regular thing throughout the show? It’s too bad FOX won’t let the dirty (and funnier) call outs in. I don’t know why, considering we get raunchier stuff on Empire.

8:14 PM

Victoria Justice and Ryan McCartan have good vocals but this Reeve Carney is truly getting into the spirit of his character. I like this Riff Raff so far and he’s only sung one line.

8:17 PM

I don’t know how Reeve Carney is doing it but he’s pulling off a sexy Riff Raff. Is that wrong? If it is, I don’t want to be right.

8:18 PM

I think we’ve found our first miscast of the night: Christina Milian as Magenta.

Thankfully, Sexy Riff Raff is kicking off The Time Warp, but then it quickly becomes a subdued version despite the variety of camera angle, Sexy Riff Raff on the guitar, and Kenny freaking Ortega choreographing this thing. Anyone else feel underwhelmed?

8:21 PM

I didn’t catch who The Criminologist’s assistant is but her weakly attempting to Time Warp made me chuckle. So far, that’s the only enjoyable part of this number. It just feels flat.

Is that house band going to be there all night?

8:23 PM

They went from filming to this special as if it was a film to treating it like a live filmed stage version. The set feel closed off.

Love Laverne Cox’s entrance outfit although her “reveal” outfit looks cheap. I think my grandmother had a red sequined “evening” shawl.

8:27 PM

I love Laverne Cox but this rendition of “Sweet Transvestite” was not that sweet. It’s not that she’s not hitting the notes; it’s like she’s too focused on hitting the notes than capturing the character.

Appreciated Tim Curry’s look at the camera in anticipation for the “I see you shiver with…anticipation” line.

8:29 PM

I assumed that by being pre-filmed, Kenny Ortega would have taken the opportunity to go bigger with the musical numbers but there’s no excitement here. Maybe filming live would have pumped up the energy of the performance.

8:33 PM

Is…Is Laverne putting on a British accent? Wait, now it sounds Southern. Maybe she’s trying a Tim Curry impression?

8:37 PM

It’s alive! It’s Rocky!

Victoria Justice’s scream felt so fake. This is Fox, girl. Take scream lessons from Emma Roberts.

Staz Nair has a great voice. The choreography in this number is way better. They’re finally moving around and taking advantage of the fact that they’re not constrained by the multi-cameras of live TV.

8:39 PM

I’m torn as to how I feel about the house band being part of the show. It would have been easier to just sing to pre-recorded music, but I kinda like the idea of Frank-N-Furter having a backing band wherever he goes.

I just realized Rocky doesn’t have tight, gold underwear. Why is Fox toning down the sexuality of the show? They show way more hardcore stuff on their shows. Last week on Empire, Andre basically had a threeway with that new singer and his dead wife. It was as weird as it sounds.

8:43 PM

I don’t know about y’all but my station just aired a preview for “Moana” and other family-friendly commercials. Is that the reason “Rocky Horror” has been relatively tame?

8:45 PM

Okay, damn. I didn’t know Laverne Cox could hit a high note and then go back down that deep. “I Can Make You a Man” is her strongest number yet.

And now Adam Lambert just burst in on his motorcycle.

8:47 PM

Adam Lambert was reportedly offered the role of Dr. Frank N Furter and I wish he accepted. He is injecting ENERGY and LIFE in this otherwise stagnant production.

8:49 PM

Is Laverne Cox pissy because her character is supposed to be or because Adam Lambert is stealing the spotlight?

His energy is amazing and infectious. It’s too bad he gets killed off. Hopefully the show can regain that oomph without him.

8:52 PM

I’ve said this on Twitter (follow me @susanwriteshere for more shameless self-promotion) but I think the reason we’re getting all of these trailers for upcoming Disney and Marvel movies is that FOX wants to make this show a family friendly event and thus explains the tameness.

8:56 PM

We got a “Viewer Discretion” advised note. Does this mean things are going to be more raunchy? We are at the part where Janet and Brad get seduced…

8:57 PM

Laverne Cox just smacked Victoria Justice’s ass and it was awesome. Things are getting dirrrrrrtyyyy…finally. I think their scene also worked because Victoria was shown to be a little in awe of Laverne during the reprise of “I Can Make You a Man.”

9:01 PM

And the chemistry falls flat in Brad’s candle scene. I think it’s because Ryan is a bad actor compared to every one else.

Appreciate seeing Sexy Riff Raff on my screen again.

They brought back “the audience” to shout out during Janet’s crying jag in the lab. We’re about to get into “Touch A Touch Me” and I hope Victoria and Staz can embrace the raunchiness of the number.

9:04 PM

I really want to know why they put this Adonis in gold boxers instead of a gold Speedo. GIVE ME MY EYE CANDY IF SEXY RIFF RAFF ISN’T GOING TO BE ON SCREEN!

9:06 PM

We had Victoria Justice and Staz Nair prancing around in their underwear but “Touch a Touch Me” was not sexy at all. The Glee version was more vulgar and everyone had all of their clothes on.

9:11 PM

Great Scott! Dr. Everett Scott is here! I love  how Sexy Riff Raff manages to stay deadpan even though he almost gave up his alien cover.

9:13 PM

What IS Laverne’s accent? I’m getting Southern, I’m getting British, I’m getting British Madonna.

I love Rocky’s “ugh” face during the “Dr. Scott! Janet! Brad!” scene. It’s how I feel about this show.

9:16 PM

“I hope it’s not meatloaf again!”

Don’t worry, it’s LAMB-ert this time.

9:19 PM

I haven’t said anything about Annaleigh’s Columbia but that’s because she hasn’t gotten much time in the spotlight. Her solo line in “Eddie’s Teddy” was good. She’s playing Columbia with a punk twist, in my opinion.

Oh hi, Adam Lambert! I wish you were here again. I mean, technically you are except you’re in everyone’s stomachs by now.

9:26 PM

Remind me to never get into a fight with Laverne Cox. She is just beating Victoria’s ass.

9:28 PM

This rendition of “You’re A Hot Dog (Planet Schmanet Janet)” was pretty good. The cast finally got into the campiness of the number. Too bad they finally got into it when there’s only a half hour left.

Love Annaleigh. Nell Campbell’s Columbia was too cutesy and whiny for my liking. Annaleigh is a little more rougher and fun. Too bad she just got frozen.

9:32 PM

I spoke too soon! Annaleigh got another solo in “Rose Tint My World”, a number I completely forgot about despite it being the part where everyone sings and dances in corsets (They’re gold ones in this version, by the way).

Man, it’s been awhile since I saw Rocky Horror. Is anyone else going to stay up late to watch the original?

9:36 PM

Oh, the house band is back! I was wondering where they went. I mean, Frank-N-Furter has a big castle but still…

Finally, Kenny Ortega remembers he’s not bound by a multi-camera set up. We’re getting underwater shots for “Don’t Dream It, Be It” and they look gorgeous.

9:38 PM

We had a missed opportunity for Brad and Rocky to kiss onscreen. I thought they were really go for it, but they didn’t. I was about to write that maybe same sex kissing is too controversial for Fox but Rocky didn’t kiss Janet either. I guess there’s a no hugging, no kissing rule?

9:42 PM

Thank God, we’re getting wild and untamed for “Wild and Untamed”! The cast is shimmying and shaking in their gold corsets and this finally looks like the fun musical it’s supposed to be. I’m kinda bummed out that Sexy Riff Raff and Magenta are shutting down the party.

9:46 PM

Who’s got the cooler space costumes? The 1975 film or the 2016 one? I can’t decide because I am a little baised towards Sexy Riff Raff.

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9:48 PM

Laverne Cox’s rendition of “I’m Going Home” was boring. Again, she hit the notes but didn’t really embody the essence of the character.

9:52 PM

We have 8 minutes left in the special but Fox aired another commercial break? And they put it in the middle of a scene so it’s kinda awkward to jump back to Laverne Cox and Rocky fleeing a laser gun.

9:55 PM

I’m sad to see Sexy Riff Raff go but it’s worth it if Christina Milian leaves too. She was just bad in this thing.

9:57 PM

They opened up the set again for “Super Hero”. The show felt a little claustrophobic during the scenes set in the castle because Kenny Ortega, for some inexplicable reason, was filming like he was doing a live stage show. When they went back to a more traditional cinematic feel, it felt refreshing.

Oh, look! The red lips are singing the closing credits!

9:59 PM

That’s all, folks!

I don’t know how they did it, but Fox managed to turn a raunchy musical about sex, aliens, and science fiction into the most boring thing on television tonight.

What did you think of Fox’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again?

Susan Velazquez

Susan is a recent college grad and writer who enjoys all things from the 1980s, snarking on dumb television, and reveling in celebrity gossip. Oh, and she has serious interests like reading historical fiction, getting involved in social issues, and consuming French fries.

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  • Chris Hedrick

    I personally enjoyed the experience, flawed though it was. Something I’d have changed is that they never cut back to the theater in the end: just imply that the riffing audience was a figment of Frank’s imagination the entire time.