When done well, live theater on television can be a major event that boosts ratings for the network they appear on and bring the magic of a live production to people's living rooms. TV expert Bob Thompson told Boston Public Radio Monday that ABC's "Little Mermaid Live," which aired last week, fell a little flat.

It was a mishmash of live production and animated scenes, and received mixed reviews, but still made a splash in the network's ratings.

"It got 9 million viewers," said Thompson.

Despite the high viewership, Thompson agreed with many critics: It just wasn't magical the way live theater can be.

"Doing these kinds of spectacular live musicals may not be the best use of live theater. ... I think we're not getting so much," he said.

Bob Thompson is founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture and a Trustee Professor of Television and Popular Culture at the Newhouse School of Public communications at Syracuse.