NBC has been promoting the hell out of it’s newest show Smash. I felt like if I didn’t watch it they would send someone to hold me down and make me watch Whitney as punishment. There is no shortage of shows featuring singing ingenues with big dreams and even bigger voices, but Smash brings something a little different to the table with a stellar cast and more drama than a Broadway audition.
The show revolves around a group of characters who are trying to put together a musical based on Marilyn Monroe. Debra Messing is Julia Houston, who is working with Tom Levitt, played by Christian Borle, on the musical and of course trying to balance her life at home with her high pressure job. There is a whole adoption story line that I know I won’t care about, but it’s nice to see Debra on television again. I recognized Borle from his work in Legally Blonde: The Musical and I hope we get more scenes of him playing that piano, he has a great voice! Eileen Rand, played by Angelica Huston is helping them to put on the show and is also dealing with a huge divorce from her husband. I feel like she didn’t get to do much here put throw out a couple of quips, but it’s Morticia Addams, she’s damn good at it.
Former American Idol contestant Katharine McPhee is Karen Cartwright, a struggling singer working as a waitress, trying to get her big break. It comes when she auditions for Marilyn and blows them all away with a soulful rendition of Christina Aguilera‘s “Beautiful.” More synergy on NBC’s part. Her big rival, whom she hasn’t even met yet, is the vivacious Megan Hilty who plays Ivy Lynn. Even though she’s already a shoe-in for Marilyn, she didn’t even have to dress up like the other girls, she auditions anyways and now it’s down to Karen and Ivy. The shows semi-villain Derek Wills, Jack Davenport, the womanizing director of the musical invites Karen to his place late at night for a private viewing and at least they didn’t make Karen completely naive by making her sleep with him. It wasn’t made too clear, but Wills’ indifference to Ivy after Marilyn‘s baseball number means he’s already tired of her and will keep putting the moves on Karen. Ah, a triangle!
Smash didn’t quite grab me the way I thought it would, perhaps it was too over hyped. It was well written, and not too cliche, it actually shows a lot of promise. Then again, this is what people, and I, said about Glee. Broadway stans will appreciate that the show features a handful of actual Broadway actors and while the musical numbers are few and far between, they are a nice break from the somewhat boring dialogue. I’ll stick with Smash, for now. I might even invest in a ridiculously long, woolly scarf like the one Debra’s character is constantly seen in.