I probably shouldn’t admit this but I am not a Glee fan. Oh I started out liking it well enough. It was new and fresh for about five or six episodes. I didn’t actually like the cast’s renditions of songs. Then it hit me: I don’t like the show because they are ruining songs I like, or performing songs I already can’t stand. So I stopped watching Glee. I’m very touchy about music. And I wasn’t sure what to make of Smash. I decided, however, to keep a very open mind when a friend of mine invited me to a private preview screening. I’m glad I did because after watching the pilot, not only did I enjoy it, I found myself looking forward to the next episode and hoping I would not be disappointed. And that is a tall order to fill because what tends to happen when I like the pilot is that I end up disliking the series. Not always, but a lot.
The series, created by veteran TV producer and Pulitzer Prize nominated writer Theresa Rebeck, follows the making of a musical about Marilyn Monroe bound for Broadway. Debra Messing plays Julia Houston, a powerhouse Broadway writer who should be taking time off to adopt a baby (not sure why she needs another child because they already have one), but gets obsessed with the idea of Marilyn, The Musical. Her professional partner and composer, Tom Levitt (Christian Borle) hopes to help launch his old friend’s career, Ivy (Megan Hilty), who has never seemed to make it further than the chorus line or in smaller supporting roles. Trouble ensues when Broadway producer Eileen Rand (Anjelica Houston) joins their ranks and insists on bringing in Tom’s arch rival/nemesis, Derek Wills (Jack Davenport – one of my favorite TV actors from both Coupling and FlashForward). Personalities clash as Levitt firmly falls in the Ivy camp while Wills fights for newcomer and underdog (who won’t sleep with him – the ultimate turn on for any power player), Karen (Katharine McPhee). It looks like it will be a battle until at least perhaps… the third or fourth episode? Maybe it will keep it’s momentum. And stay a well-done, top notch show.
If you have taken a film history class and remember what you studied, you will know that as a genre, musicals always do well during economic depressions. Since we are most definitely in an economic depression world wide, Smash should be a continued success. Until the economy turns around. And if that is the case, it might be a hit for quite a while.
Smash airs on NBC on Mondays at 10/9 central.