Monday, February 6, 2012

'Smash' is NBC's last hope

If you've turned on a television or been to the movies in the past month or so, you've seen ads for NBC's new musical-drama "Smash." The show follows the production of a Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe.

With an all star cast that includes Anjelica Huston, Debra Messing, Jack Davenport, Brian d'Arcy James, Christian Borle, Megan Hilty and Katherine McPhee, the network is swinging for the fences with this one.

They previewed the pilot on several media platforms and while it's a really great show, it's not as mainstream as it needs to be to attract the audience NBC is hoping for.

Huston is perfect as a successful producer using the show to stay prominent during a messy divorce, Messing and Borle are fun as a composing team who are drawn out of vacation for the show, and Davenport is fantastic as the show's brilliant a-hole director. However, the real stars are McPhee and Hilty as the two actresses fighting to be Marilyn.

McPhee is the young newcomer with a spark, while Hilty is the experienced chorus girl looking to finally be a lead. They both nail their respective parts, though McPhee's character seems a touch more likable.

The series has stellar behind the scenes talent as well with executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (the guys behind "Chicago" and "Hairspray"), original music by Tony winner Marc Shaiman and executive producer Steven Spielberg.

With all those heavy hitters it's no surprise the show is great. It's one of the best new shows to come along in some time. Acting, writing, production, it's all there.

Unfortunately, the theater storyline may turn off mainstream audiences after the curiosity of the pilot wears off. Viewers don't have to be lifelong theater geeks to like the show, but, it helps.

For non-theater fans like Tim, it may be hard to invest in the show each week to keep tabs on the progress the Marilyn show is making.

With that in mind, NBC should have pulled back on the promotion and been a little less desperate for attention.

I sincerely hope the show is a hit, but if it's not a blockbuster out of the gate, NBC has left themselves no place to go.

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