McPhee shows promise in this smash hit

McPhee shows promise in this smash hit

LA Times

This song-and-dance romp offers just enough promising aspects for an entertaining first season.

Emily Kline, Staff Writer

NBC’s highly-publicized new musical drama “Smash” premiered on the network’s website on January 16, answering the long-held question of whether the show would be an original success or a Glee rehash. While a final verdict remains fuzzy at times, this song-and-dance romp offers just enough promising aspects for an entertaining first season.

At its core, “Smash” follows the creation of Broadway musical, from the first idea to opening night. When Julia and Tom, a songwriter-lyricist duo played by Debra Messing and Christian Borle, accidentally leak a song from their new show about Marilyn Monroe, big-business producers and directors deem the project a ‘smash.’ During the search for the perfect Marilyn, seasoned chorus girl Ivy (Megan Hilty) and the inexperienced but talented Karen (Katherine McPhee) compete for the role of their dreams.

One of the major highlights of “Smash” comes from its integration of both original songs and classics into the show’s plot. The music written for the ‘Marilyn: The Musical’ authentically resembles musical theater and are key to the plot, as they illustrate both the writing and audition processes of creating a show. Hilty and McPhee both perform convincingly, even producing chills with “Let Me Be Your Star,” which closes the pilot with the audience wanting more.

Surprisingly, “Smash” also effectively showed many sides to each major character, relating their experiences to Marilyn Monroe’s rise to fame as they write her musical. While some odd moments, like Karen seducing her director, initially elicited a groan, context given later in the pilot helped tie them into the main story.

The show undoubtedly succeeds more than it fails, but it still falls into pitfalls that affect its appeal. Similar to Glee, while the song and dance numbers certainly impress, they come together in a ridiculously short amount of time, making the process of creating a Broadway show seem simple. Some characters add little to the plot or entertainment value, and, while better than expected, Katherine McPhee’s acting chops still leave something to be desired.

While it suffers from setbacks, “Smash” definitely has the potential for an entertaining––if unrealistic––mix of surprises, music, and lighthearted drama. By the time its TV premiere rolls around on February 6, “Smash” will have cemented itself as one of 2012’s major new shows.