Not such a Smash, but there’s potential

Last night I tuned in for the first episode of NBC’s new show, Smash. It’s all about the makings of a new Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a huge Marilyn fan (which is why it’s kind of funny that I’ve watched this and Oscar-nominated film My Week with Marilyn in the past month), but thankfully being a Marilyn fan is not a prerequisite for watching this show. In any case, since I’m a sucker for anything that involves singing and dancing, I thought it might be right up my alley.

I will say, for the first 30 minutes or so, I was not impressed.

The storyline is everything you think it will be. Writers get inspired by all the Marilyn Mania happening in pop culture, think “Why not a musical?”, get a kick-butt choreographer/director who no one likes, and we get to listen to some very Marilyn-esque songs.  Yeah, there’s a lot of breathless, high-pitched “Ah!”s and “Oh!”s. In my opinion, if we wanted to listen to “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend”, we can go to iTunes. I don’t need to watch someone else singing it while pretending to be Marilyn to get the point.

Thankfully, about a half hour in, Katharine McPhee FINALLY started to sing.

Katharine McPhee was definitely the high point of NBC's new show, Smash. Would love to see her get more screen time with some great original music.

Now, I’m not an American Idol viewer, so I’d never really seen her before. Let me tell you, though, she lights up the screen. While her performance of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” was nothing to write home about, the emotion and feeling she portrayed while singing it were pretty darn good. As her storyline grew throughout the episode, it was easy to tell that she’s going to be the one who draws people in and makes them connect with the show. While Megan Hilty, Broadway veteran most well-known for playing Galinda/Glinda in my fave show Wicked (after Kristin Chenoweth, of course), is very talented, she didn’t make you want to feel for her the way McPhee does. She may have that chance in upcoming episodes, but she’s not there yet. (Check out this review of my favorite song from the episode – a McPhee and Hilty duet – called “Let Me Be Your Star”.)

Overall, I think I’d give the episode a B- with some room for improvement. If they stay away from the campy Marilyn songs, give Katharine McPhee a chance to shine and really give the audience something to connect with, I think success will be more possible. NBC’s been struggling with their primetime shows, though, so we’ll see if they can make a go at it with this one.

Did you watch the first episode of Smash? Agree with me or disagree? Would love to hear it in the comments!

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