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Megan Hilty in a musical number in "Smash"

Will Hart, NBC

Withering Glance: TV tackles Broadway musical in 'Smash'

  • Article by: RICK NELSON and CLAUDE PECK
  • Star Tribune
  • March 3, 2012 - 3:15 PM

CP: "Smash," NBC's new build-a-Broadway-musical melodrama, is off and running. I imagine you glued to every episode in your home viewing room, the one with the hard-to-match Playbill wallpaper. Yes?

RN: Since I embody its chief demographic -- show-tune queen -- I was hooked 10 minutes into the premiere, and haven't looked back. It's worse than my addiction to the Will-Horton-coming-out story line on "Days of Our Lives." You?

CP: After four episodes, I look forward to No. 5 with the same zeal I have for ironing shirts or running to Home Depot.

RN: Come on, "Smash" features National Treasure Anjelica Huston as a jaded B'way producer, brushing off wannabe chorines with lines like, "Not now, sweetheart." And chorus boys, for days. And fabulously unrealistic New York City apartments. And, well, I know there's more.

CP: Lots more. A deafening lack of buzz, for one thing. Despite a lead-in from "The Voice," ratings are highly lackluster. On Twitter, "Smash" already seems to have been canceled.

RN: You are obviously not reading writer Rachel Shukert's beyond brilliant "Smash" recaps at Vulture.com, New York magazine's website. If only the show were as riveting. But come on, it's better than most network TV, by a long shot. "Glee," for instance, which is So. Very. Over.

CP: With all the cash and talent that last-place NBC has thrown at this thing -- Huston, writer Theresa Rebeck, stage actors like Megan Hilty and Christian Borle -- it coulda/shoulda been so much better.

RN: Than what? "The Mentalist"?

CP: Instead, we see plot points coming like the death star in "Melancholia," and Debra Messing done up in big glasses and statement scarves. She's playing a tough veteran Broadway lyricist, but she just can't shake the ditz.

RN: I do love how her character doesn't even bother to mask her contempt for Ellis, her writing partner's sexually ambiguous personal assistant who I'm hoping also has a major Eve Harrington streak. And yes, this is what I think about in my spare time.

CP: I think you could write a better script for this show in your spare time. Why not work in something about Broadway's tantalizingly rich history?

RN: History, shmistory. How about watching just for hottie Raza Jaffrey? His principal purpose seems to be to look adoringly at ingenue/dullard Katharine McPhee and flash his pearly whites. He's giving the performance of his life.

CP: True. But remember, in TV land, loving and supportive BFs can't last past Episode 6.

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