Seems like I’m in a Marilyn Monroe type of mood today. First Michelle William’s GQ cover and now this.
NBC’s highly-anticipated musical show “Smash” is set to premiere Monday, February 6, the day after the Super Bowl XLVI. Ever since the network added the show on it’s 2011-12 schedule, I have waited with bated breath to catch the first episode. Thanks to iTunes, I and you are able to download the pilot weeks ahead of the official premiere for free. I just finished watching it and simply put… it’s friggin’ AH-MAZ-ING. I totally understand why the “Glee” spin-off rumored to take place in NYC was nixed. It’s hard to measure up to perfection.
With “Smash” featuring musical numbers, comparisons to FOX’s “Glee” are inevitable. To lump these two together simply on that merit would be an injustice for both. The Steven Spielberg-produced show is vastly different. Firstly, it’s not a comedy and more importantly it’s more grown-up. My biggest pet peeve the past few years is Hollywood’s inclination to make entertainment like this for the “High School Musical” crowd. I was beyond perturbed when the “Fame” 2009 remake lost all it’s grit and edge from the original 1980 classic. Thankfully, Spielberg opted not to go that route and for that I give him a huge virtual hug.
“Smash” revolves around the production of launching a brand new musical on Broadway. Based on the life of Marilyn Monroe, each episode follows the trials and tribulations of those involved with creating a show of this magnitude. The show boasts a stellar cast including Debra Messing, Angelica Huston and Katharine McPhee. The series features original music by composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
So what did I think? Here’s a quick rundown. Katharine McPhee dazzled as a young ingenue trying to land her first major gig. From the onset, you’re rooting for her character to succeed after failed audition after another. Speaking of auditions, the show began with McPhee singing “Over The Rainbow“. Arguably, her rendition of that “Wizard of Oz” classic was her signature song during her time on “American Idol“. I literally bust out laughing when her performance on “Smash” was cut short by the casting director. Was that some sort of dig at “American Idol” and Fox? If so, a standing ovation.
Standing in McPhee’s way to land the coveted Marilyn Monroe role is Megan Hilty. From the trailers I had seen so far, I was expecting to not like Hilty’s character. Surprisingly, I found myself also rooting for her. Now, I can see why the characters on the show have a hard time deciding which actress should take on the titular role for their brand new Broadway musical. The appeal of both characters makes the season-long dilemma far more believable.
The pilot episode did an excellent job of introducing the other lead characters on the show. It took me about halfway to finally forget Debra Messing wasn’t playing Grace Adler anymore. For the first half, I half-expected her to deliver a joke after every line as she did on “Will & Grace“. Another character I really enjoyed was that of Messing’s co-writer’s assistant played by Jaime Cepero. It’s a small role but I found myself relating to his character a lot. I can totally imagine myself being as giddy as him witnessing the creation of a Broadway musical. I also loved McPhee’s boyfriend on the show played by British actor Raza Jaffrey.
I couldn’t finish the post without mentioning the musical numbers shown on “Smash”. Let’s face it, that’s what the show is really about and will keep people tuned in. The quality of the numbers shown were equivalent of what you’d see in a big-budget musical on the silver screen. Simply fantastic. My personal favorite was the baseball number. Plus we get to see hot talented male backup dancers thrusting away to every beat. Consider me dead and in heaven.
If you love “Wicked“, “Rent“, “Hairspray” and musicals in that vein, “Smash” is up your alley. I highly suggest you check it out immediately. Download the pilot episode of Smash on iTunes, by clicking here.