NBC’s Smash deserves to live up to its name. In terms of content and performances, it does. In terms of ratings and commercial success, we’ll have to wait and see.
The pilot episode of the series was incredible fun. Bright and fresh, Smash eagerly jumps right into the action and wastes no time setting up its premise; the development of a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe.
The story quickly moves along introducing us to Julia and Tom (Debra Messing and Christian Borle) who will create the musical and Karen Cartwright and Ivy Lynn (Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty) who will vie for the title role.
The first hour is breezy, mixing fun and drama while quickly establishing the underdogs and rootable characters, not to mention slickly produced and choreographed musical numbers that actually feel natural and not shoehorned in.
Smash features wonderful performances from its strong, accomplished cast. Debra Messing has already proven she’s more than just a great comedic actress. And Smash utilizes Messing’s ability for both light comedy and more serious drama which will certainly be ramped up for her in future episodes.
Katharine McPhee in the first episode is a great fit for the role of Karen. She plays the smalltown girl with big city dreams with innocence and heart, but without naivety. Megan Hilty could be the biggest discovery though with her providing the worthy adversary to McPhee’s Karen, but also including enough to make you care about her dreams as well.
For NBC’s sake, Smash needs to be just that, a smash hit. But it more than lives up to its title and deserves to be noticed by the fickle American audience. There’s the musical aspects of the series, but there’s also family and romance as well as business politics. Broadway and musicals may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Smash has the potential to reach outside of what might be a stereotypical target audience.