Of all the new shows starting this mid-season, Smash is the one I've been looking forward to watching most. Upon learning another TV musical was in the works over a year ago, and after seeing all those Smash promo clips released months before, I've been anticipating this show with a lot of...well, glee.
Part of the reason is because I love musicals.
Another reason would have to be Jack Davenport, who is cast as the stage director. Since Coupling UK, I've been following what he does on American TV.
But a bigger reason for my excitement would have to be because I've been wanting someone to show viewers that a musical can be done on TV...and done really well.
Glee has been credited for opening the door for Smash to enter. Glee's creators have been credited for their 'groundbreaking production'.
But I beg to disagree.
Long before Glee, there was this show, which the TV audience, unfortunately, didn't fully embrace:
And in the last decade, there began a trend among television programs where special one-time musical episodes just have to take place in the show. Some of these one-time episodes have been pure entertainment spectacles, in fact, that I've wished they were done more often. (My personal favorite is the one Eli Stone did!)
And then came Glee a couple of years ago. While amusing during the first season, the show quickly became a waste of time to watch. It lost its novelty when it was pretty clear it had no structure and direction.
But Glee was able to achieve what Cop Rock didn't, and that is --- massive popularity. And because of this, comparisons of Smash to Glee will no doubt be unavoidable.
Here's what Debra Messing, one of the actresses on Smash, had to say about this in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, that sums up everything about her show:
“I think Smash is similar (to Glee) in that there is singing, but I think that’s where the similarities end. Glee is a comedy and ours is a drama. And Glee is in a fantastic sort of elevated world and Smash is completely naturalistic, a very real look at life in New York as an actor, producer, composer, lyricist, what have you.”The first episode of Smash has been made available online via iTunes, weeks ahead of its scheduled NBC premiere (which will be on the 6th of February).
After watching the pilot, it was very easy for me to dismiss any comparisons I was ready to make. It's very obvious Smash has the better storyline. A lot went on in the pilot that, if anything, made me feel more eager to watch the following episodes (and that's a month away!!!). It was clear it had more experienced stars, who actually know what they want from the show they're part of.
As far as expections go, Smash delivered most of what I've hoped for. It's not great TV, however. Not in the vein of Friday Night Lights or Homeland. But if Glee has become a huge disappointment for you, as far as entertainment, realism and story is concerned, Smash will more than fill that void.
Well, alright...this is the one comparison I can come up with: Smash is the confident theater professional that Glee only wishes it was.
Here's the 5-minute trailer from Smash: