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'Smash' Exclusive First Look: Is This the Show That Will Save NBC?

by Maureen Ryan, posted Nov 21st 2011 10:00AM
It's no secret that things have been tricky lately for the Peacock Network. Some of its returning shows have been struggling in the ratings and none of its new fall offerings have been breakout hits.

That may be about to change: NBC debuts 'Smash' Feb. 6, and many critics who've seen it (including me) think it's one of the strongest new shows of the season. Below, Aol TV has an exclusive first look at the 'Smash' key art, which features former 'American Idol' contestant Katharine McPhee atop a pile of scheming Broadway strivers.

You're probably wondering if 'Smash' is merely a 'Glee' ripoff set on Broadway. Of course, it makes sense for 'Glee' to come up when discussing 'Smash,' but the latter show is different (and possibly better) in several respects.

Click the poster image to see a full-size version.

First, the NBC show isn't set in a high school -- it takes place in the high-stakes world of Broadway musicals -- and 'Smash' will feature some original songs. Tonally, 'Smash' feels more realistic and dramatic than the satiric (and often scattershot) 'Glee,' though the NBC show has a sly sense of humor and a promising sense of momentum.

McPhee plays one of two actresses struggling to move their careers into high gear, and Christian Borle and Debra Messing of 'Will and Grace' play a songwriting duo who begin working on a musical about Marilyn Monroe. Though 'Smash' will no doubt segue into various subplots along the way, the creation of that musical will form the spine of the first season.

Also participating in the delicious backstage cattiness are Anjelica Huston, who plays a high-powered producer, and Jack Davenport, who plays an amoral and ambitious director. I feel like I've been waiting forever for the versatile Brit Davenport to be cast in the right American project; this could be it.

All in all, the 'Smash' pilot provides all of these skilled performers ample opportunities to shine, and if the show keeps up the quality level of that first hour, we could well be in for a treat. The show certainly has a lot of experienced talent behind the scenes: Award-wining playwright and screenwriter Theresa Rebeck wrote the pilot, and veteran TV and theater producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron ('Chicago,' 'Hairspray') are executive producers, as are songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman ('Hairspray').

Will it all add up to a 'Smash' for NBC? Who knows. There will probably be a lot of butterflies for all involved right up until opening night.

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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really excited for this show! just found out you can get a free copy of the first episode and some music on iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/tv-season/smash-season-1/id492511667

January 18 2012 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Debra Messing is enough to make me run! The problem with network television is they keep using the same performers over and over, just like the big screen movies. You would think they would think outside the box, but no. Why is the Closer such a success? Talent, and great storyline, which draws in viewers, make it a success.

November 22 2011 at 2:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
George Otwori

NBC needs to become quality network that none of the other broadcast are. Seriously needs to borrows some attributes from the cable model. TV audience is shrinking and NBC is not in good enough shape to steal viewers from other networks.

November 21 2011 at 10:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Angelica Houston is so going to take her hair and then her face off after turning young children into mice

November 21 2011 at 8:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If NBC goes then so be it . That would be the right direction since all they produce is ffake reality shows and rven more fake news. News use to be a program that was on the side of we the people not some political party . News like that helps no one

November 21 2011 at 3:46 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I am excited for this show!! And finally an avenue for Broadway actors that is true to Broadway. Most Broadway actors don't make much money and it's hard for them to cross over to film and tv which is where the money is. I hope its a huge sucess. Glee is not Broadway and this cast is exceptional not just so, so like some of the actors on Glee. I like Glee but this show intrigues me more. I pray Smash is a smash hit.

November 21 2011 at 2:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Snooooze. Gee. take a concept that's working and copy it. What are these Hollywood exec's anyway, all Chinese? What happened to taking a risk? Originality? Giving a show time to build an audience and a market? Sadly, everyone and everything revolves around the short term gain. When is anything in life given anyone a short term gain that's worthwhile? Speak a language in 10 days! Lose 50 lbs. in 50 days! Lose your mind in 50 minutes, watch NBC!!

November 21 2011 at 1:56 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

TV has gone down hill with all networks. What is up with all the COP shows,, everyday nothing to look at but cop shows or reality shows. Not only do they have nothing on but cop shows, they are all so unrealistic,, must think it is the year 2040.... I give up on TV

November 21 2011 at 1:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I fell in love with this new show as soon as I heard about it. The promos look wonderful and I can't wait to see it. The talent is remarkable!

November 21 2011 at 1:53 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Glee has original songs too...

November 21 2011 at 1:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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