Will NBC’s New Series Be A Smash?

No new midseason show has received as much hype as Smash, yet it’s one of the rare TV series that actually lives up to its billing

Credit: NBC

She may not have on American Idol, but Katharine McPhee will earn new fans from her performance in Smash

Will Smash be the breakout hit NBC is praying for?

No new midseason show has received as much hype as Smash, yet it’s one of the rare TV series that actually lives up to its billing, a pitch-perfect peek behind the curtain at a Broadway musical.


With songs from Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman (who wrote the Broadway smash Hairspray), the production expertise of Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (who brought us the film version of Chicago) and the clout of exec producer Steven Spielberg, ratings-challenged NBC is hoping Smash will be the catalyst that begins the network’s climb out of fourth place.


The series follows famed Broadway songwriting team Judith (Will & Grace’s Debra Messing) and Tom (Tony-winner Christian Borle) as they begin to create a new musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Also along for the ride are a once-powerful producer in desperate need of a comeback (Anjelica Huston), a brilliant-yet-ruthless director (Coupling’s Jack Davenport), a skilled stage performer ready to break out of the chorus (Megan Hilty) and a fresh-faced novice whose inexperience is matched only by her talent (former American Idol contestant Katharine McPhee).


What elevates Smash to a whole other level, however, are its phenomenal musical numbers, with exceptional performances across the board — especially McPhee in what will likely be a star-making role. At the end of the day, however, Smash will succeed or fail on the virtues of its story and whether viewers will be all that interested in the inner workings of a Broadway musical. 


Spielberg thinks they will. Big-screen versions of behind-the-scenes-on-Broadway stories are hardly a new concept, exemplified in films ranging from 1933’s 42nd Street to 1979’s All That Jazz, and Spielberg believes this type of storytelling will work even better on television.


“What goes on before the curtain even goes up . . . it’s that creative process that really fascinated me, the competition, the creativity, the fights, the arguments, the dreams, the egos, disappointments, the energy. I thought it would make a compelling story on a weekly basis, one that a television series could probably most effectively tell and one that I think audiences will be able to relate to whether or not they ever had seen a Broadway show, because this is really about the drama of the characters.”



Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates on screen entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.