Preview: NBC's Smash, Which Is Now Streaming Online

It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: Smash is not Glee.

Maybe we shouldn’t have to say it, but when you’re a big musical TV series premiering in a post-Glee world, you kind of have to draw the distinction. At the Television Critics Association press tour earlier this month, the cast and crew of the buzzed-about NBC series were happy to spell it out.

“When Ryan Murphy did Glee he broke a great barrier,” said producer Craig Zadan. “I don’t think that any of us feel that the show is like Glee, but we feel grateful to Glee for opening that door.”

Smash is more grounded in Broadway than in high school: It tells the story of two young women vying for the role of Marilyn Monroe in a new musical based on the actress’s life. But it’s also about the production of the musical—the songwriting, the casting, the promotion.

“The first season, the plan is to take Marilyn all the way to an out-of-town tryout, so it’s her first really public presentation,” explained creator Theresa Rebeck. “And then the second season will be Marilyn—if we’re lucky enough to get there, would be Marilyn comes to Broadway. How does the show fare in New York?”

The dueling Marilyn hopefuls are played by former American Idol contestant Katharine McPhee and Broadway star Megan Hilty. While these are the first major television roles for both, Hilty has plenty of experience with the real-life world that Smash depicts.

“The wonderful thing about the show is that there are so many people here that come from this world that it keeps it very authentic,” Hilty noted. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been backstage, looking around, going, ‘Where’s the camera? There needs to be a camera here.’ Because the drama that happens behind the curtain is way more interesting than what’s happening on the stage.”

McPhee has had acting roles before—she guest-starred on Community as Pierce's ex-stepddaughter Amber and appeared in The House Bunny—but she’s primarily known for her pop music career. That persona provides an interesting contrast to the more musical theater-based Hilty, both in terms of their voices and the characters they play.

“It is different because for me, I think of myself as more of a pop artist,” McPhee reflected. “And Megan here has got, like, the big Broadway voice. So I’m always trying to balance the two so that they are kind of cohesive together, that it makes sense in terms of the show.”

Smash's supporting cast is rounded out by a bevy of notable actors, including Debra Messing, Jack Davenport, and Anjelica Huston. Huston is just one of many significant cinematic talents making the move to television—and like all the others, she was asked to speak to that transition.

“Because [Smash] is beautifully written,” she said. “It’s a fantastic cast of actors, a phenomenal team of people behind the scenes. We’re working with the best of the best. I’d be a fool not to participate.”

Here’s another question: Why Marilyn? After all, the writers could have gone with a less high-concept musical-within-a-show. As it turns out, they did mull over several options—Rebeck actually had her eye on Victorian literature. But in the end, they decided Marilyn Monroe was the perfect icon to build the show around.

“Her story is one of tragedy, heartbreak, glamour, love, and all things that make for great drama,” Hilty said. “All things that people want to watch and are intrigued by, which is why we’re still talking about her today.”


The Smash pilot is now streaming online at NBC.com and on iTunes and Hulu. It premieres Monday, February 6 at 10pm on NBC.

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This show is just smashing! It's like watching a movie, only you get to have more drama coming in the next few episodes. At first, I didn't think Katharine McPhee could pull it off, but she did (though I like Ivy Lynn more for the part of Marilyn). I also love that they started out with a Marilyn musical. Can't wait for the opening night of 'Marilyn'! :D



I give it 8 shining stars (2 each for Karen, Ivy Lynn, Jack Davenport and Debra Messing)!
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Wasn't Katharine in Shark Night 3D?
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I'm already a really big fan of this show. A much richer and well put together drama than many other music based shows right now. I recommend everyone at least check it out. I'm gonna be sure to follow the Facebook page closely, http://www.facebook.com/#!/NBCSmash
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I won't be watching Didn't like McPhee on AI, neither voice nor personality, and whatever the song is that she's singing solo in the promos is unbearably nasal and shallow. There isn't any resonance or richness to her voice and I simply find it irritating.
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Hi guy's.

Thanks for the email, I knew I was really going to enjoy this one when I first opened it thanks a heap " I was sure it was going to be a good read too or to".

See ya

Later bye.

****
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This really isn't my kind of show - well, the premise isn't at any rate. Musicals just aren't my thing and I only got half way through the pilot. Having said that, it was well written, the cast is great, the acting was great and I did appreciate how they focused on the creation of a musical as a whole, rather than just the show itself. This series will have a much longer shelf life with the focus being on the people behind the scenes (and the two lead actresses - who were surprisingly well played by McPhee and Hilty).



If I wanted to catigorise this I'd say it's like an Aaron Sorkin drama for musical lovers. A look at the personalities, politics and social interactions behind the scenes of an industry where the public only ever gets to see either a) the final, finished and polished product or b) the limited information released to the public - a concept that Sorkin has all but turned into it's own artform. The signs I saw from the first half of the pilot bode well for the series, but unfortunately, for me at least, musicals just don't interest me.
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Very good, I can't wait to see more! It feels much more like a proper musical movie (Chicago, Nine) than like Glee. And I'd rather watch this than Glee butchering more songs, that's for sure. Though the whole sleazy acting coach hitting on the pretty actresses is way overdone and I could really do without it. But I guess it's sort of gotten to the point where you can't do a musical show incarnation without that particular trope.



I know we're supposed to root for McPhee's character but I found her personality and voice too 'top 40', if that makes any sense... I like the Ivy character much more, she has the big personality and voice that belong on broadway, so team Ivy for sure.



The only part I disliked was the dance coach character, I just found him way too stereotypically horny and narcissistic, whatever.
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saw it last week, I like it, but just a 1st impression

needs more tasting!!!!
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Better that i thought it would be. The singing while doing ordinary tasks kinds bores me and i go into cringe mode. The should have kept it like a drama, show rehearsals and auditions with performing and left everything to the season final to blow the viewers away. If they are going to do more "corny " singing i will pass on the rest
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I wasn't interested in this when I first heard about it many months ago, but that damn "beautiful" song gets you every time. I'd hear it over and over again and just think "maybe it won't be that bad." So a week or so ago I download the Pilot on iTunes for free and as I watched it, I enjoyed it more and more. And when it was over and I'm watching whats to come for the season I had one thing in mind, "NBC, don't screw this up.". Now, I don't like the time slot its in going against Castle and Hawaii Five-0, but there's really no other place for it. We'll see how it does, but I like it.
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Much better than I thought it would be. There are things I didn't love about it, but also things I really enjoyed. Not remotely like Glee, thankfully... I'm intrigued enough to want to see more.
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I really liked this pilot both as a fan of TV and of Broadway.

I sincerely hope that the quality continues to be as good.
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You can't really compare this show to Glee in any way. This is a really well made drama, almost completely absent of humor. I still enjoyed it alot. Non-procedural dramas are rare, and this one is the rarest. Beautifully written and filmed. Everything was top notch and deserves to be given a chance. I'm looking forward to seeing more :)
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I want NBC to make a lot of money so they can keep Community on the air, so I'm all for this show.
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I really missed Debra Messing. I'm so glad she's back on TV.
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I just watched it this morning and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. Debra Messing might finally have a role where we forget about Grace, Katherine McPhee is surprisingly good, and Angelica Huston is mesmerizing. Can't wait for the second episode now.
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I watched. I vote pass. Aside from Katharine McPhee there is zero likable characters. Pick a cliche of the upper west side and you have it in droves in this show. Neurotic working mother, check in Debra Messing's character. Annoying rich divorcee and her monied husband, check. Extremely gay broadway type. two. Slightly skeevy director, check. Over eager sleep your way to the top will push you into traffic bad girl. check. Boyfriend that knows a little too much about Marilyn Monroe and broadway to be straight (Yup and yes I know that is a stereotype) All self important, busy bodies, who think or just act as if the world revolves around them.



And the subject of the play is annoying. And since I have been successful in avoiding going to broadway plays throughout my life. Do all of them have guys running around humping air? I thought that was weird. Marilyn Monroe was a, how do I put this nicely. A self medicating, promiscuous fake that created a persona so that men would like her. Whom knew a lot of men. She was kind of like a mix of scarlet johansen, britney spears and Lohan except she allegedly slept with high ranking politicians. I don't understand the allure of the woman, not to mention the obsession.



So I just don't see this show lasting a very long time. They are going after Glee fans. But as much as I hate that show I can understand the allure. People like songs sung annoyingly. That is fine. But if someone isn't a fan of McPhee or this new girl, who is going to download their songs. And the characters, I just see them annoying people away from the show. I could be wrong. Mostly because this just isn't my thing and I don't think it is geared toward us guys in the 19-34 group. But neither is Once upon a time isn't and I kind of enjoy that.
More+
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I'm a guy at 19, and I enjoy the show. I also enjoy OUAT, Revenge, The Secret Circle, TVD, and other shows like that too.
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What about it do you enjoy? If you don't mind my asking.
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I downloaded SMASH on iTunes for free, and have watched it twice already. It's such a great start to what I hope becomes a very successful new series. Leagues above Glee, and that's just from one episode.
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it's also been on Charter's On Demand service for a few days, in HD.. probably on other cable On Demand services too



if it wasn't for Katharine McPhee I probably wouldn't watch it, Megan Hilty is ok but I didn't like her Marilyn singing. The show overall was alright but nothing great, there's no way they can keep doing this one musical for more than 2 or 3 seasons, you're going to eventually think "jeez get it on Broadway already and move on" so they'd have to do a new play every few seasons.
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Well, I don't like MARILYN's singing so I just figure Megan was being accurate to the character. She really is a wonderful singer.



I agree with the whole staying power thing. I don't see how they would stretch one musical across several seasons. If they did it would get old really fast.



Oh but I HATED the stupid lines of "everyone says I'm too thin. I wish I was fat." or whatever those dumb lines were that Katharine's character said. Sorry, but that is the most LAME and unrealistic complaint. Most girls hear the opposite.



I think Katharine McPhee is totally wrong for the part of Marilyn Monroe anyways. Marilyn is a "plus size" icon so if a director actually cast someone NOT size 14 in the role that would piss a lot of people off... But that's a side note.



I'll give the show a couple more episodes, but if I still don't care by then I'll move on.
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Whoops. Deleted a bit in my last sentence... "Or at least they could have had someone COUNTER IT at some point in the episode."
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Actually, I hated that line because of the implication. She actually says "Why do I have to be sexy all the time? I wish I was fat." Which, of course, implies that anyone overweight cannot be sexy. This was an awful line and I cannot believe it didn't get cut at some point. Or, at least, they could have had someone at some point in the episode.
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Actually, dress sizes have shifted significantly since her time. A plus size today is larger than Marilyn ever was (remember, the camera adds 10 pounds. Also, people throw around that she was a size 16, but that's a British 16, not a US one). She has an extremely hourglass figure. She wore a 36D bra size, but her waist was tiny. If she bought off the rack today, she'd probably be in a size 10-12, depending on her boobs fitting the shape of the garment.
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