Smash: Season One
If we made a potato joke, would that be showing our age?
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You can thank (or blame) Glee for the sudden resurgence of musicals into popular culture. While some may balk at the idea of Broadway taking over their televisions, they’d be missing out on what turned out to be one of the most exciting new shows to arrive from across the pond; the glitzy, gaudy and gorgeously realised Smash. Set in present-day New York, Smash follows the lives of a group of theatre industry folk set out to mount Bombshell, an all new musical based on the life of Hollywood Icon Marilyn Monroe. But of course, life never runs smoothly on the Great White Way, and the series charts all the backstabbing, pill-popping and bed hopping antics of these flawed yet earnest dreamers desperate for their chance in the spotlight.
The series boasts an impressive cast, including Will & Grace’s Debra Messing as a neurotic, philandering writer, American Idol alum Katharine McPhee as wide-eyed prospective star Karen and Brits Jack Davenport and Raza Jaffrey as a lascivious director and Karen’s sidelined boyfriend respectively, but the acting hours are a joint win between Broadway star Megan Hilty in a ballsy turn as damaged diva Ivy Lynn and Anjelica Huston as the determined producer Eileen, replete with drink at hand ready to throw at her scheming ex-husband. These and others come together across the series (far too short) fifteen episode run to put on a show that will have the masses flocking to the theatre, if only they can put their fears, jealousy and libidos aside long enough.
As with any show’s first run, there’s a few gripes that stop Smash from becoming perfect fare. You’ll be sick to the back teeth of Marilyn Monroe and the sometimes too-frequent heavy handed metaphors on her life, there’s an ill-judged short stint from Uma Thurman towards the end of the show’s run playing a huge movie star that derails the action, and some of the song choice’s are questionable at best (Jessie J? No thanks). But when it’s good, it’s phenomenal, with McPhee and Hilty’s performance of original track Let Me Be Your Star in the first episode reason alone to add this to your collection. Settle in with a glass of Sauvignon (optional) and your best Patti LuPone face on (mandatory) and enjoy the first season of your new favourite musical series.
Smash: Season One is out now (and you can get it here or try winning a copy here.
WORDS: Dean Collins