Let’s get this out of the way: "Smash" is not and will never be "Glee." That’s what you were expecting when you first read this, wasn't it? "Glee" is an amazing series in its own right, but its whole premise and music surrounding a troubled but ultimately happy universe surrounded by lions, tigers and Cher gimmick is growing old fast. Fortunately for "Smash," though, most of the characters in the series have already grown and are embracing that fact for better, in womanizing Derek Willis’ case, or worse amid backstabbing, brutal divorce battles and bad haircuts in the case of conflicted songwriter Julia Houston (Debra Messing).
The premise is pretty basic: Two women compete for the role of a lifetime, a lead part in the musical "Marilyn." As we know, shows that revolve around music will put their whole efforts into producing very strong musical scenes and will not necessarily put their all into creating innovative plots. But unlike the other overtly silly series I previously mentioned, "Smash" doesn’t resort to using childish tactics and lackadaisical writing to get by episode after episode. From the opening scene, Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee, along with the strong performances of Messing and Anjelica Huston, take nearly breathtaking turns, voicing their aspirations while trying to weave through the very complex and typically dramatized world of Broadway by any means necessary. (Hopefully by episode three they’ll eat a Jayhawk. That way, they will be shoo-ins for lead roles in the MU Theatre series.)
Speaking of the performances, McPhee from "American Idol" fame and Broadway veteran Hilty steal the show with their energetic and fun portrayals as Ivy and Karen. What makes these actresses so right for their roles is not that they're hot enough to portray Marilyn Monroe, it’s that they have strong enough voices and commitments to act and sing well, in addition to being hot enough to portray Miss M. herself.
No disrespect to Heather Morris, Naya Rivera or even the very talented, yet slightly jaded Lea Michele, but they are incapable of taking a role in which they're not talking about how gross sausage is or wearing a barely-there cheerleading outfit. Hilty and McPhee, however, pull off a striking and notable pathos.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars