Pop & Circumstance: “Smash” wants a piece of the “Glee” actionBy Allison Berger | February 2nd, 2012 | No Comments »
Despite the withering plot line of “Glee” and the threat of favorite characters leaving the show in its fourth season, there’s no doubt that the Fox musical dramedy has been a raging success since its 2009 inception. Perhaps it was Disney Channel’s “High School Musical” trilogy that proved that the masses (they sure do love those song-and-dance numbers!) were ready and willing to see routines on the silver screen. But now it’s 2012, and those Zac Efron fans are a little more grown up. Enough of high school, let’s talk about a post-grad dream.
Enter “Smash,” NBC’s take on a musical series, which premieres Feb. 6. More drama than comedy, “Smash” focuses on a group of characters working together to make a Broadway musical while dealing with their own lives outside of the rehearsal room. The musical, which focuses on the life of Marilyn Monroe, is written/produced by characters played by big name actresses like Debra Messing and Anjelica Houston. Pretty good start, right?
Leading the way as one of the top candidates for the role of “Marilyn” is Katharine McPhee as Karen Cartwright — a 24-year-old Iowan waitress who dreams of making it big. You may recognize McPhee from a few other stints on her own personal road to becoming a smash. She was runner-up on the 5th season of “American Idol,” had a small role in 2008′s “The House Bunny,” a cameo on ABC’s “Ugly Betty,” and was even a spokeswoman for Neutrogena a few years back. McPhee shouldn’t have too much of a problem identifying with hard-working, always-dreaming Karen. The real question: will “Smash” (pilot currently available for viewing On Demand) make Katharine McPhee the smash hit she always wanted to be?
My vote (no “American Idol” pun intended) is yes. While the show may carry a few trite story lines (the director wants Karen to sleep with her in order to get the role; Karen’s midwestern parents want her to stop waiting tables and come back home; Karen’s competition has bigger boobs than she does), that doesn’t stop the characters from singing and dancing their way into households across the nation. The pilot leaves you hanging with a question more suitable for a season finale: will she get the part or won’t she? Which brings me to another point: how will “Smash” go beyond one season? Once “Marilyn” is up and running, where can the plot go? Whatever you do, don’t ask “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy.
Allison Berger is a Philadelphia-based writer and a pop music columnist for Reverb. Check out more of her writing here.