So, anybody out there still watching Smash?
Actually, that question is a little bit unfair. After all, following the conclusion of the first season, NBC decided to hold onto Smash until midseason, to give other shows a chance to milk the primo lead-in that The Voice was offering. In those other respects, the gambit did pay off – Revolution is the breakout hit of the fall season, and NBC is in far better shape ratings-wise this year, if not creatively.
That leaves Smash to usher in midseason at the Peacock, where it will debut in a new Tuesday night slot, free of the protective maternal bosom of Christina Aguilera (or Cee-Lo Green, for that matter). Will Smash survive?
NBC sure wants to see it alive, whatever the cost. After a well-regarded premiere (which I wrote about here), the show quickly got mired in bad adultery subplots, garish scarves, a one-note ingenue with no character definition other than “magic butterflies fly out of her mouth when she sings” (and who we were supposed to believe would make a better Marilyn Monroe than Megan Hilty. Um, hello.), and Ellis. Dear god, Ellis.
Basically, the last time I wrote about the show, it looked like this. And despite my renewed(ish) hope for the show expressed there, that’s where I actually stopped watching. I heard a few things about what was going on – Bombshell, the utter wasting of Brian D’Arcy James, Uma Thurman, “I can’t…I’m in tech”, smoothies as critical plot point. Needless to say, it wasn’t motivating me to catch up.
The ratings, however, were a hair better than anything else NBC had at that point, so they went forward with a second season renewal…along with a complete creative revamp.
Soon after the renewal, it was announced that creator Theresa Rebeck would be moving into a more “hands-off” role with the show, several characters were being cut (including D’Arcy James’ Frank, Will Chase’s adulterous actor Michael, Raza Jaffrey’s Dev, and Jamie Cepero’s dreaded Ellis), and former Gossip Girl showrunner Josh Safran would be coming in to steer the boat. Oscar-winning Effie White herself Jennifer Hudson was booked in for a long guest arc, along with NBC favorite Sean Hayes and Broadway and NBC favorite Jesse L. Martin.
Stage actors Andy Mientz, Krista Rodriguez, and Newsies star Jeremy Jordan were hired on as new series regulars. Safran vowed an end to the scarves.
So, with all of its own backstage drama behind it, Smash is ready to return February 5. And I’ll be right here, Theatre Scene-zians, looking at each episode, leading discussion, recapping major events, and hoping for the best. We’ll see if it’s capable of one day achieving this.
The show, as they say, must go on.
The season two premiere of Smash airs Tuesday, February 5, on NBC at 10pm.