Review: NBC would have been better served to smash 'Smash'

"Smash" is the kind of show that gives Broadway a bad name.

The NBC series, which kicked off its second season Tuesday night, purports itself to be a backstage fantasy along the lines of, say, "42nd Street."

But the show, which follows the journey of a troubled Broadway-bound musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe, offers little in the way of humor or coherence.

After a ratings-poor first season, NBC gave the heave-ho to the show's creator (playwright Theresa Rebeck), as well as a number of characters and plotlines, and resurfaced with the promise of a rival musical (do we need more rivalry?) and a gaggle of new guest stars (recasting lead Katharine McPhee would have been wiser).

Its central problems still remain: These are the most morally repellent people on the air, and it's impossible to care about their plight. Broadway is revealed as a viper's den of feuds, backstabbing and rampant sexual harassment. Any parent watching this would be hard-pressed to support their kid's decision to pursue a career in the arts.


Worse, "Smash" still struggles to make pop songs coalesce with its more standard musical theater numbers (which don't look like anything playing in New York, anyway).

Broadway wonder boy Jeremy Jordan and Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson display some amazing vocal pyrotechnics this time around, but it's largely volume over substance.

Come to think of it, so is "Smash."

On a sunnier note, AMC's "The Walking Dead" makes its eagerly awaited return this Sunday at 8 p.m. That's channel 48 on Charter channels in Rochester. Mark your calendars. You don't want to be the only one around the water cooler not talking about this one, do you?

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