It's rare that I actually watch something before it's real live debut, for the simple fact that I don't want to become attached to a show and then have it not work out. This is one of the main reasons I never watched The Playboy Club--well, that and the super crappy reviews. Great concept, poor execution, bad press. But I digress.
So, when I saw that NBC was offering their new show Smash! on OnDemand before the debut, I was skeptical. Okay, I was also skeptical because of the concept--a musical of sorts on prime time television. Let's not talk about Glee, which is not nearly the same thing. When I say musical, I mean actually musical--that's the concept. A team of writers (Debra Messing, Christian Borle) are in the process of writing a Broadway musical about--get this--Marilyn Monroe. One of the lines that gets repeated a lot in the pilot, to great effect, is "We/You can have a baseball number." And what a number it turns out to be. I won't ruin the surprise, but it's cheeky and sexy without being overly smutty.
Vying for the role of Marilyn are two fairly unknowns. The first, Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) is not a novice on Broadway, but she hasn't had her big break yet. She's already halfway to Marilyn, with the figure, the hair, and the bubbly personality. The second, Karen Carpenter (Katherine McPhee), hasn't landed a role yet. She's fresh off the farm, working as a waitress, living the dream of a million people who come to New York. She's Marilyn before Marilyn become Marilyn (follow that sentence, it really does make sense). And it stands to reason that both women can sing. Ivy Lynn has the big, bold Broadway style down pat. Karen Carpenter is more earnest, still a little too shiny and bright around the edges.
But--I've got no shame in saying I'm Team Karen. Maybe it's because I'm partial to Katherine McPhee in general. Or it might be because Ivy Lynn's over the top style just annoys the hell out of me.
There are other characters--the producer, played by Anjelica Huston, who's eager to get a show on Broadway, despite her divorce problems. The director, played by Jack Davenport (yes, the oh so yummy Captain Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean), who has already shown his sleazy side, only one episode in. Debra Messing's Julia is in the middle of adoption proceedings, Christian Borle's Tom despises the director....oh, the possibilities for drama and angst and fabulous songs are almost endless.
All in all, if the pilot is any indication of the rest of the series, I'm sold. I'm sold on the show, I'm sold on Karen Carpenter, and damn it, I'm sold on the Marilyn musical. I can not wait for the second episode in February.