SMASH

The most exciting new series since MAD MEN. And that this should have
gotten a green light from a broadcast network is an accomplishment in
itself. The script is sophisticated, the direction clever and tight,
the playing exquisite. From the first song with its simple piano
accompaniment to the fuller-blown baseball-themed workshop number —
with its flash-forwards to how that number will look once it's
finished — we know we're in the hands of Broadway elite. No Idol-
style power ballads (despite the presence of Katharine McPhee — more
on her in a moment) or rock-inspired RENT-like insipidity. These
numbers are the real thing, and not only can you see how an entire
production will develop before our eyes in the course of the season,
but there's also word that the final product will, in fact, have a
home on the Great White Way. The plot, veteran trouper vs. wide-eyed
newcomer, is as old as backstage musicals themselves. And hooray for
that! A cast that includes a deliciously tough Angelica Huston, Debra
Messing (in a part she was born to play) and real-life stage star
Megan Hilty makes this Destination TV. And McPhee is a revelation: her
gradual transformation into Marilyn Monroe, on whom the musical-within-
the-show is based, will be a reason to look forward to Mondays. —
Jeff Schultz

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