Originally Posted by Distorted
So long Smash
, You died with a whimper not a bang. The once arresting songs faded with the ratings until there were none. Sad ending to a promising beginning. The 0.02% of us who adore musical theater will probably never see TV try again.
I fully agree with your conclusion. We will not see another TV show about the world of live theater in our lifetimes if ever. The potential of season 1 was never fully realized and season 2 went off the rails very early. There are lots of reasons for the demise of Smash and they involve both the show runners and the "fans". This is going to ramble bit but here goes.
- Firing Theresa Rebeck, a real theater person (who has said that the network suits kept interfering and "suggesting" character behavior changes) and bringing in Josh Safran, predominantly a TV guy was not, IMHO, a wise decision. Whatever flaws Smash had in S1, it was still on to something. S2 became a downward spiral of, at times, mawkish soap opera. Don't get me wrong. We're a "theater family" (my kid is in the biz) and watched the show every week and, even with some eye rolls, enjoyed it, but it really slipped. Every time a very good episode aired, it was followed by one that was mediocre or worse.
-The show was caught between demographic groups and couldn't solidly cater to either of them. On the one hand you had people like many of us on this board who love theater and wished that there would have been more a bit more focus on the nuts and bolts of ramping up a show and on the other hand there was the far larger group of typical TV viewers who are not theatergoers and did want a degree of soap schlock every week. The show never successfully navigated the path between those shoals.
- While the network and the show runners and writers bear their major share of responsibility, there is a segment of the audience that does as well. The folks in this forum have been entirely fair and mature in their assessment and criticisms of Smash. But it's not so much elsewhere. On other boards, there are many who have savaged the show from day one. Some are in the business (and others are dilittantes who wished that they were) and insist that the show be true to everything that happens in theater. That's rubbish. It's a TV show, a fantasy, not real life and there are many who seem not to realize that. Such a show would be cancelled in 30 minutes. The blistering comments after every episode were almost pathological at times. The sheer hatred for Katherine McPhee actually did cross that line quite a bit. Maybe NBC made a mistake by initially pushing her as the face of the show but she was well known from her Idol days, is outrageously gorgeous and has an excellent voice. If they would have pushed the brilliantly talented Megan Hilty, known only in the theater community, would that have helped? I doubt it. As the show went on, McPhee could only suffer in comparison to Hilty in world of real or imaginary theater but that was hardly her fault. The rivalry between their characters was the dramatic heart of the show even if was mishandled at times. The problem is that a lot of the theater folks in the viewing audience developed a "thing" about McPhee where she couldn't do anything right and Hilty couldn't do anything wrong and those feelings carried over to the show itself. Every little thing that happened was torn apart by these people.
- There were so many Jekyll and Hyde character shifts in S2 that it was disquieting. A primary example was Tom going from good guy to self-serving jackass to good guy again. You got the feeling that the producers and the writers were just throwing stuff against the wall to see what would stick.
There are so many more reasons for the show's failure but like most of you, I will miss it. I went to my first Broadway show when I was 10 or 11 years old and have been hopelessly hooked ever since. I welcomed a show about the business, even one as flawed as Smash and will mourn its final curtain coming down. Maybe it was doomed from the start. It could never settle on what its target audience was and perhaps, given its core foundation, that was too heavy a lift. I still applaud Steven Spielberg, Theresa Rebeck and all of the Broadway people involved for having the courage and imagination to launch Smash. I have every episode saved and will pull one up, smile, sigh, roll my eyes or whatever but I won't be erasing the series anytime soon.