The new series Smash, which airs starting next week but the first episode of which is available free via Amazon video now, is about the making of a Broadway musical. Now, there’s a lot of good stories to be told about making a Broadway musical, about the conception, financing, casting, and production…. but that all is a long process, and this being TV, they went to tell all of those stories at once. There are some rather silly plot convolutions done in order to be in the midst of everything which would normally flow in a logical order, with each step dependent on the prior. That’s the flaw here.
But what’s not flawed is the production of the TV show. They clearly threw a lot of money at this thing; just as an example, the musical they’re making is about Marilyn Monroe, so obviously they had to buy rights to the life story, as well as rights to part of various Marilyn movies they’re using as reference. The actors are good, and while the more recognizable names are taken from the big screen (Anjelica Huston) or small (Debra Messing), most of the cast is filled out with people better known on Broadway than in the rest of the country, and all do a good job. It takes itself seriously, the original musical numbers are reasonably well done (and to be clear, none of the music is about turning the world into a musical, it’s all things that would be performed in context, as songs are written and rehearsed for the musical… which means that if they add two new songs per episode, after a few seasons they’ll have a musical with hundreds of songs!)
So the question is whether the quality of the production will manage to overcome the artifice of its core, and make it interesting no matter how inaccurate. I cannot tell after the first one, but I shall watch more.