Thursday, March 21, 2013

Morons of the Month - March 2013

No, the March 2013 Morons are not the cast of NBC's "Smash."  I have not against them and, given a good agent, they all will probably work again. 

The idiots this month are the folks at NBC who made all the changes to this show for its second season and have effectively created a bomb of Enola Gay proportions.  But, then again, it is NBC.  With the least watched prime time schedule.  With the worst news division in television.  And, oh, yeah, with folks like Matt Lauer and Al Roker on the company payroll.  You will note that the latter two are former monthly Morons on this site.

Of course, to say a show is dying on NBC is akin to saying that Japan was stupid for bombing Pearl Harbor in 1941.  Note the continual references here to explosions and mass devastation.  Because NBC, in about ten years, has turned into the ultimate bottom feeder of primetime entertainment.  They play their shows on American Airline flights.  I have not seen as many people napping at 35,00o feet in my two decades of cross country flying.  The Nielsen ratings for their shows need to viewed with a magnifying glass and there are more people going to Mets games in April than watching NBC.  P.S., there's really nobody going to Mets games in April.

As a result over the past several years, I have watched virtually nothing on NBC.  From morning to night, I don't even know where Channel 4 is on my television program guide.  But, last season, they scheduled a show that had some interest and buzz for me.  "Smash" had a lot of money behind it, was going to be all about the Broadway musical world, and would be shot completely in New York.  I was an early buyer.  Finally, I thought, a television program with a unique setting.  At last, nothing with either "Law and Order" or "CSI" attached to the title.

And, while it was slow to start, "Smash" did draw me with its first season plotline that revolved around the early stages of "Bombshell," a fictional Broadway musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe.  Some of the original production numbers you saw in development were great.  The cast was congenial enough.  You did get wrapped up with the creative road blocks for the musical's creative crew played by Jack Davenport, Debra Messing, and Christian Borle.  Plus there was the big battle to see who was going to be finally cast as Marilyn with Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty as the combatants.  And, of course, any TV series that has the smarts to cast Angelica Huston is a winner in my book. 

Yes, "Smash" had its issues, but it held my interest.  Something a show on NBC hadn't done since "Frasier."  I was obviously not alone as the network did, almost reluctantly, renew it for a second season.  And, as the boneheads who run the place almost always do, they opted not to premiere it until February 2013.  Almost nine months after its first season finale.  In our society of non-memory retention, most people forgot about "Smash."  As if NBC had anything better to put on in the ensuing months.

Meanwhile, the suits in charge couldn't leave mediocre enough alone.  They wanted changes in the show.  A bunch of extraneous supporting characters were sent to the boneyard.  No problem there.  The show's creator, Teresa Rebeck, was shuttled back to regional theater.  Okay, never a good thing in television.  And they wanted more plotlines, not less.  The focus on just one potential Broadway musical was not enough.  They wanted more. 

And "Smash" became "Smush."  A line many of you could have predicted at the outset of this blog entry.

Along with the creatively challenged "Bombshell," we're now asked to follow three other Broadway shows in the making.  A musical version of "Dangerous Liaisons" with Sean Hayes cast as a tempermental gay actor who is grossly overrated and generally disliked.  Can somebody say Nathan Lane?  Meanwhile, there is a one-woman show anchored by a young diva loosely based on Jennifer Hudson and, wait for it, she is played by Jennifer Hudson.  This gives producers the opportunity to bring her in periodically to blow out the sound board and our eardrums.  And to wake up the other viewers.

But, hold on, there's more.  Katharine McPhee stumbles onto two restaurant busboys who, wait for it, just happen to be developing a Broadway musical.  Aren't they all?  Sadly, the answer is yes.  Their show is supposed to be the next "Rent."  Or pay their next rent.  I'm not sure.  Meanwhile, one of the guys is played by Jeremy Jordan, who wowed everybody but yours truly in the criminally well-reviewed "Newsies."  We know his character has an edge because he scowls a lot and takes a little cocaine.  A graduate of the "Sal Mineo School of Acting."  We know he and McPhee are destined to work together and, by season's end, sleep together.  A series of "meet cute" moments that have most of us reaching for the Pepcid AC.

Back at "Bombshell," Marilyn Monroe is still dead and so are the changes of this reaching Broadway.  But they keep on trying even though the show's creative crew and the "Smash" audience have long since stopped caring.  If Marilyn had lived to see this, she would have been dead anyway. 

Except for the characters played by Huston and Messing, everyone else has been sabotaged or altered in some way that makes them unrecognizable to what they were in the first season.  The plotline meanders from one Broadway rehearsal studio to another without even letting us stop in Times Square for a Starbucks.  And whenever the script involves us with the "Rent"-like musical, the original songs we hear are so bad that we want to turn the channel and see if that couple on "House Hunters" has decided which Akron, Ohio home they want to buy.

Understandably, the "Smash" viewers have dwindled to single digits.  The second season audience level is less than the invite list to your cousin Jake's bar mitzvah.  And the lunkheads at NBC now commence the death march by shuttling the show in April to a Saturday night time slot.  Does anybody even watch prime time television on a Saturday night?

In the meanwhile, another promising TV show has been ripped apart and mercilessly destroyed because too many cooks got into the kitchen.  And when that culinary school is taught by NBC, you know the entree just has to be bad.  After all, this is a television network that thinks Rachel Maddow is a journalist.

Sorry, "Smash," you probably would have had a better shot if you had aired on the Tennis Channel.

Dinner last night:  Roast beef and Thai noodles.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Smash" did not hook me even with Huston, who's not exactly a Broadway veteran. If anybody has a Hollywood movie pedigree, it's her.

The show really doesn't ring true to its New York location. It pales next to "Rescue Me" or "Nurse Jackie" in delivering the city's grit and edge.

And who cares about these characters? Not me and, obviously, no one else. Are viewers invested in the problems of actors, dancers, and producers? Skilled writing might have saved the show.

And a musical about Monroe? Yawn.

I wasn't planning to dip into the second season on DVD. Your review confirms my decision.