Archive for Monday, February 6, 2012

NBC puts on a really big show

February 6, 2012

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There’s nothing particularly wrong with “Smash” (9 p.m., NBC), except that nothing about it feels quite right.

Somebody convinced himself that viewers who love “American Idol” and “Glee” would flock to “Smash.” So why do I have the feeling the makers of “Smash” have never really watched “Idol” or “Glee”? If they had, they’d know that “Idol” competitors who come on “too Broadway” or “cabaret” always get a respectful pat on the head but rarely advance. “Idol” is about finding the next Beyonce, not the next Kristin Chenoweth. And “Glee” is an absurdist comedy far more likely to celebrate the music of Lady Gaga than Stephen Sondheim.

‘‘Smash” takes its Broadway seriously — reverently, even. And that’s odd at a time when even Broadway audiences don’t worship in that pew any longer. The biggest original musicals of the past decade — “The Producers” and “The Book of Mormon” — were written by parodists Mel Brooks, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They aren’t so much musicals as brilliant spoofs of the idea of musicals. “Smash” doesn’t seem to get that. As a result, the musical numbers seem both antique and devoid of knowing irony.

The show stars “Idol” runner-up Katharine McPhee as Karen, a waitress and aspiring singer up for the part in a stage musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Too bad her competition, Ivy (Megan Hilty), seems like a natural for the part.

Sadly, “Smash” is a backstage melodrama that sorely lacks drama, with a capital “D.” What “Smash” really lacks is a good villain — or, more to the point, a villainess.

‘‘Smash” just isn’t good enough to be great. And it’s not bad enough to be fun.

Tonight’s other highlights

• Auditions continue on “The Voice” (7 p.m., NBC).

• A medical mishap puts House under the microscope on “House” (7 p.m., Fox).

• A guard returns and confronts some old acquaintances on “Alcatraz” (8 p.m., Fox).

• The investigation into a teen’s suicide offers grim revelations in the 2012 message movie “Sexting in Suburbia” (9 p.m., Lifetime).

• Danno’s in the crosshairs on “Hawaii Five-O” (9 p.m., CBS).

• A cave yields clues dating to 1947 on “Castle” (9 p.m., ABC).

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