NBC’s ‘Smash’ Is Absolutely Nothing Like ‘Glee’

Becky Bain | June 10, 2011 5:38 pm

For a show that will no doubt be referred to as a wannabe Glee, we see absolutely nothing Glee-like about the new NBC musical dramedy Smash, starring American Idol Season 5 runner-up Katherine McPhee. Jump below to watch a preview and see for yourself.

The show, which will air Mondays on NBC in the 10 p.m. time slot, tells the story of the making of a fictional stage show called Marilyn: The Musical, about the life of Marilyn Monroe. It stars Debra Messing, Angelica Houston, Broadway actress Megan Hilty and Idol‘s Katherine McPhee. Mark Shaiman and Scott Wittman, the Tony and Grammy Award-winning songwriters of Hairspray and Catch Me If You Can, compose the show’s original tunes.

Sure, both Glee and Smash have zippy one-word names, fantasy sequences with backing bands who aren’t actually there, and feature Top 40 tunes like Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” and classics like “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. (Why, that’s the same song Ms. McPhee nailed during her stint on Idol!) And much like Glee, EW Music Mix reports that NBC has inked a deal with Colombia to release a soundtrack for the show. (McPhee has also signed a record deal with the label to release a solo album.)

The similarities are there. But from this promising five minute preview alone, we feel like Smash‘s cast of characters and their stories are much more reality-based than anything we’ve seen on Glee in either of its two seasons. There appears to be an actual plot in place, not the inconsistent storylines and romantic switcheroos that are sandwiched between musical numbers on the Fox show. Also, perhaps it’s too early to know for sure, but the possibility of Smash rolling out a Britney Spears-themed episode seems extremely unlikely.

It’s obvious that NBC wants to cash in on the public’s overwhelming love for musical-based TV shows — hey, they finally got around to developing their own version of American Idol with The Voice! And you can call that competition show a desperate attempt of reproducing Idol‘s success all you want, but it’s an instant hit, as viewers are watching in droves. And just because you’re following trends doesn’t mean your new product won’t be an improvement upon the original idea you’re lifting from.

What are your initial thoughts of Smash? And are we being too critical of the joyful cheesiness that is Glee?