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Picks and Pans Main: TV

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NBC, Feb. 6, 10 p.m. ET/PT |


NBC’s new backstage drama about the creation of a Broadway musical doesn’t reinvent the genre-the phrase “Let’s put on a show!” has been found chiseled on tablets in the ruins of Macedonia-but the story is put across with such bright, bustling conviction that you’re won over. Smash is American Idol, Glee and Disney’s High School Musical-shows that tap into the old-school charm and energy of song-and-dance-all grown up. Debra Messing (Will & Grace) and Christian Borle, collaborators on the score of a hit Broadway show called Heaven on Earth, start noodling around with the notion of a musical about Marilyn Monroe. Songs are rapidly composed and choreographed, while the talent hunt for the lead narrows down to two actresses: Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty), a chorus girl who embodies Monroe in all her boop-boop-de-doo lusciousness, and the less-experienced Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee, Idol runner-up from 2006), who embodies the star’s warm vulnerability. The performances are all fresh and unmannered, steering clear of over-the-top Broadway caricature. NBC hasn’t had a show this impressive since the first season of Heroes. Smash deserves to be a singular sensation.

The Revolution

ABC, weekdays, 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT |


The title suggests a talk show for Che Guevara, but the topic is personal transformation-diet, exercise and so on—overseen by a team including Extreme Makeover: Home Edition host Ty Pennington and Project Runway alumnus Tim Gunn. There’s also a trainer, an OB-GYN and a therapist. But why not an economist, a masseur and a psychic? The intention is worthy, and I always enjoy Gunn’s pealing enthusiasm, but this feels like an assembly line for the soul.