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Oh, Yeah, "Smash"

By Rich Heldenfels Published: February 5, 2013

The drama with music returns to NBC tonight, continuing its Broadway saga after many changes to the cast and in the production team. Much has been written about the first season, including this epic Kate Aurthur article.

I didn't hate the first season as much as Kate does, but was often mixed about the awkward storytelling (how did Ellis last so long? why the hicks-in-sticks approach to Karen's background? enough of Julia's marital woes!) and staging; the forcing of pop tunes onto the soundtrack, and the inflation of Karen in singing terms almost as much as Glee oversells Rachel. At the same time, there was Megan Hilty, who was consistently good, as were some of the songs from "Bombshell." So I kept tuning in, and waiting for it to get better.

Instead, it has been changed for the second season, notably by the addition of Jennifer Hudson, but I can't say it's better. It's more ... meh. The extreme lows may be gone, but so are the extreme highs; sure, Hudson can sing, but that just underscores Katharine McPhee's limitations. Not bad, mind you. Just not on the Hudson level. And, on the character side, Hilty not only had a more interesting person to play, but she played it better.

So the big reason I have been putting off writing about "Smash," aside from a brief note in Sunday's paper, is that I am not excited about it. The pilot was fabulous enough to keep me around for a full season. (Of course, Glee also had a great pilot, and look at what it has become.) I'll give this one a few weeks.

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