Broadway, Bound

Smash looks and sounds good. It just doesn't quite feel real

Mark Seliger / NBC

Blonde Ambition. McPhee, far left, and Hilty square off to be the next Norma Jean.

Right up front, NBC's Smash gives you a reason to feel good about yourself for watching. Broadway lyricist Julia (Debra Messing) bemoans the current crop of musicals to her songwriting partner Tom (Christian Borle): "Revivals and movies--why doesn't anyone do new musicals anymore?" she asks. Smash is the TV musical about the making of just such a show: the life story of Marilyn Monroe. And there you are, watching it! You get it! You're not part of the problem!

Julia's complaint reads as a kind of manifesto for Smash (NBC, Mondays, 10 p.m. E.T.). American Idol, NBC's The Voice and, of...

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