On The Mysteries of Laura (NBC, sneak preview 11/10C, then Wednesdays 8/7C) following America’s Got Talent), which wants to be both a procedural drama and a wacky domestic sitcom, Laura is a crackerjack homicide detective, a crack shot and a bit of a Type A personality.
She’s a female Sherlock Holmes insofar as solving crimes but hopelessly struggling to cope with her hyperactive, anarchy-causing twin boys. Between trying to solve homicides, dealing with the kids, and trying to persuade her ex to sign divorce papers Laura is a wreck.
Smash [NBC, Mondays, 10/9C] is a risky oddball of a series that was developed for cable before winding up on NBC. The story of the mounting of a Broadway play, Marilyn: The Musical, it is a big budget swing for the fences that knocks it out of the park.
It is extremely refreshing to see a series where a courtroom, a hospital, or a crime scene are nowhere in sight. Networks don’t often take chances on a series without one of those popular and successful staples as its foundation. And let’s also get another thing straight – with the exception of the inclusion of songs and musical numbers, there is simply no comparison between Smash and Glee, the first being a serious drama and the latter a comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The good thing about Glee is that its success helped open the door to other shows interested in including music in its formats.
Smash takes us behind the scenes into the world of Broadway giving us views through the eyes of the struggling artist looking for that one break to fulfill their dreams; the creative team looking for inspiration in developing the next big thing along with its music and dance numbers; and the people who can write the checks to pay for it all. The characters involved through each of these views are interesting and engaging, and the talented cast does an excellent job bringing them to life. The musical numbers are richly produced and give a true sense of a Broadway stage while giving us an often-painful peek behind the curtain. But the thing that will keep viewers interested will be the personal dramas associated with all the characters. Based on the Pilot episode alone, Smash appears to be hitting all the right notes.
In less than three weeks, NBC’s series about putting on a show, Smash, will premiere. To whet your metaphoric whistle, here are some behind the scenes videos – including one of executive producer Steven Spielberg talking about why the show fascinates him and will fascinate you, as well.
More videos follow the jump – including interviews with series regulars Jack Davenport, Anjelica Huston, Debra Messing, Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee.
Last year’s mini-series The Starter Wife chronicled the events that led to Molly Kagan’s [Debra Messing] new, less wonderful life after her Hollywood producer husband, Kenny Kagan [David Allen Basche] told her he wanted a divorce. The mini-series did so well that USA decided to bring it back as an ongoing series [Fridays, 9/8C].
The series two-hour premiere finds Molly trying to get motivated as a writer, so she decides to take a writing class being given by bestselling author, Zach McNeill [Hart Bochner]. When she reads from her first children’s book, the class is quietly dismissive – though she does return for a second class where she reads from her journal – to very positive response. Positive enough that Zach invites her to a party where he can get her together with a magazine editor who is looking for a columnist with her skills. Not only does the party go badly for Molly, someone steals her journal and leaks bits of it to an influential gossip website.
Meanwhile, Molly’s friends, Rodney [Chris Diamantopoulos] and Joan McAllister [Judy Davis] have interesting problems of their own. Rodney’ interior decorating business is flourishing while his social life is a disaster. Joan is finding her sobriety difficult to maintain and when she takes a job at a posh rehab facility, her first assignment is watch over a faded movie star who is very creative in his approach to getting drunk.
Like most of USA’s “Characters Welcome” programs, The Starter Wife features a mystery – who stole Molly’s diary. Unlike the rest of USA’s shows, though, it goes more for the odd balance of soap opera storylines and dark humor –both of which Messing and Davis, in particular, can play adroitly. Those moments of pure soap melodrama are folded into a mix that gives the entire cast moments to shine but the success of the series rests squarely on the shoulders of Messing, who does indeed get all the best material [in her dreams she translates her many crises into versions of hit movies – Elizabeth and Mission: Impossible are among the films referenced in the premiere].
While the dark humor and melodrama work relatively well here, The Starter Wife does have a tendency to get a bit too frothy from time to time. If it keeps that tendency under control, the series should be able to hold an audience geared to the kind eccentric characters at which USA programs excel. If not, the show will be hard pressed to survive.