Yea, though NBC walks through the valley of the shadow of death, all hope is not lost. “Smash,” the network’s easily engaging new Monday night drama about the making of a Broadway musical, turns out to be quite the little sunbeam. It has some endearing characters, an instinct for backstage meows and a firm grip on its own sense of camp control, which, if nothing else, sets it apart from Ryan Murphy’s now fully atrocious “Glee.”
Will “Smash” pull NBC back from its inexorable slide? Who knows; who cares. In another time and place, “Smash” would have the assured vibe of a hit. But in this time and this place (this too-smarmy, post-“Rent” place, where everyone thinks way too much about becoming a singing star), “Smash” too often swoons from an incurable disease known as the theater bug.
Which makes sense, because this is a show made by and for people with a lifelong case of Broadway’s restless leg syndrome. Breaking out into song and dance (with full accompaniment) is just a matter of course here, and whether you think that’s wonderful or not depends entirely on your predisposition for spotlights. “Smash” won’t convert anyone to the lifestyle, but it will intrigue those who are already deep in it. Let this be your litmus test: I’ll put on a torn leotard and shout “Five, six, seven, eight!” and if you’re still here by “eight,” then “Smash” might be just the thing.