What are the ingredients of a hit television show? Well, there's the expectation of a shining cast of celebrity gems. Then there should be a story that people can dive into: crime dramas, hospital romances and far-off places.
But what you really need is good writing. Many programs have lost their momentum over the years by straying away from the heart of the storyline. If the quality of writing in NBC's pilot of "Smash" is any indication of its future success, it might very well be a hit.
"Smash" revolves around the development of a new (fictitious) Broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Viewers are able to enter the world of actors, producers, writers and directors like never before. Famed writers Julia Houston (Debra Messing) and Tom Levitt (Christian Borle) lead the conceptualization of the musical.
The real story is the casting of Marilyn herself. Ivy Lynn, played by Broadway veteran Megan Hilty, is a chorus girl who's well connected in the theatrical network. She records the original demo songs for Julia and Tom and is seemingly the perfect image of Marilyn.
But there is also Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee), an inexperienced waitress with a powerhouse voice. She blows the production team away and stands out by not trying to be Marilyn in her audition. Based on what is to come this season, the choice between the two women becomes a fierce competition and accurately portrays the cutthroat nature of the business.
Anyone who expects "Smash" to be an adult version of "Glee" is in for a surprise. Rather than covering popular songs, this musical drama churns out original pieces written for the Marilyn musical. There are, however, some familiar tunes here and there. The original musical numbers glide in seamlessly and don't feel forced.
Creator and writer Theresa Rebeck creates a fast-paced, smart and exhilarating world of Broadway that leaves you wanting more. It feeds into our individual passions and the desire to see dreams come true. Whether you're a thespian or someone who just enjoys a good musical, you will be hooked. "Smash" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on NBC.