Chances are if you spoke to me between May 2011 and February 2012, then at some point I told you to watch NBC's "Smash."
The pilot episode, which I watched about 3,000 times (or seven), was phenomenal. How has the rest of Season 1 been so far? Not so phenomenal. That's not to say it has been downright terrible -- there have been some highly entertaining moments -- but it certainly hasn't been goosebumps-inducing, like the final moments of Episode 1, set to "Let Me Be Your Star."
Now that the show has been renewed for a second season and series creator/showrunner Theresa Rebeck is stepping down, this is the perfect time to reinvigorate the show to win back viewers ... including me.
Ditch the kid. Yes, I'm talking about Leo. Ask any TV critic what the number one problem with "Smash" is and 9 out of 10 of them will probably say "Leo!" Enough with Julia's (Debra Messing) home life. Please. Is she even adopting a baby with her husband anymore? Wait! Don't answer that. I don't care. Nobody does. Let that story fade away so viewers can fade in on a girl with a hunger for fame.
"Smash" was sold as the behind-the-scenes story of the creation of a Broadway musical. I understand that personal drama is a necessary thing for a TV show -- in fact, I welcome it -- but by shoving so much down our throats, it has turned off viewers. Less Iowa trips, more rivalry between Ivy (Megan Hilty) and Karen (Katharine McPhee)!
Another way to improve the show: Get rid of Ellis. Every show needs a villain, but Ellis is really the worst. I'm glad Ivy was not made into a villainous diva. She's a diva, but not that much of a villain, although she has her moments. I'm not entirely sure what happens in the remaining 8 episodes of the season, but Ellis needs more than a little threat from Eileen. Fire him and make it stick. Arrest him. I don't know, just something. Every thing Ellis does is so telegraphed, there's no shock or surprise, and that isn't just a problem with the character, it's "Smash" overall. Example: Tom gets a hot lawyer boyfriend. Lawyer boyfriend likes Tom. Tom likes him ... sort of. Tom meets "straight" chorus boy Sam. Tom dislikes "straight" chorus boy Sam. "Straight" chorus boy Sam doesn't like Tom. Tom realizes "straight" chorus boy Sam is gay. Hm, what happens next? I'll give you one guess.
It's a 10 p.m. drama, treat your viewers with some respect. You were supposed to be too good for cliche TV tropes.
Then we have the music ... the music I love so much. There was a time I was listening to "Let Me Be Your Star" at least three times a day. That's a good thing! But I want to also listen to Katharine McPhee's great covers of songs like "Shake It Out" and "Brighter Than the Sun" and I can't. The production needs to sort out whatever is preventing these songs from landing on iTunes. Maybe it's a rights issue and if there aren't any rights issues, what gives?
Of course, I will be finishing "Smash" Season 1 because of my strange sense of TV loyalty, but Season 2, you are on notice. I'm ready to let you be my star all over again. Don't let me down.
Follow Chris Harnick on Twitter: www.twitter.com/chrisharnick