THE DVD SHELF: Hugh Jackman in Oklahoma!, Season One of "Smash," Mel Brooks, Hitchcock

By Steven Suskin
13 Jan 2013

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Broadway fans have had a mixed response to the DreamWorks series Smash [Universal]. On the one hand, it is wonderful to have a full-scale, mass market series about the creation of a real, contemporary Broadway musical! On the other hand, it is not an altogether realistic view of a real musical. On the third hand, it is stocked with Broadway performers (and creators, for that matter). On the fourth hand — well, you could go on and on. The salient point is that it exists, it is entering its second season (beginning Feb. 5), and fans and non-fans seem to keep watching it and talking about it. ('s Kenneth Jones charted the first season in a series of columns called The Smash Report. Here's the column about the Season One finale.) 

If you have been living off in an igloo without cable or Internet, you might not know that "Smash" is about the making of Bombshell, a fictional musical (with songs by the non- fictional Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman) about Marilyn Monroe. They go through a New York workshop and a Boston tryout, and have an altogether bumpy time of it. (While "Smash" has nothing to do with Funny Girl, the series is officially based on Garson Kanin's 1980 novel of the same title — which some see as a fictionalized version of the tryout of the Streisand musical, from which director Kanin was unceremoniously bounced and replaced by Jerome Robbins.)

In this case, the executive producers — including Steven Spielberg, Craig Zadan/Neil Meron, and Shaiman/ Wittman — and creator/head writer Theresa Rebeck give us Anjelica Huston as the producer, Debra Messing and Christian Borle as the songwriters, Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee as dueling Marilyns, and more. Also on hand in recurring roles are Broadway habitues Brian d'Arcy-James, Will Chase, Dylan Baker, Becky Ann Baker and Michael Cristofer. Guest stars include Uma Thurman, Bernadette Peters and Norbert Leo Butz. All this, plus those canny Broadway-style musical numbers from the authors of Hairspray.

The four-disc set includes all 15 episodes from Season One plus deleted scenes, extended versions of musical numbers, a gag reel and the featurette "Song and Dance," with Shaiman, Wittman and choreographer Joshua Bergasse.

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