Don’t get me wrong here -- when it cames to "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men" and "Homeland," I tried to tune in as soon as possible to avoid spoilers, but the idea of watching the shows as they initially aired never mattered to me in a way that "Smash" did, thanks to Twitter. An episode of "Breaking Bad" demands attention, both visual and audible, so I turn off all other media during the show, leaving the conversation for after. But NBC's "Smash," which kicked off in February as a barely passable mid-season replacement about the makings of a Marilyn Monroe musical, demanded mocking as each questionable song appeared and each character made another infuriating decision. I was less watching the show for what was happening on screen than for how my friends were poking fun of it.
As I like to see it, "Smash" could go one of two ways. The first would be to double down on its camp and trashy drama. The presence of Safran suggests that could be a route -- "Gossip Girl" was built as a teenage soap opera, with a new twist every 10 minutes. Those plot developments were less important in quality than quantity; the show essentially ran on not having any sense of normalcy, constantly forcing its audience to react to the fact to the sheer amount happening in a single episode. This could be one solution to the way "Smash" has struggled to blend its musical bits together with its melodrama. The moments "Smash" has sadly been remembered for are the silliest, such as Karen's (Katharine McPhee) response to Dev's (Raza Jaffrey) awkward and nonsensical proposal: “I’m in tech!"
Safran and company do have another option -- they could try to make a good show. "Smash" was never terrible. Songs like “Let Me Be Your Star,” “20th Century Fox Mambo" and “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love To Howl” were catchy songs I found myself humming on my way to the office. And when the show dove into some of the various actual backstage processes of making a musical, it could feel authentic and perhaps even insightful. Even with its hollow characterizations, "Smash" has plenty of the potential to be a great show. Certainly the dismissal of the awkwardly devious Ellis (Jaime Cepero), Karen’s now former boyfriend Dev and Julia’s robo-husband Frank (Brian d'Arcy James) signal that Safran wants to approach the show with a clean slate.
If the revised drama is simply mediocre and has none of the first season's irresistable risibilities, the show will commit an even worse sin: it'll be boring. And if that's the cast, "Smash" needs to stay "Smash": a collection of sometimes fun and enjoyable songs peppered with questionable melodrama and all too silly written lines, perfectly designed for open provocation on Twitter. I don’t see "Smash" as a literal hate-watch; I wouldn’t watch the show if I actively hated the experience. It's a fun, ridiculous hour break. For it to change that too much would be a shame -- "Smash" might not have the audience it wants, but why abandon those already on board?