The Spielberg produced, Garson Kanin inspired, Broadway Soap – SMASH – will not see a third season. Spielberg wasn’t the only name producer behind the series. Craig Zadon and Neil Meron put their reputations behind it. The cast’s pedigree was equally strong. Megan Hilty, Christan Borle and Anjelica Huston were standouts. Debra Messing brought a television pedigree. Pedigree, however, was not enough to save it.
The cancellation of The New Normal was announced last week. No surprise to devotees of the Ryan Murphy produced series. Justin Bartha brought Hangover fans into the audience. Andrew Rannells, hot off Book of Mormon, should have captured hearts. Ellen Barkin, who barked through the role of Nana, and NeNe Leakes, a reality television star, should have counted for something. Yet they were not enough to find a significant audience on Tuesday nights.
Both shows were shown on NBC in the US. Perhaps distribution killed them both? The network moved the shows around regularly. They were hard to find. An audience can’t build, if the program can’t be found. The New Normal did not benefit from following Matthew Perry’s new sitcom.
One significant difference between SMASH and The New Normal was consistent vision. SMASH was all over the place. Broadway audiences are preRENT or postRENT, and despite the efforts of Glee, never the twain shall meet. Season 1 of SMASH was about producing a show in the preRENT style. Season 2, in hopes for capturing a younger audience, a postRENT production was added. Neither audience was enticed.
There is an adage – You are only as good as your last show. Both these shows were good. And they didn’t last.