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DVD Reviews

Smash: Season One Review

TV Reviews

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#1 of 4 Kevin EK

Kevin EK

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Posted January 27 2013 - 01:25 PM

Smash: Season One  has made its debut on DVD ahead of the premiere of its 2nd season on February 5th.  The new series follows the creation of a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe, taking it from the point of view of the people creating it on both sides of the curtain.  The Season One set comes with all 15 episodes of the first year, along with a brace of deleted scenes, a short gag reel and a few featurettes on the fourth disc.






SMASH  

SEASON ONE


Studio: Universal Television for NBC

Original Airing Year:  2012

Length:  10 hrs 49 mins total (15 eps)

Genre:  Soap Opera/Musical/Broadway


Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic

Audio:  English 5.1 Dolby Digital (@384 kbps)

Subtitles:   English SDH


Film Rating:  Unrated (TV-safe language, Innuendo, Suggestive Situations)


Release Date: January 8, 2012


Starring:  Debra Messing, Jack Davenport, Katharine McPhee, Christian Borle, Megan Hilty, Brian d’Arcy James and Anjelica Huston, with appearances by Uma Thurman, Bernadette Peters and Nick Jonas


Created by:  Theresa Rebeck

From a Concept by:  Steven Spielberg and Robert Greenblatt

Written and Directed by:  Various


Rating:  3 

One should always be wary of new television series that blast the slogan “From Executive Producer Steven Spielberg!” since this would lead to believing that half of television today somehow came from the one producer/director.  However, with Smash, there is actually a germ of truth to the idea.  Smash is a series that chronicles the creation of a new Broadway musical, including all the soap opera involved in the casting, writing, rehearsing and eventual opening night.  And as a person who spent years in smaller scale theater work, I can attest that there is PLENTY of soap opera material here to be mined.  The current series stars Debra Messing as one of the writers of “Bombshell”, a new musical about Marilyn Monroe, Jack Davenport as its director and Katharine McPhee as the young actress who longs to play the lead.  Debra Messing’s character is based at least in part on Theresa Rebeck, the playwright who created the series and spearheaded its first season.  As Season Two begins next week, we should keep in mind that Rebeck is no longer involved with the series, which either means a note of caution for those who really enjoyed the first season, or a note of encouragement for those who felt that the show lost its focus after the initial episode.  But let’s get back to the first sentences of this paragraph – how is Steven Spielberg involved with this show?  The answer is that he isn’t.  At least not directly.  What he did, along with executive Robert Greenblatt, is suggest that a TV series could be made about the creation of a new musical, and that if the musical created for the show was any good, it could actually be sent to Broadway.  This is an interesting idea, if an ambitious one, and it languished in “development” for years.  (That’s code for “nobody could figure out how to pull the idea off in a reasonable way.)  When Greenblatt became the chair of NBC, he championed the idea of actually doing this as an NBC series, which led to the hiring of Rebeck and the creation of the series you see before you on disc.  Does the series completely work?  That’s a question for the fans.  I can say that it’s handsomely produced and it’s certainly a fun idea.


Just in time for the show’s 2nd season premiere next week, fans are being offered this 4-disc season set.  Included here are all 15 episodes of the first season.  Most of the episodes have a few minutes of deleted scenes thrown on the discs for good measure.  The fourth disc includes a very short gag reel and a pair of featurettes.  The packaging includes an episode and disc guide built into the inner sides of the disc package itself.



VIDEO QUALITY 3/5

Smash: Season One is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer that carries forth the luxurious feel of the series’ broadcast look.  It’s an over-the-top affair at times, which is completely appropriate for a series about a Broadway musical, and it’s exactly what was intended.  And there’s always the contrast between the big show numbers and the mundane reality of the scenes around them, but you have to expect such a thing in this kind of series.




AUDIO QUALITY 3/5

Smash: Season One is presented in an English Digital 5.1 Dolby Digital Mix which mostly lives in the front channels but which makes use of the surrounds for the big musical numbers, in exactly the manner you would expect..




As I have done with earlier TV season sets, I’ll break down the ingredients on a disc by disc basis:



DISC 1:


Pilot – The new series begins with an episode that introduces all the main characters and establishes the notion of the new “Bombshell” musical.  Several deleted scenes (3:18) are available for separate viewing.


The Callback – A deleted scene (0:53), is available as well.


Enter Mr. Dimaggio – Several deleted scenes (3:39) are available for viewing.


The Cost of Art – One deleted scene (1:11) is included on the disc with the episode.


The first disc also contains several previews for other Universal television series on DVD including Suits and Parenthood, as well as a preview of the second season of Smash.




DISC 2:


Let’s Be Bad – Several deleted scenes (2:35) are included here for viewing. 


Chemistry


The Workshop – Several deleted scenes (4:08) are included here for viewing.


The Coup –  A deleted scene (1:40) is included for viewing.




DISC 3:


Hell on Earth – Several deleted scenes (4:02) are included for viewing.


Understudy – A deleted scene (0:45) is included for viewing.


The Movie Star – A deleted scene (0:35) is included for viewing.


Publicity – Several deleted scenes (4:05) are included for viewing.




 DISC 4:


Tech – A deleted scene (0:57) is included for viewing.


Previews – Several deleted scenes (4:09) are included for viewing.


Bombshell – The first season finale is presented here.   A deleted scene (1:45) is also included for viewing.


The fourth disc also includes the following special features:


Gag Reel (1:51, Anamorphic) – This is a very short gag reel that primarily just shows the cast flubbing their lines and breaking up.


A Dream Come True (7:44, Anamorphic) – This featurette quickly covers the creation of the new series and features the usual clips from the show mixed with on-set video and interviews with the cast and creative team.


Song and Dance (7:12, Anamorphic) – This featurette gets more into the musical aspect of the series where, like Glee, extensive rehearsal time is required for the singing and choreography.



Subtitles are available in English for the episodes.   Each episode can be viewed separately or via a “Play All” function.  The episodes have internal chapters but there is no menu for them.  Also, the deleted scenes can be viewed on their own per episode or via a “Play All” function as well.


The packaging includes a guide with summaries of every episode and pertinent information on the inside of the packaging sleeve.


Digital and Ultraviolet Copies – Instructions are included in the packaging for downloading a digital copy of the movie to your laptop or portable device, as well as for obtaining an Ultraviolet streaming copy to be placed up in the cloud.  No deadline for activation is indicated on the insert.




IN THE END...


Smash: Season One makes an interesting debut on DVD with this collection of its first season.  The series premise is promising, and between the look of the show and the engaging cast, they’ve got a lot of potential here.  There is of course, the matter of having lost the show’s creator and showrunner, Theresa Rebeck, as things continue into the second season. Whether this has a negative impact will be up to the show’s fans to decide.  In the meantime, they have this set by which to remember the initial year.


Kevin Koster

January 27, 2013



Equipment now in use in this Home Theater:


Panasonic 65” VT30 Plasma 3D HDTV – set at “ISF- NIGHT” picture mode

            HDTV Calibrated in June 2012 by Avical

Denon AVR-3311Cl Receiver

Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray Player

PS3 Player (used for calculation of bitrates for picture and sound)

5 Mirage Speakers (Front Left/Center/Right, Surround Back Left/Right)

2 Sony Speakers (Surround Left/Right – middle of room)

Martin Logan Dynamo 700 Subwoofer





#2 of 4 Steve Tannehill

Steve Tannehill

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Posted January 27 2013 - 01:50 PM

I enjoyed the show as broadcast, and liked the first hour of the second season, which is a free download from iTunes. But I don't buy DVD's. I buy blu-rays. So this set is a pass.

#3 of 4 Matt Hough

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Posted January 27 2013 - 02:22 PM

I felt the show dabbled in more and more outrageous melodrama the longer the season ran, so that by the end, I didn't like any of the characters and found their decision-making skills beyond juvenile. The only reason I'll be watching the two-hour season premiere is to see if the new showrunner can bring the show back from its ludicrously outrageous storylines and overripe performances. Thanks for the review, Kevin. I honestly did not know that Messing's character was based in part on the original creator/showrunner.

#4 of 4 philip*eric

philip*eric

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Posted January 27 2013 - 05:45 PM

Why wasnt SMASH released on Blu-ray when it seemed made for that format?? I loved the first season of the show, warts and all -- and I'm sorry to hear the creator isn't returning , as are a number of her characters including the great but underutilized Brian D'arcy James as Messing's hubby . Here's hoping that the new season will be a success.





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