Channel hop

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 March, 2012, 12:00am


The bright lights of Broadway beckon in this week's headlining drama, Smash (right; Diva Universal, Mondays at 9pm), a razzle-dazzle look at what it takes to make it in the New York world of musical theatre. Created by Theresa Rebeck and produced by Steven Spielberg, Smash works on a show-within-a-show premise, following the workings of a Broadway production from the formulation of the plot through the writing, casting and rehearsal process and beyond, from the perspectives of players big and small. And what better hook for young aspiring stage actresses - and us - than a musical about the life of diva eternal Marilyn Monroe?

Writing duo Julia Houston (Debra Messing; The Starter Wife) and Tom Levitt pique the interest of veteran producer Eileen Rand (Angelica Huston; The Addams Family) with their idea of a musical tribute to Monroe. Soon a video of their first song turns viral and the theatre world is abuzz with the upcoming production.

Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee; American Idol fifth-season runner-up) and Ivy Lynn are determined to land the starring role. Cartwright is inexperienced but talented; Lynn has more theatre training - right away, their background and dynamic set up one of the main story arcs.

Writing and casting the play proves to be a challenge for Houston and Levitt, as their personal lives creep into the process. Rand has her own struggles with a recent divorce and sudden lack of credibility - her challenge is to convince investors she is every bit as good on her own as she was in the shadow of her illustrious producer husband.

Huston steals the show with her take-no-prisoners style of acting; but in general, the somewhat predictable character stories are given a good shake-up by a great cast. Plus, there are plenty of original musical numbers to get your feet tapping. Anyone who's ever harboured pipe dreams of a life in theatre and/or who love the glamour of Monroe will find plenty to sink their teeth into with Smash.

If you, like us here at Channel Hop, came to appreciate Community somewhere in the middle of its first season, you'll be excited ahead of the premiere of its sophomore season (Fox; tomorrow at 9.50pm) this week. If you are new to the show, the off-beat, laugh-out-loud sitcom is about a group of misfits attending the fictional Greendale Community College. 'Leader' Jeff (Joel McHale; The Soup) is a former lawyer who has gone back to college after having had his degree revoked.

This year, Jeff and his study group tackle anthropology - as well as each other. Smart-mouthed Britta is popular for her public rejection by Jeff, who is trying to end a brief fling with mousy Annie (Alison Brie; Mad Men). Eccentric Abed wants new material for his films. Former football star Troy has started an internet sensation by tweeting about Pierce (Chevy Chase; Three Amigos) and former Spanish teacher Senor Chang (Ken Jeong; The Hangover) is adjusting to life as a student. When the gang meet Professor Bauer (Betty White; The Golden Girls), they realise that Chang might not have been the biggest ball-buster as far as professors go.

Finally, budding entrepreneurs will want to tune in to High Street Dreams (BBC Knowledge; tomorrow at 9.05pm), the mentorship programme-cum-reality show that follows market hopefuls with unique and innovative products as British business gurus Jo Malone and Nick Leslau guide them through the process of starting a business. Industry experts are also called in to help the eight individuals work through the weak links in their operations.

Those expecting high tension and teary rejections, be warned; Dragon's Den this is not. High Street Dreams takes a decidedly feel-good attitude towards the business of business. Malone and Leslau are often seen pacing the hallway like anxious parents as their wards pitch products to big retailers, waiting to greet them with happy hugs when things turn out well.

It's enough to make us want to dust off those half-forgotten get-rich ideas and take a stab at those dreams ourselves.