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Primal Screen

Going native

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Peter Vack just wants his pants back.


Jackson and Madonna had a legendary rivalry back in the day, with Madonna working hard to be the undisputed queen of cultural provocation. Is there any way she will pass up the chance to top Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction”? If her show includes anything less than blasphemy, unnatural sexual acts, and a same-sex marriage ceremony performed right on stage, I will lose all respect for her.

Smash (9pm Mon, NBC)
I like the idea of a backstage-Broadway-musical TV series, but the new Smash would better be titled Flop. A bunch of clichéd theater types (Debra Messing, Anjelica Huston, Christian Borle) search desperately for an unknown talent to star in their musical about Marilyn Monroe. They’re blown away by two of the contenders (Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty), but the viewer has a hard time sharing their excitement. Both women are generic belters, with none of the certain something that made Marilyn so memorable. (For that mysterious quality, you’ll have to check out Michelle Williams’ performance in My Week With Marilyn.)

And no matter how many characters proclaim the musical’s songs “brilliant,” you just can’t buy it. Not with embarrassing lyrics like this: “Flash back to a girl with a song in her heart/As she’s waiting to start/The adVENture!/The fire and the drive/That makes DREAMS come alive/They fill her soul/She’s in conTROOOLLL!”

“Without a Marilyn we’re nothing!” a songwriter exclaims in the middle of the talent search.

Sorry, guys, but even with two Marilyns, you’re still nothing.

Dean Robbins covers television entertainment for the Current. Read his longer complete column each week, only at sacurrent.com

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