Watch or Not? NBC’s Smash & Deception – should they be saved?


“To be or not to be – that is the question” – which keeps Shakespeare’s Hamlet on stage wavering for a good four to five hours depending on the production.   Deciding on whether or not to cancel a television show is usually more cut and dry, but occasionally other factors can determine a show’s survival.


In my “Watch or Not” for ABC I mentioned that Body of Proof was an example about how a show can be made better with a little time and nurturing.   Sometimes though, even those things can’t save a show.  Especially when the show doesn’t make any significant changes.  The show that immediately comes to mind – Smash over on NBC.   Recently NBC decided to move the rest of  Smash season two over to Saturday nights.  Unless there’s some kind of major Saturday night viewership that shows up along with a fan-based campaign which sweeps the social media world, there will be no Smash season 3.

What the heck happened to Smash?  In it’s first season it did start out with big ratings, but those quickly declined.  Honestly, last season I couldn’t believe it had gotten renewed.  Then I considered  the big cast names, and the producer, and it’s renewal made more sense.  Like I said, the choice to cancel a show isn’t always simple.  With the level of talent involved, there really should have been a way to make Smash work.

Like ABC’s Body of Proof, Smash came back mid season, giving it plenty of time to retool the show.  Only thing – they didn’t particularly change anything.  I get the feeling what was wrong with the show was never pinpointed.  Smash has really awesome musical numbers.  It’s what happens when there isn’t singing and dancing that’s that problem.  The script, and at times the acting, plays like a Broadway musical – not a good thing on a TV screen.  The other musical show on TV – Fox’s Glee – has worked because, the stories they tell feel like television and not like theater.   Furthermore, everyone has had the high school teen experience, which gives the audience a way to relate.  Smash is so tied up in the trials and tribulations of the New York theater scene that there really isn’t a connection for the average viewer.  Certainly there were moments that felt real and universal, but for the most part  the love of the Broadway world overshadowed the fact that this was supposed to appeal to a broad spectrum of viewers.

As a concept,  it’s fun to watch the singing and dancing of a musical.  It works on stage and on film.  Both are viewed in one sitting.  Nor is it impossible to tackle serious issues in a musical form.  However, music does tend to shorten the telling of the story.  Take the play Angels in America – one of the longest plays ever.  It’s is a seven hour show.  When they turned it in into an opera, it went down to two and a half.  According to Wikipedia,  the Victor Hugo book Les Miserables is one thousand four hundred and eighty-eight pages in paperback.  The musical  is a mere three hours.  Now, consider Smash. After three episodes, viewers were basically done – 3 hours worth of musical.  Had they made Smash feel more like television and less like something actually on the Great White Way, it might have have made it.  However, at this point, I think it’s time for it’s final bow.


The second show that’s been on cancellation watch is Deception.  Tonight is actually its season finale, and then NBC will likely be assessing whether to bring it back or not.  Now, I had watched the premiere of this and had been surprised at how good it actually was.  However, I’d also noted that it still didn’t seem quite sure of it’s footing.  It was obvious that when first conceived it was supposed to be NBC’s answer to Revenge, but by air-time had moved away from that concept. (See my review of the premiere if you want more details on that.)

The question I had after watching the premiere was if  it continue to move away from the more soap-opera-like feel, and turn into a serious crime drama.  The answer to that has been yes.  Deception is a serious and complex series, any evidence of it’s campy beginnings are definitely gone.  So why is it doing so poorly in the ratings?

The short answer  is scheduling.  Deception came in to fill the slot of Revolution.  Now Revolution is an action/sci-fi/romance mash-up that manages to hit a little something for everyone.  However, judging by its ratings it’s a fair guess to say that it skewed towards that favorite demo of men 18-49.  My reasoning is that the ratings that were the most affected were those of Hawaii 5-0  whereas the more female-skewing Castle ratings were barely touched.  Deception isn’t a procedural crime drama, so it’s not particularly heavy on gore or action sequences.  It’s a character driven show, with intrigue, power plays, secrets etc – not the kind of show that would hold the audience that was watching Revolution which is filled with literal fighting.  As for the Castle audience, they’re pretty loyal – regardless of what else is on.  Besides that, the Revolution audience had already started drifting back to Hawaii 5-0 so whatever came in would need to something really amped up.  That’s just not Deception.

Why do I think Deception is worth saving?  One, it’s developed into a complex really good show.  In that sense, it reminds me of ABC’s Scandal in that Scandal didn’t reveal the number of story layers it had right off the bat.   But good shows get cancelled all the time due to lack of audience. (NBC’s Awake immediately comes to mind.)  The different with Deception is that I’ve noticed a new on-line twitter presence of people interested in the show.  Networks are slowly coming to realize the importance of the on-line buzz, and there has definitely been an increase in Deception chatter over this hiatus – in particular from people who watch Scandal.  To me it’s a sign that the show was never really sampled before, and that it’s time-slot is a problem.  A quick look at various fan-sites comments shows a consistent sense of  the show’s quality having improved after the airing of the February 25 episode – which happens to be the first week of this three week hiatus. Both Hawaii 5-0 and Castle were repeats that night, giving the show a chance for a second look.

Last year, I thought Smash wasn’t a well-written show, and that viewpoint was echoed by many, many reviewers.  While it started out well, the reviews quickly started to tank.   The season two reviews and viewership has borne out it’s season one criticism,  despite it’s Golden Globe nomination.  (The drama was nominated as a comedy/musical which really just says it all.)   This year, Deception is a show that has had it’s positive reviews go up instead of down.  I think NBC would do well to think about renewing a show that people are starting to like – as opposed to renewing shows people would prefer to go away.

So, in terms of watch or not?  Smash is a not – don’t waste your time.  With Deception, I’d say it’s a watch.  Tonight is its finale.  I’d suggest you DVR it and go catch up on or  If you like it, let NBC know!  Hopefully NBC will renew it, but if they don’t, it’s still a good 12 episode series.

Let me know if you think these shows should stay or go – and stay tuned for thoughts on what’s up over on FOX!

Join us on for  2013 recaps, news and previews for your favorite shows, and notes on whether to WATCH or NOT?   Bookmark us or friend us on Facebook or Twitter for all our latest updates. You can also follow me on Twitter.


  1. cooldudetru says:

    I love deception show very good work I pray for season two

  2. Deception does not need to be canceled this show needs to stay on television air for more seasons because it is a great nbc show and this show should not be canceled and television on nbc will not be the same with out this show and this show needs to stay on televsion for more seasons

  3. If deception does get renewed, it should pair up with grimm.

  4. Please fans help support Deception by signing petition for season 2.

  5. Joy D'Angelo says:

    Just a quick update! Haven’t heard anything about “Deception” – but according to TV Guide “Smash” star Debre Messing has been cast in a new CBS comedy pilot. I think it’s safe to say that “Smash” has been Smashed! The details about the pilot make it even more interesting! You can find them at Maybe they’ll move “Deception” to Tuesdays….

  6. The fact that Deception is even on ‘cancellation watch’ is stupid. It’s my favorite show. I heard about it 3 months before it came out and had been counting down the days. All the actors and actresses were completely knew to me, only to become my favorites (ESPECIALLY Katherine LaNasa and Ella Rae Peck). But I can see why some might not want it back, it revealed the killer in the last episode of season one. The show is all about discovering Vivian’s killer, and know that we know, we have no desire to stay up to watch it (part of the problem: people don’t stay up to watch). I personally would stay up till 12 to watch! I watch Revolution as well and was sad to watch it leave for a while, but Deception is SO MUCH BETTER! Revolution has an amazing story line, but the actors and actresses SUCK. The girl who plays Charlie is one of the worst I’ve seen, not to mention the actor who plays her brother is so bad! If Revolution was cancelled I wouldn’t be that sad, but great shows keep getting cancelled (like Zero Hour! How did 1600 Penn keep going and ZeroHour got cancelled?!). Anyways, back on topic, I’m actually not sure if I would completely be into Deception, just because I knew who the killer was from episode 1, it was kind of obvious in my opinion, so to keep veiwers like me watching they would have to bring new characters because it is, like you said, completely character based. I’d like to see more scandals as well, since none of the veiwers liked Haverstock we didn’t care he had cancer. But the mystery of Sophia’s past was my favorite. If they do bring it back, I don’t know what it would be about. Plus, I’m confused. He killed Vivian to keep his company safe, but the information she had on the tests was a lie? If it was false then why’d he murder her? And lastly, when Mia saw Sophia throwing things at her ex-boyfriend (is that even what he is? That confused me too!) and didn’t ask questions or tell anyone….? Oh well, Meagan Good is a fantastic actress so keep up the good work.

  7. Deception is a fantastic show! Great cast and great writers!!! People are too busy watching reality show crap to appreciate good dramas!! Deception better get a secon season!

  8. Deception is no competition for Scandal or Revenge. Like the article mentioned, it feels like a day time soap opera. It is not fast or slick enough. As viewers we are supposed to want Joanna and Will to find Vivian’s killer but there was no set up to make us care about Vivian. I want to care about the person who dies.

    The acting is good but the show needs to look like a crime drama set in the internet age, it feels like it’s plodding along in the 90’s.
    The finale was terrible, with far too many story lines left open. The producers must be confident that they are getting another series because that ending looked like it was the 10th episode with more to come next week.

    There is lots of room for improvement and i hope they get another season to improve this show.

    • Joy D'Angelo says:

      I don’t think it’s a clone of either show. I do prefer it over Revenge though. Revenge has a certain over-the-top fantasy quality to it that’s not my favorite. I know it’s loosely based on “The Count of Monte Cristo” which likely has something to do with that. I LOVE Scandal, but Deception was never trying to be that. It deals with power & corruption yes, but it really deals with the interplays of race and class in a way that Scandal doesn’t – because Scandal is about the rich and powerful. I know some find the idea of Johanna being Vivian’s best friend growing up in the house and being welcomed back strange, but if you live in NYC you see nannies with their charges and their own kids together all the time. It’s a great way to look at the idea of being caught between two worlds that is rarely looked at.

      As for Vivian, I think the build to care about her is in episode two, but they could certainly talk about it more. It’s around the death of her mother and then how Johanna unknowingly betrayed her. Johanna turning Vivian in cost Vivian her boyfriend and her baby. Can you imagine having to live in the house pretending your daughter is your sister – when you wanted to get away from your family and raise your kid with the kid’s dad? Not to mention, being a part of that family in general, like yikes! No wonder Vivian turned into a party girl. It wouldn’t surprise me (if the show continues) to learn that Vivian’s mother’s death was also a murder – and the stepmother had something to do with it.

      The finale was not one for closure – very true, and yes there is certainly room to grow and things to be tweaked and worked on. But people are actually interested in the story, and it’s overall quality has been steadily going up as it’s been finding it’s legs. Also, like you said, the cast is fantastic. That’s why I hope it gets a second shot. :)

      • The reason why i said it’s no competition for Scandal or Revenge, is because it is being compared to those shows too often by Deception fans.
        Fans are saying Scandal struggled to find an audience at the start.
        Well, Scandal is a fantastic show which holds your attention every week. The intense relationship between Fitz and Olivia has created it’s own fandom. Watch the weekly reviews and Olitz clips on Youtube and see how people are going crazy over this show.
        The show is slicker and more polished, the scripts can be over the top but each episode is interesting.
        Revenge is a good show, which moves along nicely. We are given the opportunity to love the villains as well as the good guys. The shows feels and looks glamorous.

        With Deception, the main plot in season 1 was ‘who killed Vivian?’ Well, some watchers are saying, “Who cares?” We did not get to know Vivian and like or love her. Maybe there should have been more flashbacks with Vivian, her family and Joanna and we could have got to know her, love her and sympathize with her.

        Regardless if people are interested in the story or show, the ratings have not been good and although it was improving towards the end, there is not enough buzz for this show. I still hope it gets a second season, and they come back with a bang.

  9. I would love for Deception to get renewed for an additional 13 episodes in order to build on the momentum that it’s gained over the last 3-4 episodes. The actors are all good at their craft & with some needed improvement in the writing department, the show could be successful.

  10. It’s a good show, but they need to move on to another murder. Trying to solve the same/one murder during a season is a bit much. If they get renewed for another season and continue to work on the same murder, they might lose viewers… I know I wont watch it.

  11. PLEASE do NOT cancel Deception!! I love this show and it just keeps getting better! It most definitely deserves another season! NBC listen to your loyal viewers please and thank you!

  12. Christine says:

    Please do not cancel this show. It is awesome so much better then that other show, Revenge. The cast is wonderful and the story line is full of twists and turns.

    Please, please, please do not cancel it. I will be waiting for Season 2

  13. NBC should keep Deception. It just came across my radar a few weeks ago, and it’s pretty good for the genre. I’ll be mad if I don’t get to find out what happens next.

  14. Joy D'Angelo says:

    Thank you all for commenting! The more noise on-line about a show the more likely the chance they’ll keep it around. Case in point, FOX’s Fringe. I would love to see another season of it. It needs out of that time slot though, and a different pairing. Also, they need to make season 1 fully available on-line from now until the hypothetical season 2. I would say if they’re going to pick up Parenthood as 12-13 episode order, that they pair Deception with that on a Tuesday or Wednesday. At least it would be an audience interested in family drama. Frankly, Wednesday would make more sense as a counter to ABC’s comedy block. If you’re on Twitter you can tell NBC you’d like another season of Deception. They’re @NBC (They kept it simple.) :)

  15. Deception has definitely improved by leaps and bounds since its first episode. I have come to adore the Joanna/Julian relationship (Meagan and Wes have great chemistry and sexiness) and total love the sometimes despicable Bowers clan led by one of my favorite actors, Victor Garber. Kathryn Lansa is my other fav besides Meagan. She makes me loooove Sophia with a vengence. Then there is Ella who plays Mia…one of the most realistically portrayed young women on tv right now. She is wealthy but not a spoiled brat in the sense that all she is consumed with is boys and shopping. Mia actually has a brain and a conscience and is often times more mature in her thinking than the adults around her. Tate is great as Edward and I’m loving John’s Haverstock. The only character that doesn’t have me doing flips is that of Laz Alonso’s Det. Marino. I like Laz and have enjoyed him in other projects but I don’t feel the chemistry with him and Meagan in order to sell a great love or even a worthy advesary in a triangle with Wes. Overall though…Deception needs to stay and allowed a chance to prove why it could very well turn into NBC’s own version of Scandal if they play it right and let the evolution continue.

  16. As I’ve said via Twitter, NBC has been the network to take risks and I hope that is the case with “Deception.” The mid-season replacement seemed to pick up viewers each week and had some buzz, too. With the caliber of actors on the show, “Deception” can only continue to get better. I noticed that NBC didn’t give it a lot of ad time (especially during Celebrity Apprentice), which may have hurt it a bit. Audiences are craving a slick and stylish show and “Deception” definitely fits the bill. Each character has a story and as more and more was uncovered, the audience became more and more loyal. Audiences are beginning to move away from reality and want to return to serial dramas, so NBC should order a second season, put it in a better time slot (it’ll never win against that ridiculous Hawaii 5-0) and allow it to develop into the classy must-see show that it has potential to become.

  17. There should definitely be another season for Deception! Im so into it now and hate last night was the season finale and possibly the series finale.

  18. Love Deception. Looking forward to next season!!!

  19. prettycitie says:

    NBC needs to listen to the fans. Deception is a great show and it keeps getting better!

  20. I agree with everything Joy wrote. Smash is definitely not written to be accessible to a wider audience. The majority of viewers probably have never been to a theatre show, let alone acted in one, so it’s difficult getting into the politics of it all. Deception though has only gotten better since its pilot. It’s more complex and intriguing while staying accessible to viewers. It’s a very smart, very smartly written drama.

  21. Deception is a fantastic show, great storyline, love the finale, got more story life….
    did Robert really kill Vivian or is he covering for someone? Did Beverly reveal more to Julian? What is Julian going to do with the info about his mom? Does he alrady know about Joanna being a cop? Haverstock, my favorite….he becomes attorney general? What happens to Will’s partner? What about Edward? Mia missing? What is Wyatt going to do? Agree with the post, NBC needs to get on Twitterland and have every single Deception actor needs to participate including Wes Brown…he probably will have the most fans, men an women love him (like Scandal folks…)

  22. Christine says:

    Deception should definately stay for another season. The show is suspenseful, well written, with the actors making great zingers.

  23. I LOVE Deception. So many layers have been revealed since it debuted. I looked forward each week to a new episode, now I am sad that there are no new shows to watch. I want more Deception.

  24. Show should stay, show is well written has great suspense and always ends w/u wanting to see more.

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