I liked the music and certainly the performances by Ms. Hilty were fabulous. But then again, she can do no wrong in my book; I've seen her career rising for a long time and this is a great part for her. It's ironic that she is a lot like the character she plays; she is a longtime Broadway player who is threatened with upstaging from someone with little or no experience.
As for Ms. McPhee, I think she did well considering that she's really not terribly well known for this sort of thing. It's a shame that someone felt there was a need to "over-produce" her songs, with echo and plenty of electronic trickery. I have a feeling that she could do just fine without that sort of nonsense.
The writing was... fair. Not terribly earth-shattering but that's ok, it certainly wasn't any worse than any of the Broadway Melody films, Singin' in the Rain, or All That Jazz. I think there was probably an attempt to keep it on that level.
It's hard to criticize the acting because the actors didn't have a lot to play with. I've liked Debra Messing and Jack Davenport in other projects but they aren't known for drama. We'll see how they do. Anjelica Huston is Anjelica Huston; she could probably make you cry just reading the side of a cereal box.
The one thing I really didn't like was the way the outdoor scenes were shot. It may seem like a little thing but it was enough to take me out of the story. I suspect a lot of them were greenscreen; that the actors weren't really in those locations. Shutting down Times Square for the pilot probably wasn't in the budget. That being said, the lighting was too flat and all the outdoor scenes almost looked like black and white. If that was intentional... great, they did it right. But I still didn't go for it.
I'll be back for episode 2, but it wasn't a smash for me. It was NBC's best hourlong in a long time, but honestly that's not saying much. It needs to lighten up a little, get real people not just characters, and lay off the Pro Tools. Let the goodness of the actors and singers come through... isn't that the point of the story?
Edited by Stuart Sweet, 08 February 2012 - 09:51 AM.