Nobody around the office will take my bet that Katharine McPhee -- and probably "Smash" co-star Megan Hilty -- will sing at the NBC upfront presentation next week, which happens to coincide with the show's season finale.
Nor should they. When you have a couple of key assets on an otherwise under-valued property, you'd be foolish not to leverage them.
Still, having now seen the last two installments airing May 7 and 14, I have less desire to pile on the "Smash" bashing than lament where the musical serial went wrong, and gaze into its not-very-hard-to-predict future.
NBC renewed the show, despite the departure of creator Teresa Rebeck, almost because it had to. After having invested so much psychic energy in the series -- and built its entire season around bringing back "The Voice" and premiering "Smash" using the Super Bowl as a launch pad -- the network had little choice but to give the program a second chance. Besides, there's that upfront presentation to consider.
What comes next, however, is pretty clear. The network will either air the show with "The Voice" -- again giving it a lead-in, and praying for a second bite at the apple -- or see if it can stand on its own wobbly legs. If the network has a new drama with serious potential, that will certainly create pressure to use the singing competition to help get it going.
Whatever the scheduling, if "Smash" is going to have any chance at all, there's going to need to be a significant purge, shaking loose some of the more teeth-gnashing characters and subplots. In fact, if ever a series were ripe for the stunt FX's "American Horror Story" is pulling -- essentially keeping the title and a few actors, but discarding the rest and hitting the reset button -- this one is it. (Given the boxoffice for "The Avengers," how about "Hulk Smash?")
All told, it's a shame. An ambitious program that started with such promise very quickly began spinning off the rails, and never recovered creatively. And while the renewal likely amounts to flushing more money down the drain, having come this far, it's understandable why NBC would at the very least save face by rolling the dice one more time.
So enjoy NBC's upfront presentation. Because that might very well be the last show-stopper "Smash" delivers, until the show, finally, stops, and the curtain comes down.