Will Hart/NBC
Hillary Busis
May 12, 2013 AT 06:08 AM EDT

Well, it’s official: In just two weeks, Smash will face its final curtain call.

The show’s cancellation has been a foregone conclusion for months now, ever since NBC announced that it was moving the musical drama to Saturday nights. And similarly, there’s not much left to say about how Smash repeatedly squandered its incredible potential. (For more on that, click on the link at the beginning of this paragraph.)

But even so, I got a serious twinge of The Sads when I heard that the net has formally pulled the plug on the series once labeled its Great White Hope. Smash is consistently inconsistent, frequently inept, occasionally infuriating… and, despite its various shortcomings, like nothing else on television. Its failure makes it a sad cautionary tale for ambitious network execs — and it also means that we may never again see a weekly musical series aimed at adults airing outside cable.

But hey — at this stage in the game, there’s no point in dwelling. Instead, let’s concentrate on utterly dissecting tonight’s episode, the third-to-last hour of Smash that will ever air on NBC. Read, eye-roll, and be merry, for tomorrow (ish) Smash shall die!

In 1996, it took Rent about two months to make the transition from Off-Broadway darling to full-blown Broadway show. (Producers officially announced that they’d be bringing the musical uptown in February; it ended its New York Theater Workshop run in March; it premiered at the Nederlander Theatre in April). That seminal show’s Smash doppelganger manages the same feat in, oh, just under five minutes. And as we see from a preview performance, a few things have changed since this “edgy” musical traded the New York Manhattan Theater Workshop for the Barrymore.

For example: Dancer Daisy, best known as that lady who sued Derek and then had sex with him, is now in the show’s ensemble. Sam, having had his lead role stolen back by Jimmy, is now playing a music manager character we’ve never seen before. (Sam = Smash‘s Jerry Gergich; discuss.) And most surprisingly, once-confident Ana is now stinking up the stage, walking uncertainly in her Gaga-esque shoes and delivering lines with all the take-charge attitude of Karen ordering a chopped salad. (“No onions, and could I get dressing on the side? Thaaaanks.”)

Naturally, this is causing some friction among the members of Hit List‘s creative team. Jimmy thinks Ana’s just taking some time to adjust to the new theater, which requires her to do her aerial act while suspended 18 feet higher than she used to be (a legitimate point). Derek is convinced that Ana simply might not be able to hack it on a bigger stage. And Julia… well, Julia’s convinced that sending mass text messages to the audience during the course of the show is the solution to all their problems. A sign that Smash has gone thoroughly off the rails: Later in the show, she’s proven right.

NEXT: Just what Broadway needs: Another show about a stripper

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