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Smash success?

February 22, 2012 - Pam Rodgers
Well, NBC has proved me wrong. When Chuck ended, I swore I wouldn’t watch another NBC show except for The Voice. And then all the promotion and lead-in for Smash happened. I have an interest in the theater in general, so I shouldn’t really be surprised that its got me to watch. Add in that I really like Katherine McPhee, I ready didn’t stand a chance.

I’m going out on a limb and actually blogging about a new show, despite that fact that the last three I blogged about went down the proverbial tubes rather quickly. For Smash, I can blame people’s lack of interest in NBC’s programing as whole and not my blog (as if it has any bearing really).

Smash is three episodes in to an intriguing story. The most current episode wasn’t the greatest but the first two episodes had me really excited.

The show is based on the creation of a new Broadway musical, “Marilyn, The Musical.” We see the creators writing and producing the music. The director/choreographer crafting scenes around the fresh music. Then there are two potential stars vying for the lead role or Marilyn Monroe herself. Everything has me fully intrigued and I can’t wait to see what everyone does next.

Now for some notes (warning if you are planning on watching the series and don’t like spoilers don’t read beyond this).

• Maybe I’m biased, but I like Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee) better than Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty). When they were competing for the lead role, I was rooting for Karen to win. Ivy’s obsession with Marilyn turned me off a little bit. Now that Ivy has the job (thanks to her new relationship with the the director, Derek), I have to concede that she is just as good vocally as Karen, possibly better. Now the drama will continue with Karen staying on the project in the ensemble.

• Tom Levitt (Christian Borle) and Julia Houston (Debra Messing) are a great duo for creating this musical. In just a few short episodes, I understand the camaraderie between them and can picture what they have created together in the past. It’s nice to be let in to the origins of a great stage work (assuming this will be one).

• Derek Wills (Jack Davenport) bothers me. He is clearly a good director and choreographer but he is a pig. He tried to lure in Karen and when that didn’t work, moved on to Ivy and gave her the lead. He still refuses to discuss her character in the musical with Ivy outside the studio. He simply makes snide jokes to change the topic. (Also, I can’t listen to him without hearing Commodore Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean, not his fault but I’m having trouble getting past that.)

• Karen has a very supportive and successful boyfriend, Dev (Raza Jaffrey), which is one of the reasons she turned down Derek in the pilot. I can see the potential drama in upcoming episodes but it’s great that Karen has such a steady support system in an uncertain world. It took courage to move from Iowa (it’s cliche but I like that she’s from my home state!) to the big city of New York to pursue her dreams. I hope Dev is a keeper for Karen!

• Another part of the story is Anjelica Huston’s character Eileen Rand, who is a producer of the project, trying to gain her independence while going through a messy divorce with her jerk ex-husband Jerry (Michael Cristofer). I’m not overly invested in this plot line but it’s well done.

• Julia already has family drama going on. She and her husband Frank (Brian d'Arcy James) are trying to adopt a child from China at the same time she is creating this new musical. Her storyline was clouded even more when the man cast as Joe DiMaggio, Michael Swift (Will Chase) is a man she had an affair with five years ago. That will hit the fan here soon, so the jury is still out on Julia, in my opinion.

• The most annoying character is Tom’s assistant Ellis. He needs to go. The guy who plays him is so awful he’s not even worth my time to look up who he is. He’s not worth anymore words.

These are just a few of my first impressions after the first three episodes. There are more ins and outs to the show but here are the one I have latched onto. I am excited for next week to get past this Monday’s mediocre episode. But what do I know? What it for yourself and see!


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