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RECAP & REVIEW: Smash…The Season So Far

I’ve made it pretty clear before that I am a musical theater/Broadway junkie.   I love it.   So when Smash premiered last year, it was right up my alley.   Of course, what started out as a great premise and show slowly deteriorated into an unrecognizable mess that didn’t know what it wanted to be.  The Golden Gate Bridge at daybreak was more clear than the direction of Smash.   But after the major changes in the off-season, I had high hopes Smash would pull it itself together….and it has!   The worst part, no one has stuck around to see it.

Right now I’m invested in two things…Bombshell and Ivy’s career path.  The biggest miss right now (and my biggest disappointment) is Hit List and the storyline with Jimmy and Kyle.   I was so excited to hear Jeremy Jordan was joining the show.   He’s fantastic.   But this character is awful.  I’m actually more interested in Kyle than Jimmy because there is this sweet vulnerability to Kyle and this green, ideological, passionate spark to him that is really fun to explore.  But Jimmy?  Does nothing for me and therefore, other than the fact that he’s adorable, what the hell does Karen see in him?  He was rude to her, condescending, arrogant, and a jerk.   Well if that doesn’t scream “I must be with this person” I don’t know what does.  Her taste in men is truly atrocious.   And can I throw something out there?   Why in the world are Kyle and Jimmy treating Karen like she’s Patti Lupone?   The last I check, no one has ever heard of her, she’s never been on Broadway before, so why are they treating her like some huge Broadway star that’s going to help them get their break?   Because she knows Derek?   A guy whose reputation on the Great White Way is marginal, at best right now?   It doesn’t make any sense to me.   So I wish Hit List, and everything revolved around it, would just go away.   And Karen can go with them.

I know I’ve been hard on the character of Karen and Katharine McPhee, but it’s so easy.   I’ve said it before, I could listen to McPhee sing the phone book and love it.   But the acting?   Wow…not good at all.   It’s why I’ve never been able to believe in her for this part and I’ve never really been able to believe in Derek if he sees this “something special” in her.   Really?   She has something special over Ivy/Megan Hilty?  Really?   I think it’s another reason I’ve never been able to buy Karen.  Ivy blows her away.  Her singing, her acting, her stage presence….she’s the whole package.  It also doesn’t help that I’ve actually seen Hilty in several Broadway shows and she’s magnificent every time!   Hilty is a bona fide star.  So next to McPhee, it’s not even close.   I also don’t like the way the writers started write Karen as a pretty big bitch.  I know she had every right to hate Ivy after all the horrible things she has done to her and if I were her, I’d probably be as cold to Ivy as she has been.  But it’s not just Ivy.  In the rehearsal room she’s short and testy.   If she’s given direction she refutes it snobbishly.  I’m sorry, when did she win all her Tonys and become worthy of telling people what to do?   Wait, let me back up.   When did she even act on a Broadway stage?   Oh that’s right…NEVER.   She had a tiny bit of success in out-of-town tryout and that’s it.    Yet she’s acting like she’s been on a Broadway stage for 20 years (and not in a good way.)   I’ve never been a fan of the Karen character and this season, I like her even less, and I didn’t think that was possible.

But what I’m loving is how this show is getting back to the behind the scenes of musical theater.  I’m a fan of the Hit List storyline, no.   But what I do like is that we are seeing two young people with a passion for music and theater, trying to make a go at their dream.  We see two very inexperienced kids who are trying to figure out how to make it in this business.  I look at it as we’re seeing Tom and Julia before they were Tom and Julia (and with a lot less charisma.)  Speaking of T&J, their storyline is great.   We’re seeing Tom and Derek bond in their own twisted way to get this show to Broadway.   We see Julia doubting herself more than ever wondering if she really is as talented as she thought.  Instead of her BFF helping her get her mojo back, it’s a dramaturg who Julia hated and wasn’t sure she could trust, that set her straight.  Now we’re to the point where Julia’s new draft is amazing and Derek thinks will win every award in June (when the Tonys are) but Jerry, who is now the producer because he’s a douchebag, and Tom think the original draft is better…Jerry thinks it will sell more tickets, which as the producer is his job to decide, and Tom thinks it tells more of the story of Marilyn instead of the men who created her (which is more the focus of the new script.)   All four go to Eileen to decide which script they are going to go with.  It’s an interesting dynamic for the Tom and Julia relationship.  We’ve pretty much seen them on the same side always having each other’s back at every turn.   So now to see them on opposite sides is quite the shift.   I certainly don’t think their relationship (personal and professional) is in any danger but it is fascinating to watch how this project is dividing certain people and bringing others closer together.

I still say when it’s all said and done…Ivy will be Marilyn.   Karen will become so attached to this new project that she will leave the show and Liaisons will fall apart and Ivy will be asked to come back and be Marilyn.  That’s my guess.  And secretly, my hope!   It’s just a shame this will be the last season for Smash.  It’s really found its groove this year and is a much stronger show.   But too many people walked away and haven’t come back so I don’t think NBC will have any other choice but to cancel it come seasons end.   I just hope we get the finale we deserve as fans or maybe we get an 8-12 episode pick up to wrap it up next year.

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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in NBC, Recaps and Reviews

 

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SEASON FINALE RECAP & REVIEW: Smash “Bombshell” S1 E15

Where to begin.  I like Smash.  I do.  I want to LOVE it.  But I don’t.  Regardless of my middle road feelings for this show, I can’t stop watching it.  I think it has a lot of potential to really be a great show, it’s just a hot mess right now.   Some characters need to go, storylines need to be streamlined or dropped, and some characters need to be reworked and pronto.

My biggest issue with Smash right now are the characters.  Are the writers trying to make certain people irredeemable?   I’m not going to waste any more time on Ellis or Leo.  They’re awful.  They’re terrible.  And there isn’t one person on the planet that doesn’t want both characters gone, yesterday.  But I’m talking about Ivy, Dev, and Michael.   Let’s start with Michael.  Was creepy stalker in his job description?  Seriously if I were Julia, I would put out a restraining order on him if it wasn’t for the fact that it would ruin my show.  She has made it very clear on numerous occasions that she doesn’t want anything to do with him anymore.  Yet he keeps coming at her.  He keeps standing uncomfortably too close to her.  HE TRIED TO KISS THE OTHER DAY!!!!  What is the matter with this guy?    It’s fine if you don’t care about your family but Julia is trying to rebuild hers.  Respect it and back off.

Dev was someone I was indifferent about from the start.  I didn’t like him.  I didn’t not like him.  Now, I hate him.   Thank you writers of Smash, you have made that line very clear at this point.  Let’s list all the things wrong with Dev shall we?   He started out in the pilot as a supportive boyfriend.  Somewhere along the way when this got to be something he didn’t like, the support went out the window.  Instead of retreating to your job (and the slutty reporter) why not talk to your girlfriend about what’s bothering you and let her in.  She doesn’t know things are bad unless you tell her.  Hooking up with a reporter isn’t the best solution.   Proposing to her after telling her about cheating on her, isn’t the best solution.  Then when she’s upset about it, you run off and sleep with the woman who is her arch-enemy in show biz because you think it’s over.   Are you kidding me?   Lately, Dev has been completely useless.  Other than being a complete jerk and making Karen even more unlikable after her reaction to his cheating (the first time) what is Dev’s point on the show.  Clearly Karen can do better.   He cheated on her twice over the course of a week so she can’t do much worse.

And that brings us to Ivy.  Team Ivy here.  Although I’m slightly more embarrassed to say that these days because of what the writers have done to her.  She went from being a girl with little self-esteem who would do anything for her big break to Puck from The Real World: San Francisco.   Ivy just started doing things that were deliberately cruel.  I thought at one point, the writers were shying away from the rivalry/animosity between Ivy and Karen.  They weren’t becoming friends but the tension was dropping and they were pleasantly tolerating one another.  Then Ivy lost the part (I’m still not sure why other than it was too early for her to get the role), Rebecca’s brought in, Karen’s named understudy, Rebecca gets poisoned by Ellis, Karen gets to play Marilyn. Oh and Ivy basically walks in on Derek and Rebecca having sex after he told her he loved her.  Talk about screwing somebody (and I don’t mean Rebecca.)   Ivy was already in a fragile mental state and all this just pushed her over the edge.   To the point where we leave the season finale with her holding a handful of pills trying to decide if she wants to kill herself.   If Ivy couldn’t hurt Karen, she was going to hurt herself.

Look I understand not liking Karen because she appears to be taking away your shot at stardom for no apparent reason.   But ultimately none of this is her fault.  Who you should be pissed at is Derek.   Everyone else thinks this part should be yours….Tom, Julia, Eileen, even Karen thought it should go to you when Rebecca bowed out.   The one person who didn’t, who could pull the trigger was Derek.  And for some reason, he thinks this part belongs to Karen.   So that’s who you should be pissed at.  Derek took your role.  Derek cheated on you.  Karen just happened to be the beneficiary of it all.   If it wasn’t for the fact that I love Megan Hilty to pieces, I would loathe Ivy.   And is that really the point?

So you have three characters who have become so unlikable because of their actions, it’s hard to see how they can bounce back and become characters you root for again.   Do you guys see how that’s possible because I don’t.   I worry about that for Smash because you must have a rooting interest.  And if you ask me, Karen isn’t a good enough, strong enough, smart enough character to root for.

Fifteen episodes in and Karen is still as dull and stupid as she was in the pilot.  Actually she was fiestier in the pilot.  So since episode 2.  Katharine McPhee just isn’t a good actress.  I’m sorry.  Singing, no problem.  Dancing, not too bad.  But acting?   Sheesh.  Watching my lab chew on a rawhide bone for 2 hours is more exciting than watching Karen Cartwright/Katharine McPhee.  Seriously, what self respecting woman has her boyfriend tell her that he’s cheated on her (the first time) and then calls him to apologies for HER behavior.  What?   Are you insane?   You have every right to storm off and hate him.  He cheated on you and had the balls to ask you to marry him after he already cheated on you.  Why are you apologizing to him?   That has nothing to do with her acting ability mind you.  That’s just very poor writing for her character.  But Karen is still just a one note character.  Bland and boring, just as McPhee is portraying her.   Even when she confronts Dev about the ring and sleeping with Ivy, she was bland.  I would have drop kicked him out of the theater.  I would have been heartbroken and visibly upset.  In most other cases, I would have assumed the actress was playing it down because she didn’t want to have a scene in front of everyone.   But with McPhee, it’s how she delivers everything…flat.

Besides all that,  I think the biggest problem I have with Karen is that I don’t see what Derek sees in her.  Derek keeps insisting to everyone that she’s a star.   He says it to the point where everyone else around him agrees that Karen is a star.  What has she done to prove that?  I think what also makes this so hard is that the casting department did a lousy job.  You casted someone with no command of the stage and no acting ability to be the main protagonist who is supposed to have undeniable talent.  You cast her against someone with incredible stage presence, a very powerful leading lady in her own right, someone with tons of Broadway experience who exudes talent, and is head to toe Marilyn Monroe.  And we’re supposed to believe that Karen has IT and Ivy doesn’t?   We’re supposed to believe this is Karen’s part and not Ivy’s?   HOW?   Ivy even looks like Marilyn.  Karen is thin as a rail with no curves and you did nothing to make her look like Marilyn other than stick a blonde wig on her head.  Even watching Karen perform the songs, I’m watching someone with a very pretty face in a platinum blonde wig perform the numbers well, but I don’t get the sense I’m watching Marilyn the way I did with Ivy.  Not even close.  That final number was basically Karen in a blonde wig singing a song.  She didn’t sound like Marilyn and she doesn’t look like Marilyn.   I don’t get it.

What did you guys think of the season finale and the season as a whole of Smash?   As much as I just ripped the finale and the destroying of half the characters on the show, I’m still going to watch it.  I still like it.  I love Tom and Julia.   But my one request….DO NOT MAKE HER PREGNANT WITH MICHAEL’S BABY!   Thank you for letting me shout that.   I like Derek although I haven’t been fond of him lately.  I love Tom’s relationship with Sam.  I love Julia and Frank.  I love the ensemble.    There are some good parts to this show.  It just needs to be tightened up and cleaned up and I think it will rebound in Season 2.   But we’ll see.

 
 

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NBC Renews Two Shows….Grimm and Smash

To what should be no surprise, NBC has decided to renew both Grimm and Smash.  To that I say…..woo hoo!!!!!  I always love when the shows I watch and enjoy get renewed.

Grimm received a full 22 episode pick up which indicates it should be returning in the fall.  While Smash received a 15 episode pick up for Season 2.  I’m not sure if Smash will continue as a second half show or will premiere in the fall.  Considering it is NBC’s top rated drama, you would think it would come back in the fall.  But we shall see.

I find it interesting though, that NBC is renewing these shows one at a time.  I would think the renewals would come in big groups (like CBS did a few weeks ago with their renewals.)   But I can’t complain too much considering I would rather see these shows renewed than canceled!

Congrats to the cast and crew of both shows!!!!

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in NBC, New Shows, Renewed Shows

 

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NEW SERIES PREMIERE REVIEW: Smash “Pilot” S1 E1

I know I said I was on hiatus this week because of work.   But I had to pull away and forego my lunch break to talk about the show I was MOST excited for this mid-season (the other was Alcatraz.)   Smash was even better than the pilot that I watched last summer.  Which is silly to say because it didn’t change all that much (except for one scene that I noticed.)  But I watched it so long ago and I remember loving it, but I forget how incredible it was until last night.  I really don’t want to jinx poor NBC but…….could this finally be the hit show they have been looking for since ER and Law & Order went off the air?

I’m not going to get into a full recap but I’m sure they are out there but I will touch on the highlights.  The thing that surprised me the most about Smash is that you think this is going to be a show all about Karen Cartwright (played by Katharine McPhee) and her journey to the Broadway stage.  And while Karen’s character is the ingenue most people will want to root for, there are so many other levels to this story.  First you have Julia Houston (played by the wonderful Debra Messing) who is part of the creative writing team behind other Broadway hits and who is taking some time away from writing to adopt a baby.  I’m not going to lie, I could care less about this storyline.   The only good part about it, is that I get to see Broadway vet Brian D’Arcy James play her husband, Frank.  And somehow, someway, the producers HAVE to make sure that James sings!!!  Please!   But if they decided to do away with this storyline, I would be thrilled.  Unfortunately, Julia’s time off is short lived (much to Frank’s displeasure) because her partner-in-crime, Tom Levitt (played by another Broadway vet, Christian Borle) has been drawn down the path of creating a new musical based on a suggestion from his new intern, whom he has googly eyes for, Ellis (played by Jaime Cepero), who was reading about the life of Marilyn Monroe while house sitting for Tom.   Marilyn: the Musical is born.   I love that both Tom and Frank said “you could do a baseball number” since Marilyn was married to Joe DiMaggio.  More on that number later.

In addition you have a famous producer, Eileen Rand (played by the incomparable Angelica Houston), who is going through a nasty divorce and as a result her current project of a revival of My Fair Lady has been postponed.  So she and the man she has scheduled to direct My Fair Lady, Derek Wills (played by Jack Davenport) are now available to put all their eggs in the Marilyn: the Musical basket.  We learn that there is some bad blood between Tom and Derek, which could make this partnership slightly challenging.  We don’t know what started or caused the bad blood, but it has to be juicy (this is Broadway after all) and I can’t wait to see those onion layers peeled back!

Finally rounding out the cast is the biggest surprise in terms of character likability but certainly not in talent if you are a Broadway fan, is the woman competing with Karen for the iconic lead role of Marilyn, Ivy Lynn (played by the sensational Megan Hilty.)  I really thought the writers of this show were going to make Karen the likable person, the underdog that everyone is going to pull for while Ivy would be the bitchy, manipulative snake we would all love to hate.  But that didn’t happen at all.  I’ve already seen people say “Team Karen” or “Team Ivy” on the message boards and I think that’s a good thing.   (Team Ivy right here in case you were wondering.)  This show (and I’m talking Smash not Marilyn here) really hinges on these women.  While I think you could make each woman ambitious, you can make them both likable and make the audience torn on who they want to see play buxom beauty.  And I think the writers did that very successfully.  Two scenes really showed that last night.  The first was Karen’s scene at Derek’s apartment when he asks for a “private” call back and wants her to “do the sexy” right there in his apartment.  She excuses herself to the ladies room and while her eyes well up with tears, she pulls herself together enough to do what Derek wants her to do.   But she also stops him when he leans in for the kiss and says “Not gonna happen.”  You go Karen.  I’m not a huge McPhee fan (although you cannot deny her voice) but I couldn’t help but get in Karen’s corner after that scene.  I still don’t think McPhee has the acting chops just yet, but this scene showed she has the potential to get there because she played in beautifully.  The other scene was when Ivy was calling her mom to tell her about her call back for the role of Marilyn.  Hilty plays this scene so perfectly in that you know exactly how much her mother is blowing her off on the other end without ever hearing her mother speak.  You see it in Ivy’s face and hear it in her voice as it’s cracking.  Ivy’s a 10 year Broadway vet but has always been in the chorus.  This is her chance, her big break.  While I’m sure people will want to pull for underdog Karen, and I can understand why, I can’t help but pull for the girl who’s been breaking her neck in the chorus, who’s paid her dues, and is ready to take that next step.   Team Ivy!!!!!!

As for the musical numbers, there were some I loved, some I liked and one that was, meh.   The best number of the night was “Let Me Be Your Star.”   Both my husband and I said “Wow” at the end of that number.  This is where McPhee can go toe to toe with Hilty.  Vocally, these women are very different but can both sing the crap out of this song.  Where McPhee loses the edge, the acting.  You can tell Hilty has the Broadway acting experience because of how expressive she is during her audition, while McPhee just likes to stand there and extend her arms in the air all the time.  Edge: Ivy.  The two numbers I really liked were “Beautiful” and “National Pastime.”  Having said that, if National Pastime were just sung instead of choreographed, it would have gone in the meh column for me.  The song itself was ok but the choreography was terrific and Hilty pulled off Marilyn’s breathy flirtation with all the baseball players very well.   The meh song was “Never Give All the Heart.”  Now maybe it’s because it was just a snippet or just some one standing around belting out a tune, but it didn’t really pack much of a punch with me.

There has clearly been a line drawn in the sand.  One one side you have Derek and Karen and on the other you have Tom and Ivy.   Derek wants to create a star in Karen while Tom wants to support the woman who is ready for the next level in Ivy.  Julia and Eileen seem to be Switzerland at this point.   But I can’t wait to see who eventually gets the coveted role.  I think, it should go to Ivy, Karen could have a part in the chorus and be the understudy.  That’s my solution.   But as I mentioned before, the writers are going down the path of giving the audience the choice of whom to support instead of it being dictated to us, which is the smart way to go.  I think we’re still going to see some crafty sides to Ivy and I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of that from Karen as well.  She may be “light” but she certainly isn’t stupid and is highly ambitious.

Ultimately, this show is about characters.  This is NOT, I repeat, NOT a Glee knockoff.  I would never insult the writers or cast by calling it that.  The only two similarities are that there are Broadway actors cast in the show and that there are musical numbers.   THAT’S IT.  This is a point I continue to drive home because other than teenagers who wouldn’t know good TV if it jumped out of their smartphones and bit them on the nose, NO ONE thinks Glee is a good show.  It isn’t.  I don’t want this to turn into a Glee bashing post (I’ll save that for another time) but I want people to give this show a chance.  I don’t want Smash to be lumped into the disaster that is Glee and people not watch it for fear of watching a terrible show.  Smash is a terrific show that has the perfect balance of plot and character development (something Glee hasn’t seen since early in its first season.) This is a show about the people who just so happen to be putting on a Broadway musical.  You don’t have to be a Broadway or Musical Theater fan to enjoy Smash.  If you like watching smart TV with a strong story and solid character development, you’ll LOVE Smash.   So you need to check it out for the next 14 episodes Monday nights at 10pm on NBC.

Now it’s your turn to tell me what you thought!

DVRs: 5!!!!

 

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NBC’s Smash….Extended Preview

Since I saw the pilot over the summer, I couldn’t wait for this show!!!!  I think finally, NBC has a hit on its hands.  Click below to see the amazing extended preview for Smash.

You all know me.  I am a HUGE Broadway and Musical Theater fan.  But Megan Hilty is right.  You don’t need to love Broadway or theater or be a theater geek to like this show.  Yes it’s a show about the making of a musical.  But it’s more than that.  It’s about the process and the people and all the drama that goes on behind the scenes.  It’s like watching ER or The West Wing or Criminal Minds.  You don’t need to be a doctor or like politics or be a profiler to like and appreciate those shows.  While the technical aspects are nice and fascinating, you watch the show for the story…for the people.

If you can’t wait until Feb 6th to see the premiere, it is currently available on iTunes and Amazon for purchase as well as other media outlets. I believe NBC will be streaming it via their website starting Jan 23rd.  I think it will also be available on Hulu on the 23rd as well.

In the meantime, check out the preview below.  This show looks like it is going to be sensational and I can’t stress enough how you should ALL check this show out!

Dream Big.

 

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2012 in Mid Season, NBC, New Shows

 

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