Smash: Enter Mr. DiMaggio

Posted on February 21, 2012

Previously, on Smash:

Now, the beauty of being a blogger is that you can convince yourself that people want to hear your opinion on all sorts of things. So let’s pretend everyone’s dying to hear what we think of Smash. Like many, we scoffed, rolled our eyes, and declared it a sad Glee ripoff when it was first announced. But here’s the thing about that: Smash isn’t a ripoff of Glee; it’s a direct answer to it. Glee is a fantasy world, where 30-year-old high school students with virtually no training sound like pop stars and execute huge musical numbers that come out of nowhere and fade into memory before the next huge musical number. Smash is no less a fantasy world (by virtue not only of being a musical, but of just being a TV show) but the entire tale is structured around the things Glee doesn’t or won’t show: the grinding rehearsals, the backstage and behind-the-scenes decision-making, the hiring, the money. It would be a little laughable to call this glossy drama, with endless scenes of people walking down very sanitized New York City streets, “gritty,” or even (god forbid) “realistic,” but when a character breaks into song you at least get the impression that she worked damn hard to get it right. Not only that, sometimes the viewer hears a song more than once, sung by different people. It’s not overdone, but that exact technique does more to lightly illustrate the repetition that comes with endless rehearsals than a million scenes of Mr. Schuester saying “Guys, we really have to rehearse for Sectionals.”

What fascinated us most about the first two episodes of this show was how much the narrative resembled a reality TV competition (lots of “judges’ panel” conversations), something we think was quite deliberate to plant that American Idol/X-Factor/The Voice comparison in the viewers’ heads. It was a brilliant thing to do and we were struck by the idea that it’s only a matter of time before someone really does blend narrative with reality TV. “Who do YOU think should play Marilyn? Press ONE for Ivy! Press TWO for Karen!”

What made the Ivy/Karen question so interesting was how well the writers structured it so that neither performer was favored too much. Sure, Katharine McPhee is arguably the star of the show, is shot to look prettier, and is clearly getting more of the “ingenue” narrative stylings than Ivy is, but the show’s gone to great lengths (and been mostly successful about it) to depict both women as equally talented and equally right for the role, for different reasons. It’s funny; when you read through the various writeups on it, it appears the show did its job on this point quite well, because some writers think it’s a given that Ivy’s the one for the part and others are rooting for Karen, but none of them seem to be ambivalent on the issue. It’s almost a shame they had Ivy jump into bed with Derek, because her selection doesn’t feel wholly earned now. Then again, that seems to have been the point. And besides, anyone who thinks the final selection for Marilyn has been made must be someone who’s never seen a TV show or backstage musical before. Prediction: They’ll wind up casting both girls; one, to play the sweet side of Marilyn and the other to play the sexy side; a sort of White Swan/Black Swan thing. We can’t be the only ones who think that, right?

As for this episode, it’s too bad this is the one where we chose to jump into the recapping pool, because it was easily the weakest of the run. Although we’re eternally grateful that we didn’t have to hear another word on Julia’s magical Chinese baby who’s waiting for the Houston family to rescue her. Besides, she’s got a cute guy making cracks about how good she smells and that’s ALWAYS more fun to listen to than “We’ll call your name on the wind…” while Grey’s Anatomy music plays in the background.

Oh, did we mention that glossy network dramas make our asses itch? Because they do. And to be honest, there have been more than a few ass-itch-inducing scenes so far. Too many people are playing it a little too broadly (we’re looking at you, Anjelica) and need to be toned down, not to mention the script occasionally sounds like it was written to make the story easy to understand for low-IQ people. This is a classier, better production than Glee in almost every way, but at least Glee assumes you’re smart and expects you to keep up.

Anyway, Julia’s got a hot Joe DiMaggio who’s got a past with her and that’s a lot more fun than adoption drama and listening to mouthbreathing teenagers whine “Who’s going to rescue her, mom? Who? If not us, which white people will save her from being in CHINA?!?!” Also, Ivy is kind of dumb, no? “Do you guys think I got the part because I slept with the director?” And she’s supposed to be a ten-year veteran of Broadway? Was she asleep through most of that time? But uh-oh, Ivy! You may be in his bed, but he’s still meeting Karen for drinks, to which Dev takes high British offense. We admit, the Brit-off was kind of fun and gave Dev something to do besides being saintly and having a great smile.

Work needs to be done on Karen’s character. Especially since we’re spending so much time with her. Performance-wise, we have no complaints, at least not with the musical numbers. McPhee could use some intensity, though. We get that Karen is sweet and unsullied, but translating that to bland shows a lack of imagination on the creators’ parts. It seems very odd to send her character home so early in the story. We already met her parents and had the cliche of their disapproval hammered home quite effectively. Nothing was really added with these scenes. Felt like narrative wheel-spinning until they can get her back into that Marilyn costume.

Ellis is another character who needs major work. We seem to be the only people on the internet who never believed he was gay and weren’t remotely shocked to see him with a girlfriend. But this character seems to have no motivations or purpose other than to be a scheming pain in the ass. Any employer would have seen through him from the beginning. That he was fired and then hired back makes Tom look kind of idiotic, especially when combined with his violent rejection of working with Derek, who’s clearly making their material work.

As for the material, it varies in quality. “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” doesn’t even come close to “20th Century Mambo.” “National Past Time” was good, if a little pedestrian – but we couldn’t help throwing our hands up in the air because Julia just got finished telling her doormat husband that she didn’t want anyone else doing Marilyn because they wouldn’t respect her, and then we see a number where Marilyn grinds her crotch into guys’ faces, fondles bats, and mimics blowjobs.  We couldn’t help thinking the real Marilyn would have burst into tears at the sight of such a “tribute.” But the big number – and not surprisingly, the best so far – is “Let Me Be Your Star,” which we suspect we’re going to hear at least a couple more times before the show opens, sung by different people.

But we love it; we can’t deny it. It’s not smarter than Glee, but it has way more depth to it. And let’s face it, there’s only so much empathy we can call upon for a bunch of teenagers. It’s kind of nice to watch a TV musical about adults with grownup problems.

 

[Photo Credit: nbc.com]

    • FunButNutz

      I hope to never live in a world where A Bruno Mars Jukebox show will be produced!  (aND NO IT DOESN’T HELP THAT IT WAS OFF-OFF BROADWAY)

      • lovelyivy

        That was soooo bad- also speaks to one of my issues with the show, which is that I do not think the music is as good as it needs to be. Thus far I think Let Me Be Your Star is the only standout. Everything else has been incredibly boring- sanitized pop crap or tremendously bland Broadway melodies. I know not every songwriter can be Sondheim, but couldn’t they have at least aimed for Duncan Sheik (said tongue in cheek- Spring Awakening is a masterpiece).

        • FunButNutz

          The original songs are being written by Marc Shaiman (Hairspray and Catch Me if You Can).  They’re not horrible, but I imagine that he’s saving his best stuff for his next REAL Broadway show.

          • JohannaEG

            He certainly didn’t save it for Catch Me If You Can.

            • Terence Ng

              Oooohhhh, SNAP!

          • Terence Ng

            I thought “20th Century Mambo” was a pretty by the books upbeat tempo number. A bit throwaway, but fun enough. “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” put me to sleep, though.

      • Montavilla

        I wanted to ask about that Bruno Mars thing.  I only went once to La Mama and that was over 20 years ago, but… that didn’t seem like anything that would get booked into that venue.  Has Off-Off-Broadway changed so much that someone would do such an un-ironic take on a current pop song?  

      • http://promiscuouslola.blogspot.com/ Cate

        THIS. through the whole number I was like “THIS is supposed to convince me that he’s awesome?”

    • Gene Hult

      I hear and see many echoes of the deliciously campy movie Norma Jean & Marilyn in Smash . . . which also suggests a Norma Jean/Marilyn casting split like they did with Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino.  Although I doubt the actress who plays Ivy could muster up as much inspired battiness for the Marilyn role as Mira did . . . and I doubt Katherine McPhee can match the terror-rage Ashley brought to Norma Jean.  Although of course both of the Smash girls are much better singers.

    • shines1971

      I have to admit I did not want to like this show either.  They shoved the previews down our throats for a month before it aired and kept “introducing” us to Katharine McPhee like no one had ever heard of her?? Ummm, some of us did watch her on American Idol, duh! Give the viewers some credit here! But I have enjoyed watching the backstage drama even though it seems forced sometimes.

      • sherrietee

         Not everyone watched American Idol.  I don’t.  I avoid it like the plague.  I like my schadenfreude, but not in my television viewing.  It makes me uncomfortable.

        • shines1971

          I didn’t say everyone watched AI – I said some of us did.  I agree with you, I avoid it now because I have no interest in it.  But there were a million viewers at one time that did watch the show.  I was just saying that there were people that knew who she was before the show.  But I guess by the replies I have received, that not a lot of people knew of her.  Point taken. :)

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KEYJDIENR5MRK2NXJYKNOLWDFE Alexandria

          I know her from “The House Bunny” :)

      • Lilithcat

          They .  .  . kept “introducing” us to Katharine McPhee like no one had ever heard
        of her??

        I had never heard of her.

        • Terence Ng

          Me either. Then I barely dredged her out of my memory and realized I only knew her by name, and even then, not for any real reason.

      • BrooklynBomber

        I don’t watch AI, either. I’d heard her name but didn’t really know anything about her.

      • http://www.GiftedCollector.com Nancy Abrams

        Another non-Idol watcher here. My awareness of the participants only goes as far as who I see interviewed on talk shows. I was a tiny bit more aware of K. McPhee since she went to high school close to my store in Sherman Oaks, CA. Local girl makes good.

    • greathill

      thanks boys; you two are my star!  I’m enjoying it too.  Debra Messing is much better than I expected.  and Angelica is delicious.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046681022 Paula Berman

      So glad you are recapping this. I think we are headed for a Norma Jean/Marilyn casting split for sure, which would be really interesting. I also agree about Ellis being irritating– Julia should have fired him again and put her foot down. It was pretty obvious he stole her notebook. He wasn’t even subtle about giving it back. Ditto about National Pastime. That was pretty disrespectful and I didn’t like it at all.

      • Terence Ng

        Of all the things happening in the show, I was shocked by the Ellis scene. An assistant, even if he didn’t work for Julia directly couldn’t speak to her like that and keep his job. It might work if Ellis knows that Thom doesn’t give a rat’s ass about Julia’s opinion (re:Derek and Thom), but they’re friends. Ellis should be quaking in his boots. Plus, the sheer condescension in his voice raged sexist to me. Julia is a long-running, respected professional with a successful musical under her belt on a team of equally respected people in the industry. Why is she stopped dead and powerless by some lowly assistant who’s basically openly flouting her requests?

        I just can’t buy the “scheming assistant” plotline they’re spinning for him because he’s already crossed enough lines to have been dismissed three times over. What’s stopping Julia from telling Thom and getting Ellis fired? How badly does Thom actually need him as an assistant at all?

        • Eric Nguyen

          THANK YOU!  I was getting worried I was the only one that thought this about Ellis.  I hope his story is cut short, there are enough characters on the show that can play potential villain with a much better back story for motive.  Is it just me, or does his character seem to have walked in from a too ridiculous scheming Ugly Betty narrative?  I cringe every scene he’s in, which is unfortunate because the rest of the cast seems to be pushing forward to make this show work.

          • Terence Ng

            That’s an interesting point. Everyone seems (relatively) grounded, but Ellis seems like a cartoonish villain. That might work in Glee, but I pray to God that’s not what’s going on here. I don’t want another Glee.

      • miwome

         Yeah, I agree. There were a couple touches I liked about it, but the overall tenor of it I thought was wrong, wrong, wrong. And what the hell is it supposed to mean, “with her style and her fashion she’ll elevate the national pastime”? What? Baseball is its own thing, it doesn’t need to be “elevated” with jewelry (though the image is pretty funny). Is this a reference to an idea that was actually floating around at the time, or is it just cracknobbed?

        • grouchywif

           umm, I got the feeling in that song that the “national pastime”they were singing about wasn’t really baseball.

      • Celandine1

        I will admit that the crotch grinding was vulgar and they should have
        seriously rethought that one, but disrespectful? Marilyn posed for
        playboy and had an affair with the married President of the United
        States (and probably his brother too). The most famous picture of her is
        basically an upskirt shot in a low cut white dress. Cringe inducing and
        disrespectful was that “Happy Birthday Mr. President”performance she delivered in public. Her image was basically the sexpot and she played into it. Whether that bothered her in real life, I don’t know, but I think it’s a bit ludicrous for people to feel it was disrespectful to her or her memory. And if the real Marilyn would have burst into tears at that “tribute” well, maybe she should have chosen a different public image.

        Agree about the smarmy assistant. That is some pretty unrealistic writing to believe that Julia wouldn’t have just smacked him down or that he would have been rehired in the first place.

        • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

          You can’t see the difference between mimicking a blowjob on stage and singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” in a sexy way?

          Really?

        • MintyRefreshed

           You don’t read Marilyn biographies, do you?

          First off, she didn’t pose for Playboy. One of her pre-fame, anonymous, nude photos from 1949 was sold by the photographer to Hugh Hefner, WITHOUT her knowledge and permission, for Playboy’s December 1953 first issue. Hefner was exploiting her worldwide popularity (achieved during the first half of 1953) for his own financial gain, as many people continue to do today.

          Though black & white photos of the event are familiar, the original upskirt scene filmed outdoors was never used in “The Seven Year Itch. It was deemed unusable because of the noisy watching crowd. Marilyn wore 2 pairs of underwear to preserve her modesty under the intense klieg lights. Billy Wilder’s crew used powerful fans to blow her dress up. She was an actress following directions, so give her a break already. The scene was re-shot indoors and this tamer version is what you see in the movie.

          The breathy singing of “Happy Birthday” and the running gag that she was late were planned. They were meant to be humorous and she was playing up her image – an image she was typecast by her studio to continue playing because it made them millions. Anyone who has seen her earlier films (Clash By Night, Don’t Bother To Knock) and later films (Bus Stop, The Prince and The Showgirl) know she was capable of much more.

          That “National Pastime” number was disrespectful and misinformed to the extreme. Marilyn thought athletes were loud and obnoxious. She was hesitant at first to meet Joe DiMaggio, because she had assumed he would be the same way. So, this idea that she was messing around with the baseball team is ludicrous, when it is widely known that she was attracted to quiet, intellectual types.

          I agree with TLo. I think she would be upset at this portrayal. Few in Hollywood were saints in private, but Marilyn promoted her sexy public image only to a certain extent. Truman Capote had her in mind for Holly Golightly in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s”. She didn’t campaign for the part because she refused to play a glorified prostitute.

          Those who actually knew her admitted it’s possible she and JFK had a fling. He was married, she was not. JFK cheated on Jackie with many many women, including a 19-year-old intern. Of course, Marilyn gets most of the criticism. Typical hypocritical double standards. Interestingly, her friends dismissed the supposed affair with RFK. There’s no definitive proof for either liaison, so what you are repeating is rumor, NOT fact. But yes, don’t let facts get in the way of your dislike of her. Just repeat that tabloid hearsay and pop culture simplifications.

          • http://twitter.com/Gateau Jessica Gutteridge

            This is all correct, but I took away from what little we saw of the purpose of the National Pastime number is that it’s intended to represent the male view of Marilyn Monroe — ogling sexy bombshells and baseball are the two national pastimes for red-blooded American men. So it’s not about Marilyn being a slut, but about how she’s viewed by the guys who bought all those Playboys.

    • birdhead

      “Who do YOU think should play Marilyn? Press ONE for Ivy! Press TWO for Karen!”

      Should Jason Todd live or die? Dial this number now to decide!

      • lovelyivy

        Very happy to know I’m not the only one whose mind went to Jason Todd (he who should have just stayed dead dammit) when I read that.

        • Terence Ng

          Mine went straight to:

          “If you want Calculon to race to the laser gun battle in his hover-Ferrari, press 1! If you want Calculon to double-check his paperwork, press 2! Enter now!”[boop]“You have pressed 2!”

          “No I didn’t!”

          “I’m almost positive you did!”

    • Anne Silberman

      Well, I, for one, WAS waiting for TLo to blog about Smash! Thank you! You did NOT disappoint. 

    • http://www.thechipsterdiaries.blogspot.com/ Jess

      Totally do not get the point of the Ellis sub-plot. And I never considered a Norma Jean/Marilyn double-casting, but I like that idea! I think Ivy is way more deserving, even if she’s not presented that way. I wan’t to marry Dev, he is super sexy.

    • vanjar

       Prediction: They’ll wind up casting both girls; one, to play the sweet
      side of Marilyn and the other to play the sexy side; a sort of White
      Swan/Black Swan thing. We can’t be the only who thinks that, right?

      Not thinking it, it’s almost a given. So much so, that even I would bet on it.

      • Terence Ng

        I just figured Karen would be the understudy. Isn’t that how it works? Two good candidates, one gets the part, the other is the back up? And if not, why?

        A friend of mine thinks Ivy is preggo, hence the barfing, and that it’ll be the means through which Ivy will be inundated and Karen will land the role, but I’m not so quick to believe it.

        • http://profiles.google.com/ameliaheartsu Amelia Logan

          that’s not what inundated means :/ sorry

          • Terence Ng

            You mean being pregnant won’t make you too busy or overwhelmed for the starring role of a high-dancing, flipping, belting, svelte, sex icon? That’s what “inundated” means.

            But I get you on how it can be awkward. Maybe I should have put a “too” before it or just changed it to say “put out of commission”.

            (p.s. Words that begin a sentence have capitals, and sentences end with periods. Sorry. :/)

      • Violina23

        There was a weird HBO TV movie called “Norma Jean and Marilyn” several years back which had Ashley Judd as Norma Jean, and Mira Sorvino playing Marilyn.  Granted, it was not a musical, and used the dual roles to portray Marilyn as a schizophrenic , but this is EXACTLY where I figured the show was going after the 2nd episode. 

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2CNDPMVO4W23R5TVC2QMTJ5BZE Heather

      Am I the only one for whom Katharine McPhee’s voice is  like fingernails on a chalkboard?

      • nannypoo

        I think she has a beautiful voice. It’s her personality I can’t stand. I watched Idol the year she was on and she was so sweet it was truly barf-inducing.

      • Stacye Griffin

        I think her voice is nice enough. I think the problem is that she is personality and charisma free. She’s walking, talking singing equivalent of vanilla ice cream served in a beige cup.

      • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

        yes

    • http://korilian.livejournal.com/ korilian

      “…at least Glee assumes you’re smart and expects you to keep up.” 

      I was under the impression that Glee doesn’t care if you keep up, because nothing that happens will be relevant ten minutes from now.

      • http://twitter.com/jerseyemo Edwina

        No, Glee assumes that you’re brain dead so you won’t notice all the plot inconsistencies.

    • http://twitter.com/jerseyemo Edwina

      Life is imitating art, it’s been reported that Deborah Messing is having a real-life romance with the hottie co-star who plays Joe Di Maggio. That said, this episode was a real let-down and has me worried. I love the concept of the show, particularly for all the reasons that Tlo have written, it shows all the blood, sweat and tears that going into mounting a show. But so many creative red flags are waving right now, i.e the wasted use of Angelica Huston, the lack of chemistry between Katherine and the boyfriend and the scheming assisAccording to reports, life is imitating art in that Deborah Messing is involved with the actor who they are casting for Joe DiMaggio. That said, this episode was disappointing and has me worried, I was counting on this show to fill the musical theater hole that Glee no longer fills. The problems for me are Angelic Huston and the endless drink-tossing scenes, the lack of chemistry between Katherine and the actor who plays her boyfriend, the adoption story line, and now the scheming assistant seems poorly written. Oh noes, please Smash, get better, I had such high hopes.

    • FunButNutz

      Does anyone have any insight as to how they are planning to make this a series?  Is there to be a new musical every season?  Because this is moving at a very rapid clip.  I originally expected that we would be treated to the YEARS of development and tweaking, and out-of-town tryouts and other sturm and drang that happens with real musicals, but now they’re talking about opening in a month or two?

      • miwome

         Apparently the writers deliberately wanted the early stages of production to be covered super fast because watching people sit around and write tends to be boring (fair) and they were planning to slow down later in the season. So I guess we’ll just have to see.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RDEDI3ONWSVDQS5GXKKBIML3H4 Chase

        According to the promotional articles I’ve read, every season will take on a new musical.  The Marilyn musical story will be the first season, 15 episodes.  That sounds about right.

    • GenXcellent

      I’m still on the fence about this show…I like the concept, and even the story in theory (except the scheming assistant, please), but I’ve had a hard time getting through the entire episodes…I get easily distracted.

      And I think Ivy has the part for now, but soon some crisis will arise where they will have to ask Karen to step in…and once she’s all out Marilyn (which, notice she hasn’t been) they’ll realize it was the perfect part for her all along. 

      • http://www.thechipsterdiaries.blogspot.com/ Jess

        I get so distracted, they’re conversations are soap-esque, in that they seem to take forever to play out.

      • http://6things.blogspot.com par3182

         Karen was all out Marilyn in the ’20th Century Fox Mambo’ number (or as close as she can get – she’s no match for Ivy)…and didn’t get the part. But no doubt there’ll be some contrivance to get her the role.

        • GenXcellent

          Oh, ok..see that’s where the   distractedness hinders me…I totally missed or forgot about that. 

      • http://6things.blogspot.com par3182

         Karen was all out Marilyn in the ’20th Century Fox Mambo’ number (or as close as she can get – she’s no match for Ivy)…and didn’t get the part. But no doubt there’ll be some contrivance to get her the role.

      • lovelyivy

        I think they are going for the Sutton Foster/Erin Dilly drama from Thoroughly Modern Milly- which is an interesting choice, since the actor who plays Tom is Sutton’s ex husband. I am expecting a last-minute switcherooo, where the producers realize that Karen’s interpretation of the part is perfect, and ask her to take the part to Broadway instead.

        It’ll be interesting to see where they end up!

      • http://twitter.com/Gateau Jessica Gutteridge

        I think it will be that Derek ends up back with Michael Cristofer directing My Fair Lady and will take Ivy with him, leaving Karen to Marilyn. They’ve already established that Karen can’t do an English accent, and then there was that whole bit about Dev and Derek guessing each other’s background from their accents. Straight up Henry Higgins.

    • RebeccaKW

      They did have an American Idol-style show for the 2 leads in the Grease musical.  I have no idea how well the show was received, but there hasn’t been another selection show like it (that I’ve seen).

      I haven’t watched this show yet, but I am looking forward to catching up.

      • defyingcreon

        The Ovation network also has a similarly themed show. I’ve seen them do a rotation on casting Nancy in “Oliver!” going from auditions to the selected candidate’s performance on stage and they’ve done many other characters as well. So it has been done, just not on an American Idol kind of scale.

      • http://twitter.com/NostalgiaOD NostalgiaOD

        YES!  I was just going to say this. And MTV did a show casting a Broadway replacement for Elle in ‘Legally Blonde’. The audience didn’t get to vote as they did with ‘Grease’, but along the same lines.

    • beebee10

      Thank you for blogging this!! I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable this show is. So grateful to have something decent to watch before Mad Med comes back!

    • http://twitter.com/stopENtalk Brittany Johnstone

      Definitely bordering on silly but I have faith with this cast (I’m a sucker for Debra what can I say!) they can tighten it up and really produce.

      Assistant drama is going to result in some sort of bogus attempt at extortion/blackmail/legal issues threatening to ruin the whole workshop! for “stealing” his idea. Just cause he can organize you a tea drawer and cook you macaroni doesn’t make him a good person. Duh. He is totally gonna spill the beans on the affair.

      I hope they can do something more interesting with the Anjelica Huston divorce drama. It’s just so… done. Scorned drink throwing ex wife things she can hop into business but everyone doubts her. Puh-lease give her something else to work with!

      Happy to see I’m not alone in loving this show but being disappointed in the development so far. Thanks, TLo!

      • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

        Yes, the drink throwing is now done, I really hope they never do it again. 

        I’m a sucker for Katherine McPhee and for Debra Messing, and I have hopes for Angelica Huston, but the assistant character bugs the crap out of me.  I am a bit disappointed after tonight but I’m much more engaged than I have been with Glee for a while. I keep recording Glee but somehow… I never watch it…

      • http://twitter.com/Gateau Jessica Gutteridge

        I’m sure they’re looking down the road at a “this was my idea and you owe me” plot. From a legal perspective (I’m a lawyer who used to be a theater professional) he’s got nothing. There is very clear case law stating that just giving ideas and suggestions to a playwright does not entitle you to co-authorship unless both parties intended it. Not that this show really cares how plausible it is, though.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=558631967 Ivona Foster

      I’ve actually never heard of K.McPhee before this so… I like the show but it does seem o be awfully glossed up. Are we supposed to believe that the director is only interested in Karen for her raw talent after that 10.00pm “rehearsal” in his apartment. please!?
      Tom is an idiot, especially when it comes to that assistant.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1234087433 Jen Freeman

      I love this show, I’m thrilled you’ll be recapping it.  And I loved the teenager being so upset about the adoption. I thought it was a beautiful portrayal of how some families feel about adoption and it was one of the best portrayals involving adoption I’ve seen on TV at all.  I know a lot of people who have adopted or are in the process and they all were in tears at that scene because it resonated with them deeply.

      • grouchywif

        I adopted a toddler from Russia 2 years ago and have been on the waiting list for China for four years now (and holding). The adoption storyline in this show is driving me nuts. TWO YEARS? Two years as the worst case scenario for China is laughable. That was the case back in 2007. Folks receiving referrals now have been waiting more than five years. Our total wait will likely be 7 years, and that’s optimistic. Any agency that told prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) nowadays that China is a two year wait would be an agency of ill repute that PAPs should run from as fast as they can. The only exception is for children with special needs, and Smash hasn’t gone the special needs route.

        The whole “our daughter is waiting for us” thing drives me crazy as well. At least Debra was cognizant of the fact that their future daughter has not even been born yet. And even if she were born, a baby or toddler wouldn’t be “waiting for them”. She’d be living her little baby/toddler existence, completely oblivious to the idea of parents in America or parents at all. The idea that babies are sitting around in orphanages actively waiting for rescue is not a constructive way for prospective adoptive parents to think of the process, and it isn’t something a smart parent who has done their homework should express to a child already at home with them.

        It feels like somebody associated with the show knows something about international adoption, but either not enough about it or they are manipulating it for storyline reasons. I suspect the latter, and that is so frustrating as an adoptive parent because there is enough misinformation out there as it is. It would be nice if somebody, someday, would give an accurate portrayal.

        • Elizabeth Norris

          It’s been a  while since I watched it, but didn’t the agency worker say that it would be AT LEAST two years before they had the baby? That is, two years was the best-case scenario, not the worst-case one.

          But like I said, it’s been a few weeks, so I could be wrong.

          • grouchywif

             They said it could be as long as two years…I remember it because it was so shockingly wrong.

            And please believe me when I say that 2 years is not even close to the current best-case scenario. Unless a couple is willing to adopt a child with special needs (older child and/or one with known health issues), there is no way someone completing their paperwork now would get a baby on two years. Five years, maybe. Not two. And I know that they can’t very well drag this out for five years on the show, but it seems disingenuous to choose China if they can’t do it right. What would be realistic? Them finding out it is a five year (or more) wait, at best, and then trying to decide whether to wait it out and/or whether or not to pursue another country. Or just not doing China at all if the writers really want a new baby in that house within two years. Have them adopt from Russia. Or Ghana. Or Ecuador.

            I know I’m nitpicking this because I am more sensitive to it…they have a storyline and need to fit this into that. But there are other countries that can fit the story they want to tell. I am not a person who views a Chinese baby as a fashion accessory. We chose China at first for a lot of reasons and fashion wasn’t one of them…but something about this feels wrong to me. Like they thought it would be cool to throw in a Chinese adoption storyline because it is all the rage or something. Not that it really is right now. Folks are not applying much to the program anymore specifically because the wait is very long and very unpredictable.

            • FunButNutz

              I think its best to remember that this isn’t a documentary.  Like all television shows, they’re playing a little fast and loose with the facts.

        • http://twitter.com/NostalgiaOD NostalgiaOD

          Whoa.  We adopted our daughter almost 7 years ago and I felt then, and still feel now, very much like, “she was so meant to be ours and I can’t imagine where she would be or what she would be doing if we hadn’t found each other.” 

          I’m pretty sure that they meant it as a touching sentiment (especially when expressed by a teenage boy about his potential baby sister), not that there is some baby out there pining away for her forever family waiting for them to show up in shining armor and rescue her. 

          • grouchywif

             Well, I have some pretty different opinions about being “meant” for each other as well. I know that is a popular sentiment in the adoption community…I just don’t share it, and I know I am in the minority. I don’t think my daughter was ever “meant” to be conceived by someone who couldn’t or wouldn’t keep her, abandoned in a hospital, housed in an orphanage for 14 months, and then adopted by us, uprooting everything she ever knew. She will be dealing with the repercussions of never knowing her birth parents for the rest of her life. The idea that she would be subjected to that just so that we could have a baby doesn’t make sense to me.

            She’s the best thing, by far, that ever happened to us and it’s very difficult to imagine my life now without her in it, but I don’t believe any mysterious forces arranged this whole scenario for her life and if I thought that they did, I’d be pretty pissed at them about doing that to my child. Granted, it’s how I got my child, but her abandonment is not what I would have wished for her and I don’t think it was “meant” to happen.

            I also know that had we not adopted her, someone else would have, and her life would not be what it is now, but it very likely would have been a good one.

      • grouchywif

        I adopted a toddler from Russia 2 years ago and have been on the waiting list for China for four years now (and holding). The adoption storyline in this show is driving me nuts. TWO YEARS? Two years as the worst case scenario for China is laughable. That was the case back in 2007. Folks receiving referrals now have been waiting more than five years. Our total wait will likely be 7 years, and that’s optimistic. Any agency that told prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) nowadays that China is a two year wait would be an agency of ill repute that PAPs should run from as fast as they can. The only exception is for children with special needs, and Smash hasn’t gone the special needs route.

        The whole “our daughter is waiting for us” thing drives me crazy as well. At least Debra was cognizant of the fact that their future daughter has not even been born yet. And even if she were born, a baby or toddler wouldn’t be “waiting for them”. She’d be living her little baby/toddler existence, completely oblivious to the idea of parents in America or parents at all. The idea that babies are sitting around in orphanages actively waiting for rescue is not a constructive way for prospective adoptive parents to think of the process, and it isn’t something a smart parent who has done their homework should express to a child already at home with them.

        It feels like somebody associated with the show knows something about international adoption, but either not enough about it or they are manipulating it for storyline reasons. I suspect the latter, and that is so frustrating as an adoptive parent because there is enough misinformation out there as it is. It would be nice if somebody, someday, would give an accurate portrayal.

    • Terence Ng

      So far, SMash is running the B- to B+ route for me. I’m not hating it, unlike Glee, but very few things are making me actively like it.
      One thing I wondered was, Spielberg had wanted to feature the “making” of a musical before and each year, do a new musical, and if any were actually worthwhile, it would be made. It seems this is the inspiration, but not the actual way Smash worked out. But given that they have original songs and dance numbers, are we likely to see “Marilyn” debut in real life shortly after it launches in the show? I can’t see why  not, especially when Spieldberg has the capital and the clout and Megan Hilty is an actual Broadway vet…

    • lovelyivy

      I feel bad for the Ellis character. Yes, he’s annoying and not a good assistant, but that’s because his boss acts completely oblivious. We have yet to see Tom give him any feedback that was even slightly constructive, even after re-hiring him. If he was warned by his actual boss about his behavior I would feel differently, but as it stands now he just seems like some dumb kid. 

      Plus I just saw the actress who plays his girlfriend in Stick Fly on Broadway and she was FABULOUS. I loved her!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=811053804 Stacy Parker Cole

      I keep feeling like I’m in a Marilyn Monroe themed episode of Glee when I watch this show.  Marilyn this and Marilyn would do this.  Kinda like what would Britney/Gaga/Michael etc do.  

    • http://twitter.com/TheRealSandraOh Sandra Oh

      I’m slowly losing interest in this show and I don’t know why.  I think it’s because I don’t really care about either Karen or Ivy to be quite honest.  In fact, there’s really no one on the show that I really look forward to seeing.  I want this show to succeed because I love musical theater but maybe Marilyn Monroe shouldn’t been the heart of the show.  It’s still on my DVR full-season pass but this is not a show that I would stay up and watch in real time.  

    • http://twitter.com/TheRealSandraOh Sandra Oh

      I’m slowly losing interest in this show and I don’t know why.  I think it’s because I don’t really care about either Karen or Ivy to be quite honest.  In fact, there’s really no one on the show that I really look forward to seeing.  I want this show to succeed because I love musical theater but maybe Marilyn Monroe shouldn’t been the heart of the show.  It’s still on my DVR full-season pass but this is not a show that I would stay up and watch in real time.  

      • alula_auburn

        This is me, too.  I don’t really feel much of anything for any of the characters.  (To be fair, I hate the character of Grace Adler so much that Debra Messing has an uphill battle for me to not reflexively tell her to STFU.)  So I sort of appreciate the production values, but it doesn’t actually engage me.

    • janetjb

      I really liked the first episode, the second episode was okay, but last night I went to bed after 15 minutes and I don’t know when I’ll get back to it. 
      I’ll record it, read your recaps and hope the next weeks get more interesting, but I’m not holding my breath.

      • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

        reports are that it is a much better episode next week

    • BrooklynBomber

      I meant to watch this but have missed it. Who plays Ivy? They’re both good, but she’s got much more of a Broadway vibe, whereas Katherine McPhee has a bit too many pop influences (which works for a lot of B’way now, but less for the music in this show-within-a-show).

      • StelledelMare

         Ivy is played by Megan Hilty. She is indeed a Broadway vet. She’s best known (to me at least) for being one of the more well known G(a)linda’s in Wicked.

        • BrooklynBomber

          Thanks, SdM.

    • Tafadhali

       Haven’t gotten around to watching this episode yet, but glad to see you guys recapping this show! (Also: glad I’m not the only one who thought “National Pastime” was kinda vulgar for Marilyn.)

    • CQAussie

      Loved the episodes so far, each one ending with my exclaiming “WHEN will The Gays weigh in on this??!!!”  Gospel truth.  

    • Eva_baby

      The problem with all the pre-publicity hyping Katherine McPhee to the max is that there is no suspense.  You just know she’s either going to get the part or they are going to split the part.  I cry foul that they made Ivy sleep with the producer because it feels like viewer manipulation to get you to root for Karen even more than you already have to because she’s the anointed star.  In fact, all the pre-publicity centered on McPhee and none on Hinty has made me dislike the Karen character.  It doesn’t help that Hinty’s voice is Broadway ready whereas McPhee’s, while lovely, feels more pop than Broadway.  So You wonder why is Karen so awesome again?  I wish that the show had been sold more as an ensemble and that McPhee wasn’t such a Mary Sue so as a viewer you could feel like there was more suspense.

    • http://southernsugar.wordpress.com/ Southern Sugar

      I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who was completely blown away (and not in a good way) by the fact that Julia was gaga over the “National Pastime” staging.  It could absolutely not have been any more blatantly the opposite of what she claimed she wanted for Marilyn!

      I’m also just not buying her letting Ellis walk all over her with regards to Tom.  Really?  You’re going to let this kid who walked off with your notebook stop you from dealing with your longtime friend and business partner?  Ovary up and tell him to step aside.  I also think she needed to have a word with Tom about the fact that her notebook went missing at the same time Ellis left the apartment.  From the moment he took that video, he should have been out on the street because he was too unprofessional to be trusted.

    • StillGary

      And they gotta stop Angelica from throwing Martinis in her exes face every episode — wouldn’t that sting, BTW?

    • louisethesneeze

      I just can’t for a second buy that Karen would get through even a first audition the way that Katharine McPhee is playing her. She’s totally dead behind the eyes, no stage presence at all. Blech. I know a hundred people in Texas who should be winning Tonys if she’s getting callbacks.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=811053804 Stacy Parker Cole

         That’s just Katharine McPhee.  She’s always seemed a bit “dead behind the eyes” to me, even in her American Idol days.

    • http://twitter.com/deusxmac kim bunchalastnames

      don’t you find that anything produced by steven spielberg sort of has to … hammer the point home?  it’s like he doesn’t think we’ll get it if he doesn’t have ET’s heart beat light up, or a little girl wearing pink in an otherwise black-and-white scene.  

    • miatamam

      Yay!  Hulu’s back!

    • miatamam

      The plot lines are rather labored and muddling; but the musical theater hook is enough to grab me.  “Let me be your star” was enough to make me mark the pilot on my calendar.  Music since then has been a little disappointing.  I get the feeling they need to trim things up a little tighter and keep the songs coming or it will have a short shelf-life.

    • Markatha

      I feel like this show should be right up my alley. 
      I have a theater degree and I love musical theater more than is healthy.
      I’ve been sadly, dissappointed so far and I really wanted to love it…but no. 
      I made it through the first episode but was mostly meh afterwards. 
      Last week I stayed focased to the halfway point but then my pets became more interesting so I half watched the second half.  This week I was ready to give it another go but could only watch 15 boring minutes then turned the channel.

      I’m not even sure why it’s not working for me except that for a show about
      Musical Theater it’s pretty glum & not much fun or entertaining.
      I was so excited about it too.  Bummer.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PVIY3NBCZJAJNFWDBCWG2DMKL4 Jen R

      “and then we see a number where Marilyn grinds her crotch into guys’ faces, fondles bats, and mimics blowjobs.  We couldn’t help thinking the real Marilyn would have burst into tears at the sight of such a “tribute.””

      You read my mind. I was horrified at that part. I’m no prude but, really? The whole point about Marilyn was that she didn’t need to be that explicit to be that sexy.

    • MilaXX

      My age may be showing here, but the first episode of Smash reminded more of FAME (the original 1980 movie) then Glee. As much as I liked the vocals of Hinty & McPhee, I wasn’t sold on the first episode but I was interested enough to tune in again. So far I’m liking it and yes, I thought they would use both actresses for Norman Jean/Marilyn. Also count me among the many who thought helper guy was an Evil!Gay. Now that the battle for who would get the role is over (for now), I finally became interested in the other characters.  Angelica Houston & her philandering ex husband peaked my interest as did the revelation that Debra Messing character slept with the guy they just cast as Joe DiMaggio.

      • http://profiles.google.com/phyllis.craine Phyllis Craine

        At least there was real dancing in Fame as opposed to vamping and posing…this show needs better choreography; they’ve got the trained dancers already

    • MilaXX

       Even if you didn’t watch AI, she was kind of ubiquitous there for a minute. She’s hardly new kid on the block material.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WKSM57KFWUGRMKPDUW4SPL3GDM Kathryn

      The only way a teenaged boy would be as interested in adoption as this kid is, is if he was a pedophile.  That speech gave me the creeps.  Can’t figure out why the dad’s so into it either.  Seems like a silly sub-plot.  

    • MilaXX

       Agreed. In the real world he’d be fired and black listed.

    • http://profiles.google.com/phyllis.craine Phyllis Craine

      Not loving the choreography yet but hopefully that will change

    • GorgeousThings

      I love this show. Flaws (eeeevil assistant, anyone?) and all.

    • baxterbaby

      I tried watching it, but find that I feel (as a New Yorker that attends when I can) that there’s already too much bad/mediocre/derivative musical theater on Broadway that I  can’t watch it on TV.  McPhee’s voice is generic, as are the numbers (and that National Pastime thing was just vulgar, and not in a good way), and the soap aspect just didn’t grab me (I’d rather watch All About Eve for the umpteenth time).

    • marywv

      Ellis needs to go. He’s stupid and pathetic and he irks me far more than Declan ever could.

    • gabbilevy

      I’ve been arguing with my friends who are also watching the show about the Ivy/Karen who’s right for the part and to me, it falls along the lines of: Megan Hilty is a Broadway performer with a big Broadway personality (you have to make sure your gestures show all the way to the back row), whereas Katherine McPhee has been on TV, where the camera can get up so close it can see your pores. 

      To me, that means that Ivy deserves to be starring in a Broadway show based on style alone, but I suspect they coming episodes will make us believe that, as she gets more experience in rehearsal and through the workshop, Karen will grow as a stage performer and giving her the part will feel earned. I must say, even though I don’t love the song, “Red Neck Woman” was the most life we’ve seen from Karen, so I’m hoping that when she does inevitably get cast as Marilyn, I’ll agree that she deserves it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5401168 Audrey Christensen

      i actually think “never give all the heart” is one of the best songs so far, although “let me be your star” is amazing.  but this show lost me the second mcphee opened her mouth and sang christina aguilera at an audition for MARILYN MONROE.  it’s like they’re assuming no one has ever seen a marilyn monroe film and won’t know the difference.  she did a decent job toning down the pop-style in “20th century fox” but unfortunately i dont think they’ll be continuing in that direction (there are some “previews” on youtube and i do not have high hopes!).  the soundtrack seems to be more about iTunes and pandering to what producers think people want, instead of really being true to this broadway setting.  call me crazy, but i think people WANT authenticity and not some watered down homogenized pop for the stage.

    • supernonamegirl

      Am I the only one who read the son as autistic? Does that little story make sense any other way? 

    • StelledelMare

      When I watched the pilot my first thought was actually that this would be the thing that replaced Glee for me. And so far it has. It still has some work that could be done but it’s already won me over.

    • averill stevenson

      I think drink tossing is a lost art, and I plan to start practicing immediately.  At the very least, it should be a drinking game and everyone should be ready to toss their drinks on cue when she does it!

    • http://twitter.com/Gateau Jessica Gutteridge

      And that LaMama would never produce a jukebox musical!

    • http://twitter.com/Gateau Jessica Gutteridge

      No.

    • http://twitter.com/connectinglines Me Again

      Definitely better than Glee, if for no other reason than (for now, at least) the characters are consistent. Smash doesn’t have “theme” weeks or “tribute to fill-in-the-blank icon” weeks, and doesn’t look like it will any time soon.  I do think that the writers of the show need to admit that the TV show is itself a musical and just let people break out into song, rather than constantly having the characters find themselves in a piano bar or a karaoke bar, where they get “cajoled” into performing.

    • diana jacobs komisar

      Anybody else annoyed that the ONLY minority on the show is a scheming little asswipe? 

      • http://twitter.com/Gateau Jessica Gutteridge

        I guess you don’t count the handsome, protective, thoughtful South Asian boyfriend who works for the Mayor’s office as a “minority”?

    • http://asskickingadviser.com/ Ass Kicking Adviser

      I’m really glad you guys are blogging on this show. I’ve been watching and I can’t say it has exactly met my high hopes but I’m willing to be a bit patient. God knows there isn’t anything else on Monday night. I just wish they would stop over-explaining every thought and feeling everyone has/had. Maybe they could leave a little to our imagination?

    • NYCpro

      lol, Bruno Mars jukebox musical at La Mama.  All of the lights in that scene would have burned down the theatre and portions of the east village

    • EliseC

      Thanks for introducing me to my next show!  I love it :)

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WKSM57KFWUGRMKPDUW4SPL3GDM Kathryn

      The Brit-off was fun.  Katharine McPhee can’t act.  She’s so breathless and syrupy sweet.  I think we’re supposed to be rooting for the character simply because she’s Katharine McPhee.  I’ve never seen her before and have no attachment to her, so her acting just looks overplayed and too ernest.   Her parents are goofy.  No one acts like that.  And she doesn’t want to take money from her parents!?!  Cause she’s so ernest and perfect and wants to do it on her own.  Please!  Plus it seems like she’s always in agony.  Waiting for someone else to realize how great she is.  Maybe that’s what broadway stars are like, but it seems to me they’d have more balls and be smarter.  I like the Ivy character better.  Will Chase is a hunk and 1/2, and damn, can he sing and move!!  

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/S3ROVAXWWXOYJDVBDSXIMUSQUM Eugenia

      Ok, so I have to preface this by saying that I’m a huge Marilyn fan (and a psychologist) and may come off sounding totally obsessed.  

      Although I’m not really going for TLo’s White Swan/Black Swan prediction, I do think it’s interesting that they’re essentially presenting two Marilyns, with Ivy as the Marilyn that the public always saw (brazen, sexy, confident) and Karen as the private, “real” Marilyn (I hate using this term but, “little girl lost” Marilyn).  Of course, this ends up making Ivy the logical choice for now – give the public what it wants, a caricature of Marilyn. Unfortunately, being a huge Marilyn fan, I hate the way they have Ivy portray her (e.g., in the National Pastime number, and even in the Wolf number), especially since I think she falls flat in the “real” Marilyn pieces (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Let Me Be Your Star), while the way the actress plays Ivy in real life is a little closer to the real Marilyn (so we know she can do it!). Time will tell, but I’m ambivalent at this point – if they have Ivy play the Marilyn that Marilyn herself loathed it’s going to bother me, BUT if it’s a narrative device and they are actually driving at the point that there was a Marilyn other than the caricature she’s become, I might be ok with that.