Smash: The Cost of Art

Posted on February 28, 2012

Because we are so very analytical in that way that gets us crossed off cocktail party invite lists, we couldn’t help but stop and take the time to assess our reaction to this episode. Because – oh, didn’t we say? We LOVED this episode. One of the tightest single-episode scripts we’ve been treated to in a while, not only did it neatly tell a story in 42 minutes, it brought together a host of disparate elements in service to the final act and introduced several new elements to the tale, broadening it and tantalizing as to where it’s going next.

But we just had a very public breakup with Glee and we can’t help wondering if we’re fooling ourselves into a rebound TV musical love affair; overstating our enthusiasm for a show that’s good, but not exactly evidence of a new Golden Age of Television. But that’s not very fair, is it? After all, the two shows simply couldn’t be more different in tone and goals. It’s almost a disservice to them both to place them side-by-side in the same genre. Certainly, we didn’t think of Glee once during the whole hour. It was only after, when we sat down to write this and realized we were using way too many exclamation points unironically that we stopped, Carrie Bradshaw-style, and said, “I couldn’t help but wonder…?” as we gazed dreamily out the window and played with our hair.

But enough. We refuse to indulge in any more navel-gazing. Sometimes it’s okay to like something, even if you don’t think it’s necessarily all that interesting or groundbreaking. In fact, Smash seems determined not to break any ground, offering very familiar storylines and characters, even if they’re relatively rare for TV. Hell, these tropes are so old, they’re relatively rare for movies anymore. But everyone loves a good backstage drama, especially if it’s got two divas duking it out for top billing.

Any ambiguity written into the tale of Ivy and Karen seems to be evaporating as one gal looks to be taking on the bitch role and the other one plants her flag firmly in the wide-eyed and likeable role. It’s stacking the deck a bit, frankly, and it was as obvious to us as the sound mixing which suddenly rendered Megan Hilty’s voice weak next to the supposedly awe-inspiring Katharine McPhee’s set of pipes. And hey, if you asked us, we’d have to admit that we’re bigger fans of Katherine’s style than Megan’s which doesn’t tend to play as well on TV. Even so, in an episode that was almost perfect, we have to point out this one flaw. The show is built around this rivalry (judging by next week’s previews) and that’s fine by us. One of the things we admired all along was that they presented it in such a way as to polarize the audience into pro-Ivy or pro-Karen camps. Each girl had their strengths and they were presented as pretty much evenly matched. If you don’t believe us, watch that “Let Me Be Your Star” clip again. But now we’ve got Ivy acting a bit like a bitch (which we don’t actually mind all that much) and being portrayed as the weaker talent (which we mind a little bit). To be fair, Karen really was pulling focus a couple of times there.

But really, that was the only complaint we could come up with. Oh, and the fact that they staged a pretty cool dance number so that Karen could understand how to work in an ensemble – and then turned it into a big solo star turn for Karen, with the rest of the ensemble acting as her backup dancers. Fun number, but they kinda muddied the point a bit.

It was the scripting that really hooked us here. There was a real sense of confidence coming from the writing, as if they know exactly where they want to go and know that this group of performers will be able to take them there. The characters are all beginning to gel, both individually and in their interactions. We like that we’re seeing far less of Julia’s home life but we also like that they’re breaking her away from Tom just a little bit. This is a good idea because frankly, as good as they are together, it’s really hard not to see her as Grace Adler in every scene with him. We really liked her interactions with Eileen and Karen, which gave her a warmth that felt more real than the hard sell we got when she was writing letters to imaginary babies. We admit, we didn’t much care about Tom’s date, even when the guy turned out to be seriously cute. But by the end of the episode, with so many strands tied together, we loved that Tom inadvertently gave the guy the very best first gay date any gay could ask for. Nick Jonas we could take or leave, but he’s serving his purpose well in the story. We have to wonder how Eileen became such a success when she seems to have been so bloody stupid about her husband, but we thought her story was well played and we were relieved we didn’t have to sit through another drink-throwing scene. And we like that the cast of characters has expanded with the introduction of the ensemble, of which several of its most bitchy members made a rather quick and convenient turnaround from the pro-Ivy camp to the pro-Karen one. It’ll be interesting to see just how much Karen and her new backup dancers will make an issue of Ivy sleeping with Derek. We suppose the answer to that lies with Ivy and how much she’s planning on pushing Karen out of all her numbers and bitching about the fact that she was cast. Ivy seems a little naive about the business she’s in, frankly. This is a workshop, after all. Derek was right to remind her of that.

Loved it all, though. Perfectly entertaining from beginning to end and we’re sucked right into the story.

 

[Photo/Video Credit: nbc.com]

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

    I thought the pro Ivy to Pro Karen twist from the chorus was a natural one if a bit hastily done. As much as they are lovey dovey with Ivy the fact she is not one of them anymore, and Karen is. Ivy being bitchy about Karen even being there  is not helping. It’s show biz and Ivy is the star, they are not. The Rumor number with Karen breaking out in song was the one big WTF moment to me.

    • Violina23

      Totally agree re: hastiness of the “ensemble” members’ change of heart…. it happened way to fast, but it’s TV fantasy land, so I almost prefer it to happen that way than watch 4 more weeks of “Karen is an outcast”.

    • VanessaDK

       I think that the contrast is intended to be between the old and the new–Ivy is being portrayed as a classic “old-style” actress/star.  Everything about her is old school–her vocal style, her curves, her hairstyle, her casting couch behavior, her dance training, etc.  Karen is the fresh upstart “that we can all relate to” who is supposed to have “natural” talents.  The funny thing is that Ivy’s style hasn’t really been predominant on Broadway for decades.

    • adnama79

       I thought the Rumor number with Karen breaking out was great.  Karen *doesn’t want to be in the ensemble.*  And doesn’t think she belongs there.  That was the more fun way to show it – in song rather than having her say it.

  • http://twitter.com/karenwalsh Karen Walsh

    I’m liking this show more than Glee too.  Still totally Team Ivy.  Loved the Wolf number at the party!  And I admit to a big crush on scoundrel Derek.  Yum.

    • VanessaDK

       Derek is played by Jack Davenport, the hapless star of “Coupling” (the British version.)  Took me ages to figure out why I recognized him.  He seems to be playing Alan-Rickman-playing-Derek –all his natural charisma is being hidden under a veneer of smarmy inscrutability.

      • http://twitter.com/meg_a_wo_man Megs

        You may also recognize him from The Wedding Date (which also starred Debra Messing) – it is quite possibly one of my favorite weekend movie

        • Nell White

          He’s also Commodor Norrington in the Pirates of the Carribean movies – but Coupling is my favorite venue for watching him. Love that show!! Totally forgot he was in The Wedding Date..as I watched that movie for the first time while I was in the hospital after my second son was born!

          • grouchywif

             He was also in Swingtown. He’s the main reason this show made it onto my radar.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6RS6NLL44AED3E4QWIYTDQGU6I Psy_Chick

            Thank you! I was trying to figure out where I recognized him from. It was Pirates.

  • VioletFlame

    Amazed at my gay uncles stamina! Delighted to see you enjoying Smash as much as I. Anyone else mesmerized by the size of Nick Jonas’ hands?

    Forgive brevity please, am thumb typing on teeny tiny smartphone keyboard. Bravo, TLo for a weekend plus of great grins and snaps! Love you!

  • Malice Grant

    I watched this whole episode with a big stupid grin on my face. Until the “Rumors” number, which I suppose may have served to show that no matter how good she can become at being part of the chorus, she will always be destined for star billing. But that’s overly contrite, in my opinion, and was overly contrived to make that point. Still… big stupid grin. Me. Wearing. Whole time.

  • FunButNutz

    I agree with everything here, with one additional note: The new songs they debuted on this weeks show were all good, with nice melody lines and good harmonies…and catchy!

    • FunButNutz

      Could it be that the overall plan is to actually try and produce the Marilyn musical on Broadway?  What a cross-promoting bonanza that would be!

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

         We’ve wondered that ourselves. It seems like a natural progression, if the TV series is a hit.

        • VioletFlame

          Hoping that too! Err, three, I mean four. And touring it, perhaps before settling in NY? San Diego and looking for work here.

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

            i was wondering about that! i feel like if the show does well they’ll try it. it’ll be the smash equivalent of them going on tour.

        • GorgeousThings

           I’ve been wondering that from the first episode. “Let Me Be Your Star” is just crying to be sung onstage.

          Oh please, don’t let them make this into a “Glee, the Concert” sort of format!

        • Jessica Mann Gutteridge

          My husband claims he read somewhere that’s the intent. For what that’s worth. He actually does follow Broadway business, so I suppose he might be onto something.

      • Violina23

        I heard an interview with Brian D’Arcy James (who plays Julia’s husband, and is a broadway veteran) and he said that a lot of people have asked this, but that this is getting WAY ahead of the game.  The are going about it 100% from a TV perspective, and if something comes of it, that’s great (and yes, it’s something they think about), but it is not the goal. 

        I take it with a grain of salt, but I found myself believing him ;)

        • Girl_With_a_Pearl

          Oh, I like that.  So much better than some dopey reality show whose sole purpose is to cast some unknown as the lead of some Broadway Show.  

        • VanessaDK

           Brian D’Arcy James is so being wasted on all these small TV roles–I keep waiting for him to burst out in song and take center stage (sigh).

      • bluefish

        I do believe that I read an article in NYTs some weeks ago in which the show creators stated that they were in fact open to having a go at Smash Broadway.  May be Google-able.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6RS6NLL44AED3E4QWIYTDQGU6I Psy_Chick

        I would go see the crap out of that. As it is, I’ll probably be downloading a lot of these songs from their website. I don’t know if they have them available, but they would be fools not to.

  • StillGary

    Righto! But boys keep your heart on your sleeve! OK, I don’t see it so much as the chorus changing camps — more so, acting as the glue that’s holding things in place. Ivy’s friends didn’t admit that Ivy was being a diva — but coached Karen into team play — yeah, her little breakout solo was confusing, but whateva! I wonder  (draws on her Marborough Light) … are we going to hear an endless expanding soundtrack for Marilyn the musical — much like the dozens upon dozens of songs supposedly for sectionals or regionals (that never actually make it to the show) in Glee? Will Smash keep  returning to a few of the more solid numbers? It would be utterly believable if they strike a few of these numbers in the storyline, But, gosh, the ones we’ve heard so far are awesome!

    • http://profiles.google.com/psykid42 Christopher Brathwaite

      Well, a full fledged musical could have as many as 20 songs (including reprises). Factoring in songs that get cut, they could feasibly show a good 2 or 3 dozen songs and they’ve only shown about 6 so far. (The wolf song, Let Me Be Your Star, 20th Century Fox Mambo, National Pastime, Never give all the Heart and Mr. and Mrs. Smith)

  • abigail3

    Sorry to disagree but I feel I have given enough of my life to this show. Oh how I wanted to love it. But I hate Katharine McPhee’s catch-in-the-voice singing style. It’s true, as the script says, she is “light.” Her handsome boyfriend is too perfect. The “show me the bedrooms” bit with Nick Jonas was kind of contrived. Well I could go on and on but instead I’ll just say I hope you all enoy it! It may be more fun to read about it than to actually watch it…

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

      I agree. she has more of a pop voice i think. she’s cute and innocent, and she can sing, but she screams disney princess to me.

  • eclare

    The one thing that keeps getting in the way of really enjoying this show is the fact that Kat McPhee just isn’t a very good dancer.  I mean, she’s fine, but she’s consistently blown out of the water by everyone else in the cast.  It’s rather distracting.

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

      really? I have not gotten that impression at all. 

      • eclare

        Maybe it’s just me, but all of the other dancers have a level of intensity and, I don’t know, sharpness to their moves that McPhee is lacking in my view.  If you’ll forgive a glee comparison, it’s like all of the other dancers in Smash are at the level of Britney and Mike, while Kat is more like Quinn or Rachel – perfectly competent, but a little lackluster.

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

          Well she IS supposed to be the newbie. She does seem to start off awkward, but I find that when she’s supposed to be on, I find her anything but lackluster. 

          • Malice Grant

            I think they’re trying to address that, too, by the chorus telling her she has to sign up for the class they take. It was a passing line of dialogue last night, if I’m not mistaken.

        • GenXcellent

          I think she’s too tall for that ensemble…she stands out in an awkward way, even with filming/staging adaptations.  

        • miwome

          I agree that she’s noticeably less good than the
          others. It’s not that she’s bad–just, there really is a difference
          between professional dancers and not. And she’s not one.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sophia.kor Sophia Kor

      Lets be honest though, you can’t take your eyes off the girl.

      • Jessica Mann Gutteridge

        Well, the way it’s shot, we’re not allowed to!

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

    This made sitting through the first three episodes worth it. Karen vs Ivy? My initernal war was ‘it’s just a pilot, give it time’ vs. ‘must they explain everthing to us immediately??’ Anyway, glad I stuck with it, glad Derek told Ivy to shut up to stop whining and glad you guys are enjoying it too.

    And I am so glad you said that about Debra’s character. Some of that repartee with Tom makes me think of…well you know. It was fun to see her character singing and dancing and clearly having a blast. Great number.

  • Violina23

    I love how the show touches not only on Ivy not knowing how to be a star, but also Karen not knowing how *not* to be a star. It’s refreshing that this show is not over simplifying this and portraying both girls like they have nothing to learn. That there is hard work involved/required. (Ahem… Glee)

    I’m eating this show up, cliched plot points and all. LOVE IT!Disclaimer: I’m a huge Broadway Geek, and any glimse into that world, however contrived, puts me in a happy place :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=720742723 Sarah Winningham

    Everything they do to make American Idol more likeable just makes me more team Ivy. The wolf song was the first original song I found even slightly interesting on it’s own terms.

  • tallgirl1204

    O.k., TLo, you’re hooking me on another one.  Is this online for free anywhere yet? 

    • StillGary

      it’s on regular Hulu.

    • Lilithcat

      You can get it for free on your telly.  It’s on a regular broadcast station, not a cable network.

    • mommyca

       the full episodes are on nbc.com, i’ve just watched it there… pretty good HD quality….

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

    I loved it too. I watched the dance numbers 3 times over on Tivo rewind. 

    I did notice the muddled point with the “how to be in an ensemble oh fuck it I feel a solo coming on” scene, but I loved that number and her voice so much that I couldn’t help but love it. 

    I find Katherine McPhee riveting to watch.  Megan Hilty is very talented, even stunning, but just not quite as riveting. It IS hard to see Katherine McPhee in the chorus.

  • kentiesgirl

    “After all, the two shows simply couldn’t be more different in tone and
    goals. It’s almost a disservice to them both to place them side-by-side
    in the same genre.”

    Thank You! There has been so much chatter that this is the “new Glee” I wanna scream. It’s like comparing Funny Girl to We Will Rock You.

    What is it with “If it has singing and dancing it’s the same as every thing that has ever had singing and dancing?” Reality dating shows have music, occasional drunken singing, and awkward dancing, but I’m not gonna compare them to Carmen.

    I’m looking at you my loving yet clueless husband, lol. ;P

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

    I was relieved about the lack of martini throwing as well, and that Annoying Assistant receded a bit in the background, and even joined the dance number. I fear further drama and annoying storylines from that character and I’m not looking forward to it. 

    The only other thing I dread is that they will go back and forth too much between “Karen is Marilyn, no Ivy is Marilyn, no Karen is Marilyn no Ivy is Marilyn…” 

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

    It’s like we have the same brain I swear…
    I thought the Ivy storyline was well done though. She got the part so suddenly she feels entitled and pulls a diva. So Darth-whats-his-face puts her in her place at the end. it’s like he said in the beginning. it’s a workshop. nobody is anybody yet. he was an asshole, but he was right. i totally noticed the sound mixing thing too. KMP is good, but she’s not suddenly aMAZing. the adele number confused me because in addition to the solo at the end, there were a few points were she kept pushing up front i the dance number. wasn’t the point that she WASN’T SUPPOSED TO DO THAT anymore?

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

    also, i know we hate glee now, but there’s only one more episode this season (in april i think…), and i will cry if I don’t get to hear your thoughts on it. 

    • VioletFlame

      Oh so glad you said that Cate. I was trying to man up and was resigned to watching it, and sighing & crying alone afterwards when there was no TLo review.

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

        LOL. i totally get it. I mean, I’ll keep watching as long as it’s on, because I’m like that, but I get why TLO is calling it quits.

  • BeeBeauNYC

    The second episode was so trite and predictable that I stopped watching it. And then when TLo reviewed how weak the third episode was, I was officially done with the show. I’ll wait for a couple weeks of positive reviews, and then maybe I’ll dip my big toe back in.

  • baxterbaby

    Oh damn you TLo!  I’ll have to start watching this now!

  • http://twitter.com/rgmx Mercy

    All I could think of regarding this show last night and today was that director basically forcing that young starlet into his bed… tones of Marilyn, maybe?  I’m going to be pissed if the story reinforces the idea that the “good” girl who turned down director sex is somehow morally more upstanding than her competition.  The “bad” girl in this case is being sexually victimized and that muddies the waters for me in terms of how much I can root for either starlet.  Neither one of them will win that starring role on the moral high ground unless that director gets destroyed.  Just my opinion.

    • Violina23

      I think the show is doing a pretty good job of identifying the flaws in both girls. As much as I find myself relating more to Karen in this past episode (I hate it when people “play dumb” to try to criticize you indirectly to those in charge! Argh!), I don’t see Ivy as the unequivocal bad girl — if anything, her biggest flaw is that she’s SO insecure that she was WILLING to jump into bed with the director.  And that clearly didn’t help, given the reaction to seeing the director flirt with the lady in the yellow dress.  I predict a full-on melt-down when she realizes she may lose her dream role. 

      And Karen — she clearly doesn’t know how to be a team player yet, she is used to being the best of the best where she’s from. I loved that she had to “learn”now to be a chorus (excuse me, ensemble!) member.  I think her reactions to Ivy’s shenanigans and the injustices (real or perceived) during rehearsal show how naive she is, and how being the sweet, innocent, victim is not going to help her either.
      I predict they’ll be best of friends by the end of season 1… and if there is a season 2, they’ll probably fight over a guy or something ;-)

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

        Agree that she’s much more naive and insecure than victim.

        The reason I really like Ivy and why I think she’s better for Marilyn than Karen, in spite of how drawn I am to Karen, is because she really embodies the character and knows it so much better and she really IS a pro. She is really doing her homework. I’m concerned that I won’t actually buy that Ivy is messing up the role, after watching the previews.  I want Karen to succeed, but I don’t want it to be too easy for her… 

      • miwome

        I hesitate to call it insecurity. To me it has to do with the dichotomy the writers keep drawing between Karen (Not Of The Business) and Ivy (Of The Business). Karen had no idea why Derek called her to his place in the middle of the night and was shocked when she figured it out. Ivy saw it coming ten blocks away and was prepared to do it, because she knows this is a thing that happens and she’s already decided she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get this role.

        I’m not saying that makes her a “bad girl,” nor that it means she feels fine about it–not at all. The real girls who go through this do not feel fine about it, generally. It’s just that she accepted the shitty situation as part of the world she lives in, and Karen didn’t–not because she’s So Pure, necessarily, but because she’s naive.

        I also wonder what Karen might have done if she hadn’t had Saint Dev waiting at home. I honestly think things might have gone differently without that variable in play.

  • LesYeuxHiboux

    It might just be me but I find nearly everyone on this show almost unlikable. Maybe not Dev, but Karen’s little hissy fit didn’t exactly endear her to me. Boyfriend’s right, you signed up for ensemble even if you’re still hoping for a shot at star. It’s a really fun show and I love watching it, but I think everyone is pretty yucky. Probably why I’m not in showbiz.

  • GorgeousThings

    Oh I don’t know, I kind of like the drink throwing scenes. I even threw a drink in a guy’s face once. It was a long time ago, but he thoroughly deserved it and I still look back on it with relish. I do like that Eileen is coming together more, and that Angelica is getting to finally do some real acting.

    Agree completely about the “Let’s show them how the chorus dances” turning into Katherine Ross and the Rossetts. But that party musical number made the show a worthwhile watch for me.

    • CozyCat

      I kind of like the drink throwing as well.  It’s a shtick, but it’s a shtick bowered from old movies.  And Smash is doing a highly entertaining reboot of all those old backstage movie musicals about putting on a musical (The Band Wagon, Singing in the Rain, etc.), so it fits.  Everything old is new again.

      I do wish I shared your memory of doing my own drink throwing.  I certainly dated a couple of guys who deserved it….

  • CassandraMortmain

    I’m enjoying the show a lot.  And it couldn’t be more dissimilar to Glee.  But I wasn’t entirely pleased with the direction they took in  this episode.  It’s been obvious from the first ep that the Karen vs. Ivy competition was going to play out over the season but I hate that they’ve turned Ivy into a bit of a bitch.  It’s bad enough that she often comes across as dumb as a box of rocks and ridiculously naive for someone who’s been kicking around Broadway for 10 years.  I thought her reaction to Karen totally trying to upstage her (whether it was intentional or just because she’s such a newbie) was entirely justified.  But she handled it so poorly.  And I really just want to shake her and tell her to walk away from Derek.  Who is such a snake.  A gorgeous, sexy, talented snake.  But a snake nonetheless.  I guess I’m in the Ivy camp, simply because I find Katharine McPhee about as exciting as a warm glass of milk.  She’s beautiful and has great pipes but she’s so boring.  And I hate that the deck has been stacked so solidly in her favor on the show.  She’s got it all – the sexy, successful boyfriend, the loving and supportive parents, big talent, and she got to keep her integrity by refusing Derek.  And in no time flat she’s turned the rest of the chorus against Ivy all while butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.  Ivy’s making it hard but I’m rooting for her.

    I loved every scene with Anjelica Huston last night.   So glad that she didn’t have to throw a drink in anyone’s face. 

    I did read an article in NY Magazine that implied that they might very well bring the show to Broadway.

  • CassandraMortmain

    I’m enjoying the show a lot.  And it couldn’t be more dissimilar to Glee.  But I wasn’t entirely pleased with the direction they took in  this episode.  It’s been obvious from the first ep that the Karen vs. Ivy competition was going to play out over the season but I hate that they’ve turned Ivy into a bit of a bitch.  It’s bad enough that she often comes across as dumb as a box of rocks and ridiculously naive for someone who’s been kicking around Broadway for 10 years.  I thought her reaction to Karen totally trying to upstage her (whether it was intentional or just because she’s such a newbie) was entirely justified.  But she handled it so poorly.  And I really just want to shake her and tell her to walk away from Derek.  Who is such a snake.  A gorgeous, sexy, talented snake.  But a snake nonetheless.  I guess I’m in the Ivy camp, simply because I find Katharine McPhee about as exciting as a warm glass of milk.  She’s beautiful and has great pipes but she’s so boring.  And I hate that the deck has been stacked so solidly in her favor on the show.  She’s got it all – the sexy, successful boyfriend, the loving and supportive parents, big talent, and she got to keep her integrity by refusing Derek.  And in no time flat she’s turned the rest of the chorus against Ivy all while butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.  Ivy’s making it hard but I’m rooting for her.

    I loved every scene with Anjelica Huston last night.   So glad that she didn’t have to throw a drink in anyone’s face. 

    I did read an article in NY Magazine that implied that they might very well bring the show to Broadway.

  • CassandraMortmain

    I’m enjoying the show a lot.  And it couldn’t be more dissimilar to Glee.  But I wasn’t entirely pleased with the direction they took in  this episode.  It’s been obvious from the first ep that the Karen vs. Ivy competition was going to play out over the season but I hate that they’ve turned Ivy into a bit of a bitch.  It’s bad enough that she often comes across as dumb as a box of rocks and ridiculously naive for someone who’s been kicking around Broadway for 10 years.  I thought her reaction to Karen totally trying to upstage her (whether it was intentional or just because she’s such a newbie) was entirely justified.  But she handled it so poorly.  And I really just want to shake her and tell her to walk away from Derek.  Who is such a snake.  A gorgeous, sexy, talented snake.  But a snake nonetheless.  I guess I’m in the Ivy camp, simply because I find Katharine McPhee about as exciting as a warm glass of milk.  She’s beautiful and has great pipes but she’s so boring.  And I hate that the deck has been stacked so solidly in her favor on the show.  She’s got it all – the sexy, successful boyfriend, the loving and supportive parents, big talent, and she got to keep her integrity by refusing Derek.  And in no time flat she’s turned the rest of the chorus against Ivy all while butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.  Ivy’s making it hard but I’m rooting for her.

    I loved every scene with Anjelica Huston last night.   So glad that she didn’t have to throw a drink in anyone’s face. 

    I did read an article in NY Magazine that implied that they might very well bring the show to Broadway.

  • Joan Roseman

    I may be off base here — wouldn’t surprise me in the least — but I got the impression that when Karen broke out of the ensemble in the nightclub she was doing a variation on the “rehearsal turns into full-blown performance” gimmick we have seen before, only with diffused lighting and better wardrobe.  Here she just fantasy-stepped-out and became the star she’s yearning to be.  Yes?  No?  If no, then I’ve got a bit of whiplash from mixed messaging.

  • Lilithcat

    I do not get the appeal of McPhee.  She is just so generic.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Janet-Paquette/741703114 Janet Paquette

      I love Smash but I’ve knocked around a ton of professional musical theatre productions and there’s NO WAY McPhee would have have a chance at that role in the real world.  

      • miwome

        Oh, lord no.

  • granddelusion

    I have more of an issue with Derek having sex with Ivy than I do with Ivy having sex with Derek. He’s abusing his position, and her in the process.

  • http://twitter.com/anacedillo Ana Cedillo

    I really enjoy this show, I just started watching it last night and was hooked in the first 15 mins. I am all caught up now, and I have to agree I love and admire how at the beginning I couldnt figure out who to root for. I wanted to root for Karen because she is the underdog, but there was sometihng interesting about Ivy, so I couldnt pick at all. Now Ivy is being a bit of bitch, and I agree I like it, and I am still kind of in between teams! ahh soo good I am so hooked on this show 

  • http://twitter.com/anacedillo Ana Cedillo

    Also, I cant not like Jerry, Ilene’s maybe soon-to-be exhusband. I think they are still in love, I think they enjoy eachother, and I think things might get worse for them but probably wont end up divorced. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/mrsmocknbyrd Stephanie Cooper

    I can’t watch it. I can’t get past Katharine McPhee’s voice. It really, really annoys me. So, naturally, a show in which she stars is just not gonna work for me. 

  • CQAussie

    I found the evolution of both Ivy and Karen fascinating.  Ivy may be a veteran in the business but she was still naive about her relationship with Derek.  Karen is of course the novice but she needed to understand how the business worked and Ivy’s friends helped lay down some harsh truths: sometimes you gotta suck it up and get on with it, even if it’s just to open up opportunities down the line.  There’s a time for team work and there’s a time for your inner diva to shine.  Still loving this show but I have to say it seemed a bit of a whiplash for Ivy’s friends to all of a sudden go from bitchy to helpful.  Minor quibble though and I guess they had to find a way to bridge the gap.  Plus it wasn’t totally out of the blue, the convo between Ivy’s friend and Karen outside the studio helped to set up the intervention that followed.  Great show, looking forward to next week’s episode.

    • CarolinLA

      I like that Ivy is conflicted about whether sleeping with Derek got her the job.  She wants her talent to be the only factor and I like her naivete about that.  I thought Megan Hilty did a terrific job of being bitchy and trying to cover it at the same time.   Plus the fact that anyone can be replaced at any time in a show hangs over the cast.  The only thing I’m not buying is Ellis, the assistant to Tom.  The actor is good but just not the storyline.

  • http://smalldog.wordpress.com/ C.

    Come on, TLo.  Everyone knows the best way to get over one TV musical themed show is to get under another one!

  • MilaXX

    Can’t say I like Ivy go full on bitch mode. Ambitious I like, scheming not so much. I also think Karen at times comes across a little too wide eyed and innocent.

  • http://twitter.com/jerseyemo Edwina

    Yes! I loved it also, start to finish. Whew. After last week’s episode, I was quite sad that my hopes for a riveting show about Broadway were dashed. There were all kinds of suspensions of disbelief moments but when something is entertaining, I suspend away. I hope they are on a groove now.

  • EliseC

    I was actually worried to read your post, because I was afraid that you’d point out all sorts of negative things about the episode that I LOVED.  Good to see that we felt similarly :)  I love this show.  

  • Eva_baby

    I want to like this show but….I just…I can’t.

    First I feel like I am being manipulated into rooting for Karen.  We know Kat McPhee is positioned as the star, all the pre-show hard-core press was telling me so.  The show is Mary-Sueing her up the ying yang.  And all it is doing is making me dig in my heels and root against her.  Why not just present both women as equal, viable possibilities and not lift up one and drag down the other unnecessarily? 

    And Second, well, I think Kat McPhee has all the charisma of lint.  She has such dead eyes.  I think I could have been able to enjoy this show even with the Mary-Sue Karen if the actor had been almost anyone else.

    • Jessica Mann Gutteridge

      I feel exactly the same way. I really don’t like McPhee at all, and I rather do like Hilty, and I wish they would stop forcing one down my throat. I was hopeful at first that they would carefully develop a Team Ivy and Team Karen sort of rivalry in which both were equally talented and likable, so as an audience member you could root for your girl.

  • GenXcellent

    This is the first episode that I’ve really enjoyed, I like where the story line is going..a little soapy but fun. 

    The thing I DON’T like about the show is the Marilyn musical. I wish they had went with a different concept.   I just don’t find it that interesting…not because Marilyn Monroe wasn’t fascinating but because the whole idea of people trying to *be* her always seems kind of half-assed and caricatured in a way that usually bugs me.  And Ivy’s portrayal is no exception.  

    Also…I wish evil assistant was just regular assistant, b/c he was so cute and happy in the party-production number. I don’t want to have to not like him and his scheming girlfriend/”friend.” 

  • BookishBren

    Last week’s episode had me afraid this show wasn’t going to make it and then this week —BAM! It was back. The going home stuff last week made the show lose focus and it got it back. I find myself annoyed that Ivy is bullying Karen, which means I am simply putty in their hands. 

    I adored Will and Grace but was really more of a fan of Jack and Karen. I actually find Debra Messing to be simply wonderful in this new show. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/alison.sigman Alison Sigman

    I stopped watching Glee about 3 episodes into this season. While I still read your recaps, I was glad I wasn’t really wasting my time. That being said, I am so glad you two added this show to your roster. It was killing me to watch the episode before I read the recap, but I didn’t want to get any preconceived notions. I really loved the “Rumors” number but I think that’s because I took it to a Glee world where when she was singing, she was off in her head, like she was during the “Call Me” number from a couple of weeks ago (which I loved!). I think it was supposed to show the audience that while she’ll play along in the chorus, she still dreams and yearns for the front of the stage. I can’t think that those other bitchy Ivy followers would turn around so quickly & keep turned around if she were to actually do that. BTW, what WAS up with their “Oh dear Karen” thing? Did they ALL THE SUDDEN remember they’re not on Ivy’s “level” yet either & wanted to watch out for their own? 

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

    When are we going to see some good choreography on this show???

  • beebee10

    totally loving this show! thanks for blogging it. And I am glad you broke up with Glee cuz he was crazy!

  • http://twitter.com/aStudiobytheSea a Studio by the Sea

    I think it’s fairly obvious between watching Glee and this show that when they have a weak performer and know it, they shoot the musical number with a spotlight on the singer and keep the rest of the cast as much in the shadows as possible. Its not that McPhee isn’t talented, but she hasn’t shown us the extroverted charisma of a good theatre performer that counts for more than looks, voice, or movement. Every time the show’s Broadway pros talk about how amazing she is, they sound like idiots.

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

    “In fact, Smash seems determined not to break any ground, offering very familiar storylines and characters, even if they’re relatively rare for TV. ”

    I was thinking yesterday that it seems like we’re getting a TV version of “A Chorus Line” mixed with “Fame”, with maybe a few other elements thrown in. But the whole ‘does she get the part or not’ theme is reminiscent of Chorus Line’s “I Hope I Get It”. That said, I like the show, though the actress playing Ivy seems to be taking her cues from the Broadway of 50 years ago – almost as though she’s letting her idea of the Marilyn persona drive her life outside the theater.

  • SVLynn

    I’m on a rebound romance from Glee with Smash as well. This show is just so much fun, and the original songs are really good. McPhee has a beautiful voice, but I agree with alot of the comments, she so blah, you just want them to inject her with a little Broadway razzle dazzle she’s missing that big spark/it factor they all have when you go see a Broadway show.

  • fridacormorant

    I’m loving this show, even as I roll my eyes occasionally at the “42nd Street meets Star is Born” plot tropes.  Great fun.

    If someone has already said this, let me know, but from the first episode, I saw Ivy as a great representation of the public image of Marilyn, the irrepressibly sexy blond seductress, and Karen as the vulnerable, insecure (and unspoiled)  brunette Norma Jean.  I wouldn’t find a musical about Marilyn at all compelling if it focused on one and not the other.  The first two episodes had Karen and Ivy performing the numbers head to head, as virtual duets with editing, and each brought those different qualities and made the songs very different.  And Ivy seems to have problems with expressing Marilyn’s fears and doubts (at least in the rehearsal scene in the second episode).

    As I imagine myself to be a writer in my rich fantasy life, I’ve already plotted Smash’s next twists and turns.  We know the book of the musical is in flux.  I’m waiting for an “aha” moment when someone realizes that Marilyn should be played by both, with Ivy/Marilyn doing the brassy public performances and whenever she’s “on” and Karen/Norma Jean doing the private, needy Norma Jean, with reprises of the numbers in each persona.  Gimmicky?  You betcha, but it actually would be a gimmick that would give the Marilyn musical a bit more dimension and texture, which it needs, even for a fictional musical.  As it stands, they are selling the iconic Marilyn short.

    Think of the motherlode of bitchy plot opportunities for the dueling duet of stars!  Think of the possibilities for distressing overlap or conflict between each character and her version of MM/NJ!  

    I have not registered this with the Writer’s Guild.  Free idea.  For the taking.

    • Leah Vildaver

      THIS!! I was thinking this exact thing after watching this episode! So glad somebody else had the same AHA moment! :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Margaret-Carlson-Nikoleit/100002490979930 Margaret Carlson Nikoleit

      I said basically the same thing (not as eloquently) to my husband after last week’s episode. Probably many of us have had the same thought!

  • homespunner

    Anjelica Huston and Nick Jonas – together? On tv? Oy. (Gonna hate me for saying this, but AH isn’t impressing me. I’ll cut her some slack and say the dialogue they’ve given her is just awful.) 

    • Lulu Lafurge

      I agree on questioning the use of both AH and NJ, homespunner. I thought I liked Anjelica, but I dislike watching her here. Her dialogue is particularly generic and crappy, but I don’t see any attempt at adding any more dimension to this character on her part. I must find something of hers to watch that she’s good in. Any recommendations?

      As for Nick Jonas. Whuuuuuuuh? If this series wanted to approximate reality, they’d add some material to that “Lyle entertains at his birthday party” scene – i.e., they’d cut to the real Broadway vets whispering, “Who did he have to [bleep] to get that Oliver! role?” and,  “Well, we can see why he made it big on TV.”

      • homespunner

        Going waaaaay back, “The Grifters” is one of my all time favorite movies and AH is stellar in it – my opinion.

  • http://twitter.com/kwsu44 Kelley Warner

    Pretty sure that Karen’s singing in Rumor Has It when she was in front of the backup dancers was her fantasy sequence (a la the first episode, when she was singing Over the Rainbow)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NLFJ3IXKJ3Z52CDSMWBA32SIGQ meka

    so, can anyone tell me what the jonas kid was referring to when he told AH he wanted “points” for investing in the show?

    • LesYeuxHiboux

       I believe it’s like points on a record album: for every copy (ticket) sold there are say, 100 points. If you have a point you get a hundredth of the amount paid for each ticket. Could only be a dollar a ticket but when you get a hit show that runs for a few years, the money is nothing to sneer at.

  • mike__tv

     LOL, Emma’s dress has taken her hostage, either that or she forgot the safety word, psst it’s “Lindsey”, I could do this forever, Emma looks like she got T P’d by a goth, not satisfied with a chastity belt emma invents the chastity dress. …the fuck indeed. However,  she is still hot as a tin roof and can be forgiven for this self hating dress. Maybe Jim Carey dressed her so she couldn’t run away during the show. 

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

    Oh Karen/Katharine McPhee is so pure.  she’s so clean.  She would never have sex.  It’s so dirty and nasty.  Only sluts have sex.  She’s in a committed relationship so she’s better.  She’s so angst-ridden, too.  I think the Karen character is so over-wrought, such a cliche, and the girl can’t act.  The guy dancing next to her in “Rumour has it” has more stage presence and was 1000 times more interesting than her.  
    Seems like the show is trying to prove Nick Jonas is not gay.  There must be rumors about him.  
    The woman playing Ivy is so incredibly talented.  The attempt to make her bad because she has sex is silly, and very anti-women.

  • girliecue

    I watched the first two episodes as aired, then the third and fourth back-to-back. I’m definitely hooked now, but probably wouldn’t be if it weren’t for the back-to-back viewing which gave the show’s stories the uninterrupted flow necessary for momentum. It’s better than most shows on the tube, but I’m afraid to give my tender heart to a musical show again after the Glee debacle, which I stopped watching a couple of shows into this season.

    Anyway, it’s ironic this episode was about being a star and how to turn up (Ivy) or down (Karen) star power, because the person’s whose star power knocked my socks off was Debra Messing. When they performed the Wolf song at the party I couldn’t take my eyes off her, even when she was in a dimly lighted corner of the scene. Karen and Ivy who?? Debra Messing has IT, whatever IT is, in spades! I won’t bemoan the demise of ‘Will and Grace” because then I’ll never shut up, I just want to say welcome back, Debra! I found myself thinking exactly what I thought by 5 minutes into the first ‘Will and Grace’ episode: if anyone was born to be a star, Debra Messing is that person.

  • NasserShaheen

    I liked the fact that Karen’s new friends took her to task for overdoing it. Yes Ivy was a diva, but there was a real reason for her to slap Karen down. Ivy isn’t a ‘bitch’, she’s an insecure star, something made obvious at the end.

    The writing on this show is superb. I am in awe of their mastery. We’re so lucky having a gem like this to watch once a week.