Checking in on “Smash”

Posted on April 17, 2012

So, a handful of people asked us what happened to our Smash post last week. Nothing happened to it. It doesn’t exist. We figured we were doing you all a service because yet another post from us about how we hate the direction of the show and don’t care about Julia’s mouth-breathing son and angry husband, or Tom’s dating prospects, or Dev’s job prospect would be awfully boring. At the risk of repeating ourselves (which is why we didn’t do a review last week in the first place): For a TV drama about the development of a Broadway musical, they sure do go to a lot of effort to make every episode about anything BUT the development of a Broadway musical.

And we’ve thought about this; probably for much longer than we should have. Workplace dramas abound on television and they’re usually about cops, lawyers, or doctors. In order to make all those cops, lawyers and doctors seem relatable and like well-rounded characters, you have to spend at least a little time in their personal lives. We totally get that. But it’s a matter of ratio. If your average Law & Order episode spend 40 minutes on some cop’s marriage and only 20 minutes on an actual case, it wouldn’t fly; not for very long, anyway. But because Smash has such an unusually large cast – and because several of the cast members came into the show fairly well known, it seems the writers felt they had to spend a lot of time giving them something to do. In other words, we spend so much time on Julia and Eileen’s family and relationship problems because Julia and Eileen are portrayed by an Emmy and Oscar-winning actor, respectively.

If we’re feeling generous, we might say that there are ways to make characters like Julia and Eileen more interesting, but something struck us while we were watching last night’s episode: Almost all of the non-musical-production drama in this series revolves around people getting it on or failing to get it on. Apparently, the writers of Smash think all drama arises out of sexual relationships, which is both lame and a bit lazy. Ivy and Derek. Eileen and her ex-husband and new boyfriend. Tom and his (apparently) ex-boyfriend and new chorus boy crush. Julia and her husband and her lover. Karen and Dev (and Dev’s pushy colleague). Ellis and Rebecca Duvall’s assistant. It almost makes us wish for the days when Julia was writing letters to her imaginary Chinese baby. There ARE other stories to tell besides “couple is having problems” or “couple is falling in love/lust,” writers.

To make matters worse, absolutely nothing in the story ever comes as a surprise. Things play out exactly as you would expect them to. Dev has a pushy work colleague who has the hots for him, so you know exactly what’s going to happen there. Ivy starts popping pills, so you know a public crash and humiliation is in the offing. Tom and Sam’s eventual date was signaled from their very first meeting. Julia’s adultery threatens her marriage and her relationship with her son. Eileen meets a gruff but sexy bartender and winds up pursuing (or letting herself be pursued by) him. Ellis schemes until someone calls him on his scheming. Karen sings and everyone within a 5-mile radius is awestruck at her good, but hardly awe-inspiring voice. A Hollywood actress is brought on board and acts exactly like everyone would expect a Hollywood actress to act: flaky, self-absorbed, and not talented enough for Broadway. There hasn’t been one development in the story that we didn’t see coming from ten miles away.

But something else struck us as we were watching last night’s episode: This cast is actually quite good and as the (lame, predictable) story plods on, they’re getting better in their scenes together and more comfortable in their characters’ skins. It’s fun to watch Tom and Julia interact, or Ivy and Karen, or Derek and Ivy, or Derek and Karen, or even Tom and Sam. Less so with Eileen and her various interactions, but that’s probably not Anjelica Huston’s fault because Eileen remains one of the least-developed characters on the show. The cast is talented and likeable; it’s the writing that’s letting them down over and over again.

Oh, and Derek being awe-struck over Karen’s Marilyn is laughable, considering she looks and sounds absolutely nothing like Marilyn and Katherine McPhee is not a particularly good actress. Those hallucinations of his are getting to be pretty unintentionally hilarious.

Glee started out with a very strong concept which it then squandered and lost sight of; Smash started off with a very strong cast, but obviously doesn’t know what to do with them. We’re done with Glee because we can only be punished in so many ways and for so long, but Smash still holds our attention. We want this show to work, but sometimes we think we want it to work more than the actual creators of the show do. So yes, we’re still watching the show, but we can’t guarantee weekly reviews because like we said, there’s only so many ways we can say “We don’t care about X; can we please get back to the musical?”

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Clydette-Wantland/673315286 Clydette Wantland

      Agree.  Way too predictable plots but can’t stop watching because of the cast.

    • Erika Swain

      “Oh, and Derek being awe-struck over Karen’s Marilyn is laughable, considering she looks and sounds absolutely nothing like Marilyn and Katherine McPhee is not a particularly good actress.” – Thank god…I thought I was the only one who laughed at this….I truly don’t belive that if this were real life Katherine McPhee would ever have a chance at a Marilyn role.  These fantasies are just silly.

      • JosephLamour

        Whenever she speaks as Marilyn it sounds like she has some sort of speech impediment.

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

        No… I tweeted this last night, and some random person in the twittersphere tweeted me back to agree. Karen is cute and all and she sounds fine, but she IS NOT MARILYN. never will be. let’s stop pretending here. The ONE smart thing they’ve done is NOT to give the part to her, because no amount of suspension of disbelief could have made that one work.

        • http://twitter.com/bstolemyremote bitchstolemyremote

          Oh come on – they’re totally building it up to give it to her, though! It’s just a matter of time. They probably think it’s dramatically “tense” to string it out this long. Guaranteed that the finale will be a “who gets to play Marilyn” cliffhanger ALL OVER AGAIN

      • UrsNY

        Totally agree! Karen’s too remote & controlled emotionally. The part calls for a bit of chaos swirling around all the “wanting to be loved” stuff. Pete Campbell on MM embodies this same trait gone bad with external aggression. Marilyn’s bad is internalized, but no less pitiable. I doubt anything about Karen’s soft touch life has ever given her the emotional scope to understand that kind of self-loathing and need. And the idea that experienced and astute Derek not understanding that is not believable.

        • fursa_saida

           She also looks nothing like Marilyn physically, and the stuff she has to wear to be in Marilyn drag looks terrible on her. I mean, it looks TERRIBLE. Someday she will wonder why on earth she let people dress her up in some of the least-flattering things possible for her and put her on national television. (The answer is money, but that’s not the point right now.)

          • UrsNY

            I agree. It’s a bad look for her. In her defense, that brand of artifice doesn’t translate well on anyone today. Everything’s either natural-squared or performance art fake. The buxom bombshell look has been quarantined in the porn industry and reality tv for a decade.

            • fursa_saida

               I get your point, but I sitll think Ivy wears it infinitely better than Karen. Like, I see the fantasy sequences with Ivy and I’m all, “Oh, I see, she’s Marilyn Monroe,” and then the fantasy sequences with Karen actually scare me a little. It just looks so. wrong. on her.

            • onetinkerbell

              Agreed, except that Ivy’s face is way to square and it keeps her from looking enough like Marilyn to have the suspension of disbelief, too. My husband referred to it unflatteringly as ‘porn star jaw’. What makes Ivy work as Marilyn is her insecurity and need to prove herself. Karen is, unfortunately, being played like Pollyanna – which only works if you think that Marilyn was the wide-eyed bimbo she was always typecast as – specifically Pola Debevoise in “How to Marry a Millionaire”.

      • https://twitter.com/Gayer_Than_Thou Gayer Than Thou

        I call it the ice-skating movie phenomenon (or, if you prefer, the ballet movie phenomenon): the movie is about people doing things that are beyond the skills of the actors playing the roles.  Same here — McPhee is appealing, and she can sing, but there’s no way she’d be cast in a Broadway show.  (Well, I say that, but: she got herself cast in a TV show, and snobbery about TV aside, that’s not nothing.)

        • lordandtaylor

          How about the break dance movie phenomenon or the roller skating movie phenomenon?

        • Browsery

          Don’t forget the gymnastics movie genre.  How can you be plump and credibly play Nadia Comaneci?

      • http://onebluetree.blogspot.com/ Sara L.

         YES. Everytime she dresses up as Marilyn it is ridiculous. Ivy is Marilyn, Karen is somebody dressed as a Marilyn impersonator. I am so glad that other people are as puzzled as I by the cast essentially falling all over themselves to praise her. I am a musician, I have been to auditions, and people who are perky and nice don’t get jobs over people who are bitchy and messed up UNLESS THEY ARE BETTER.  That’s how it works. And Karen is definitely not better than, well, pretty much anyone in that cast.

    • MzzPants

      Thank you for posting about ‘Smash’.  I’m still watching, hoping that they’ll bring back the knock-out musical numbers.  For me, it would be wonderful to see them dive into the entire spectrum of people involved in putting on a show….costumers, musicians, tech people, etc… It would be far more interesting than shady bartenders and boring lovers. 

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

      So sad for this show, I was so looking forward to a behind the scenes peek of making a musical (even if in TV drama form). Haven’t even see the latest episode, but K. McPhee with her doe eyed persona is getting so annoying. Ivy’s Marilyn was on the nose and besides- why would you  kick out your unknown Marilyn for a star Marilyn and put a plain chorus girl as understudy? Wouldn’t it make more sense to get your star /Marliyn and put your unknown Marilyn as understudy?

      • cluecat

        Yeah, I was hoping for more of the process of making a musical – instead it’s a bad soap opera with a couple of added music videos each week.  

        I think they explained that Ivy didn’t get the understudy role because of her meltdown during the Heaven and Earth performance.  

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/J2VE4NE2FY2BP4QD2XOYKJGLPI Laura

        well you see Ivy had her very public meltdown, so she’s unstable…

      • Terence Ng

        It’s not about musicals, but a friend of mine said that the now-cancelled Canadian show “Slings and Arrows” is a show that Smash haters point to as the one that did it better. It was a show about the behind the scenes of putting on a Shakespeare play in a fictional town in Canada famous for its Shakespeare performances (much like Stratford, Ontario).

        • http://profile.yahoo.com/J2VE4NE2FY2BP4QD2XOYKJGLPI Laura

          that was a pretty good show. Wouldn’t have been a hit on American TV, though…

    • http://twitter.com/hmbscully WendyD

      I finally broke up with Glee a few months ago. (But I’d still go see the live tour if they do it.) And Smash is getting the axe now too. Both make me sad because the potential was so huge and was just squandered.

    • lojoso

      Just because I agree with everything you say doesn’t mean I don’t want to see you say it. ;)

    • StelledelMare

      I’m still watching and I’m still enjoying it for the most part. The number Tom did last week sort of saved it for me. I prefer when they do the showtune-y types songs over the modern ones. So I’ll stick with it. But just think boys, Revenge returns tomorrow, so at least that’s something.

      • introspective

        Toms number was AMAZING! loved it. Was so hoping this meant the return of the musical weve all been craving. But then the show went straight back to the subplots nobody cares about…

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

        I LOVED Tom! he was really good, and it made me think “well DUH he can sing. he’s in MUSICALS…”
        also REVENGE!

    • http://twitter.com/SparklyCasanova UglyCasanova

      I was hoping this show would do better with Story.  Story seems to be subsided by producers who must implement, “but that’s what the audience wants, SEX!”.  Come back Story, we miss you.  And please, can we kill off Julia’s son, ugh, I cringe for the boy every time I see him speak.  

      TLo, ever think of pitching a t.v. show to Hollywood?  Since you’re getting more well known and all.  

    • Annie Leung

      Completely agree! SMASH used to be one of my absolute must-sees on Monday and now I find myself nodding off halfway through. The plots are tired and completely driven by romantic (or strictly sexual) relationships and I wonder why no one took a stand against Rebecca when she swooped in to rewrite the musical. She’s an actress, not a writer and no matter how much they “need” her, she shouldn’t be allowed to change the integrity of the show. When do Tom and Julia have time to write these extensive scenes that Rebecca is demanding anyways? I do have hopes that the show will improve, especially now that there will be a new showrunner.

      I can safely say that I miss your live tweets though.

      • CozyCat

        I actually have some hope for the “Rebecca re writes the play” plotline.   Some of the best movies about making a movie/play involve a version of the work that is just bad.  “Singing in the Rain” has the first talkie (sp?) version where you hear the female star’s voice.  “The Band Wagon” has the “faustian” version of the play.  There are some possibilites in seeing how far they are will to bend before the ultimate blowup.  Yes, it’s  a little predictable.  But sometimes it’s fun to watch a predictable plotline if it’s well done.

        Ah, “well done.”  That’s going to be the problem, isn’t it….

      • Enferdame

        It’s amazing what the big Hollywood stars can get written into their contracts when they do theatre. Asking for some creative control is, I feel, probably not unusual. Most probably don’t exercise it, but I know of at least one who did absolutely try to rewrite a show. Granted, that show stalled, and never made it to Broadway after the out-of-town tryouts, in part because in order to break the contract with said star they had to shut down the entire production, and any attempts to start it up again with a new lead could’ve meant the crazy one could sue them.
        Big gold stars to anyone who knows what show I could be talking about…. I’ve got a few horror stories about that one.

    • lilibetp

      I think the thing with Derek hallucinating about Karen as Marilyn may be that he’s falling in love with her.  The first time he sees it, she’s singing “Never Give All the Heart.”  Now, she’s singing “Our Time Will Come.”  Karen is probably the first woman Derek has ever apologized to for sexually harrassing her.

      • introspective

        I see what youre saying about this being a way to introduce a romantic subplot between Derek and Karen. But really? Are the writers going to give everythig of Ivy’s over to Karen? First the Marilyn role and then her man too? And saddle her with a drug addiction to boot? They must really want to see Ivy hit rock bottom and then conjure up a speedy comeback that will be really hard to believe at the end of the day given all the shit thats gone wrong for her in a matter of a few episodes.

        Just like its really hard to believe that Ivy could be so easily outpaced by Karen during the episodes when there was a musical still happening on this show. Hiltys voice and acting chops run rings around McPhee. Period. Cant suspend my disbelief at all for how long this whole “Ivys off her game” thing has lasted…

        • Terence Ng

          Also, even if he’s falling in love with Karen, how many pairings are we going to get? This is some straight up Gossip Girl levels of incest here. Every character will be paired with every other character until no other pairings are left unexplored.

    • Violina23

      I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said here, but I thought the last two episodes were a marked improvement from the low point, which (IMO) was the last episode you blogged. I still find myself looking forward to this show each week, for the breadcrumbs of broadway they give us, plus the great cast

      • Geoff Dankert

        Agreed. Monday night’s episode was actually pretty strong, though I agree that the plot developments are a little obvious. And TLo are, as usual, correct: the cast is generally quite good … and I don’t hate Kat McPhee as much as some of the commentariat. The biggest surprise for me has been Debra Messing. I loved me some Grace Adler back in the day, but she’s almost the best thing about the cast.

        • Violina23

          I don’t hate Katherine McPhee either –I doubt many people do. It’s just a lot to ask for an audience to believe that she’s on the cusp of broadway stardom when she, quite frankly, is not. It’s even more dramatic when you put her next to Megan Hilty.  

          I LOVE the chemistry between Julia & Tom.  Maybe because it’s the ONE RELATIONSHIP where they can’t possibly ruin by making it sexual!

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/J2VE4NE2FY2BP4QD2XOYKJGLPI Laura

      Yeah, I find myself still watching because 1 – there’s nothing else on on Monday nights except Castle, which I also Tivo and 2 – occasionally there are good moments or good musical numbers (I loved last week’s number with Tom singing and dancing) and I do like the actors, but I find myself fast forwarding through a lot of it and switching to Castle instead. 

      I think Katherine McPhee might be a better actress if the material were better, like most of them. I really wish they’d do more interesting things with her too – very one dimensional. I find Megan Hilty to be one of the best actors on the show and I can’t wait until she inevitably becomes Marilyn again. Some of the chorus members are horrific, too (one kid keeps flipping his hair – SO annoying. He’s one of the bitchy ones.)

      It does remind me of the wearisome back and forth of Jane Lynch’s character on Glee that became such a lame distraction, but that came after a couple seasons of interesting stuff. This show is petering out after just a few episodes…

      • lordandtaylor

        I love Castle. Turn to Smash during the commericals.

    • Greg Yoder

      I’ve only seen five or six episodes of Smash, so maybe things have changed, but what really disappoints me about the show is that I was expecting a musical show along the lines of Glee, but most of the central characters do not sing.  So, sure, Ivy and Karen sing, and their numbers are often pretty great, but Julia isn’t singing, Tom, isn’t singing, Eileen isn’t singing, Derek isn’t singing.  At least with Glee almost every main character sang.  Even Sue got the occasional number.  I don’t think a TV show about a musical that isn’t a musical itself makes much sense.  Or at least I don’t like it.

      • http://twitter.com/TMamBo Therese Bohn

         If every character sang, it would be way too much like Glee.  I was hoping this would be about the grit of putting on a show, but great showstopping numbers.  It started out that way, but has stalled terribly.

      • Violina23

        I actually considered this a virtue of the show, that not everyone was singing for the sake of singing!  But then they started breaking out into song in bowling alleys so that was over real fast ;)

      • lilibetp

        Tom has sung.  Do you really want to hear Debra Messing sing?  I get the impression that Jack Davenport and Anjelica Huston may simply be unable to sing (although he’s done a little dancing on the show).

    • MilaXX

      The promo for this show was borderline annoying and I only started watching because everyone was raving about it, but honestly it never really grabbed me. However I realized I had lost interest when I watched Untucked rather than turn and watch SMASH. I’ve lost interest. I may check it out over the summer since it’s been renewed for a second season, but for me this show was never that great to begin with.

    • Diane Crary

      Agreed on all the issues of the show and all the high points.  I blame the network more than I do the writers though - NBC is so concerned with getting a huge audience that I’m sure they’re pushing the writers to write stories for the “every man,” that everyone can relate to, so we have all the ridiculous relationship drama, when the people who they should be writing to are the ones who have been excited aobut this show since it was first announced, the ones who love broadway, who love musicals, who love seeing talented people do their thing and want to know more about a world we don’t get to peek inside of very often, if ever.  But networks rarely care about making niche shows.  You know NBC is terrified of another loser, and so they’ll sacrifice the integrity of the show for the success.  They might get numbers (for now), but they won’t get the same caliber of show. 

      Sidenote: I read TLo like it’s my job, and yet I rarely comment.  Will work harder to change that, thank you for all your brilliant insight, particularly on Mad Men and Mad Style, both of which leave me consistently flooredwith your analysis.  I also broke up with Glee when you did, and have not watched last week’s ep and don’t intend to.  I’ve hated it for so long and I just can’t with it anymore – you guys quitting it too gave me that extra nudge ;)

    • royinhell

      Every time that horrid kid is in a scene I wonder why they cast a 17 year-old in a role that was clearly written (and would be far more interesting) as an 8 year-old.  

      The ‘Dig Deep’ number was embarrassing.  These songs are getting worse every week- just lame pastiche without any punch.  I’m so happy you posted about this- it’s not worth watching without your recaps!

    • beebee10

      I’m still holding on and I missed your post last week….but I understand. The only thing I remember about last week’s empisode was Tom’s musical number, which was great. And I don’t care if it wasn’t realistic that the song writer would get up and do that. It was great and if it’s great, you can get away with a lot. 

      So I hope this show finds its footing. You boys are so right to talk about how talented the cast is. You have super talented people, SMASH producers and writers!!! Have fun with them and write something good. 

    • steve fleischer

      Seems to me that the personal stories are a way to let the musical storyline play out in a reasonable time-frame — much faster than real life, of course, but not in a single season.  If we want to enjoy this unfolding, we have to give it some time.  I’m savoring them as a little bit of filler as the main event is served up in little spoonfuls.  Derek’s hallucinations of Karen’s Marilyn are not so much a personal obsession, but the director unconsciously seeing an actress as the character he is still struggling to cast.  The inexplicable part to me is that all these folks are rehearsing new material and yet can perform entire musical/dance numbers with split second perfection; I’d like to see something that doesn’t work for a change, and not just because Uma Thurman can’t hold a note.  But then again, they could put on two hour episodes 7 days a week and have my attention.

    • http://twitter.com/democracydiva Democracy Diva

      Tom is everything. I can’t stop watching the show solely because of him.

      • http://twitter.com/carelessriver Cassie L

         Okay, I’ll amend my statement above and say they can kill everyone but Tom and Derek, BUT SAVE THOSE TWO. Plus, they should totally be doing it. The hatesex would be hot.

    • http://twitter.com/TMamBo Therese Bohn

      You’ve hit the problem with Smash — too many relationships and not enough of the actual Broadway show.   I enjoyed this show right up to a few weeks ago, when they did that heinus ‘Glee’ tribute in the bowling alley.  WTH???  I watched this show to get away from Glee, (which I ditched a third into this season; it was just getting more and more stupid and I had it with Rachel’s character). But as to Smash, yes, Derek’s obsession with Karen is completely laughable.
      Now as to the music, I loved the music of the Marilyn musical,and would even be willing to buy the CD.  I think it would make a great real Broadway musical (as long as a real life Ivy played Marilyn) But I hated when (also in the bowling episode) they tried to sex it up with Karen doing the psedo-Madonna on the bed number. That whole episode signaled something wrong in Smash-ville. I haven’t see the most recent episode yet, but this review and all the comments are making me think that the producers of this show just don’t know what they have.  I hope for improvement, but if if keeps going like this, it’s days are numbered for me.
      Life is too short for bad television.  Thank God for Mad Men.

    • Terence Ng

      I actually liked the scene where Marilyn McPhee sang “Our Time Will Come”, but not really because of McPhee or how little she looks like Marilyn…I think I just liked the lighting and the feeling of the scene with the song itself. I would have liked it more if Derek’s fantasies had been backed up by some character development that explained why his feelings for Marilyn are so intense (childhood muse?). He was practically what I would describe as “boyish” in that scene. A camera flip during the pan of him suddenly as a young boy who first saw Marilyn would have spoken wonders and made it a lot more interesting. But instead, it comes off as just another manifestation of his weird, sexual obsession with a dead movie icon, so it detracts a bit from what I liked about it.

      I liked Ellis being called out. The whole flirting thing with Duvall’s assistant struck me as outrageously slimy, so I was glad it wrapped up so succinctly.

      I couldn’t help but laugh at the dinner rendezvous scene where Julia is trying to be mature about their son’s failing grades, knowing she is partially if not all to blame, and her husband just ending it talking about how hurt he was. We get, she gets it: You’re hurt. You crying once more about how she betrayed you and saying you have nothing to say really doesn’t get your son anywhere. And mouth-breathing son remains mouth-breathy…Ugh.

      I’m mixed about Rebecca actually being so upfront and real about her level of singing ability and her knowledge of what needed to be done. On the one hand, it’s refreshing to have a character who can actually just say what needs to be said without being circuitous or offensive. That’s how adults SHOULD behave when they’re working with a project. Her recognizing that they wanted to keep it musical, then saying that she needed the key dropped, a lot more vocal support, and addressing the reality of the ballad, and hiring a vocal coach, while maintaining that they need to be honest with her if they’re going to do well were actions that had maturity far beyond anything the rest of the cast has done since the pilot.

      But on the other hand, it’s almost a wish-fulfillment thing to write the character out of being a total trainwreck bitch character. She’s terrible and she wants to change the musical and it’s all being dragged down by her delusional inability to sing….but surprise! she knows she’s terrible and she’s willing to work it all out with a level of understanding about music that is completely out of left field.

      ::shrug::

      Not a terrible episode, but mostly just because Rebecca managed to be far more mature than everyone else in the cast.

    • CarolinLA

      It would be nice to see Derek actually DIRECT instead of just supervise rehearsals.

      • GorgeousThings

        Yeah, and is there a choreographer? Is Derek supposed to be choreographing it?

        This show needs more “All That Jazz” sort of grit.

        • EEKstl

          Exactly!! Before scrolling down I just wrote above that the writers need to rent a copy of “All That Jazz” stat.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RHLSUVX3NCPB4OSS5BM7GZIXUE P. Capet

      i agree totally.  the writing comes from a well-meaning, well-manicured place, but it’s amateurish.  this whole show reminds me of something i would write, because i’ve never written a script in my life.  i’d be very earnest about it, though. 

      but i’m enjoying Smash more because it seems more kitschy as time goes on, and i love kitsch.  i have come to expect nothing more than corny plot lines and contrived dialogue.  i love the silliness of scenes like ellis being all awe-struck over his vision of poor starved karen’s marilyn.  the only explanation i can come up with for this show is that whoever put it together had a huge crush on kat mcphee.

    • GorgeousThings

      I read that the show’s creator won’t be returning for season 2. IMO, that isn’t necessarily bad. Maybe they’ll bring in someone who can get it back on track. It certainly went off the rails after a the first two weeks. I will say, though, that last night’s episode was a great improvement over the last couple. I’m not buying McPhee as any kind of Marilyn, but I do kind of like the tack they are taking with Uma Thurman’s character. And she’s a good enough actress to pull it off. Here’s hoping they pull themselves up as the season draws to a close.

      Oh yes, and can we please have Julia’s family die in a plane crash? That would be a tremendous improvement.

    • http://twitter.com/StickyClicky Barbara Benham

      I so agree on the writing but there is something compelling about this show, it’s good bad television, campy in a satisfying way with an appealing cast. 

    • http://twitter.com/StickyClicky Barbara Benham

      I so agree on the writing but there is something compelling about this show, it’s good bad television, campy in a satisfying way with an appealing cast. 

    • BookishBren

      I think Karen as Karen is hotter than Karen as Marilyn. Of course, I am a straight woman, so what do I know about this. That said, I am really enjoying the show. I also can see where a lot of things are going from a mile away, but that is true of most tv shows these days. 

      And I am nursing quite the crush on Jack Davenport. I never really crushed on him when I watched Coupling, but his sleazy director is doing it for me. I am thinking it could be the gray in his hair. 

      • MilaXX

         I nearly forgot about Coupling. I may have to youtube the giggle loop for old times sake.

    • BookishBren

      I think Karen as Karen is hotter than Karen as Marilyn. Of course, I am a straight woman, so what do I know about this. That said, I am really enjoying the show. I also can see where a lot of things are going from a mile away, but that is true of most tv shows these days. 

      And I am nursing quite the crush on Jack Davenport. I never really crushed on him when I watched Coupling, but his sleazy director is doing it for me. I am thinking it could be the gray in his hair. 

    • BookishBren

      Oh, and Thorsten Kaye’s character with Angelica Houston’s character is completely laughable to me. 

    • BookishBren

      Oh, and Thorsten Kaye’s character with Angelica Houston’s character is completely laughable to me. 

    • beebee10

      I thought this episode had found some footing—like the 2nd episode of the series promised–but then CLUNK!! There goes “our day will come” which was just embarrassing and made me want to turn off the TV. I am not a Karen hater, but that number was horrible–even the music made me feel like I was trapped.  Then the episode got some balance back but WOW! It was hard. 

      Add a dash of bitchy to Julia and more of that for Eileen—these are powerful women who didn’t get where they are by being ‘nice’ or ‘guilty’. When Julia acts strong, instead of just squirmy and guilty, she is compelling. Her best scenes last night were rolling her eyes at Tom and making a reservation for them, then just laying it out there for the school counselor. If the personal-life scenes had that energy, we wouldn’t be so bored/annoyed. 

      They were renewed for a second season and let’s hope some good stuff happens. I read that the creater/writer/producer Theresa Rebeck left, which may not be a good sign. 

    • beebee10

      I thought this episode had found some footing—like the 2nd episode of the series promised–but then CLUNK!! There goes “our day will come” which was just embarrassing and made me want to turn off the TV. I am not a Karen hater, but that number was horrible–even the music made me feel like I was trapped.  Then the episode got some balance back but WOW! It was hard. 

      Add a dash of bitchy to Julia and more of that for Eileen—these are powerful women who didn’t get where they are by being ‘nice’ or ‘guilty’. When Julia acts strong, instead of just squirmy and guilty, she is compelling. Her best scenes last night were rolling her eyes at Tom and making a reservation for them, then just laying it out there for the school counselor. If the personal-life scenes had that energy, we wouldn’t be so bored/annoyed. 

      They were renewed for a second season and let’s hope some good stuff happens. I read that the creater/writer/producer Theresa Rebeck left, which may not be a good sign. 

    • http://twitter.com/HotMessHousWife Sammi M

      Good! More energy now to start talking about “Game of Thrones”! ;D j/k

    • EEKstl

      During last night’s episode I sat there thinking sadly that a show a promising premise has devolved into bored-erline (spelling intentional) dreck.  The writers need to rent a copy of Bob Fosse’s “All That Jazz” stat.

    • http://profiles.google.com/padawansguide Maggie *

      I agree. 

      My enjoyment from reading your (and Alan Sepinwall’s) reviews is the only reason I’m still tuning in though!

    • Funkykatt

      I gave up on this one a couple of weeks ago due to boredom. At least ‘Revenge’ is back this week to make up for it. Yippee!

    • StillGary

      The only thing I like about Karens Marilyn is the hair — is that a really good wig, or what? But it’s hard to accept her and uma because they are so unmarylynesque — both being tall and willowy.

      Anyway, who who groaned at the oh-so-conversationally-thrown-in little “peanut allergy” nugget?  Ah, the plot sickens>>>>>

    • http://twitter.com/Selkiechick Selkiechick

      I am still watching, mostly for the silly musical numbers (love the steamroom number). It occurred to me that part of my problem is that I had absurdly high expectations. I was hoping for a glossier musical centered version of Slings and Arrows, with scenes that were clearly from people’s unlikely ancedotes, and enough of the pricipals outside lives to show how the work does seep into everything you do.

      This is not that show. SIgh.

    • Jay Matlick

      Amen!

    • fatima_bird

      The problem with the relationship focus, for me, is that if I have to pick a side, I usually fall on the side of the supporting actor, although I assume I’m supposed to sympathize with the main character involved. For example, I have no sympathy for Julia, and I think Frank’s reaction to her is totally reasonable. Dev and Karen have very little in common that will drive their relationship to a permanent arrangement, and it makes sense that he’s turning to someone inside his world, who also seems attentive to his life than Karen is at the moment. The chorus boy totally has Tom’s number. And so on. The writing has failed in giving the audience main characters that have very few redeeming qualities.

    • fatima_bird

      Also, for the record, I anxiously await your MadStyle posts, TLo, and I’d much rather read those than reviews of Smash!

    • fursa_saida

      Agree with everything. Just caught up on a couple eps the other night and so I will take a moment to go “BERNADETTE EFFING PETERS SHOWED UP” and then recompose myself.

    • sashaychante

      I am a huge Debra Messing fan.  Wish they would use more of her potential on this show.  I find both of the girls vying for the Marilyn role annoying.  I agree there is far too much relationship stuff on this show, and it’s not very interesting.  

    • lilibetp

      Yeah, I’ve had a major crush on Jack Davenport since the first time I saw his first scene in the first POTC movie – he spoke, I looked up from my popcorn, and that was it.  I will never understand how that silly girl could choose Will over Norrington.  I know they say love is blind, but in this case it would also have to be deaf.

      • cz_vee

        You should watch Coupling then (BBC comedy series, on which Friends is supposedly loosely based or vise-versa). Because he is awesome in it and the show is hilarious. I even endured watching Swingers for a bit because of Jack. But, definitely definitely worthwhile in Coupling.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AZCJWBMM4XIIOLGGTIIVXW5R7I HeatherR

      One minute, the mouth breather is all petulant and hating, and the next minute he offers to get a B+ if he is introduced to the movie star. Yeah, that’s believable writing….ugh. This has to be the worst written show in years. I’m starting to hate Broadway. Hope the new show-runner fires all the writers, gets rid of Katherine McFee, Debra’s family, and deals with how unattractive Angelica really is . Maybe make the bartender have an alternative reason for coming on to her. No way that guy would be attracted to her buttaface. (and I respect and admire her, but c’mon, this is a ridiculous plotline)

      • cleep1000

        Thank you! I just can’t buy that relationship, at all. I’m sure they feel it’s very forward-thinking to have an older, slightly unattractive woman dating a hottie. But it’s not. It’s just depressing, because it reminds us of how unlikely that scenario is in real life.

        • berkeleygirl

          You’d be surprised.  Some years back, a 60-something doyenne – heiress to major very old San Francisco money – opened up her home to our little opera company for rehearsals.  We were led upstairs to – I kid you not – her own personal piano bar room.  We were served drinks by her boy-toy – a good-looking guy, about half her age and certainly not from her usual social circles.  

          To be honest, I was impressed.  Our hostess was actually tons of fun and far less pretentious than a certain SF oil gazillionaire, who liked to hire singers for his parties, but only under orders that we only speak to guests if spoken to.  (He also couldn’t bother to feed us.)  When we arrived for rehearsals, not only were we offered cocktails, but abundant appetizers were already laid out. A few months later, hosting a Halloween party, she was seen at 2:00 a.m. along her widow’s walk, pleading at parting guests not to leave, “the party’s just getting started!”  I’ll bet it was!

          • cleep1000

            I was going to say, unless she’s rich and he’s not. LOL. But I left that out, because he’s actually given her money, not the other way around.

      • beebee10

        your comments are really offensive and sexist. seriously check yourself. TLo makes commentary on fashion, style and TV and they never call a woman ugly. You may not buy the plot line, but judging someone as ugly is ugly. 

    • lordandtaylor

      Thank you TLO and now you should banish SMASH forever. Even Entertainment Weekly is laughing about SMASH since the show is nothing about launching a Broadway Show.  What would happen next season…out of town tryouts in St. Louis? Why not can the Monroe musical and just do a revival of ANNIE or Hello, Dolly!
      Lots of nice people in the cast but no good story lines. NBC is having a fit because SMASH looses almost 3 million viewers after the Voice lead in.  

    • CassandraMortmain

      So much wasted potential on this show.  Still, I thought this episode was the strongest one in a while.  I’m really not sure where they’re going to go, because even though Rebecca has been a disaster I thought she was pretty damn fantastic in the revised number done at the end of the show.  If she’s capable of doing that, then no worries.  They’ve got a hit on their hands, with a big name star to sell the tickets.  But of course she’s not going to work out, no doubt for some ridiculous contrived reason.

      Jack’s obsession with Karen is annoying.  When Karen does Marilyn, it’s so bad that I’m actually embarrassed for her.  The accent is laughable, she really cannot do sexy and she doesn’t even look right.  McPhee is beautiful and has a great pop voice, but she’s a very weak actor and dancer, has no charisma and her voice isn’t at all right for a Broadway musical.  I am glad that there’s some trouble with Dev simply because it was getting so ridiculous for her to have every single thing in her life be perfect, while Ivy was continuously dumped on. 

      Only 3 eps are left so I’ll keep watching but it has been a disappointment.  Let’s hope they get on track next season.

    • http://twitter.com/carelessriver Cassie L

      Do we know what the deal is with Derek’s hallucinations? I mean, I love seeing Jack Davenport dumbstruck, because his lost guppy face is just adorable, but I’m beginning to worry about that boy.

      • Terence Ng

        It’s a tumor. I’ll be they’re saving it for sweeps.

        • http://twitter.com/carelessriver Cassie L

           B-b-but Grey’s Anatomy already did that! Plus, nooo! No dying Derek! Kill everyone else and I won’t bat an eyelash BUT SAVE THE TOTTY.

      • Anathema_Device

        On one hand, I think it is a way for the writers to keep Marilyn in front of us and keep us seeing different women as Marilyn and using the different actresses to represent the different sides of Marilyn.

        It also keeps us guessing: will they or won’t they?

    • abigail3

      I agree the past two weeks have been an improvement. Introducing some fresh personality–Uma–has been a positive development. Please writers DO NOT let Derek and Karen get together! That’s just to ick. I don’t care for his fantasties but I think what’s going on is he’s projecting the Marilyn he’d like to see onto her, so different from Ivy. Tom is just great–I love the developing relationship with his “chorus-boy crush.” I think Frank needs to get over it already.  Thanks for the review, TLo!!

      • Anathema_Device

         I agree on the Karen/Derek (his projecting his vision of Marilyn on to her). He pushed for her at the beginning b/c she nailed the vulnerable, wounded Marilyn, whereas Ivy had the looks and behaviors down. I also think, being as jaded as he is, that he is fascinated by her naivete.

    • LuvLy01

      Thank You.

    • Mary Mokuvos

      comment removed

    • EliseC

      Thanks for filling us in!  I truly love your recaps, but totally understand where you’re coming from.  Great analogy to Law & Order… definitely puts into perspective that they not only should, but also COULD, have a much more satisfying Broadway Musical Development to Everything Else ratio.  

    • bluefish

      Completely agree — stopped watching.  Miss Dev though — He was the reason I hung in with the ridiculousness of BBCA’s “Mistresses.” 

    • YolandaHawkins

      I couldn’t agree more with you gentlemen.  I laughed aloud when I saw Derek staring at Katie McPhee as Marilyn and said (to no one in particular), “You’ve got to be kidding?!?!!”  Every week the same lament, “More musical, less domestic drama.” 

    • http://twitter.com/sugarkat Sugar Kat

      This show is awful on a level that makes me wonder how the hell it can still be on air. McPhee’s obvious lack of talent negates any happy glow I get from watching the actual talent sharing the screen with her. She is a giant vortex of talent-free suck. And the shitacular writing is not helping things at all.

      I, for one, vote for T Lo being spared the pain of ever watching this crap again.

    • ThaliaMenninger

      Wow. This is so perfect: “Glee started out with a very strong concept which it then squandered and lost sight of; Smash started off with a very strong cast, but obviously doesn’t know what to do with them. We’re done with Glee because we can only be punished in so many ways and for so long, but Smash
      still holds our attention. We want this show to work, but sometimes we
      think we want it to work more than the actual creators of the show do.
      So yes, we’re still watching the show, but we can’t guarantee weekly
      reviews because like we said, there’s only so many ways we can say ‘We
      don’t care about X; can we please get back to the musical?’”

      Standing O from the last balcony! Bravo!

    • EliseC

      Will you do another check-in?  Would love to hear from you!

    • Vodeeodoe

      I’m trapped. I have to watch it to see who they pick. My guess is they will wuss out and use both of them to portray her at different stages, even though Ivy is Marilyn. She’s got the Broadway voice and the stage presence and the curves. They try so hard to make Karen sympathetic, but all it does is make me hate her more. I would rather see her go and Dev stay; he’s a better actor. Also Karen treats him like crap making you wonder what he sees in her. Also, what was up with the church scene??? I can’t believe they went there. Anjelica performing September was the best thing that’s happened in the show so far, apart from Tom doing the steamroom number.
      I’m in full agreement with you guys. I was really hoping for a show that showed you how a musical is made. Big disappointment.