Saying ‘So Long’ to Smash

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Sunday’s series finale of Smash was a mix of emotions for me. On the one hand, there was so much wrong with this show — in both seasons — that I’m not surprised in the least that it was cancelled. But I am a theater buff, and I still love the idea of a show that celebrates this art form, and in the second half of the season, the show did get exponentially better (especially considering how much it disappointed me before).

I can’t say the finale was perfect. In the last few episodes, we seemed to rush through as much as possible: getting Hit List to Broadway, their dealings with Eileen’s ex as producer (for someone who caused so much trouble for Bombshell, he was apparently a breeze to work with for the newbie show), Derek’s downfall and Daisy’s rise to fame, and ultimately the reactions to and response to the Tony nominations. All of this was there, just condensed and fast. Had the show eliminated the beginning quarter of the season, the time it wasted with Jennifer Hudson, perhaps we would have had more time for this part of the series. Unfortunately, we weren’t so lucky.

On the bright side, we did get a clear closing on the series. Whether the writers knew that there was no way the series would get picked up again when they wrote the finale, I’m not sure, but they clearly made this a series finale. Ivy’s speech about live theater really moved me as someone who loves theater. Plus, everyone got their happy ending: poor Kyle got his Tony, Jimmy got redemption, Ivy got her Tony and a happy ending with Derek, Derek fixed his mistakes, and Julia and Tom are partner’s again. The only thing I can say that disappointed me was that Julia ended up back with Michael Swift; I thought she closed up her story with her husband well, and had closed the door on both parts of that past.

Plus, we got a Chicago-esque finale duet (though the splashy lights were a little more Chicago the movie than Chicago the stage show). It was a fun way to sign off the show, and it was nice to see one last piece of original music.

But there was so much I’m still left with: First, Karen was obnoxious with her loss. Ivy’s been in the business for years, and Karen’s a fresh face. Doesn’t she know this wasn’t her one shot? And what about best director? Tom obsessed over this week after week, and we never even found out who won! And did anyone else miss some musical numbers? Even if we saw the same ones from earlier this season (or last season), it really would have given us the Tony experience.

And what about the Tony experience? To me, I’m still rather disappointed to say good-bye to Smash, considering its potential. Had this show been better — and had it gotten a better following — there’s so much the network could have done to hype up such a big moment. What about announcing the nominees and letting the fans vote for the winner, announcing the fan votes during that Tony’s episode? Of course, given that Smash really didn’t strike a chord this season (Julia’s development alone was a redeeming factor for me — until that Michael Swift scene, anyway), there was no real way to do this. We’re lucky NBC showed the rest of the season at all. But it would have been such a fun, interactive way for Smash to really make an impression with its fans.

I’m certainly one of the few, but I’m disappointed to see Smash go. Will I miss Jimmy and some of Karen’s whiny nature? No. But the music, the choreography, the voices (my god, I might have to move to New York if that’s the only place I’ll ever hear Megan Hilty sing again — she’s incredible) I’m going to miss. It was a unique show, flaws and all. I’m disappointed we just saw Smash‘s closing night.

What ‘Smash’ Did Wrong

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I’ve been watching Smash with a mix of interest and frustration. Last season, the show definitely had its flaws (Uma Thurmond is probably the biggest one — Julia’s affair the second), but with changing showrunners and an acknowledgement that there were problems made me have hope for the second season. As I’ve been watching, though, I see my sights were set too high.

But I’m still watching, still curious. This is all despite the fact that this show is being moved to Saturdays and is basically cancelled (while not announced yet) and certain leads are moving on to other projects. I guess I just hope it gets better, even if it doesn’t come back.

And in the past two weeks, it has. The only problem is that it took this long. We’re eight episodes in, and we’re finally reaching plot and decent music.

But you know what? There’s a flaw in what I just said. Two words made my last note completely wrong: “only problem.” The real issue with Smash this season (and the reason I think that no one likes it) is that there are multiple problems, of which I’ll describe many now.

Jennifer Hudson: Jennifer Hudson has a wonderful voice. And I can see why Smash wanted to feature it. The only problem? She added nothing to the plot of the show. In fact, she detracted from it. What did her character have to do with Bombshell? What did it have to do with Karen or Derek? So what if she did a concert? Why should I care? Multiple episodes were devoted to a character that made me wonder why I was watching. And her songs, as nicely sung as they were, had no relevance to me.

Jimmy: Jimmy is by far one of the most repulsive characters on the show. His arrogance and stubbornness is not attractive, and I have no idea why Karen seems to like him. While he is talented musically, they’ve given him no redeeming qualities. At least Eileen’s husband was entertaining to watch. And Derek has his softer moments (remember him and Karen on the floor of the dressing room in the finale, when they actually had a heart to heart?). I just don’t get it, and I wince when he’s on screen.

The plot: There are a lot of issues here, and I’ll try to list them all briefly. But if you’ve been watching and you left the episode going, “So, uh, now what?” that’s the main thing. First, we have Eileen’s financial/legal issues — but so much time had passed that I didn’t even remember what issues were there. Then Bombshell was over. Then it wasn’t. Meanwhile there’s some other musical on the block that we don’t even understand the plot of (at least in the first few episodes introducing Bombshell, we knew we’d get something about Marilyn. Here, it’s just about loooove, and what the hell does that mean?). Now, it looks like we’re getting to the point where two musicals will be facing off against each other in some capacity — which could be interesting. But why’d it take so long to get here? And why spend multiple episodes having Julia rewrite Bombshell, just to go back to the original. Just another divergent path to waste time.

The music: Last season, whether I liked the episode or not, I walked away from the TV singing songs from the show for days. I’m not exaggerating. These songs were in my head for days. This season, I’m beginning to realize why they play “Let Me Be Your Star” at the end of each episode to promote the soundtrack — because all the other music has sucked. There have been two songs that have been impressive, and they happened in the last two episodes. As someone who loves musical theater, I’m extremely disappointed. The one thing this show had in its favor was the music (instead of the karaoke-esque Glee), and we’re not even getting that.

Ivy: Speaking of music, somehow this season, they took the most talented individual in the entire show and stuck her in the shadows. How much has she really sung? Megan Hilty has the best voice in the cast (I’ll even put her ahead of Jennifer Hudson), and she’s been doing nothing. I’m thrilled she’s finally back as Marilyn, but my god, what a disappointment.

These are just the major issues. I didn’t even mention the stupidity of the Derek/Karen/Jimmy love triangle or the fact that they’ve ruined the theme song by providing one (the subtlety of last season was just so…theater). But the fact that we’ve taken eight episodes to finally get to a point that I know where the show is going and might like (though that’s still up for debate, given that Jimmy’s still in it) has to be a major issue. If I weren’t a TV person, I would have flipped it off a long time ago. If you thought dealing with Ellis on a weekly basis was bad, well, you clearly didn’t expect this season.

So while I’m disappointed that Smash isn’t getting it’s chance in the spotlight this season, it’s pretty much its own fault.

Smash: On Broadway and the Fallout

SMASH: 2.01 “On Broadway”
SMASH: 2.02 “The Fallout”

I’m going to keep this short and sweet. I’m rather behind on my reviews because of a cold. This lets me watch TV, but thinking about it? Writing about it? The head is foggy.

But I do have some thoughts on the two-hour time suck that was last night’s premiere of Smash: long, boring, rehashing, and kinda…not worth two hours. I feel bad being so negative, but wish such incredible trailers, I was hoping for a lot. But right now, it’s a bit of a juggling act, surrounded by stuff I thought we were past.

For one thing, with a new showrunner, I thought we might get somewhere with plot. I was a little over Bombshell, now that we knew Karen was to star. I figured we’d pick up in New York with the show on Broadway and take it from there with new drama, new faces, and new…whatever. But instead, we picked up right where we left off, which means Karen’t still reeling over Ivy and her ex-fiance, Julia is still having issues with her husband (by the way, wasn’t she pregnant? Did they forget about this? Did I make this up?), and the show is back where it started. But instead of just moving on with success, we hit another big obstacle: Eileen’s financial issues.

Now, I like Eileen. And I think it’s interesting to see the financial side of showbiz. But it’s also…boring? And sadly, I don’t remember anything about how she got money for the show. So that was all a fuzzy area. What annoyed me about it is that Karen is now back waiting tables, Ivy’s back at auditions, and Tom and Julia are shuffling their feet yet again.

I just wish the show were going somewhere. Which, I guess, some can argue it that it is, with the introduction of Jennifer Hudson’s character and the two new guys. The only thing is…I don’t care about them. I like Jennifer Hudson — her character was instantly likable. And I like Kyle, but Jimmy is a pill. I just have no interest.

So I have no idea where this season is going, and two hours was a long commitment for me in order to have no clue. The songs were…fun. But I would have enjoyed more original songs and dance numbers, and a little less rehashing.

That’s just me. What’d you think?

It’s Curtains for Some ‘Smash’ Cast Members

Well, with the first season over, it’s time to start thinking about what’s going to happen in season two for our favorite shows. One of the shows that’s moving to the top of my list is certainly Smash. And clearly it’s on the minds of those in charge, too, since two four (new update below!) cast members are leaving the show.

Who? Well, keep reading to find out.

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A Belated Open Thread: How’s Finale Season Been to You?

Was yesterday Thursday? Oops. I guess I missed that. Not entirely, mind you. I watched my three episodes of Community and even made sure to find out who died on Grey’s Anatomy (it’s not a spoiler when the promo tells you someone will). I guess I’m just way too wrapped up in all the finale madness. Speaking of…

How have you  been liking the finales of you favorite shows so far?

Ok, ok, not every show has ended yet. Revenge finishes up next week, for example (I’m so excited). But many of our favorite shows have, and I want to know your thoughts.

Personally, I’ve been rather pleased. Sure, I might not agree with writer KT on Once Upon a Time, and I didn’t watch the Castle finale that everyone seems to be talking about. And yeah, I might have seen How I Met Your Mother‘s ending coming a mile away.

But ultimately, I’ve really been enjoying them. Last night’s Community fest was great, even if the season finale felt more like a series finale. Smash was just a ton of fun with original music to boot (and it gave me goosebumps). Oh, and don’t get me started on Vampire Diaries. That episode was pure fantastic, making me gasp, cry, and squint at the TV in disbelief (and/or suspicion) all at the same time. Completely worth it!

Really, I’ve been treated pretty well this finale season. What about you?

 

Smash: We Have Our Marilyn

SMASH: 1.15 “Bombshell”

We finally found out. Who played Marilyn in Bombshell? Well, it’s been a long time coming, and if you’re like me, you thought we would spend the entire episode waiting until that final moment — the last thirty seconds of the episode, when the curtain went up and all was revealed.

But instead, we got our answers pretty early. While it was heatedly debated, Derek finally chose Karen, the girl he’s wanted to play the blonde since the start. Sure, she wasn’t quite working; she had to learn the entire musical in a day. Everyone had their doubts, and even she started to wonder whether she’d be replaced at any moment.

In the end, she came on stage, and as Derek told her, became a star. That last number gave me goosebumps, as it did every audience member, I’m sure. Based on that performance, it’s pretty clear:

Bombshell is headed to Broadway.

Well, between her performance and the show being renewed for a second season. I really enjoyed the episode. Sure, I was getting more and more annoyed as every moment brought us the question of whether Ivy would replace Karen in the leading role. Did we really go through all that for another last minute cast change?

Fortunately, we did not. And even then, I was invested. Here I was, yelling at the screen, calling Ivy a bitch for telling Karen the truth on her opening night. Here I was, appalled that even after being caught, Dev still lied to Karen. And here I was, grinning like a five-year-old with chocolate hands that Ellis finally got fired.

Sadly, I don’t think that means we’ve seen the last of him.

I was moved by Derek’s quiet moment with Karen, where we saw him, strangely enough, as someone who was actually caring, and not just looking to get the show on the road or get the pants off. Even in the final episode of the season, we still had some character development.

My only complaint? The overdramatic cliffhangers. Ivy looked like she was about to kill herself at the end of the episode, following in the footsteps of the famed Marilyn. I saw this coming from a mile away, and to be honest, I don’t think that it needed it. Along the same lines, all things point to Julia being pregnant; after all, she says she never throws up. Will this kid be Michael’s? Oh dear, I hope not. I’m so over that.

Nonetheless, it was a fun, great, splashy episode. I loved seeing Bombshell in its (almost) full glory at the end. The costumes. The dancing. The emotions. If I had been there, it would have gotten a standing ovation, at least from me.

I’m going to miss this little show that could, the show that I was sure would hit a tiny niche audience and be cancelled after four episodes. Kudos, Smash. Or should I say…

Bravo.

See you next year!

Smash: I Can’t. It’s Tech.

SMASH: 1.13 “Tech”

I wasn’t going to write about this episode of Smash. Why? Because it’s tech.

In all seriousness, I feel like we just saw a fake episode of Smash. Clearly, this wasn’t a real episode. It was just a spoof, and the real episode is coming. Maybe they didn’t show the real episode, you know, because it’s tech.

Here’s my explanation: Did anyone else feel like we missed an episode? How did we already get to tech? Was the show even finished? And why were we in Boston? I mean, I understand that they were doing a preview there because they explicitly said so, but shouldn’t that have been referenced in early episodes so we knew what the heck was going on? And what about all the drama of last week? Where did that go?

The episode opened with a happy little ditty as everyone excitedly got on a train to Boston, forgetting that Dev and Karen had a silly, yet sad musical number explaining everything wrong with their relationship. No one seemed to care that Ivy stole Karen’s solo…or that Rebecca stole it from Ivy. Heck, last time we saw them, they were still blocking that song — and now we’re in tech?

It just felt odd. And somewhat nonsensical.

Ivy discovered that Derek wasn’t faithful to her, suddenly remembering all the things she should be suspicious of — including things she didn’t see. Sure, she saw him touch the girl in the yellow dress at the party. Saw Karen’s risque performance. Saw him flirting with Rebecca. But how did she remember the kiss that went on behind closed doors?

And honestly, did that kiss even make sense? I felt like I was watching a movie from the ’80s where the two were yelling at each other and then kissing passionately (can someone tell me if this ever happens in real life?).

Meanwhile, Karen is pushing aside Dev for reasons beyond my comprehension. Oh wait, no, I get it: It’s tech. Seriously, though, Karen, what is up?! The sad part is that “tech” really didn’t sound like a flimsy excuse, you know, something covering up the real reason behind her not wanting to discuss their relationship. I think she generally thought she couldn’t do anything else because it was tech.

Which is opposite of what Sam and Tom thought, since apparently tech allowed enough time for them to go out for a very long evening with Sam’s family (which, by the way, was one of the better parts of the episode).

The real plot here (other than the many goings-on in the bedroom or dressing room) was that Michael might be coming back to the show. Now I’m not excited to see Michael return, since his story with Julia was the weakest of the series, but I did enjoy seeing her family rally behind her, basically telling her that the show is part of her life and she can’t turn her back on it. That was nice. But I’m quite fearful of whatever is going to happen next.

Much like this whole Ivy/Dev development. Now, is it just me, or is it odd that Dev would be buying drinks for another girl, right after he kissed one and told his girlfriend he didn’t want anyone other than her? Plus, I’m sorry, Dev, but Karen’s talked about Ivy enough. You’d think that you’d want to stay away from anyone with that name, especially if you happen to be in a bar where her company is staying.

Clearly, in this episode, reason went out the window (with the exception of spineless Tom and poor Julia, who I actually understood her point of view) and the characters we’ve grown to know were weird doppelgangers of their former selves. Either way, there’s one thing you can take away from this episode:

When someone asks you to do something, just say, “I can’t. It’s Tech.” Karen, you’re an idiot.

‘Smash’ Goes Bollywood (But Why?)

SMASH: 1.12 “Publicity”

I literally just sat with my fingers on the keyboard for a full minute before I broke down and wrote this sentence. Once again, I enjoyed an episode of Smash last night, but what can I say about it? It wasn’t great. There’s certainly a lot that we can say about what went wrong (coughcoughLeocoughcough). It wasn’t bad, though, either. The deception coming off of Rebecca as she “befriended” Karen was just so tantalizing, and while I hate that Ivy has suddenly decided to join forces with Ellis, I do like that we’re getting more of her in the episode. You may not like her (heck, at times I don’t), but she does add a fantastic element of the show.

But then there was that small thing. What was it?

Oh yeah, the huge Bollywood number in the middle of the episode? Um, what was that about? Don’t get me wrong, it was pretty. It was flashy and involved the entire cast (in case you missed any of them, most of them are represented on NBC’s photo slideshow). But in all that flash, I missed what the entire song was about. I had to rewatch it before posting this to really discover that the real question is whether Karen can commit to Dev. Can she give him a lifetime or just 1001 nights?

Ok, so sure, you could generally tell that this was a song about Karen and Dev, and one could assume that it was questioning their relationship. But I feel like the flash put stars in the writers’ eyes, so you couldn’t get the full extent of the problems here. There are some real issues that these two will be working out, and the bright musical number seemed almost too happy for what they were really singing about. In the end, it felt less like a necessary plot item, less like a forced musical number, and more like an excuse to get the full cast — including Dev — in one musical number to grab a little more audience.

All that being said, I enjoyed it. And all of you men out there who are forced to watch this show by your wives probably enjoyed being that up close and personal with Katherine McPhee’s midsection. But it just stuck out to me. Did it really belong?

But what I really loved about this episode was the deception. Karen’s fallen right into Rebecca’s trap. We’re not entirely sure what she’s up to (beyond trying to add doubt between Dev and Karen), but we know she’s threatened by her understudy. Meanwhile, Ivy’s on her own path of destruction, stealing away Karen’s solo. I loved hearing Ivy sing again, but what I loved more was Rebecca’s reaction. Even Ivy didn’t see Rebecca’s stealing the song even from her. Rebecca’s got power, and she knows it.

As for Leo, geez, I don’t know. Did we need this? Not so much. Can we put this behind us? Please? And really, police officer? The most dangerous thing a teenager can do in New York is run away? Somehow I doubt it (and thanks for the words of comfort, too!).

Overall, the episode was enjoyable, but I did wish that the Bollywood number made a little more sense in the episode. It’s still a fun song (and catchy, too, I’ll have it in my head all day), and it sure was pretty, but this isn’t Glee. I want a little more substance and segue.

 

Smash: Bombshell

SMASH: 1.09 “Hell on Earth”

I’m a little late in reviewing, I know. But I’m not sure what to say about this episode. The show has certainly changed course. Instead of week to week, seeing what develops with the show formerly known as Marilyn (personally, I had no problem with naming the show Marilyn, over what they’ll now call Bombshell). This week, there was a bit of a break.

Well, sort-of. I can’t say it was a welcome break. Ivy is back to Heaven on Earth. Karen’s back to auditions, even finding herself in a national orange juice commercial (unsure why a theater nut wants to audition for a commercial, but I guess acting’s acting and a paycheck’s a paycheck). Derek is looking at options elsewhere. And Tom’s just hanging out.

Ok, so I guess Tom was kind-of helping Julia title the show and finish writing it, but nothing really moved there until the end. And the real showstopper of the episode was Julia’s husband, who discovered the truth about Julia’s affair with Michael. Poor Julia tried to make it work, but her husband went to Michael. Man alive, if loose lips could sink ships, the Titanic wouldn’t even make it off port.

In the end, it was poor Julia’s world that was shattered, as Michael stiltedly said that his family still doesn’t know. The entire affair with Michael was a mistake in the first place, but I still feel bad for Julia. Sigh.

Meanwhile, Ellis and Eileen were trying to find themselves a star. What I loved of this was that Ellis sure was served a spoonful of sour milk by Eileen, when he insisted to be made co-producer. I like how he has no clue but seems to think one move will give him his dream job. Man, I sure hope Eileen sees through his antics quickly (she’s already gotten a good start), and gets rid of him. No one likes him. Right?

But let’s return to Ivy. Poor Ivy’s struggling with the loss of her starring role, but I’m having trouble feeling bad for her. She’s going down a bad path, with the booze and the drugs, but this is showbiz. I did enjoy her duet with Karen — it was nice seeing them happy with each other for once. Of course, that won’t last. But it was nice for a moment.

And there are too few people in the world who can pull off wandering around Times Square in an angel costume singing. And don’t think more people haven’t tried.

Smash: The Betrayal

SMASH: 1.08 “The Coup”

It was an experiment. It was a betrayal. According to the episode title, it was a coup. But what did you think?

Personally, I think that it wasn’t as bad as it seemed. Ok, yes, Derek went behind Tom and Julia’s back to produce a new song for the musical as an experiment for a new direction. But Eileen knew all about it. So really, was it really a betrayal?

To me, it felt like a lot of reaction to something that shouldn’t have been a problem. If I were Tom and Julia, yes, I’d be miffed, but I’d hope that I could see the bigger picture (maybe I wouldn’t). It was really the advertisement of secrecy that made the stunt a big deal. And all that lies in the hands of Ellis.

Uggh, Ellis. I think it’s pretty fair that no one is really the biggest fan of Ellis (if you are, please tell me why). He was continuously spreading rumors about what Derek was doing with Karen, telling Tom and Ivy as little as possible to make them suspicious. And then he showed up and took control of the room after all hell broke loose, basically making him seem in control (I was sure Eileen was going to fire him once he randomly showed up).

I just don’t know what his plan is. He first just loved showbiz, which is why he was with Tom in the first place. But then he just became conniving and underhanded. Now he wants to be a producer? Not if he keeps burning bridges.

What’s next forMarilyn, though? Michael’s been fired, though he claims he would have quit anyway because of his family (which he was conveniently forgetting about while stalking Julia for the last couple episodes). Ivy’s been demoted to ensemble. That should be interesting, given her encounters with Karen in the past. But otherwise, it sure looks like we’re flying blind.

A few other things:

  • I’m caring little about Julia’s family business and her son’s wrongdoings. Plus, if Julia spoke out like that, how did they eventually get him off?
  • “Touch Me” didn’t thrill me. In fact, the only part that I liked about it was that she ended up dead on the bed in the final note, which was the only part that made me connect it with Marilyn. I know it’s supposed to point the show toward more Rock of Ages than Bye Bye Birdie, but it was just too poppy for me. (Though it is damn catchy and is still in my head.)
  • And down with the bowling alley scene! That was just way too Glee for me. And I think they only did it to have them dance down the alley (see photo below). I’m pretty sure any bowling alley attendee would have kicked their asses out.

That’s all I’ve got. What about you?