Is it possible to make it on Broadway when the job market is so difficult with aspiring actors fighting each other to get the part? On the NBC show Smash, two hopefuls’ journey toward success offered some familiar and interesting results that make it worth watching.
Smash followed the Broadway production of a musical inspired by the life of movie icon Marilyn Monroe. The idea started by accident when the popular writing team of Julia Houston (Debra Messing) and Tom Levitt (Christian Borle) play around with the idea that picks up online steam due to Tom’s eager assistant Ellis (Jaime Cepero). Soon a song of theirs is all over the internet and has sparked some major interest from Producer Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston) in the thick of a messy and costly divorce. With Eileen on board, popular and troublemaking director/choreographer Derek Wills (Jack Davenport) who had a challenging relationship with Tom that could cause some drama behind the scenes. This fast paced rush to bring the musical to the stage is causing problems for Julia at home with her husband Frank (Brian d’Arcy James) and their adoption plans. During the casting process, two prospective Marilyns were left in the wake of many imitations and had a long road to prove their worth. One was chorus girl Ivy (Megan Hilty) who had a lot of Marilyn’s sex appeal and too much to prove.The other was a relative newcomer in Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee) who had stage presence and her integrity as she turned down sleeping with Derek to remain faithful to her boyfriend Dev (Raza Jaffrey). Can Karen keep her honor and still get the part in the end? Will she have to sacrifice her principles?
In terms of plot, Smash has a huge amount of potential. Unlike Fox’s uneven Glee, Smash seemed to live up to its promise in the premiere and indicates that there’s still room for growth in future ones as well. Like most musical shows, logic is sometimes thrown by the wayside. A prime example would be when Karen and Ivy are walking to their auditions. They are both singing quite loudly on the streets of New York and no one seemed to notice or even care. Despite that slight hiccup, the real drama was the production of the musical itself. Too many different egos can lead to some explosive situations, which could mean that Tom and Derek are heading for an explosive confrontation. It was also nice to see Anjelica Huston mix it up on the big screen as a cunning producer trying to outfox her soon-to-be ex-husband and still try to maintain her power without his help. Can’t wait to see what her unpredictable character will do next. The audience don’t know if she’ll help someone become a star or crush their dreams once and for all. The growing rivalry between McPhee and Hilty should be an interesting one if it’s played correctly. The reveal of who wins the part shouldn’t take too long. If it does, the show will lose some major steam. Both actresses embody some of Monroe’s personality, which makes it hard to choose who the winner should be. The show’s only casualties so far are Messing’s Julia lackluster home life and Davenport’s off-putting director looking to sleep with both girls. Hopefully, the show will fix those minor plot speed bumps in later episodes.
Smash premieres on February 6th and airs Mondays at 10:00 PM on NBC.
Verdict: A show that will have viewers singing along on purpose.
TV Score: 4 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)