Sunday, February 5, 2012

Smash - Perhaps Not the Best Name for this Show

The trailer for Smash is flashy and NBC is marketing it as the second coming, but upon viewing the full pilot, Smash is a lesson in managing expectations. Arguably, pilots are often awkward and so full of exposition that it can be difficult to connect with the characters. But there should be a glimmer of hope, or there will be nothing to bring anyone back for the second episode. It cannot be a good sign that the only consistent thought that kept popping up during my viewing was "someone needs to unwrap that chunky scarf from Debra Messing's skinny neck before I reach through the screen and yank it off myself!"

The show's premise, the creation of an original Broadway musical, is intriguing. Unfortunately, the show does not focus on what would be the interesting aspects of bringing a show from an idea to a fully staged musical. Smash is being promoted as a the story of Katharine McPhee's Karen and Megan Hilty's Ivy competing for a dream role in a musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe, but a surprisingly little amount of time is spent with those characters. Instead, there are subplots surrounding adoption, Angelica Huston's divorce, and old grudges.

Megan Hilty and Katherine McPhee
It's a shame that more time isn't spent on McPhee and Hilty because their arc of striving to live out their dream certainly seems to be the most promising aspect of the show. Both actors bring out the ingĂ©nue quality that the show, and the musical within the show, desperately needs. In addition, they are supremely gifted musical performers with voices that bring down the house. Hilty is able to make us believe Ivy is happy to be demoing the garish baseball number "The National Pastime."  A task that, after listening to the ridiculous lyrics and watching the predictable staging, would seem to be impossible.

Messing  and Christian Borle do not believably portray songwriters. Their delivery seems stilted at best, and, at times, downright awkward. The introduction of Angelica Huston's Eileen, though necessary to the plot because she wants to produce the show, went too far into her personal life by diving into her messy divorce and felt like an unnecessary addition. That plot line, along with the Messing character's adoption storyline, serve as proof that the show needs to find focus. It will be difficult to pull along all the disparate storylines that were introduced in the pilot. Here's hoping Smash's writers let Karen and Ivy take center stage.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting take. I found it interesting from the behind the scenes aspect as well as the 2 girls vying for the starring role. It takes a while to develop story lines but they've done a good job, in my opinion, of leaving doors open for possible sub-plots.

    Totally agree about the scarf! and I think adopting a baby when you have a teen and are going to be in your 60's when the kid gets to college is a stretch.