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Smash continues to get soapier by the episode

This week's 'Smash' gave us everything you saw coming in last week's 'Smash.' Did that matter? Was it worth it? Maybe, and maybe not.

- Season 1, Episode 6 - "Chemistry"

Uh, Smash, I think you’re starting to lose me.

At least, I’m pretty sure that I shouldn’t have been laughing during Julia (Debra Messing) and Michael’s (Will Chase) rehearsal-room tryst, but I was. I think I should have cared when Ivy (Megan Hilty) had her public meltdown, but I didn’t. And when a show is getting the exact opposite reaction from me from the one I know it wants, that’s trouble in my book.

The truth is, the more I see this show unfold, the more I think I misjudged it at the start. I wanted a series about the making of a musical, and if you weren’t sure about it from last week, Smash has established itself as a primetime soap opera, with all that entails: bedhopping, backstabbing, and big drama — most of it given away in the previews from last week.

I never really believed Julia would resist Michael’s advances, and caught myself snickering when she decided to sleep with Michael in front of the rehearsal room’s huge open windows (betcha somebody across the street got a surprising view!). That one was coming from the moment he was introduced, and it didn’t help that Julia’s husband Frank (Brian d’Arcy James) has been written as patently boring ever since (periodic table flash cards?) and we’ve not seen Michael’s wife again. It’s like the show wants us to root for Julia and Michael, and sorry, but I just can’t do that.

Meanwhile, Ivy continued her catty campaign against Karen, wondering aloud why she didn’t just have the other woman fired as if she’s suddenly queen of the hill. It was kind of nice to see Ivy knocked down a peg with throat inflammation, but aside from creating a bit of tension about whether or not she’d be replaced, that subplot didn’t do much. And while Megan Hilty sung the heck out of that song in Ivy’s bedroom, the way it was edited and shot made me think I’d flipped over to a music video on MTV. It completely took me out of the show.

She snapped at episode’s end and tried to give some lip to her boyfriend Derek (Jack Davenport), who really didn’t care what she had to say. It’s kind of amusing when the show’s biggest a-hole is also, apparently, its biggest voice of reason. When everyone else is running around screaming, crying, fretting or gossiping, Derek is focused on the musical. I love Jack Davenport, and I think the best thing to come out of this show is that he’s been able to show a whole other side of his vast acting talents, but my respect for Derek comes out of the fact that I often feel like he’s the one sane person in the room.

Even Eileen felt a little off-kilter to me this week, though I suppose the show wanted me to giggle at Anjelica Huston trying to play an arcade shooter.

So what now? Next week we’re promised even more drama as the workshop will have its first audience and, to quote the NBC announcer, “someone will have to go.” But I have to ask myself: do I care? Do I want to see Julia still making out with Michael, proving that she’s obviously not that broken up over cheating on Frank (or why would she keep doing it?). Do I need to see Karen hiding behind a curtain when she’s already been hiding behind a piano and otherwise eavesdropping all the time already? Is this worth an hour of my time?

I’m not certain. And maybe it’s me. Maybe I just wanted certain things out of Smash that it wasn’t designed to provide. In that case, that’s my fault. And I’m certainly grateful to it for providing an opportunity where I can watch one of my all-time favorite actors every week, and continue to deepen my respect for his talent.

But at the same time, I can’t help but think that this show could be so much more.

Photo Credit: NBC

Categories: | Episode Reviews | Features | General | News | Smash | TV Shows |

4 Responses to “Smash continues to get soapier by the episode”

March 13, 2012 at 9:47 AM

“The truth is, the more I see this show unfold, the more I think I misjudged it at the start. I wanted a series about the making of a musical, and if you weren’t sure about it from last week, Smash has established itself as a primetime soap opera, with all that entails: bedhopping, backstabbing, and big drama … ”

How can you be sure those two things are mutually exclusive?

March 13, 2012 at 9:51 PM

You’re right about the soapiness. Here’s my problem. I want to like Tom. But he’s one of Ivy’s enablers, and now he’s one of Julia’s enablers as she works to destroy two marriages. The show has gone out of its way to make me hate Ivy. And now this week, Karen gets paid to sing at a bar mitzvah and doesn’t even know the words to Hava Negila. She should’ve gotten paid half just for that. And they’ve taken the classy Angelica Houston and put her in a dive bar playing a hunting video game, cavorting with two 20-year-olds. And, worst of all, you’re right–the biggest a-hole on the show, Derek, is actually the only one left focused on the musical! Although he’s been absurdly cruel to Ivy, and I can’t even hate him for THAT because I dislike Ivy so much. So who does that leave me to root for? Not Ellis, the little jerk who seems to be finding out everyone’s secrets and will certainly be using them for something untoward (shocking that he wasn’t hanging around the studio to see Julia and what’s-his-face breaking their marriage vows with each other).

And P.S. all you Hollywood/Broadway people, who must not have a single Jewish person among any of you–no bar mitzvah in the last 20 years has ever had the theme of “Jewiness”! Jewish stars everywhere? Come on!

March 14, 2012 at 2:17 PM

All I can say is “Amen, Sister.” My expectations for this show were so high — I was certain that it wasn’t going to be the cliche-riddled, one-dimensional, predictable soap that it’s become. I suppose the pilot set the bar too high.

Also, perhaps “Man Men” and other fine cable fare have spoiled me. Would you say that “Smash” is decent for a network show?

Anyway, I will continue to watch and hope for a second season for the sake of my weekly Jack Davenport fix.

March 14, 2012 at 11:23 PM

Agreed on all points. Ellis made me cringe from the beginning; now it is all of them. This type of story line is not provocative, shocking, or fun to watch. Formula. Boring. Cliche.

I’m very sad it has taken this turn.

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