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Smash – Would the real Marilyn please stand up?

As the final curtain on the first season of 'Smash' comes down, it will hopefully will mean an end to the subplots that nearly ruined the show, and a focus onward to the bright lights of Broadway.

- Season 1, Episode 15 - "Bombshell"

Six months ago, it seemed that NBC was banking its future on Smash (and its powerhouse lead-in The Voice). Today, as the series’ first season comes to a close, we know that Smash wasn’t the “Bombshell” the network expected it to be. The show was nearly brought down by myriad errant plotlines that no one connected to, and pretty much the worst character conceived. Ever. Despite those challenges, I was pleased with the season as a whole, and was excited that the show was renewed for a second season.

One of the biggest complaints about the show — one I never really agreed with — was that there is too much focus on the character’s personal lives and not enough on the technical aspects of putting together a Broadway show. I can’t disagree that several of these subplots weighed heavily on the overall story. But I don’t think that Smash ignored its primary story: showing us how Bombshell got made. In fact, I learned a hell of a lot more about how a show like this gets funded than I cared to. Plus: Singing and dancing! But I don’t believe the show would be true to the nature of the business if it ignored the way the interpersonal relationships of those involved with a particular show can affect its success.

To clarify my problems with the show: I would have had preferred less of the Julia and Michael storyline. Though, cutting it would have lessened the arc she and her husband Frank went through – I even liked how Leo was an integral part of their reunion. As wonderful of an actress Angelica Houston is, I never was drawn into anything involving her character, save perhaps her daughter. Dev, too, had very few moments where I didn’t hate everything about him. At least we weren’t supposed to like Ellis – though I’d assume the writers got a lot more hatred than they bargained for.

The upside to a laundry list of things that need to be fixed is that with creator Theresa Rebeck out, new showrunner Josh Safran has a clearly defined checklist of things to address for next season – and I know others have much longer lists than I did.

But those are concerns for next year and enough negativity. Let’s look at what the finale did right:

  • When the story of Smash is complete, I suspect the most interesting arc will have been Ivy’s. Sure, at many times during the first season she has played the unrelenting villain. But in those final moments, sitting backstage while Karen had the moments that Ivy believed to be hers, it was easy to see that every story has two sides.
  • We hadn’t seen the staging and blocking for “Wolf,” yet, had we? I thought it was pretty cool.
  • As much as I couldn’t care less about Eileen’s personal life, I did appreciate that her ex-husband showed up at the show.
  • Tom and Sam’s relationship has been a pleasant surprise. I hope this is something that sticks around next season.
  • In fact, Tom is one of my favorite characters on the show. He’s an emotional being, but he is dedicated both to his friends and to his job.
  • I hate that a real wedge has been thrust between Ivy and Karen, but I’m glad that it was Dev. Karen needs to kick him to the curb.

I’m excited to see what direction the series will go next season. What did you think about “Bombshell” and the season as a whole?

Notes & Quotes

  • Loved Julia’s pep talk, even though she didn’t agree with what she was saying.
  • “I see her in my head. I can’t help it; I see her. She just has something you don’t. I’m sorry.” – Derek
  • “You dropped bits of Marilyn along the way like breadcrumbs.” — Derek


Photo Credit: NBC

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

One Response to “Smash – Would the real Marilyn please stand up?”

May 15, 2012 at 12:00 PM


“Bombshell” pretty much captured the good and bad of the season for me. As usual, the best thing is the singing and dancing, and there was a lot of it last night. But, why bother with Nick Jonas and Bernadette Peters showing up for throwaway scenes? Dev was an ineffective character, again. Ditto with Ellis being more annoying than threatening.

Biggest issue for me: I didn’t identify with Julia’s dilemma, at all. I definitely appreciated Tom’s “don’t blame me” speech, last week. He was totally right about everything, and Julia’s totally mixed up (or stupid). (BTW – whatever happened to the adoption thing?) I was glad to finally see Julia and Tom actually working on writing the show, including arguing over stylistic differences and picking out hidden gems in each other’s stuff, now that we’re at the last episode.

I agree that Ivy is the deepest, most interesting character. I wonder if she was originally intended to kill herself, in parallel to the death scene on stage. But, since they’ve got a 2nd season, she can’t die, now. I would have liked to have seen her swallow the pills. They could pump her stomach in the first episode, next year, if that’s the plan.

New (hopefully better) wedge – Derek. Remember that he turned down “My Fair Lady” in the first episode? He’s got one in Karen. Now, that’s interesting. “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face…”


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