Smash, Ep. 2.01-02, “On Broadway” and “The Fallout”

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Smash, Season 2, Episode 1: “On Broadway”
Written by Joshua Safran
Directed by Michael Morris

Smash, Season 2, Episode 2: “The Fallout”
Written by Theresa Rebeck and Garson Kanin
Directed by Michael Morris

Airs Tuesdays at 10pm (ET) on NBC

Smash has made the term “hate-watch” commonplace in television fanatics vocabularies. It seems a majority of the audience for season one were sadomasochists who loved nothing more than to be tortured by the melodramatic silliness of a Marilyn Monroe musical. Season two has promised changes like a new showrunner Josh Safran (of Gossip Girl), departures of dull characters, and a new musical. The Smash premiere breaks like this: in the first hour we are presented with industry conflicts for the Bombshell production, and in the second hour we learn more of how personal relationships are developing for the cast.

The first half suits its purpose of setting up storylines and conflicts. Taking the time to explain why certain characters were amiss is always appreciated (Goodbye Michael and Dev!) and new characters are instantly introduced. First Derek and Karen visit Tony award winning star Veronica Moore (played by a dull Jennifer Hudson). There is no doubt that Veronica has the pipes to sing, she showed up Karen when they preformed a duet of “On Broadway”. However, Hudson consistently has a bored look about her face. It’s as if when she lost the weight she lost her personality.

Veronica tells Karen “someone’s always willing to take you down.” Which Karen takes to heart because she spends most of her time stomping all over Ivy. Poor Ivy is let go from Bombshell, leaving her to question her career choice. Here’s hoping at some point the vicious, ravenous Ivy returns; that’s when she is her best. The first half ends with Karen’s discovery of Jimmy (played by Jeremy Jordan) and Kyle (played by Andy Mietus), a dynamic musical writing team practicing in the bar where they work. Karen tries desperately to persuade a dubious Jimmy to work with her. But how much power does Karen have in the industry considering she starred in one musical that is currently failing?

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The second half of the premiere deals with the aftermath of some poor decisions. Eilleen is finally caught using illegal money to fund her production and resorts to help from her ex-husband. Julia is basically getting a divorce and suffers through some scathing reviews. It’s starting to feel like all the terrible things only happen to the female characters. Well, Tom’s boyfriend does leave to go on tour, but he is the only one getting positive reviews in the press. The best moment in the entire premiere happens when Ivy sings “They Just Keep Moving the Line” which serves to remind the audience why they keep coming back for more. A fitting song for the characters too as they try with all their might to see Bombshell become a success.

Smash may have been successful in what it sought to change, but it shouldn’t be so desperate to be anything other than what it is- a guilty pleasure melodrama. After all television’s intent is entertainment. And if you’re entertained by the idiotic goings-on of a Marilyn Monroe musical, than why change it?

– Millicent Evans

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