SMASH? Eh, not quite yet…
The best thing about Smash is Megan Hilty. I saw her as Glinda at the Fox and as the Dolly Parton character on Broadway in 9 to 5. She is awesome. But, more about that later. A little background first. Smash tells the story of many different characters who come together to produce a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe. The cast of characters we follow include the writing team , the director, the producer, an ensemble actress ready to step into the spotlight and an ingenue looking for any kind of break.
Like I said, the best part is Megan who plays Ivy Linn who is the seasoned Broadway chorus girl with a gorgeous voice. A professional who can give you made-to-order belt levels on the song you are asking her to sing. A non-whining career girl who just wants to advance into a lead role. She is an obvious choice to play Marilyn Monroe in the fictional musical, “Marilyn!” (I may have added the exclamation point.)
The problem is that it’s hard to see Katherine McPhee as any real competition for the role of Marilyn with Megan Hilty on the screen.
I’m not saying that Katherine McPhee doesn’t sing beautifully. She does. The best moment of the pilot was her rendition of Christina Aguilera’s ‘Beautiful.’ I think that the issue is that the show made this a musical about Marilyn Monroe and then tried to convince us that Katherine McPhee would be a contender against Megan Hilty.
I can see where they are setting up political and sexual conflicts as motivations to maybe push Katherine McPhee’s Karen into the lead. The director, Derek, played by Pirates of the Carribean star Jack Davenport (He played Norrington, FYI), already has professional and personal conflict with one of the writers as well a skeevy interest in Karen.
Other than that, I found the show somewhat blah. To be honest, this felt like a first act. I didn’t care that much about Debra Messing’s character, Julia, the other half of the writing duo. I mean, she was fine but her husband and their pending adoption is setting up some worn out conflicts about work and family that seems boring to me. The same goes with Karen’s home life. Her devoted boyfriend is SO gonna get jilted when she eventually sleeps with her director. You can see it a mile away. They even went so far as to have him in glowing lights as her imagined audience when she auditions. Then of course, his inspirational face dissolves into the director’s face. Umm…a little obvious.
There are some characters where I am waiting to see how things pan out with them, but I have high hopes for them so far. I mean, how could you NOT love Anjelica Houston? And I actually liked the naive assisstant who sent his momma the video of the first draft of their song. And then it went viral. And then he got fired. But, rehired after professing his love for musical theatre. The bottom line is that the commercials and the hype about this show got to me. So, while last night was a mixed bag, I am convinced to hang on for another week or so to give this time to capture my attention.
But, I will say that after watching Smash and DVRing Castle, I will do it the other way around next week. Because last night’s Castle rocked, Boy-o!