Smash: Director’s Notes, Episode 2

The Steven Spielberg produced epic a-star-is-born redo/ multi-format tie-in promised cash cow mid-season offer-up has finally aired! Remember when it was premiering after the Super Bowl, and then NBC was like–whoa, actually this show is not really that good, so we better air The Voice instead! Yes, I do too. It’s basically Glee for the geriatric set, but who can refuse another musical-driven tv show? Certainly not I. First, a disclaimer: I am not a real Broadway buff. I make no claims to registering anything related to concepts of theater authenticity, and barely get the references to theater critics, etc. I assume those things are thrown in there to appeal to sad struggling actors and the roughly 200 upper west and east side grannies who pay attention to that crap. No, I’m here for the dance numbers, people. So, let’s get down to the business of show, why don’t we?

Director’s Notes:

  • The second episode arrived with a bit of a whimper. It felt largely like the plot was treading water: will it be Ivy or Karen? Will they adopt or won’t they? More of the same. I don’t mind that they wanted to drag out the question of who would snag the part a little longer, but they might have come up with a more creative way of doing so. Note to the writers: multiple scenes centered around someone waiting for a phone call at the waitress station is the definition of phoning it in.
  • It is official that casting Katharine McPhee was a stroke of genius. There are so many layers of reality TV tie-in going on here between McPhee’s American Idol 2nd place, and the Norma Jean wants to be a star thing. Yes. Well done. The side-effect of this really smart casting choice is that we, like the lechy director, aren’t sure if McPhee has the chops to carry this part. The “Let Me Be Your Star” scene was really great, and what this show is about: McPhee desperately wanting to be a star. She was also great in the dance sequence that she spent most of the episode training for.
  • Clearly, what it really takes to be a star is putting out in the least attractive, shortest sex scene possible. No one was enjoying it: not the lechy director, not Ivy, and certainly not the audience. Talk about going through the motions.
  • What does this mean for our show? There was some mention of My Fair Lady happening, will McPhee get that part? From the get-go I assumed that both women would be cast: Karen playing Norma Jean, and Ivy playing full-on Marilyn. We didn’t even see if Karen knows she didn’t get the part. (But we did get that really great last number by Ivy.) And no preview of the next episode!
  • Let’s talk about Karen and Dev. It was clear the moment that she said she’d be at his Important Work Dinner (TM) that she would stand him up. This is a standard plot contrivance in all Devil Wears Prada-style tales. Look Dev, your accent is great and you are supportive to a fault, but you might as well start sleeping with the interns now because as soon as Karen lands a role, you’re toast. Also, was that Jason Street?!
  • Uh oh, trouble’s brewin’ with Tom’s assistant who clearly thinks this musical is his brainchild. I foresee some kind of legal battle between Angelica Huston and her ex, in which the ex lures the young assistant to his camp in order to steal the Marilyn show out from under Huston.
  • I’ve always wanted to throw a martini in someone’s face. Theataaaah!
  • It never occurred to me before, but it must suck being a theater person in NY in that you end up spending all your time eating and drinking at places near Times Square or the theater district. Ugh, do they hang out at the Pop-Tart store too?
  • So we finally got to see Debra Messing’s son’s face. How old is his character supposed to be? 5? What self-respecting teenager gets miffed when his old parents won’t adopt a baby from China? Please, shouldn’t he be wandering around the East Village smoking cloves and trying to get into bars? Instead, we have a super awkward heart to heart out on the chaise (outdoor space too! their apartment is TDF!) with mommy. The cheese-factor was almost unbearable and trumped only by the poem Messing delivers in the bizarre adoption support group: “I will protect her like a lion.” Ummm, ok.
  • So, it is only fitting that this week the General Tso’s pan-asian tear-inducing spicy wasabi cheeseball award should be shared between Mommy and Son. Preferably outside on the terrace. Congratulations!

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