- We've talked in the past about the Studio 60 problem--in which that show constantly jammed down our throats how brilliant, edgy, and funny the show within the show supposedly was, yet whenever we saw segments from the show within the show, it didn't deliver on that promise. 30 Rock has solved that problem in an intriguing way, by basically acknowledging that TGS is not actually good at all (even though 30 Rock itself is), and this week, Smash addresses that problem by having outsiders come to see Marilyn! (they've never formally put an exclamation point on the end, but it has to be there, right?) and tell the characters that it's a hot mess. It's an interesting way of reoslving the issue, and we'll see if it works.
- Interestingly, both Smash and Marilyn! share a common thread--in both cases, the original songs are pretty damn great ("Let Me Be Your Star" is a darn fine opening number, "20th Century Fox Mambo" and "National Pasttime" are both nice big production numbers, and "History Is Made At Night" is a good character/romance song), but the book, in both cases, has problems. For Marilyn!, I have no idea what the take on Monroe is--I think it's "naif seduced by fame gets lost in it," but without an ending. For Smash, we're all over the place, and only seem to be really working when we're focused on the show itself (if Debra Messing's rebellious teenage son disappeared forever, would anyone actually mind?).
Of course, even when it's working, there are questions--apparently, no one (not even longterm friends) knew that Ivy's mother was an uber-famous Broadway star? I'm pretty sure that when Mamie and Grace Gummer read for parts, folks know who their mother is, even if there's a different last name (amusingly, looks like Grace Gummer is going to show up in future episodes). I'm still watching, because the musical numbers are pretty darn great, but I'm hoping the show finds a way to fix its book problems and make its characters likable again (pretty much all of them, save Tom and maybe Karen, seem like pretty awful people at this point).