Tuesday, May 15, 2012

FADE IN, ON A GIRL WITH A HUNGER FOR FAME:  So that wasn't nearly as awful as it could have been -- no rousing Marilyn's Post-Mortem Gospel Anthem, Derek didn't find someone else to have sex with backstage, Leo was barely present -- and give credit to creator Theresa Rebeck for pulling a reverse-Sorkin on her way out and cleaning up some messes by giving Dev and Ellis a clear path to Mandyville, rather than bollixing up the works unnecessarily. (Let's hope the pregnancy scare will be dismissed and forgotten.)

But the season was premised on a fundamental flaw: Karen Cartwright, as played by Katharine McPhee, has no business being the lead in a Broadway show, and certainly not in a show about Marilyn Monroe for which Megan Hilty is available. The rivalry did not work because the winner (to viewers and critics) was always clear, but as Matt wrote last week the creative team proceeded without that necessary feedback loop.

So where do we go from here?  Honestly, I'd rather not have had the Debra Messing post-ending plug where she promises that next season we'll see the show make it to Broadway; I'd rather they decide that Bombshell couldn't make it, and start from scratch with a new concept.  I think the only way to keep Karen and Ivy now (within the context of Bombshell) is to have Karen go bad, showing her path to cynicism, while making Ivy the star. I'd get rid of Dev, Ellis, and Michael, give more space for Tom, and find some way to get Norbert Leo Butz there more often. And, of course, send Leo to China to find his sister. She's waiting.


  1. 1.  Butz's pilot wasn't picked up (sadly, he was on the Katims/Ritter medical drama), so he's available.

    2.  If you look at the comments over at Alan's, seems there are more than a few folks out there on Team Karen.  I'm wondering if it's a cultural red state/blue state sort of thing, with those in middle America turned off by Ivy's naked ambition and buying into Karen's "sweet Midwesterner" thing.

    3.  For all the storytelling flaws, man, last night's episode LOOKED gorgeous--the lighting on the final number, the long (and apparently un-interrupted) steadicam take that opened the episode, and a lot of the cutting between numbers in the montage were pretty much top-notch.

    I think it's very hard to get rid of Julia entirely, since it's established that she and Tom are a fairly successful song-writing partnership and the lyrics are pretty good.  I wouldn't be shocked to see them bring in a book doctor character, as they've established that's the problem with the show, and it would be easy to have that person butt heads with Tom and Derek.

  2. And let's all hope that they drop the idea of Julia being pregnant. Because, no. We do NOT need any "Who's the daddy?" drama. Or, really, any plot having to do with Julia's personal life.

  3. Marsha10:29 AM

    I'm giving this show a very short leash next year, and only tuning in at all because of the showrunner change. If, as promised, they drop the soapy bits (completely agree that Julia cannot, must not be pregnant) and focus more on the creating-a-Broadway-show aspect, then I'll stay. Otherwise, I'm gone.

  4. KCosmo's neighbor10:31 AM

    What can I say...I was entertained by the music, which is basically my motivation for watching a TV show about a Broadway musical. Is Karen the right pick for Marilyn when there is an incredibly talented Marilyn-esque blonde in the room? Of course not. But I don't mind listening to Katherine McPhee sing, and I thought the closing number (song and performance) were great.

    I found Julia less annoying last night, and I feel like the dynamic between her and Tom will get better and better over time.

    I agree with the A.V. article as to what should become of Ivy next fall--she is too strong to swallow those pills and she'll probably fight back hard.

    Dev, Leo, Ellis...buh-bye (fingers crossed). I can't exactly see Dev getting a pass for his actions, but this is television. As for Leo, can he study abroad or something?

  5. Randy1:00 PM

    I absolutely 100% prefer McPhee to Hilty as Marilyn. The bits we've seen of Hilty as Marilyn, it came across to me as a VERY surface-level imitation. Like, she got Marilyn's mannerisms and vocal tics, but none of the deeper sweetness. (She came across like a drag queen, actually.)  But the bits of McPhee as Marilyn (like the first time Derek "saw" her in his head, and again during the performance last night) rang truer, deeper to me than anything we saw Hilty do.

    I also came into Smash with no particular allegiance or affinity for Hilty. I understand she's well-liked and respected for her stage work - but I just found her to be unlikeable. Not (just) because Ivy was supposed to be unlikeable; I just found Hilty to be an unlikeable presence onscreen.

    Of course, both McPhee and Hilty have the unfortunate task of trying to measure up to Michelle Williams' remarkable performance in My Week With Marilyn; they both pale in comparison.

  6. Slowlylu7:23 PM

    See I still think there is a story there about the duality of Marilyn on and off screen and therefore the duality of McPhee and Hilty in the role. Why not divide it and then look at how the characters compete for songs, for fame and yet still support each other. The best moment of the pilot was when they both sang together and yet showed a different approach to the sides of Marilyn.

  7. Carrie8:08 PM

    I haven't watched Smash but I did catch Hilty's Lorelei Lee in Encore's "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," about which Ben Brantley kvelled. I don't get it. She was about as MM as a marshmallow: all sugar, no astringency, and completely outclassed by Rachel York's Dorothy. 

  8. I know this is television - and therefore not based in any sort of reality - but the idea of sending a new song for the star to learn *as the audience is filing in* just annoyed me to no end.  When was she (not to mention the orchestra) supposed to learn the song - at intermission?  In a situation like that, the producer would have either cancelled that night's performance (which yes, with bad press already happening and their star dropped out, might be a bad idea), or go on with the bad ending and put the new ending song in for the next performance.

    Otherwise, I really enjoyed the finale. I was surprised to find myself liking the conflict between Julia and Tom - in many ways, they were both right, which made it a complex argument. 

  9. Jamie6:34 PM

    I'm on team Karen.  Love, love, love seeing Katharine McPhee on my television screen each week.  I prefer her voice as well.  Why doesn't Hilty have a neck? Is that petty of me?