Wednesday, February 6, 2013

IT'S TIME TO RETIRE THE SCARVES: NYMag's Rachel Shukert, on Smash's return:
It seems like it’s an actual show made for actual television, as opposed to a repetitive saga you act out with your Barbies when the babysitter is ignoring you (although, if anyone wants to make that a TV show, you know where to reach me; but I’m warning you, we’ll have to pitch it to cable because there will be a lot of nudity). Smash, like the classics of musical theater it both apes and pleads ignorance of, has always dealt in character archetypes: the wide-eyed ingénue, the slutty second lead, the wolfish authority figure, the devious climber. Under Safran’s direction, these tropes feel more knowing, more skillfully deployed. Some of them even make jokes that are supposed to be funny.
I was generally underwhelmed, as was Noel Murray, but I like this universe too much to give up on it. Maybe Derek will catch up to the early 1990s and learn about sexual harassment. Maybe Leo will find his sister during his neverending college tour. Maybe "Brooklyn" is as magical as it seems. Maybe they'll stop with all the awed reaction shots which try to convince us that what we're seeing is awesome, when it's not. Maybe they'll give J-Hud a plot, and maybe, just maybe, they'll recognize that the audience wants Megan Hilty, not Katherine McPhee or Debra Messing, to be the star of this show.


  1. KCosmo's neighbor11:16 AM

    I was entertained, what can I tell ya? Jennifer Hudson sings as if it involves no effort whatsoever. Like she's just balancing a checkbook and decided to break into song. I can listen to her for an hour or two. But then there's Megan Hilty...who also sounds fantastic. Basically the dialogue just strings the musical numbers together for me, but that's fine. I love the new guy (from Newsies). His song was great. I can do without his personality for now, but if he is going to sing...good enough. I'm looking forward to seeing Sean Hayes next week. I'll stick with it. It's a good diversion from The Wire--me and the husband are only on Season 2. Pretty late to that game, but we needed a chaser for Breaking Bad and Homeland.

  2. I haven't watched yet (I was out last night) but the ratings were seriously ugly. NBC's got to be in full-on-panic that the only thing they have that seems to really work right now is The Voice, and it's going to be interesting to see if America wants to watch an Aguilera/Cee-Lo free version of the show.

    On the bright side, the terrible ratings would seem to make renewals for Parenthood and Parks and Rec more likely, so, yay!

  3. Adam B.11:44 AM

    ABC's running a new Bachelor against it was wise. Either that, or no one cared in the first place.

  4. Marsha12:21 PM

    It was just.....boring.

    I'm with you - I love this world. i want this to work. And parts of it do - the Jennifer Hudson "Mama" song was fantastic in every way, and I mostly enjoyed Megan Hilty's number at the dinner (got too ridiculous for me at the end), but I'm so BORED by 90% of the plot.

    This makes me sad, because much of the plot last night was actually about the making of a Broadway musical, which I'd always hoped this show would be about (instead of a stupid soapy mess). Maybe now that they've dispensed with some old plot lines, they'll actually focus on the making-a-show part, and it'll be better. But I am NOT encouraged by the schmuck writing the songs for the new show - this show did not need another unlikeable character with completely dumb issues. (How did he think his show was going to get produced without anyone ever hearing it?)

    And you're absolutely right about Hilty vs. McPhee. McPhee is a black hole of charisma, and Hilty lights up the joint. It's time to cut bait. But it's cleear from last night that it isn't going to happen.

    I'm in for a little longer, but not much. And based on the ratings, it may not matter.

  5. My guess now? Smash winds up getting shunted to Thursdays at 10. NBC's basically given up on Thursdays being competitive, and they're not going to waste the Voice leadin on Tuesdays on a dead show walking.

  6. Adam B.12:46 PM

    They're still filming Do No Harm right by my office. Hmm.

  7. Last night was THE FIRST TIME I actually liked Hilty. Everything about "(They Just Keep) Moving the Line" was spectacular. It's the best original song the show has given us, and Hilty's vocal and performance were breathtaking. I had never doubted the quality of her voice, but last season I just found her performance unlikeable. (I know Ivy's supposed to be unlikeable, but that's different being an unlikeable performer.) I still don't think she'd make a good Marilyn - and I still like McPhee more than the rest of you do - but I would now actually look forward to seeing Hilty in a different role.

  8. The ratings pretty much doom the show, unless they think that dragging the corpse around for another season will somehow make their folly look less foolish.

  9. bellawilfer1:33 PM

    I'm a McPhee fan too, Randy. She doesn't rock my world, but I enjoy her and think she's very right for the role.

  10. andrewraff1:36 PM

    I fell asleep within about 15 minutes of starting, drifted in an out of the first hour and just gave up. Nothi g was egregiously bad, but little of it was anything other than mediocre.

  11. The reasons it might survive are:

    1. It has champions at very high levels at NBC. Remember that this is the one project that Greenblatt brought over from Showtime when he joined NBC. (And a cable version of Smash could have been interesting, and not just because both McPhee and Hilty are comely young lasses.)
    2. The complete and utter trainwreck that is NBC apart from The Voice, Revolution, and Sunday Night Football, especially depending on how Voice/Revolution return from hiatus.

  12. Having watched now, two additional comments:

    1. The new opening credits sequence is pretty damn great. If only the rest of the show had that level of pep, pop, and verve. (It also represents a change in tone--whereas the first season at least started out as having ambitions to be serious, represented by the theme being an orchestra tuning up, this is a much more fun and jazzy opening.)

    2. The problems with the show are decidedly not with the songwriting or with the technical stuff--the opening musical montage was a great song, well-performed, and the cross-cutting montage stuff was quite effective in setting up where the characters were emotionally and why. If the show were all as good as that bit? We'd have something better.

  13. Marsha9:02 PM

    And Spielberg.

  14. Have they fired Katherine McPhee yet and brought in some actual competition for Hilty? No? Well then, they can huddle in the diner with 2 Broke Girls.