Friday, February 8, 2013

Let's Talk "SMASH" Again

First the usual disclaimer, "SMASH" is an adult show. It contains a disclaimer prior to airing, and on Hulu they won't let you watch it unless you sign into your account and prove you're over 18. So if that's not your cup of tea, pay this no mind.

That said, I continue to find much in the show worth watching, as it takes the life behind the stage and shows us all of it - good and bad. Glamorized? Not this! Dramatized? Nope. Theater is messy.

And I continue to like it, despite the problems many critics pointed out last season, problems so severe that showrunner, Theresa Rybeck was fired. The whole story behind that move has been written up quite well in this article - worth checking out if you're interested in such things.

So. Let's talk about "SMASH" again.

(Didn't hear my first impressions? Read them here.)

First of all, I'm probably biased. I came in on episode 4 of season 1 and was instantly hooked. When I really like something, I can ignore the weaker points and focus on the good ones. That's not true for everyone, and I know there were enough storylines that really bugged people. If the show was on any channel but the poorly preforming NBC, it would have already gotten axed. Thankfully for the fans, it is on NBC so by their standards it is doing well.

(Forgot what last happened? Check out my review of the Season 1 Finale.)

The first hour of the two hour premiere aired first online a couple weeks ago, and I watched and appreciated it. I wasn't able to watch the second half when it aired due to travel issues, but I did finally finish it yesterday. Overall I really liked it. It kept the good stuff from last season, while tweaking and snipping out the problematic bits.

For instance, Julia's complicated marital problems. Frank officially left in the first episode, which really made him out to be a jerk (and he'd come around so well in the finale!) but was sort of necessary to get him off the show. Julia's son (who can remember his name?) is likewise living offscreen. This, along with major criticism of Julia's writing for Bombshell (while the rest of it was praised) leaves Julia in a major funk. "SMASH" has not shied away from dealing with depression before, and considering it's prevalence in our culture, I think that's a good thing. It also gives us the chance to see Tom really being there for Julia, which lead into some really beautiful scenes. While Conservative viewers will have been bothered by Tom's sexual orientation, it nonetheless creates a very good dynamic for Julia and Tom to have a strong, completely platonic friendship.

Speaking of Tom, he encouraged his boyfriend Sam to accept an offer to star in "The Book of Mormon." This is a bit of growth for Tom, who has struggled with relationship insecurities and selfishness in the past, although it leads me to wonder if Sam is leaving the show. We got some good scenes with him and Tom, and him and Ivy, but it's unlikely he'll be appearing much after the show goes on tour. Which would be sad, as I've always enjoyed Sam.

And Ivy! Oh man, she bugged me so much in season 1, but she's done a 180, completely grown-up, learned humility, and actually become someone I respect and enjoy watching. I'll be curious to see where they are going with her storyline, and dearly hope they keep this character growth and don't let her fall back to the scheming, selfish  Ivy of last season. Added bonus this season is the speakers on my new computer, which allow me to really hear the music in it's full glory. This also means that for the first time I can really distinguish the quality between the voices of Ivy (Megan Hilty) and Karen (Katherine McPhee). Yikes. Karen sounds lovely, but Ivy is amazing. I now properly understand why people have been bashing McPhee's singing voice. Which could be unfortunate, since the show hinges on Karen doing a better Marilyn than Ivy...

Of course, we may not need a Marilyn. With Bombshell's assets frozen, we only got one new Marilyn number in the first two episodes. It's not a bad move on the writers' part however, as we do need that added tension. It also creates an interesting twist for Eileen, who has to decide what to do about her boyfriend's shady dealings, and perhaps even finally accept help from her ex-husband (who I am starting to find kind of endearing, in a comedic way).

But even if Bombshell goes forwards, will it have a director? Derek's life is taking a major dive after word of an alleged sex scandal hits the press. Obviously Derek had this coming, and I think it'll be really interesting to see them handle this issue, especially in light of the rising social awareness of the prevalence of the 'rape culture' America is currently suffering. Derek is a classic case of a man in a powerful position who really does not understand how his actions could be perceived as sexual harassment - a lesson he clearly needs to learn.

On the lighter end of things, new member of the cast, Jennifer Hudson, brings a fun new number and confident personality to steer Karen in the right direction to stardom. I hope we'll see her again soon!

As for the other new additions, I'm not sure what I think of them or the new musical. One of the appeals of the show for me has been the more vintage style music in the Marilyn numbers... part of me is concerned about the new musical taking on too much of a "pop rock" feel, which would get boring fast. But we'll see. The songwriters have been fabulous so far, with most of the forgettable songs being the covers, not the originals, which are quite above par.

What do you think? Will you be sticking around for Season 2? What do you hope to see happen?


KatySue Pillsbury said...

I was a little shocked at the mature content warning right at first, as it never made an appearance before(for me at least) but then after thinking about it, it made sense! =P

I love Jennifer Hudson's character, I hope she shows up again soon!

Even though on a moral level I was sad to see Frank go, on an story-line level I think it was a much needed, smart move on the writers parts.

I liked the new guys voice (the angry, you stole my music one) but it ooks me out to watch him sing and I can't quite put my finger on why!

I was so happy to see Julia step up out of her depression there at the dinner (I've seen Marian, the head of the theater guild, before in something, I just can't figure out what! Guuur!) and I disagree with Tom, I love her scarves and hope they stay! =)

Elenatintil said...

I know! And this episode wasn't even as 'adult' as they've been in the past, but maybe they've had issues? Oh well, it's good.

Re: Scarves... apparently they were really disliked by the audience? Which I don't get either, I like scarves, and I think Julia's fashion sense works for her. It's very much what a writer would wear.