Smash: From The Big Apple To The Small Screen
“There’s a broken heart for every light on broadway.” And, apparently there is also a cliché for every aspect of NBC’s ‘Smash’.
NBC’s ode to Broadway premiered tonight with lots of hype and lots of critical acclaim, so when we tuned in we were surprised to find a whole lot of nothing. While we understand they are trying to show that the process from having an idea to turning it into an actual production takes a long time, there seemed to be almost nothing going on in this pilot to make us want to tune in again. We’re definitely not sitting on the edge of our seats to find out which babe gets the lead role – there is no suspense. And if the plot is as cliché as the characters we’re pretty sure we know who will get it anyway.
Everyone’s favourite American Idol runner-up, Katherine McPhee, plays the fresh-faced, new-to-New York Karen Cartwright. She’s your stereotypical mid-westerner, trying to live the dream. She’s the little fish in the big pond, and trying to make it without losing her morals and wholesome outlook on life. The pilot even included a visit from Ma and Pa. Shockingly, Mr. and Mrs. Smallville want to support their daughter, but don’t agree with her decision to move to the big city.
Also trying to live the dream, is Megan Hilty’s Ivy Lynn – an actress who has made a name for herself as part of the chorus line, but is striving to breakout and become a real star. Her resume is full of experience, but she just can’t seem to get cast as the star. Despite her actual successes and ability to get her foot in the door at her fiercely competitive career choice, her parents are wildly unsupportive and indifferent. At first we thought she was playing the “aging” actress due to her pancake-faced makeup. Later we realized that was their lazy way of showing the difference between her dime-a-dozen persona and McPhee’s fresh-faced new girl.
While the younger women get to fight against each other, the professionals – Debra Messing’s Julia Houston and Angelica Huston’s Eileen Rand – are almost one in the same. Both are successful, big names on broadway and are almost completely incapable at balancing their home and work life. God forbid a successful woman not have some bitter husband at home, or be in the middle of a divorce.
The men on the show don’t escape the clichés either. Whether its Christian Borle’s Tom Levitt – a moody, melodramatic, flaming gay song-writer – or Jack Davenport’s Derek Wills – a charismatic, womanizing, play-boy director. Their character’s depths are as deep as Derek setting up a late night call to the casting couch for innocent little Karen or Tom having a crush on his brand new, super cute assistant.
Besides establishing these paper-thin characters, the pilot was a setup for the overall premise of the show: the creation and development of a broadway musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. Even the characters admit that Marilyn is “so hot right now”, underlining yet another stale idea. The big dance routine for this episode was the “Baseball Number” – an idea thrown around not by the actual songwriters on the show, but by their assistant and husband. While they throw around a lot of big talk about honouring Marilyn, the dance routine consists of a lot of ass-shots, breast-jiggling and guys using baseball bats to simulate their penises. Real classy indeed.
Though the dance routine left something to be desired, the songs sounded like Broadway. Everyone on the show is clearly talented, and we love that they weren’t auto-tuned to hell. Even though everyone seems to be drawing comparisons to ‘Glee’ and ‘Smash’, we don’t see it. Yes, there is singing and dancing on both shows. But, where the ‘Glee’ cast sings over produced cover songs, ‘Smash’ is actually creating and showcasing original material. Rachel Berry’s dream is essentially to join the cast of ‘Smash’. Not to mention, New York City has never looked so amazing! As opposed to highlighting the seedy underbelly of the city, this is like seeing it through the eyes of all the hopeful Midwesterners who have chased their dreams to the Big Apple. The best part of the whole thing….it’s not yet another gritty, dark police procedural.
It would seem that the television version of broadway is just as tacky as the real life thing has become. On paper, it sounds like the show should be amazing – the creative team behind the series is decorating their mantles with Emmy Awards and Tony Awards and Grammy Awards. But dig a little deeper into what those wins are for and you discover they are all just a bunch of Ivy Lynn’s themselves. It’s brought to you by the woman who wrote ‘Catwoman’ and the guy that penned the classic song ‘America, Fuck Yeah!’ (interesting side note – he also wrote the score for ‘Team America: World Police’...and it was rejected)
Posted on February 7, 2012, in AWESOME, ENTERTAINMENT, MUSIC, OPINION, PREMIERES, REVIEWS, TELEVISION and tagged America, America Fuck Yeah, Angelica Huston, Auditions, Behind the Scenes, Broadway, Catwoman, Christian Borle, Comedy, Debra Messing, drama, entertainment, Glee, humor, humour, Jack Davenport, Jamie Cepero, Katherine McPhee, Marc Shaiman, Marilyn Monroe, Megan Hilty, Michael Mayer, Musical, NBC, New York, opinion, PREMIERES, Rachel Berry, Raza Jaffrey, review, Scott Wittman, Smash, Stage, Team America: World Police, television, Theatre, Theresa Rebeck, tv. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.