Thursday, February 14, 2013

Smash Is Back and Just as Cuckoo as Ever

Now that Smash has come back for a second season--which in itself is a miracle--I really hate Karen or maybe it's just that Katharine McPhee continues to be such a vapid bore in the role. In real life, she would the understudy for Marilyn in Bombshell and the more vibrant, gutsy Ivy (Megan Hilty) would be the star. This imbalance kinda throws off the whole premise of the series. The two-hour premiere begins with a new number "Moving On," depicting Marilyn moving on to another stage in her life and the show closing in Boston. Evidently Ivy survived her drug overdose during the second preview and didn't even go to the hospital (this is all covered during the opening montage.) Everybody gets back to New York and Eileen announces there will be a big press event at the Players Club.

Wait a minute! Real world alert. First of all, who is the show's press agent? How come we never see him or her? Second, you don't do a press meet and greet in the evening and serve drinks--it's too expensive plus everybody's too busy at night going to shows. Third, the meet and greet isn't held until you start rehearsals. (I've been to many press events and they're always in the rehearsal space and we never got so much as a glass of water let alone cocktails.)

Back to the alternate Smash universe. Derek takes Karen to see Jennifer Hudson, I mean Veronica Something-or-Other, in a show called Beautiful at the St. James, where Bombshell is supposed to be going. There's a big production number which is actually a lot of fun. Veronica reveals Derek is set to direct her in a revival of The Wiz once Bombshell gets on its feet.

Tom sees Frank, Julia's husband, putting his arm around another woman and immediately leaps to the wrong conclusion. Tom's boyfriend Sam, the only sports-loving chorus boy in NY, urges him to stick his big nose in Julia's business and tell her. Ivy desperately seeks not to be fired from the show by angling to sing a number at the press event. Eileen's vindictive ex-husband Jerry plots to have Bombshell killed by exposing the underworld connections of Eileen's shady investors whom she found through the hunky, soap-opera handsome bartender. Of course, all these developments come to a head at the Players Club right in front of the New York Post's Michael Riedel. But not before Karen and Veronica sing an impromptu duet where Karen comes across as the whitest girl in the world.

Frank explodes when Julia accuses him of cheating--remember she did the same thing with the leading man and Frank is justifiably furious. He didn't sleep with that woman, but he wanted to. If I were Julia I would have bitch-slapped both Tom and Sam from butting in where they don't belong. So Frank storms off and Brian d'Arcy James loses a bunch of residual money. (At least their obnoxious son Leo is out of the picture as well.) Frank was all ready to get back with Julia at the end of last season, what happened? Likewise Karen is now free since her boyfriend Dev has been written out of the show and all we see of him is a "please-forgive-me" letter--not even an email. (at least Frank got some screen time.) Bye, Bye to Ellis, the Eve Harrington-like gofer we all loved to despise.

As we move into the second hour--Thanks to Jerry's machinations, Bombshell is frozen pending a federal investigation. Karen meets an ill-tempered songwriter named Jimmy who might be the next Jonathan Larson. He and his partner, the more temperate Kyle, work as wait staff at a Broadway bar and write their show on cocktail napkins and note paper. Karen attempts to work with them on the show, but hotheaded Jimmy spits in her face--figuratively--after she sings one of his songs at the enormous Brooklyn loft he and Kyle share.

Real world alert: Here we go again. No aspiring songwriter would EVER behave like this Jimmy jerk. There are literally thousands of kids who would KILL to have a connection with an up-and-coming star like Karen (even if she is a vapid zombie.) And if you are working on a show, you have a script and sheet music, not scribbled chicken-scratch. Any professional would take one look at this mess and say, "Go back to theater school and learn how to write, darling. And don't call me until you learn some manners. How about never, does never work for you?" What is Jimmy and Kyle's show about anyway? All we know is that it's called Hit List and it's about young people jumping around and falling in love on fire escapes. BTW, that giant Coca-Cola sign in the previews was stolen from Baz Luhrman's La Boheme. And Kyle and Jimmy could NEVER afford a loft that big on waiters' salaries. Plus Jimmy would have been fired long ago for being rude to customers.

Derek is accused of sexual harassment by several dancers which for no reason at all leads to a music video number. (Oh and he's been fired from The Wiz.) Tom and Julia move in together in an attempt to launch some Will and Grace schtick (Tom even acknowledges the blatant rip-off by calling their living arrangements reminiscent of a sitcom.) There's yet another industry gala where Ivy rather than Karen sings another new song from Bombshell (As I've said before this show is going to have more material than Follies. I should get the new CD and try and piece the show together.) Somehow Ivy's socko performance gets the show unfrozen and we're back on track to Broadway.

The previews look interesting. But how is Karen going to do BOTH Bombshell and Hit List? And it looks like Ivy will be starring in this weird Restoration musical directed by and starring Sean Hayes--will there be an awkward moment between his character and Debra Messing's Julia in a Will and Grace reunion? I'm guessing Ivy, Karen and Veronica will all be nominated for Tony Awards and there will be a Wicked-vs.-Avenue Q rivalry between Bombshell and Hit List. Then the whole season will culminate at the Tonys. I don't hold out much hope for a season 3. What else can happen?