Saturday, June 22, 2013

Goodbye 'Smash'

The Smash Finale: Bye, Bye Ivy and Karen
I was so busy covering the end of the real Broadway season and the real Tony Awards, I kinda lost interest in the fake Broadway of Smash. Then the whole misbegotten series ended with barely a whimper. There the last five or six episodes were, sitting in my DVR for about a month. I couldn't bring myself to watch them until just recently. In a way I didn't want my love-hate relationship with the series to end. But then I saw Andy Mientus, the young actor who played Kyle, on the subway and I knew I needed closure. And so do you, my dozen or so blog-readers. I'll try to recap the horror as quickly as possible. We left off with Episode 211 The Dress Rehearsal:

Episode 212: Opening Night
Bombshell finally opens. Suddenly Tom no longer wants to be a composer, he just wants to direct. But Julia wants to make a musical out of The Great Gatsby with Tom. (It's already an opera and a lousy Baz Luhrman movie so why not?) The entire cast of Hit List is invited to the Bombshell opening night. Of course Eileen would give away that many comp tickets at the last minute. Tom hooks up with Kyle (cradle robber) and Derek sleeps with some dancer who accused him of sexual harassment (foreshadowing trouble ahead).

Episode 213: The Producers
Now Tom wants to write Gatsby with Julia again because he can't find a job as a director. But Julia says, "Too late, bitch, I'm doing it as a play for my new boyfriend, the guy from Rent and Law and Order." Said guy, Scotty the artistic director of Manhattan Theatre Workshop where Hit List is sold out (no accounting for taste in Smash world), attempts to get real-life producers Kevin McCollum and Daryl Roth to move the show to Broadway, but they pass. Jimmy continues his self-destructive ways, for no good reason except to move the plot along. The episode ends with poor little Kyle getting hit by a car just he finishes his big musical number.

Episode 214: The Phenomenon
Kyle's death is shamelessly exploited as Jerry, Eileen's nasty ex-husband, moves Hit List to Broadway. Eileen is shaking in her boots because Hit List which was a bunch of post-it notes and napkins less than a year ago, is the only show that can possibly take the Tony away from Bombshell. Evidently there are no other shows on Broadway this season. Everybody has flashbacks about what a sweet, intelligent guy Kyle was, but I still don't know what he wrote if Hit List is sung-through.

Episode 215: The Transfer
Let's see, Derek has been kinda quiet lately, let's throw him a curve. How about Daisy, the dancer who sued him for sexual harassment and later slept with him (with video cameras rolling), blackmailing him for Ana's part in Hit List. BTW, why didn't Ana go to Actors Equity for being wrongfully terminated? Too bad Daisy didn't want Karen's part. That would have been great! Karen and Daisy perform this badass duet from Hit List called "I'm Not Sorry" which sounds exactly like Michael Jackson's "Beat It" and looks ridiculous with two white girls in designer gowns singing it.

Oh and let's bring Sam back in the picture and give him a tiny part in Hit List that didn't exist before and let's have him win an Outer Critics Circle Award later, too. And let's have Julia forget all about the Gatsby play for some cooked-up, dumb-ass reason half the audience still can't figure out. Yeah, that makes sense.

Two-Hour Finale: Episodes 216 and 217: The Nominations and The Tonys
Daisy is the new Eve Harrington. Everybody hates her instead of Jimmy now. But not me. I still hate Jimmy...and Karen. I still really hate her. If this were real life, I would have campaigned against her for the Outer Critics, Drama Desk, and the Tony. But I don't rate a fictional equivalent on Smash. There are about a thousand theater awards in NYC, but the show boils it down to two--the OCCs and the Tonys which I can understand for dramatic purposes.

Hit List wins big at the Outer Critics. Mary Testa plays the head of the group and about 20 people attend the ceremony at Table 46. Naturally the Bombshell-Hit List crowd makes a big messy scene, squabbling over who said what in their acceptance speech. Sorry, but the OCC is very conservative and never would have voted for Hit List over Bombshell. They probably would have given Bombshell Best Broadway Musical and Hit List Best Off-Broadway Musical. That's exactly what they did in 1996 with Victor/Victoria and Rent.

On the morning of the Tonys, Tom has a music video dream with everybody singing a non-show tune ("Under Pressure") on the stage of the Marquis Theater in the middle of the night. Jimmy finally turns himself in for his druggy past and posts his bond so he can attend the big ceremony. Of course the police speed up the bond hearing so the defendant can get to the Tonys.

Julia explains to Frank, her ex-husband she wanted to fuck Michael Swift from Season One all the time she was married to him (Frank), but now she's really sorry. Frank says Thank you. WHAT????

At the Tonys, bitchy Daisy wins for Best Featured Actress but then Derek fires her backstage just before she goes on and the Hit List cast (with the newly rehired Ana) goes on with a different number. Yeah, like that would happen at a multimillion dollar TV show and a performer who just won a Tony would be terminated. Bombshell wins Best Musical and everybody gets what they deserve.

Oh and BTW, Ivy is preggers with Derek's child and never tells him (except in a dreamy fade-out and presumably he drops his alcoholism and becomes a marvelous father). We do see Derek winning the choreography award, but we never find out who won the Best Director Tony between Tom and Derek. Also what the heck is The Gathering Storm, the other nominated musical, along with a musical version of Imitation of Life. Storm seems to be a tuner about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War directed by Casey Nicholaw (Book of Mormon) with a book by Harvey Fierstein. Now, that's a show I'd like to see.

The series ends as Ivy and Karen perform a big show-bizzy duet and everyone pairs up except for poor Tom who discovers his crush (a handsome actor on the Tony Nominating Committee) isn't gay.Julia winds up with Michael Swift, whom she hasn't mentioned since the Boston try-out of Bombshell. (And isn't he still married or did he get divorced, I can't remember.)

Goodbye, Smash, we hardly knew ye. It was exciting and fun to have a TV series go behind the scenes of Broadway, but so much was wrong about it. My biggest gripe was the deification of Karen Cartwright. In the real world this dull, dead-eyed stiff wouldn't make it as a third road-company replacement in the chorus. Katharine McPhee's voice is nice but isn't suited for big Broadway roles like Megan Hilty's Ivy was.That's where Smash failed. The rivalry between the two just wasn't credible. But Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman wrote several catchy and witty songs. I will get the CD and imagine what Bombshell would have been like.

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