Saturday, February 25, 2012

Spring TV: Smash

Mira already posted some thoughts on Smash but I thought I'd do a quick review as well. I watched the preview on Hulu Plus and was really pleasantly surprised by it. I soured on Glee pretty drastically and was wary of any show that was trying to ride its coattails, but actually this is actually a show about theater from real theater people. Actually it's kind of funny that there haven't been any TV shows about this before -- it's really interesting to see how an original Broadway musical comes together.

Anyway, one of the biggest surprises for me was Debra Messing. I was not really a Will & Grace fan but she's super great when in sitcom over-acting mode. She plays Julia, one half of a successful Broadway writing team, along with Tom. I gather that she primarily works on the "book" (script) and Tom does the music and lyrics. Through some random conversation with Tom's new assistant Ellis (racing his way to becoming one of the more unlikeable characters on television), they come up with the idea to do a musical about Marilyn Monroe.

Vying for the part of Marilyn are Ivy, a Broadway veteran who is currently in the ensemble for Tom and Julia's last musical, whose looks and stage experience make her a logical choice, and Karen (American Idol's Katharine McPhee, who I never really liked but is actually okay here), a newcomer to the city from Iowa (of course). There's also Derek, the director, and Eileen (Anjelica Huston, who I find really...smiley? I've found her scary in the past but she's pretty likable here), the producer, and various other supporting players, both in the musical and off.

There are quite a few songs in each episode, but not all are part of the Marilyn musical (I think they'd run out pretty fast if that was the case). They're kind of a mix of Ivy or Karen singing in other situations and fantasy/dream sequences, but nothing too out there like on Glee. None of the musical numbers have really blown me away but it's believable enough. I remember one of the things that ruined Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (another behind-the-scenes kind of TV show) was that the supposedly hilarious skits on the show-within-the-show were just not funny at all.

One thing I really do like about the show is that the focus really is on the women. Julia, Ivy, Karen, and Eileen are very much the principals, with the men in their lives being the supporting players instead of the other way around.

A promising beginning!


burkie said...

jenn, i thought the pilot was great, and the show has been solid, though it hasn't become appointment TV for me yet. i think the idea of a MM show was inspired for this as it not only are you getting to watch a show about the creative & logistical process of putting on a show, but you also kinda look forward to seeing the MM show, too, as she is such a perfect subject for a broadway show.
i hope they do a show about benjamin franklin next season :)

Fanny said...

I get so annoyed every time Ellis is on screen!