Thursday, May 17, 2012

TV Review: Smash

So what is Smash?

For those who missed this midseason gem, I've described it (I think best) as Glee for Grown Ups. The show follows the Producer, Director, Writers, and Cast as they begin production on a musical about Marilyn Monroe's life (and death). We start with the initial conception, go through the casting, and finally into the off-Broadway previews.

We get treated to the insights of a horrifically narcissistic director, a divorcing producer, and two actresses vying for the staring role as Marilyn herself.

Ivy is a blonde bombshell and Broadway veteran. One of the things I loved about her was that she was a beautiful size 14. You just don't see that muchly on TV any more. She knows the tricks of the trade but there's a dark streak to her that shows how competative she is and how much she wants the role.

Karen, her foil, is talented new face from Iowa. She's come to New York to live the dream. She meets "The Perfect Guy", auditions for every role she can while she waits tables, and eventually gets into the cast for the show.

The primary conflict of the series is which one of them will be Marilyn but that's hardly the start of it. The writers have falling outs. The producer is dealing with her exhusband. The director is sleeping with a star, and is unashamed of how he uses his own sexual energies to motivate and attract others. Karen and her boyfriend have their own issues to work through.

It's often compared to Glee and that's fair. Each week you're treated to two to three musical numbers. Usually one of them is a song from the musical they're producing, and another is a cover song of a modern tune. Over the season we get treated, more or less, to the entire Musical "Bombshell" done piecemeal throughout the weeks.

I want to see Bombshell. I want to buy a ticket, sit in the audience, and enjoy this show. Not the Broadway production of Smash, but the actual musical they made. I'll be honest. I cried. In the season finale they show the final number of the musical, one that was, supposedly, written at the last possible second and it nailed it. That final song pulled together an entire season of hope and heartbreak, drama and divas as well as providing a final close to Marilyn's life.

Glee is, at it's core, a collection of kids singing pop song covers with a plot that provides good excuses and interesting characters. Smash is that with the added maturity of adult characters dealing with problems like adults and moving the overall story in ways that make sense and engage you.

If you haven't seen it, find it. And find it fast.

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