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Smash Review: Selecting a Star

by at . Comments

If there's one thing you should know about me, it's this: I'm a sucker for looks behind the scenes. Of anything, really.

I haven't eaten at McDonald's in years, and the mere thought of a Big Mac makes me nauseous, but show me a documentary on how employees get the kitchen ready every morning and I'll be glued to the screen.

I say this because the second episode of Smash, "The Callback," had its flaws. It was predictable at times - of course Derek was going to sleep with Ivy; and did anyone think Karen would actually make the dinner with Dev and his co-workers on time? - and straight up confusing/boring at others.

Sorry, but I don't care about this adoption storyline and Julia's son expressing such shock and frustration at his father seemingly quitting the process was just odd. How long has he been promised this brother or sister? Won't he be in college in two years anyway? I just didn't buy this teenager caring so incredibly much about the prospect of a sibling.

Watching the Callback

All that said, I still enjoyed the episode, and it's for the reason stated above: I legitimately feel like I'm behind the scenes of a Broadway musical.

I love just sitting back and watching these auditions, especially considering how well they're produced and crafted. Props to whoever decided to oscillate between the mundane callback setting and the grander, fully-staged performance pieces whenever Ivy or Karen sing for the crew. There's not much analysis needed here, they're simply a blast to watch.

Ignoring Julia and Frank's adoption storyline (the former wrote a very nice letter and all, but this arc just feels like a distraction, like a forced way to spend time with Julia at home), the crux of the episode, of course, was the battle between Ivy and Karen for the lead in Marilyn: The Musical.

As they did in the premiere, Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee excelled, both during their actual numbers and also in expressing their anxiousness over the callbacks/waiting period. I know the series has set up McPhee's Karen as the protagonist, but darn it if my eyes didn't well up when Ivy reacted to her great news with a huge hug for Tom. It's easy to sympathize with both women, but I'm partial to the story of someone who has worked in the business for years, just waiting for her big break, over someone just starting out.

Karen's time will clearly come - perhaps as Marilyn still, there's a very long time to go before this production hits Broadway - but Ivy was clearly the right call here. She's a veteran of the industry. She has no personal life to slow her down. And she's damn talented.

Will Karen still be involved with the play? As an understudy? Will Derek's dalliance with Ivy come out? What drink will Eileen throw in her soon-to-be-ex-husband's face next? This episode left us with plenty of questions, perhaps none more pressing than this:

How much do Broadway musical writers make?!? That New York City apartment in which Julia and Frank reside is downright insane, and he's a chemistry teacher who hasn't even worked in a decade. I very much enjoy watching television for a living, and I hope you appreciate my take on everything small screen-related... but I'm obviously in the wrong business.

What did everyone else think of "The Callback?"

Review

Editor Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.8 / 5.0 (115 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Tvjunkie

I think what's been great with these first two episodes is how they make you feel for both Ivy and Karen. It's like you want them both to have the part and your heart breaks for each of them. It's nice having two protagonists like that in the beginning but of course, that won't last very long. Still, it was nice that they did it that way. As for Julia's adoption storyline, I appreciate it solely because I like Julia's character and want to know more about her. I wish they took a different approach on her home life though. Maybe her juggling her job and a household with kids? I mean, yes, it's a typical working-mom-storyline but it might've been nice to see that with this premise. And it'll probably be more interesting than the whole adoption thing. So far I'm really enjoying Smash because of the world that they've brought to us. We've seen auditions and callbacks through different movies and shows so I think the workshop aspect of the series will be even greater to see.

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All the effort goes into the musical numbers. The dialogue is so stupid, it's sad. Most of the acting is forced. Looks like a bad B rated movie with unknown talent.

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i think ivy's going to get pregnant and then karen is gonna take over.

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I agree, to a point with Matt's thoughts, et al.
The whole adoption line is indeed superfluous. Especially when the whiny son talks about it. I felt that this part was the episode's worst element. The boy/man was completely unconvincing, un-believable. The father was also little more than a fifth wheel. There is no 'chemistry' between man and wife here.
As for the singing. Is this entire show going to be only Karen and Ivy singing ? I'm pretty sure that will get quite boring after a while.
Ivy's exercise in becoming a MM expert was cheap, predictable, formulaic and poorly acted.
I was not too thrilled with the first episode, much, much less so with this one. There were too many problems with it, only the singing seemed to save it, though as I said, that's going to get boring.
I predict the numbers for this show will start to plummet dramatically soon.

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Sorry but I hated their choice for Marilyn. Ivy was the obvious choice. She is blonde and looks enough like her but she is not as good of a singer as the other character! I wanted Karen to win it. I think she did an amazing job and honestly I LOVE that she isn't trying so damn hard. Ivy was obviously sucking up and of course slept with the director which made me lose soooo much respect for her! At least Karen loves herself enough to not sleep with the director just to get a part. YUCK. Sorry but I do NOT like Ivy. Yuck.

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It was good, it kinda lacked the theatrical spark of the first episode. I wish Showtime would've picked this show up so that the show could really let loose. because the first 3 episodes used to be 1 big one. imagine how that would've turned out.

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Not as good as the pilot. I agree with all the reviewer's observations. That adoption storyline is just plain lame. What in the world has the House Husband been doing for the last 5 years when he has no longer been needed to wipe noses and tears?
Haven't we all seen the conflict a career woman has had to resolve between her personal life and her work? Nothing to see here; Move along.
When Ivy's 2 "boyfriends" glowed adoringly at her from the side as she performed, they looked like a scene from Airplane or Sat. Night Live. Too sappy to be anything but comedy.
I still have high hopes for the show, as long as it sticks to the drama of theater and not the soap opera of television.

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While I never saw Katherine McPhee on American Idol and never saw Megan Hilty on Broadway, the contrast between the two makes Ivy the obvious choice for this plot line to be realistic. But am I the only one who thinks Hilty's speaking parts are forced at best and at worst horribly awkward? It ruins her singing parts for me, she's so bad. We are obviously set up for McPhee as the protagonist but I would be on Team Karen as soon as Ivy finished one scene. It's the small screen, no need to force it. I hear Wicked was great on Broadway, maybe Megan Hilty should give that a try. Oh wait ...

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People who write hit Broadway shows do VERY well. Typically, the writers split somewhere between eight and ten percent of the GROSS. Consider that a top Broadway hit brings in a million dollars a week. The math is easy. And they get the same amount for each production. So another x percent for London, and another for the main touring company, and so on and so forth. I believe I read that Andrew Lloyd Webber has made close to a billion dollars for Phantom of the Opera. And he only provided the music (the lyricist gets an even share and if someone else does the basic book, that person gets a cut). We know Julia has at least one hit running. She may have had more. No problem in getting that apartment.

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The singing, of course, was fabulous. The story held my attention....(totally agree with the statement of the ridiculousness of the son moping about the baby sister...paleeze!) The acting was wonderful...except for Katherine McPhee. How can you cast someone in a Broadway show if she doesn't have facial expressions? Isn't everything on the stage supposed to be grand, larger than life? She's making me lose interest in this show...and fast.