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Smash Review: Ivy Croaks

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When Smash was first announced, I was excited to see a new and original idea. Network television has no shortage of cop, lawyer, or doctor shows, so Smash was something fresh and intriguing. NBC's heavy promotion of the show created a nice buzz as well.

Smash promised to give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the making of a Broadway show with both original and cover songs each week. Would it be a success like The West Wing's look at the White House? Or lackluster like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip's backstage look at a SNL-like show?

Karen on Stage

Even though tonight's "Chemistry" was the sixth episode, it is too soon to tell. The show is the strongest when it focuses on the musical and the work relationships. It hits some rough patches when it gets into the personal lives of the characters, especially Julia's life.

The evolution of Marilyn: The Musical has been a treat to watch. From the moment the idea for the production was introduced through the workshop, Julia and Tom seemed to be breezing through the writing process. Could it be that easy to write a musical? They cranked out song after song.

Julia's writer's block regarding “History is Made at Night” provided realism to their creative process. With only a few days remaining in the workshop everything needed to be finished. Her personal life interfered with her ability to get the job done. It's easy to sympathize with a mother who is having issues with her child at home, especially with her husband out of town.

Unfortunately, I've had a difficult time feeling anything but disdain for Julia lately. When we first met her, I loved her passion for both her family and for her career. Unfortunately, that was an illusion. Now, all I see is a woman who cheats on her husband. A man who gave up his job to stay at home, so she could achieve her Broadway dreams, no less. A man who stood by her when she broke her promise to take time off work. And a man that she so desperately wanted to adopt a baby with... right?

Other than the Julia-Michael soap opera storyline, the other characters are beginning to be fully developed. The biggest turnaround for me is Tom. Initially, he was very high strung and his interactions with Ellis were too much, but now he is coming across as more grounded. He has worked well with Julia, tolerated Derek and he isn't as over-the-top with Ivy any more.

Ivy has continued to be insecure and a bit of a diva, but was less bitchy than before. Her comment that she should have had Karen fired the first day came across more as an acceptance of the situation rather than as hatred of Karen.

Of course, that changed after Ivy found out Karen was considered as a replacement when her voice went out. The pressure finally got to Ivy and she decided to take steroids to fix her voice, even though there were side effects. I'm not sure whether she should be commended for making that decision or not. What would you have done?

The steroids exacerbated her insecurities both as Marilyn and in her relationship with Derek. After the song in her room and "seeing" Karen in the mirror, I wasn't sure about the direction of the performance enhancement story, but Ivy's outburst in the studio made it all worthwhile. That was a long time coming and - drug induced or not - it should help Ivy move on.

Her reaction may not have been professional, but given the circumstances, it was understandable. It probably won't hurt her either given Derek's immunity to her outburst. Tom's laughter was an indication he didn't have an issue with it either.

The workshop is coming to a close. Next week, we will have the first performance of Marilyn: The Musical. What changes will the investors want made in order to get on board? Will they like Ivy as Marilyn? Will they enjoy the story and songs? How about Derek's choreography?

What about the relationships? Will Julia and Michael's affair interfere will the musical? How about Derek and Ivy? Will Tom find out that Ellis has been spying for Eileen? So many possibilities!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.4 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.9 / 5.0 (86 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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Niks4u

A horrible episode to put it mildly. The whole Julia-Michael thing is an insult to anyone with a bit of weight above his shoulders but even after forgetting these horrible mistakes, can anyone please tell me how this episode added anything to the series? What was the aim of this episode besides boring me to death?
Anyways, enough of the whining. I have heard that the next episode is much better. If I don't like the next one, then its bye bye Smash for me. Mondays are too crowded anyways.

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@Lindalou - HERE! HERE! Stop writing career women as so emotionally unstable, they would risk their entire life, career & family, for a roll in the hay! Julia lectures her son about not making mistakes that jeopardize the adoption. Then, she tongues a man who is not her husband on an NYC public street, where I'm sure people stay awake past 10pm. So...a shaky marriage won't end that adoption immediately, Julia? Also, who saw all the respect leave Leo's eyes when his mom greeted his dad. Ouch! Another suggestion - the rivalry between Ivy and Karen feels old and stale. Been there, done that SO many times before. Make them friends instead because Ivy could benefit from Karen's emotional centeredness and stability, while Karen could learn a lot about theatre politics from Ivy. Make them into the equivalent of Marilyn Monroe & Jane Russell, & they'll be able to do the "Two Little Girls from Little Rock" number!

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I was SO uncomfortable watching any scene with Julia and Michael...what is she, 17? It's insulting to grown married women that she would make such risky choices based on sexual attraction alone. How could she respect the fact that he's so willing to cheat on his wife and child as well as allow her to throw away a family and career? Writers: How about a female character that has a BRAIN?

Terrie

Part 2 I also am starting to find Tom a bit annoying with his "holier than thou" attitude. I really don't think he's into his "boyfriend" I think Karen did great at the bar mitzvah ....Ivy was jealous that Karen got to contact that guy. Wonder how long it will be before Leo confronts Julia about seeing her kiss Michael?

Terrie

You two arguing about Julia/Michael need to get a grip. Affairs happen-it's a fact of life. There's a plethora of reasons as to why they happen. I really don't see anyone condoning an affair. In my view nothing makes having an affair the right thing to do no matter what the circumstance. I do think this part is too soapy for this particular show, however, in the Broadway musical world, I'm sure this happens frequently. I still do not like Ivy. It would have served her right if Karen got to perform as Marilyn. I do not like Ellis, he's like a little child playing tattle tale....very annoying.

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Best episode yet. I especially liked when the "boys" came over to comfort Ivy. So warm and fuzzy. Loved Karen at the bar-mitzvah. Loved the hunting game at the divey bar. As far as Julia look we all know people have affairs come on. I think we are afraid she going to ruin her life and prob will. But it was HOT! Please NBC don't take this show away from me...you have a bad track record.

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Will somone please let me know when they take this show 'on the road' and off of tv. Tried to watch it because of Ms. Houston but I don't think even her talent can hold this together.

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NITPICK: Ivy's comment that Marilyn Monroe would have had a rival fired in the first week doesn't ring true. If someone could cite a specific incident recounted in print where she ever behaved like this, I'll gladly recant. But, IIRC, MM was never a "diva" in the sense that she would treat people badly or demean them in public. And, her lateness and absences were not because she thought she was too important. They were attributed to crippling stage fright and anxiety. So, no writers, I don't think MM would have been that mean. That Ivy is is an interesting difference of character.

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The whole Julia thing is bothering me a lot. I also loved her in the beginning but the whole cheating thing is really unnecesary. I belei less soap and more music will help the show a lot. Why do writers assume we all watch TV to see people rolling around in the bed. My favorite parts of the show are when Karen and Ivy are doing what they are there for. I do find it odd you did not mention Karen expect in passing. Her cover of that song, which I can't remember the name of, was awesome. And I don't know why I can't get it on iTunes. Also I loved the whole version of "History Is Made At Night". I also think Anjelica Houston's character is very cool.

Farsia2010

@Stephanie
again i am not making any excuses because it doesn't need any and when i say it is "understandable" it is not an excuse it is just the way it is. do you really mean to tell me you do not understand why she did it? "understandable" doesn't mean that it is good/bad/evil/right..... it mean that we get where she is coming from. and when i talked about the distinction between men/women, i meant it generally to other people, i didn't direct to you specifically, it was just sth i wanted to say at that moment.
when you said that just because she is "creative" it shouldn't make it okay, i get it but it is unrealistic. she is not only creative, she gets paid for envisioning other worlds, that makes for a weird grasp on the real world, believe me i grew up in a family where both my parents are directors, grandparents are either ballet dancers or musicians. the point is that her husband is not a part of that world and it can make it difficult to stay passionately connected.

Smash Season 1 Episode 6 Music

  Song Artist
Song Shake It Out Smash Cast
Song On Lexington & 52nd Street Smash Cast