Smash Review: Introducing The Hit List

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Smash season 2 definitely has moved in a new direction. The focus has shifted away from the character's personal dramas to focus on the Broadway world and the business of making musicals.

In "Dramaturg," four separate musicals were involved in the story: Bombshell, Veronica's musical, Jimmy and Kyle's The Hit List and Ivy's new show. Each one is at a different stage of development and if you are intrigued by the behind-the-scenes making of a musical, you probably love this episode as I did.

Ivy Moves Forward

That's not to say there weren't some problems with it, but overall, I dig this new focus. 

From the Smash pilot and forward, the parts of the story that held my attention were the songs, the workshops/tech/previews and the individual struggles to make it. I didn't care for the backstabbing Ellis, the cheating Julia or the continual over-the-top rivalry between Ivy and Karen. With this new format, both Ivy and Karen have the potential to find success, while going through personal struggles that have nothing to do with each other.

I don't expect that the personal side of these characters will be ignored, but they will be better grounded. In particular, I'm looking forward to seeing a Karen-Jimmy romance. Though, for now, there was plenty of professional struggle to go around for all the characters.

Derek went from the most sought after director to struggling to find work due to his womanizing. This somewhat humbled Derek is growing on me. Instead of holding a power position in a relationship like he did with Ivy, he is alone. His relationship with Karen is strictly professional and at times almost that of equals ... almost. Even when he meets with Veronica about directing her new show, she holds more power than he does. Derek is still Derek as he proved while directing during the rehearsals, but he's growing.

Karen has made the biggest leap of all. She went from "nobody" to the lead in a show and more importantly to having Derek's ear. She's come into her own since auditioning for Bombshell. While Ivy always was the stronger Marilyn, I've thought Karen was just as worthy of the role. However, now with The Hit List in play, it seems much more suited to her abilities. It's fresh, energetic, and modern. 

She has paid it forward. She found success and now she's helping Jimmy and Kyle find it as well. Jimmy is at times highly unlikable, but given his struggles it begins to make sense. He's a realist, while Kyle is the dreamer. Jimmy's used to being let down and he expects that Karen and Derek will just like others have in the past. He's quick to move on, as he said to Derek after showing up at the apartment, "That's cool. You kept your promise."

At this point, I wouldn't mind if Bombshell became an example of a show that never makes it to Broadway, except for the defeat it would be for Eileen and also the writing team of Julia and Tom. Even though Eileen did end up taking money from her ex-husband, the show is her way to prove that she can be a success on her own. And that doesn't happen until the show makes it to the stage. And despite their annoying behavior at times, Julia and Tom have put their all into the show and should see that work rewarded. 

Now that Julia has left her depression behind, she has anger instead. Her pride in her work is honorable, but in this case misguided. After seeing all the other shows that Peter has worked on and helped, it was a surprise she wasn't more open to his help. Peter was condescending, but he got her to look at the story in a new way. Their relationship started out contentious, though there was a heat there that she could use for the book.

Peter is successful at what he does because he's able to push the right buttons to help the writer be better. Julia and Tom have worked together for so long that they have a groove that has put them in a rut. Peter will shake that up. While I don't think Julia will ever entirely accept Peter's methods, he has become her muse in just their few short meetings. It was difficult at times to watch their interactions because they were so intense and uncomfortable, yet that's what made them work.

Overall, I'm excited by the new developments, projects and potential on Smash. The characters and relationships are becoming more complex and the addition of the new musicals opens up plenty of opportunities for success and failures of all the characters. The biggest letdown on "Dramaturg" was the musical performances. All the songs were good, but unfortunately none of them were particularly memorable.

Whose story are you most interested in watching this season? Did you enjoy the conflict between Julia and Peter? Is the somewhat humbled Derek a good move or do you miss the arrogant womanizing Derek?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.2 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.8 / 5.0 (44 Votes)

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

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I agree with BarbT. Too much talking and not enough good music. Why should I care about Jennifer Hudson's character now that musical numbers from THE WIZ won't be airing? One-woman show w/edge - um, not interested. Also, I thought the dramaturg was dead WRONG! BOMBSHELL didn't have heat? What about the "History Is Made At Night" number? That was *very* sexy. Frankly, I *don't* want to see cheap gossip included in a story about Marilyn's life via a sex scene with John F. Kennedy. YUCK! Wasn't the goal to see Monroe as a person beyond her sex appeal? The dramaturg accused Julia of having a shallow, 2-dimensional book. Then his suggestion to improve it makes it even MORE shallow - more sex, more gossip rag stuff, less emphasis on the relationships that actually meant something to her. How is that "deeper" to the Marilyn mythology?

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OK so this was kind of a weird transitional episode, but I did like the parts with Jimmy and Kyle - first their pitch of their musical "Hit List" to Derek, an then also when Jimmy smokes a joint on the couch while working with Kyle (which also gets bonus points for using the song "Old Friend" by Caveman, who I think are the next Grizzly Bear). Anyway, here's hoping now that we are fully transitioned out of last year's arcs, they can start developing some momentum in this season.

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I think it's a bad sign that's it's Tuesday and I almost forgot Smash was on. I read the write-up and won't bother seeing it. Ronnie is having trouble with her mother? That's a storyline? And the obnoxious one's ego may affect the success of their so-called "musical"? Who cares! Sorry but you've lost a viewer. I'd rather see "Body of Proof" and gore (yuck) than this garbage. Bye.

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I hope they put Bombshell on the back-burner a little bit. Think The Hit List will be a nice new focus but it will take a long longer to develop so i hope its development extends a bit more. I have a bad feeling that Derrick might given Jenifer Hudson character the lead in the Hit List later on in the season, as i think Karen will probably become more controlling over him and this will be his move to somehow regain the power a bit.

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I just recently started watching this show. I liked the first season except the unfaithful Julia and the unfaithful Dev (didn't make any sense to me). I don't like that we have so many different musicals in making, it will be hard to follow - should this show go on at all (based on its terrible ratings). I liked that they tuned down the over-the-top rivalry between Ivy and Karen.

Vv

new not knew. Sorry about that!

Vv

I agree with BarbT. I found this episode a bit boring. Too many storylines and too many musicals I don't care about. Last year it was fun because everyone was working on 1 musical - Bombshell - I think it would be better if they only focused on 2 going forward - Bombeshell and The Hit List (even though I didn't really like the plot when they were explaining it to Derek and Karen). I also really dislike Jimmy and I don't like him as a love interest for Karen AT ALL. I know they will get together but I really hope it won't last long, since I really like her with Derek more. I also agree with everyone that there haven't been any knew memorable numbers for now. I loved the songs last year! Hopefully that will change soon.

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Unlike the week before, when I didn't want the episode to end, this time I was watching the clock thinking, "Is this thing over yet?" I guess I'm in the minority, but I didn't like this episode at all. Did anyone catch on that the "Hitlist" relationships are parodying Smash's new direction. How lame! I'm also getting tired of Jennifer Hudson. Enough with the multitude of storylines. It's starting to feel disjointed and thrown together. While I agree the backstory of the private lives was really out there last year (adopting a baby from China?!), let's not keep adding stuff to see what sticks. I guess the producers are trying to young it up with Jimmy and Kyle, but I find Jimmy obnoxious and hard to watch. I really don't care to hear about his hard times. I guess the Karen character likes domineering men in her life -- doesn't say much for her inner strength to stand on her own. I hope this doesn't turn into another Glee -- juvenile and stupid.

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@lolo... if you've ever worked on Broadway, you DO care!

Tvgarth

Shut up Julia and start acting like a professional. Not only is it unbecoming but everyone in the business knows that there are hundreds of other people ready to break down the door and take your position when you don't give it everything you got and "getting along" is a BIG part of any production and it's important to remember that NO ONE is irreplaceable! It was fun to hear that one song from the WIZ that little Stephanie Mills made so famous...but let's get real here; Diana Ross ruined the movie because of her age and Jennifer Hudson, though younger is still no Dorothy (still trying to imagine a 6' tall Dorothy) so, good riddance to that and now who's going to be starring in what? Everybody's got talent but to me, this is Katharine McPhee's year to shine and come into her own...and I'm glued to my seat in anticipation! Now that Glee has lost its way along with its luster, SMASH is must see television for all of the "Broadwayphiles" and music fans out there...and I'm betting there are plenty of both! Kudos to Jennifer Hudson for taking on this project and becoming part of the story. She's certainly got it all goin' on...too!

Smash Season 2 Episode 2 Quotes

Hi, I'm Peter. The parasite.

Peter

I'll only be the midwife helping usher it into the world.

Peter
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