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?
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!