First Impressions – Smash: Pilot

“A SEX SYMBOL IS A THING.  I JUST HATE TO BE A THING.” ~ MARILYN MONROE

Smash is a behind-the-scenes drama at the ups and downs happening off-stage for a new Broadway musical featuring Marilyn Monroe.  The show is brought to us by Executive Producer Steven Spielberg.  Spielberg doesn’t produce anything frivolously so to a certain extent the drama is going to be of high caliber.  Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman are composers on the show.

Out of the gate, the pilot sets up the characters and their dilemmas quickly.  Julia Houston (Debra Messing) and Tom Levitt (Christian Borle) come up with the idea to do a musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe.

Broadway producer Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston) is going through a divorce and lost control over producing My Fair Lady until she and her husband settle on their finances.  So she sees a video that was mistakenly leaked on the internet of one of the numbers from the musical and is eager to produce it.

Eileen convinces them to hire Derek Willis (Jack Davenport), a brilliant but womanizing, egocentric director who previously had a falling out with Tom.

Karen Cartwright (Katherine McPhee) auditions for the part but she doesn’t have a lot of stage experience for the lead, she just has the raw talent.  Adding to the pressure are her parents who want her to choose a career path that’s more sensible but cheering her on is her devoted boyfriend, Dev Sundaram (Raza Jaffrey).

On the flip side, Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) wants the part as well and was even the voice that was on the demo video for the showstopping number that Julia and Tom wrote.  She’s been in the business for awhile and while she has the talent, she’s been mostly stuck being a part of the ensemble rather than having a starring role.  She figures that this musical is her chance.

The musical numbers are pretty flawless.  I wish k-dramas took a line from this and even Glee to see what they should strive to.  But then again, these shows have major budgets.  Money and time is a big factor in filming these numbers.

I love that we get to see both Karen and Ivy’s story.  There’s the girl who on-track to skip the line and there’s the girl who has done her time and worked hard.  Who to root for?

That’s the dilemma facing viewers.  I love it when those lines aren’t so clear.

From the pilot, I’m Team Ivy.  Sorry, Karen.  As of right now, all you have is a dream.  Ivy’s got the dream and the sweat and tears behind her.  Plus, having seen Megan Hilty on Broadway, she’s got an awesome voice and can rock that Marilyn wiggle.  Katherine McPhee is just meh to me.  All in all, it was a showstopping start.

Rating

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