Since my last post on the NBC Series Smash! three more episodes (4,5 & 6) have aired. As you may have heard – things are heating up. In fact there have been a number of characters introduced since my last post. While things have heated up, they’ve also become more than a tad predictable. Usually this is disappointing, and I think I am disappointed to a degree, but this series is about a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe. So with the life of the actual fallen movie star and idol well known, it is not too hard to guess that the stars of the show, the ones either portraying Marilyn or trying to – that would be Megan Hilty as Ivy – and Katherine McPhee as Karen Carpenter, would be heading down similar pathways. Of course, insecurities, or whatever else it might be to give them stress is going around, and would have to – that’s the predictability factor. No way to avoid it.
There’s another perspective that occurs to me as well. Very few of the characters seem to be having fun. If it’s not stress, then it is insecurities. If it’s not insecurities, then they’re just not good enough. Finally, if they know or understand that they’re not good enough, then for sure, they’ll be wearing that sad sack, ‘woe is me’ look. Not to stay or start with the negatives – how about we look at the few people who might actually be happy.
First and foremost has to be Eileen Rand, the show in the show’s producer. This role is Angelica Huston’s. Initially, aside from throwing some drinks in her future ex-husband’s Jerry’s face, and fretting about financing the show – she didn’t have much presence. Okay – in 4 she tried to sell a painting but that didn’t work because it was in Jerry’s name. But something tells me – the financing won’t be a problem going forward. Money will appear, or maybe Jerry might get back into play. After all, there goes the series if the production of Marilyn the musical has to be shut down.
But there’s a dark cloud gathering above Eileen. That would be Ellis (Jaime Cepero). First the creepy Ellis was floating around Tom (Christian Borle). He seemed to function as Tom’s houseboy. But he was sneaky. He lifted Julia’ notebook (and barely managed to wriggle off the hook on that one). Then he gained access to Eileen’s PC. Then he somehow had the right connection to have a friend of his show Eileen an 83rd floor apartment that she could get for a steal at 10K per month. I thought she had money issues.
But, really – having Ellis in her atmosphere can’t be a good thing for Eileen. We’ve been set up to hate Ellis. He made Julia’s skin crawl, and he’s not the least bit trustworthy. So Eileen – be aware, and be wary. You’ve admitted a cobra into your home.
Another guy that is probably happy is Michael Swift, played by Will Chase. He’s married with a kid, and leaving that on the side, he’s managed to turn Julia (Debra Messing) upside down so well, that despite her strong misgivings, they’ve resumed their affair. They were an item 5 years ago – but that was another time and another place. He’s also been cast as Joe DiMaggio in the show. So far, he and Megan Hilty as Ivy have been superb as Joe Di and Marilyn. The Mr. and Mrs Smith song in 4 was great. But I don’t think he’s going to last. First of all, the affair with Julia can’t go unpunished. Second, Ellis knows about the past affair between Julia and Michael. And he hasn’t played that card yet, and may not have to. Prediction: Adios Michael Swift.
And on that note, I think I’ve used up all the characters who would fall on the credit side, the happy side, of the ledger. That ledger is strongly unbalanced, as the debit side (the unhappy, too much stress side) is filled to overflowing.
In Episode 4 Ivy’s insecurities are out there for all to see. First she gets Karen moved out of her place in the ensemble’s geography. Karen gets sent to the back row. Then after more grousing by Ivy, Karen is removed from the song completely. Then there was the party. Ivy sees Derek’s hand on the ass of another woman. When she confronts him about it, he explains it away with – It’s just business – I was sweet-talking a prospective investor for the show. Ivy begins to wonder if sleeping with Derek was the right thing to do.
In Episode 5, the hits just keep on coming. Ivy arrives to find Derek practicing/dancing with Karen. “Am I late?” she asks. “No, Karen was early,” replies Derek. Another punch to Ivy’s bag of insecurities. Later Ivy has a superb song called Let’s Be Bad, which is also the title of the Episode. The song was marvelously edited with the rehearsal version intercut with a finished stage version. From the lyrics:
If you say something is taboo
That’s the thing I want to do
Do it ’til we’re black and blue
Let’s be bad
But that’s just the half of it. At the conclusion of the song, the whole company breaks into a spontaneous applause. The performance was that good. But what does Director Derek do? He gets up and walks out without saying a word. You can almost hear the exuberance rush out of Ivy like air out of a deflating balloon. Her insecurities just took a massive blow. Will it ever stop? The sad sack she has been carrying around inside of herself just grew again. THUD, THud, and thud.
By the time we get to Episode 6 called Chemistry, right from the jump – Ivy has issues. Major issues. Her voice is shot. The lead in a Broadway musical has got to have her pipes in tip-top shape, or more accurately – in perfect working order. Rest and an escape from stress would help. As well as a potent drug. But Ivy hasn’t the right constitution for this drug. But she takes the prednisone anyway. The drug does help her voice get back to excellent working order but there are some nasty side effects. Ivy is soon saying hello to some hallucinations – you know the kind – Karen as Marilyn (including a blonde wig) is what Ivy sees when she looks in the mirror. Uh oh.