Smash: "Meet Joe DiMaggio"

I’ve pretty much accepted that I will watch Smash in real time and will enjoy some aspects of it week after week. What other show has Megan Hilty and Savannah Wise walking down 45th street past the marquees for Bonnie and Clyde and Private Lives, two shows that are not even open anymore?

Am I in love with the show? Not quite exactly. Very few shows have earned my affection within the first three episodes and there has been this looming concern that I might not like the repetitive nature of the show’s format (even though Anjelica Houston is welcome to add more drinks to her cocktail-throwing body count). The musical performances have not wowed me, but they are inoffensive at the worst and still have room to be fleshed out.

What the show has going for it is a quiet confidence and lightness to the show. Considering we were just faced with an entire Glee episode about teen gay suicide, that is one hell of a welcome sight. This week’s episode, from the plot and character standpoint, did not have anything ambitious or melodramatic. Sure; Julia’s former affair is in the picture now that he plays Joe DiMaggio in the production, but it is not like they started ‘doing it’ in some hallway closet like bunnies. Instead, some subtle flirtation and chemistry…and given the news of Debra Messing and Will Chase’s off-screen dating, it all came together for me.

Can I just say, I don’t get Chase at all. Last I saw him, he played Roger in Rent in the Broadway production. He was good and unlike most Rogers, he tried to do his own take on the character instead of mimicking all of Adam Pascal’s mannerisms (which many a performer try to do). From the neck up, he strikes me as at least 10 years older then his 41 years of age. His voice is good, but nothing earth shattering and in true Smash fashion, they hype and overpraise him to a point of delusion (see Katherine McPhee).

Not that “Grenade” was bad – although, a Bruno Mars riff on Rent is hilariously meta and an interesting idea – but what about this says “Joe DiMaggio?” I feel like the show is trying too hard to be “modern,” so they just threw in this number (and this soon-to-be closing ‘show’) and tried to flimsily tie it to the Marilyn musical casting.

You have MIFFED me.
On the plot front, other then the DiMaggio casting, news of Ivy and Derek’s bedromping made its way back to Tom and Julia. Nothing really happened, but it did prompt Julia to reveal her affair and Ellis, Tom’s shady assistant, overheard. I guess that means Ellis matters now because the Internet combusted with (1) the reveal that he is straight with a girlfriend and (2) his attempt at ‘spying’ and villainy. I personally think it is kind of lame because the actor playing Ellis can’t hold a candle to Christian Borle and DEFINITELY not Debra Messing. Quite frankly, he looks like he should be mostly naked wearing angel wings on a Pride float somewhere. Just saying…

Karen went back to her hometown and while it was a pointless diversion, they at least treated it like the throwaway it was. Karaoke at a baby shower in a bar set-up? Oh please. But I got a kick out of her being sidelined from Marilyn this week because another episode of everyone hemming and hawing as to how great she is would have made my head explode. Ironically…

This was, by far, her best solo to date. I never doubted McPhee’s talent (no, really), but since she has been on the show, they kept giving her solos and musical performances that do not really suit her. I know I am selling her short that her ‘moment’ was some cliché country song, but she seemed at ease and her vocals were on point.

Everything else, plot-wise, was mostly tread ground. The pacing of this show is actually pretty good (and thankfully, nothing about Julia’s baby adoption this week) and they all are building up for some good television down the road.

Decent and well sung.

And a big shoutout to Michael Mayer and all of Smash for Broadway-cameo palooza. It could be a new drinking game (maybe it is already; I wouldn’t know). Michelle Federer as Chase’s Wife, and Condola Rashad, who played Ellis’s girlfriend (and she looked BEAUTIFUL). Rebecca Naomi Jones (who looked unrecognizable given her last theater credit had her in bed with a junkie if she wasn’t stomping the yard) and Jenni Barber were two of Karen’s hometown friends. I probably missed a handful and I have this growing suspicion that if he or she is on Smash, they have been on or have worked close to Broadway. We’ll take it…theater performers are the bastard step-children of the entertainment industry (not my words; those are Norbert Leo Butz’s) and even more of them now are destined for stardom as a result of this exposure. Good stuff!

Photo Credit: Smash/NBC
Screengrab Credit: NRNW
Video Credit: SmashNBC

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