As a columnist for the most renowned publication within a small radius of Matthews Chevrolet, it’s my duty to comment on events that lay at the forefront of our cultural spectrum. So, what better way to start the semester than with a play-by-play review of the one television event that’s sure to have had everybody glued to their seats with friends, family, a six-pack of beer and some chicken wings — last night’s premiere of Steven Spielberg’s new episodic drama, “Smash.”
In the first quarter of the show, we’re introduced to our protagonists, two struggling actresses, both with grandiose dreams of Broadway stardom. We have Karen (Katharine McPhee, runner-up on the fifth season of “American Idol”), a New York newcomer whose full potential is yet to be realized, and Ivy (Megan Hilty, episode 1.24 of “Melissa & Joey”), a seasoned ensemble veteran with an insatiable desire for a lead role.
While “Smash” gives its audience a look into the world of a Broadway show in the making, at its core, it’s about the journey of these two ambitious women.
Next, we meet Broadway-writing team Julia and Tom (Debra Messing and Christian Borle). We’re made aware that Julia is at a crossroad in her life. While her husband was under the impression that she was going to take the season off and focus her efforts on adopting a baby, Julia is itching to get back on the field and go into production on a new musical about Marilyn Monroe, for which her partner Tom has already written a number.
Julia and Tom recruit Ivy to record a cut of the song Tom wrote in effort to spark interest in potential investors, but wait! Tom’s new assistant intercepts the recording and hands it off to his mother, who goes ahead and passes it on to the copyright-free www.Youlenz.com. What a disaster! Or is it? Broadway critics love it, shot-gunning “Marilyn: The Musical” into production.
Around halftime, I’m confident that most of you took a break to watch Madonna’s new music video before continuing with the show.
Then, enter Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston), a big-time theatre producer who’s currently going through a messy divorce. We learn that she’s rushing to hold onto the funds for her passion project, which is a revival of “My Fair Lady.” However, the funding is deep in the pocket of her soon-to-be ex-husband, and he’s protected by a very strong line of defense attorneys.
Despite this, Rand goes ahead with pre-production on “Marilyn,” bringing in a well-respected director-choreographer and the promise of big money.
Then comes the episode’s climax — auditions for “Marilyn: The Musical.” While many hopefuls line the hallway outside of the casting room, we all know the role of Marilyn is going to come down to either Ivy or Karen. While Ivy is the favorite, having had many years of stage experience and the support of writers Julia and Tom, Karen proves to be a strong underdog, winning over the approval of the show’s director.
This audition is by far the most decisive moment in both Ivy and Karen’s lives. Landing the role of Marilyn would be a dream come true for them. It’d be like hitting the lottery, or being elected president, or, for the lack of a better sports reference, winning the U.S. Open.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan of television or you’re just into it for fantasy — like “Game Of Thrones” — good TV is good TV, and “Smash” is well-deserving of any TV addict’s attention.