Much like a whiny, demanding studio executive who has never actually created a minute of television myself, I offer up my “notes” on the new NBC show Smash.
SCARVES: What is with Debra Messing’s character, Julia, and scarves? There was not a scene in which she did not have something wooly wrapped around her neck. Is this symbolic of something about her character? There was even a scene in which she wore men’s pajamas, a cardigan sweater and a wooly scarf. In her bedroom. Do they not have heat on the set? WHAT GIVES??
I suspect that they aren’t sure how to make this character someone women can relate to so they went overboard with the natural fibers. I mean… See, she lives in New York and her job is “lyricist.” And she loves it so much that she’d kind of shunting aside this whole adoption thing, which could potentially be really boring for a couple of years… you know, taking care of a baby when you really want to be writing euphemistic songs about baseball.
APPLE PRODUCTS: OK, we get it. Apple is the only cool kind of computer anyone anywhere ever can ever, ever use. Even the waitress-trying-to-be-a-star has a freakin’ MacBook Pro. For all that Photoshop work she does on the side. Or whenever she comes home from a long day of try-outs and slinging sweet potato hash and gets the burning desire to edit a video.
Let’s try for some more realism here.
Which leads to me to my final note:
SEX: Turn up the sex volume to 11 in key scenes. It needs to go way beyond the lukewarm pap served last night.Â The seduction scene between the director, Derek Wills, and rising star Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee)? I didn’t even understand what he was asking her when she came to his
apartment enormous loft the size of IKEA for some “coaching.” Did he want her to act like Maryiln? Give him a blow job? The right answer was both, probably a bit more the latter,Â but this was not immediately understood.
After his request, she, upset, excused herself and went to the bathroom. There, she mussed up her hair, grabbed a conveniently-placed, oversized white men’s oxford shirt that covered her ass (which is horse crap because every self-respecting New York man right now is wearing slim-cut EVERYTHING and would not have a shirt that could also double as a tent hanging in his bathroom) and went back out.
She lamely sang the tired, breathy Happy Birthday Mr. President to him while crawling on his lap.
Then she leaves in a fit of forthrightness and disgust. For him, I guess, not for the fact that she put on the oversized shirt and crawled on his lap.
They can do better than this. No, NBC is not Showtime (where the show was originally set up and which would have allowed the episodes to be longer and, presumably, sexier) but that just means they have to be more creative. Let’s not hit on every last trope in the playbook, shall we?
But all is not lost. No, there is potential here. Especially if they corrupt Karen (well-played by McPhee) and don’t allow her to remain the wide-eyed ingenue past the second or third episode. I can practically hear the drums beating in the background on this one.
And the best parts are, thankfully, the singing parts. The ending scene to last night’s episode, which shows the two rivals, Karen and Ivy, getting ready for call-backs for the part of Marilyn was done to the song “Let Me Be Your Star” and it was great. It captured that competitive, the-claws-are-out feeling we need to feel in order to invest in this story.
I’m not buying my Smash t-shirt quite yet, but I’ll be back for episode 2.