True story. When I pressed play on the DVR to write up this last Smash post of the season, the TV "resumed play" in the middle of the episode somehow though I'd already watched the whole thing through. The mute button was on. Chorus girl Ivy (Megan Hilty) was pulling a ring box from her purse. The ring wasn't hers but fellow chorus girl Karen's (Katharine McPhee) whose fiance had left the ring in Ivy's hotel room after a drunken one night stand. At the exact moment that Ivy opened the ring box, the unmistakably familiar siren song of the ice cream truck sounded outside my apartment.
I'm not sure where I'm going with this so let it suffice to say that this final episode of Smash's first season was nothing at all like a refreshing creamy treat. The only similarity was that I felt sick to my stomach after devouring it. I don't mean to be a drama queen but at episode's end when Ivy reached for a bottle of pills in her last vain attempt to commune with Marilyn Monroe, that dream role long since torn from her, I knew where she was coming from. I too felt robbed.
This is not to say that I ever expected Ivy to get the Marilyn role in this fictional soap opera about the creation of a Broadway musical. NBC's peacock of choice from the beginning was the creamy lovely generic American Idol alum Katharine McPhee. The "who will get the role?" drama always felt a little forced since all the marketing was built around McPhee and the show took frequent awkard pains to insist that Katharine McPhee/Karen had "it" while Megan Hilty/Ivy was merely a competent seasoned performer but not a star. I've spent a lot of time shaking my head about the show's absolute inability to notice that the show doesn't play like that at all and they should have rethought their game plan. Megan Hilty has IT in so much bold all caps that it's like she's carting around her own spotlight and orchestra. Every time she performs the show lifts off to a higher level and every time the show tells us she doesn't have charisma, the show becomes as far-fetched as "Bombshell's" narrative that you can rejigger an entire show, rehearse a new lead, refit all the costumes and write a new song and everything will go off without a hitch mere hours later!
It occurred to me afterwards and somewhat perversely that perhaps Katharine McPhee's generic charms are not the problem but it's Megan Hilty who is miscast. If Smash is not secretly a show about an otherwise talented director (Jack Davenport's Derek) who is terrible at casting --McPhee is beautiful and talented but sounds and moves nothing like Marilyn while Ivy is beautiful and talented and makes a very convincing musical Monroe -- than it is failing terribly.
Set List: Standards - none; Contemporary - none; Originals -"Don't Forget Me" which is the second worst original song in a generally sensational musical score
<--- B♡bby & Dennis: This one goes to Dennis (Phillip Spaeth) who is, as ever, adorable. And he always looks so happy!
Anjelica Awesomeness: "Wonderful!" Eileen's what now? exasperation that her ex-husband bought a ticket to the show.
Best Moment: Sadly, the best moment by far was the little flashback inserts of Megan Hilty doing "Wolf" and Megan Hilty doing the epic "Let's Be Bad" the two best numbers ever seen on the show. But I also loved the sudden change in the title card. It was no longer "Smash" with an orchestra tuning up but "Smash" with an overture. Nice touch now that the show is playing (albeit in out of town tryouts).
Curtain Call: Skinny Katharine McPhee belting the anthemic ballad "Don't Forget Me" a weak song that sounds suspiciously like one of those interchangeable anthemic ballads that they always end American Idol with. In short, "Bombshell"'s finale was 100% Marilyn Monroe free; no blonde wig on McPhee could ever bridge that infinitesimal gap.
Season as a Whole: B/B- though the first half of the season, particularly episodes four through six suggest that this could be an A level show. Here's to next season. Break a leg!
Previously on Smash
1.1 "Pilot" | 1.2-1.3 "The Callback" & "Enter Joe DiMaggio" | 1.4-1.6 "The Cost of Art", "Let's Be Bad" & "Chemistry" | 1.7 "The Workshop" with Bernadette Peters! | 1.8 "The Coup"...the worst episode | 1.9-1.10 "Hell on Earth", "Understudy" | 1.11-1.12 "The Movie Star", "Publicity" with Uma! | 1.13-1.14 "Tech" & "Previews" with Uma!
Best Episode - The Cost of Art | Best Actress - Debra Messing (and yes I'm surprised by this) | Best Actor - Jack Davenport | Best McPhee Number - "Rumor Has It" from The Cost of Art | Best Hilty Number - "Let's Be Bad from Let's Be Bad | Best Production Number - "Let's Be Bad" in Let's Be Bad | Best Number Not Staged - "Wolf" in The Cost of Art | Best Number That Doesn't Feature Hilty or McPhee - "Say Yes" with Christian Borle from Understudy | Best Anjelica Huston - Anjelica Huston | Amount of Joy I Suspect I Would Feel If They Staged the Entire "Bombshell" on Broadway with Megan Hilty in the Lead Role - ∞