Thursday, 21 March 2013

SMASH, kerplop

     A lot of us who love musical theater had high hopes for SMASH. Well, those hopes have been dashed. First it was the awful idea at the heart of the show's premise -- that there would be a big musical made out of the life of Marilyn Monroe and that the making of that musical would interest millions of television viewers. BOMBSHELL isn't the sort of musical that gets to Broadway nowadays and given the awful songs that were created for this fictional show, it really wouldn't stand a chance. Then there was the contest between Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee to be Marilyn. Hilty is a talented musical comedy performer. She was a fine Lorelei Lee in the City Center Encores revival of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES last spring, but all SMASH seems to demand of her is that she pout a lot. Her rival, Katharine McPhee, may win an award as the blandest performer ever to have a leading role on a tv series. Neither of these women would be cast as Marilyn Monroe in the unlikely event that a show like BOMBSHELL would be remotely conceivable in this day and age.
    OK, Season Two. First, the show has been degayed, or at least ostensible degayed. Tom (Christian Borle) is now sexless and the other obviously gay character Kyle (Andy Mientus) has no life other than his collaboration with the pouty character played by Jeremy Jordan. Even Sean Hayes has been rendered non-gay in his role as an idiotic Hollywood celebrity trapped in a musical version of LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES. Now there's a worse idea for a musical than Marilyn, but at least LIASONS closes in a week. I guess the new producers thought the gayness was turning people off. Didn't they realize that the core audience for SMASH would be women and gay men?
     I love the fact that a young songwriter can whip off a song and share it with the world without copyright, lawyers or agents. Now there's fantasy.
     The plot keeps spinning its wheels with the same conflicts occurring in each episode. No wonder most of the viewing public has lost interest. The only saving grace is the occasional song by the talented young team of Pasek and Paul that is part of the score of the musical that Jeremy Jordan and Andy Mientus's characters are supposedly writing. Rather than a bad idea for a musical -- BOMBSHELL or LIASONS, their musical doesn't seem to have any controlling idea at all.
     The first season of SMASH was interestingly bad. This season is both bad and boring. The show has been moved to the twilight zone of Saturday night, a way of letting it die without anyone noticing.

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