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Smash drops a "Bombshell"

Smash (2012) poster

Written by : published Saturday 19th May 2012

Fade in on a girl...

It's not secret that fan reaction to NBC's Smash has been mixed. But it's hard to call the series boring. With more twists than a red vine, this initial fifteen episode order has switched the star in its play within a play no less than three times. Possibly more, but three women have been involved. And with scant moments left in the season finale, the question still hangs in the air: Who is Marilyn?

This is a question that lingers throughout "Bombshell." While one girl is named to be the lead early in the episode, there are many points where that decision could be changed, even at the last minute. Smash does a good job at building suspense, and never letting one get too comfortable with their conclusion until the musical actually begins near the end of the hour.

Rebecca (Uma Thurman, Kill Bill) is out, after merely one preview performance. Derek (Jack Davenport), Julia (Debra Messing), Tom (Christian Borle), and Eileen (Anjelica Huston) fight over who should take over for her. They have an understudy, of course, but this early in the process, the understudy hasn't started rehearsing, and there's someone who is more prepared waiting in the wings.

Though the vote is 3 to 1, the 1 is Derek, and he wins. He puts his foot down, as he is the one with the creative vision. Is he right in this situation? Does the director override the producer, writer, and composer? It seems that way. Julia and Tom don't even fight it, and while Eileen tries, when Derek admonishes her, she shuts up. Going forward, there should not be a doubt in anyone's mind that Derek is in charge of Bombshell.

Then again, why shouldn't he get final decision on casting? Tom and Julia are off doing what they do best: writing. Eileen is more suited to the business side of things. At the end of the day, Derek is the one putting together the live performance, and he should have a great deal of say. They hired him because he is brilliant, which he has proven over and over again throughout this process. When the chips are down, he should be trusted with things in his arena. Casting is one of those things.

Who should not be trusted is Ellis (Jaime Cepero). Ellis wants to be in charge badly, and doesn't mind playing dirty to get there. This single-minded devotion leads to an arrogance, acting like he already has a seat at the table long before he does. It's kind of a wonder that Eileen stays blind to his true self as long as she does. But thank goodness she fires Ellis when he proudly touts how he ran Rebecca off. It may be best for the show that Rebecca is gone, but his timing couldn't have been worse, and his methods are terrible! Bombshell does not need the stink of this kind of scandal on its hands!

Of course, we haven't seen the last of Ellis, which he vows as he stomps away from Eileen. He did suggest the musical be about Marilyn, and while he has contributed little since then, other than kissing butt, he is going to sue. That writing is on the wall. He doesn't deserve to win, and if there is justice, he won't. But that doesn't mean his actions won't cause problems, and possibly even halt production. So this little pain, who just will not go away, needs to be put in his place! Please!

It turns out that Dev (Raza Jaffrey) isn't trustworthy, either. He has no intention of telling Karen (Katharine McPhee) that he slept with Ivy (Megan Hilty). It's hard to believe that he thinks Karen won't find out. It's even harder to believe that he expects her to just forget about it and instantly move on. Again, this couldn't come at a worse time. Dev is definitely not the right man for anyone. Even if he does deliver a truly awesome Bollywood number earlier in the season, it's time for him to make his exit, stage left.

Why does Ivy tell Karen about sleeping with Dev? Is she still being manipulative and sneaky? It doesn't seem so. Ivy is crushed that Derek cheated on her, and then, worse, chose Karen over her for the role of Marilyn. But even so, Ivy and Karen have formed a sort of bond. And seeing how upset Karen is, and how much pressure she's under, trying to learn the part at the last moment, it looks like Ivy might just be doing a kindness by not letting Karen stay with a lying cheater. There is no malice or pleasure in Ivy's face when she tells Karen the truth. Which means, as the season comes to an end, that Ivy is a likable character, something hard to see coming back at the beginning.

Though Karen might make a better Marilyn on stage, which is, admittedly, debatable, Ivy is more like Marilyn in real life. The end of "Bombshell" finds her contemplating a palm full of pills, something the real Marilyn would do. Many believe that Marilyn killed herself. Hopefully, Ivy won't do the same. She's too interesting a character to lose now.

The real draw of Smash is Bombshell. The characters are great, and, were time not an issue, this review could actually contain twice as much about them as it does. But the music and staging for the musical are more amazing! Tom and Julia's final number is much, much better than the dark, depressing original ending, and ranks among the top songs in the production! Debuted proudly in "Bombshell," it's easy to see how this is coming together. Smash would not work if its show within a show sucked. Thankfully, Bombshell doesn't. Not even a little bit.

Smash has been renewed for a second season and will return to NBC next fall.

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About the author JeromeWetzelTV


Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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