They did add Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson and her slamming body and huge voice. Let's get to my pseudo live-blog and find out if all the changes really improved this show with so much potential.
The season premiere! "On Broadway!"
It opens with Katharine McPhee's Karen Cartwright singing another number from Bombshell. It's the Boston closing, as if we never left!
Karen's hot BF Dev is dismissed from the show with a crumpled letter begging her forgiveness. I was bored by the City Hall political drama storyline, but I will miss moments like this:
Anyhoo, Karen moves in with a girlfriend. Meanwhile, Ivy is fine, so the pills she was pouring into her hand at the end of last season must have been placebos.
The new opening credits are pretty cool.
Leading man Michael who had an affair with
Karen and smarmy director Derek go to see the hit Broadway show Beautiful starring "two-time Tony winner" Veronica Moore (JHud) as an "Aretha/Etta James type." JHud belts the shit out of it onstage. Girl needs to go to Broadway for real. Karen and Derek go backstage to greet Veronica as she flings around her Naomi Campbell hair. Karen notes the vintage Life Magazine Cover with the first Naomi, Miss Sims, tucked in the mirror. Nice touch.
Eileen (Anjelica Houston) dines at Manhattan's hottest new restaurant, Butter. The Ex-husband shows and the audience is braced for martini slinging. Doesn't happen. A gay walks up and tells her she's got the St. James for Bombshell!
Ivy (Megan Hilty) is apparently not going to Broadway with Bombshell because she fucked the leading lady's boyfriend. Happens.
Lots of Michael Riedel cameos. He's more of a recurring character than a cameo.
Karen goes to a bar next door to Orso on W. 46th and bartender Jeremy Jordan starts flirting with her immediately.
Sam the hot dancer (Leslie Odom, Jr.) is going to pass on a big role in the national tour of Book of Mormon so he can stay in New York with FrogFace (Christian Borle). The sex can't be that good. Sam and FrogFace see
Michael Riedel publishes a gossip item that Director Derek sexually harassed movie star Rebecca Duvall and tons of chorus girls because he totally did.
Cut to an elegant party at Eileen's Biltmore-sized Manhattan mansion. She's thrown it to announce that Bombshell will open at the St. James. What ya wanna bet it won't happen? Suddenly, Eileen's hot bartender from last season arrives (thank God they didn't cut his hotness). Eileen wisely takes him upstairs, hopefully for a fuck.
The underused Brian d'Arcy James makes a big scene at Eileen's party about Julia cheating on him because he's apparently not over it. He admits that the hot babe he kissed on the street is the "superintendent." Sounds like a sub/dom thing to me.
Ivy debases herself to Karen to try to keep her shit role in the chorus of Bombshell. Karen is all "who's got the power now, bitch?" But in a sweet way.
Eileen gets a call. "What do you mean we don't have the St. James?" Quick, distract the press that she's invited to her Biltmore-like Manhattan pad by getting JHud and Kat McPhee to belt out "On Broadway" flawlessly with no rehearsal. Ah yes, the old Smash is back.
Eileen announces that "Bombshell is under investigation. Somebody tipped off the feds about where the money came from to finance the show." Would you mind tipping off the audience about where the money came from to finance the show? Do you really expect us to remember that detail from last season? All I really remember from last season is this:
|No, I do not have a pit fetish.|
Back to the show.
Karen continues to drown her sorrows at Jeremy Jordan's bar and befriends New Gay Kyle who also happens to be Jeremy's secret song writing partner or whatever. JJ's heterosexuality is quickly established so he's safe to be Karen't next BF. When JJ thinks the bar is empty, he goes to the piano and belts out his own composition, "I'm Going to Broadway." Subtle. Karen accidentally hears and is so overcome by this totally lame song that she calls Director Derek and they listen to the whole thing via iPhone because JJ is the next big thing. Stuff like this totally happens in New York, people.
It looks like Eileen has worked things out with the Feds. That was fast. The American Theater Wing gala is tonight!
Ivy and Sam have a moment on the street by Amy's Bread. Can you pick up a dozen brownies and deliver them to LC NY Bureau Chief Doug? He's in the neighborhood.
Amy's Bread's brownies cause nipple erection. I am totally not kidding.
It's a Harvey Fierstein cameo! He should be a regular. SRSLY.
|You can do better, Harv.|
Margo Martindale plays the grande dame of the American Theater Wing and she's disinvited Eileen from the Gala because of the Bombshell financing scandal. What's a girl to do? Eileen gets Julia, FrogFace and Ivy to commandeer the stage at the Gala so Ivy can belt out yet another new song from Bombshell (exactly how many songs does that show have?). Ivy wows the audience, Margo is pissed and Eileen is triumphant.
Meanwhile, Karen goes to the world's most boring Brooklyn hipster party and serenades JJ with his own song that New Gay Kyle secretly slipped her. All the hipsters stand around and act like they're not mortified that some random party girl just burst into song. Girls this is not. JJ is totally pissed that an actual working Broadway actress is aware of his work and he tells New Gay Kyle "we're going to do this on our own." Apparently he means really on our own, because he's mad that anybody in show business is even aware that they exist. He's a tortured artist, you see. New Gay Kyle is upset because he's totally over this tortured artist bullshit and wants to be a Stah!
Karen's best gay, super-adorable Bobby (Wesley Taylor), makes a bee-line to New Gay Kyle at the hipster party and they become instant boyfriends.
|Kyle and Bobby. Cuteness squared.|
JJ shows up at Karen's apartment the next morning and gives her a thumbdrive of all his music. He does this for no apparent reason.
My assessment is that they really haven't solved the show's basic problem - it promises to be a show about the drama of Broadway but it's really just a thinly-drawn soap opera with songs.
It remains completely unbelievable that Katharine McPhee's Karen is celebrated as the show business find of the century while Megan Hilty is constantly kicked to the curb. Hilty's talent is so huge that there's no way she'd loose to McPhee in real life. Hilty is too full-blooded to play a depressed looser. It just doesn't suit her.
The JHud character is flat when she stops singing, partly because she can't act. When she's singing, she dominates the screen. When she stops, she becomes a cardboard cutout of a Broadway star.
The new Jeremy Jordan character is a self-absorbed jerk. This is the new love interest for America's Sweetheart, Karen?
Julia's personal drama with her school teacher husband takes us out of the theater and needs to be excised from the show.
Who on earth thought it was a good idea to cast a Broadway star with the stature of Brian d'Arcy James as a cockoled school teacher who never has the chance to sing and dance?
Take us backstage! Put us in the creative process! There is a ton of drama to be gleaned from that. Instead, Smash relies mostly on tired, predictable soap opera conventions. Lazy.