Six of Random Things about “Smash”


It’s the show people (apparently) love to hate. Our house watches it. Here’s some things that pop into my head that I don’t say outlaid, which would anger my wife who enjoys the singing. When the stories go wonky and nobody’s singing, these are the things I think about:

1.) Weirdos. There are lots of them on this show, but I’m mainly focusing on three: Angelica Huston, the guy who plays her husband and the guy who plays the new “Will” to this show’s “Grace,” who kind of looks like a dog. I’m mainly focusing on their looks here, which . Even that new genius “street” Broadway song writer who is a love interest for Karen (you can tell they’re in love because he treats her like absolute dirt, even after she has continually and repeatedly given him break after break after break). He’s kind of good looking, but in a weird way. His face is all scrunched up.

But by far the weirdest, through and through, are Huston and her on-screen-ex-husband. Huston seems to have decided her character’s posture will be dictated by the angle of her haircut, and keeps her shoulders stiff accordingly. She never turns her head. Did she endure a horrible car accident recently, and the surgeon had to replace her spine with a replica, but the sutures were never properly covered so they made her get that strange hair do? Whatever the reason, it’s kind of fascinating and I almost wish the show were more popular so I could dress as this character for Halloween. Her ex-husband isn’t any less weird. He seems to be pretending he’s Frank Langella, but with fish gills (aka “Fish Langella”) which require his breathing to strain.

2.) Does Steven Spielberg Watch The Show? He’s a credited Executive Producer, which usually translates to “Put Up Some Money and Got Out of the Way In Order to Collect More Money, and Thanks For the Money.” I’m almost positive he does not watch, less because he wouldn’t like it and more because how would he have the time. And yet, my imagination dwells on it every time that name appears. I picture him in his home, calling the family together around a big bowl of popcorn, with Kate Capshaw-Spielberg making s’mores, and they all wonder aloud if tonight is the night Ivy finally makes some friends from anywhere else ever. Actually, that image might be based on my memories of the opening titles to “Amazing Stories,” or just wishful thinking.

3.) Nobody Seems Stressed. When it comes to my own artistic endeavors, I get stressed six weeks away from a deadline. But on “Smash,” no matter what crazy show-threatening situation they’re dealing with at that moment, Derrick still finds time to chat with his FORMER ACTRESS Ivy about her problems. I know you can’t really film writing, but you can certainly film drama that comes from NOT writing, or from mishandling things. At least, I think you can. Or maybe that’s why I don’t work for this show. Maybe you can’t. Maybe everything has to be about regular, relatable family-sex-relationship stuff, and you just have to assume that when you’re at this level of Broadway A-Listers, the measly details like production and writing come easily. Heck, Grace re-wrote the ENTIRE SCRIPT with a Dramaturge in a day or two, so it can’t be that hard, right? And it was the BEST STUFF SHE’S EVER WRITTEN. And going back to Ivy…

4.) Get Some New Friends, Ivy. Look, girl. You’re smart (I guess), talented, can sing and you look nice. You shouldn’t have this many problems finding anything else to do in New York City. But something about “Bombshell” just keeps pulling her back, and so she keeps running with the same crew, even though her stories are inconsequential.

5.) Just Make the Freakin’ Show Already! I have absolutely no idea what all goes into the production of a major Broadway musical. But I can imagine that there are a limited number of interesting things that can happen in the pre-staging period. And we’re nearing two seasons worth of pre-production, and I’m using the phrase “seasons worth” loosely. By this point, it’s time to just bite the bullet and do the show. You’re polishing the same brass knobs, and you can only make them so shiny. Either Karen’s going to be great or not. Just get there and start the drama of opening weekend, the reviews, sickness, understudies, etc. etc. Maybe the (TV show) producers have a 7 year plan for all of these (stage-show-within-a-TV-show) producers, so they’re doling it out slowly. It just feels interminable, and the longer they delay the actual release of the show, the more we, the audience, realize there’s no way “Bombshell” could ever be so great as to merit all of this crap, so we’ll actually never see it, and why are we watching this again?

6.) Wait… Why ARE We Watching This? Or really, WHO is watching? We have a friend who believes this is one of the shows that helped coin the phrase “Hate Watching,” and while I disagree with that origin (because I believe “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” did it first) (and possibly better through sheer pompous blow-hardery), that speaks to the low ratings and poor reception “Smash” has largely received. Yet, it’s still on. I think people just like to watch people singing. It all started (or re-started, because people have always enjoyed watching people sing) with “American Idol.” Then Fox asked, “How could we produce a scripted show with some of that singing DNA?” and they came to “Glee.” That was a huge hit and continues to do well (despite its own problems, but one thing at a time). Naturally, other networks wanted a piece of that singing-people pie, so NBC came out with its own singing contest show (“The Voice”) and now a scripted show where people break into song for all kinds of reasons. So… on paper, I get it. But seriously, who is watching this show? Or, more accurately, who is watching this show for the characters? I know my wife enjoys it, and she says she’s into the story (which is true, because she can get into any story hard core), but I’m convinced that the singing is what’s keeping her around. That’s gotta be it, right? So if you’re a producer on “Community,” don’t come complaining about being a victim of ratings biases until you try just singing all the time.


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