“Smash” Ups The Ante For Season Two


HOLLYWOOD—It was last season’s surprise hit that wowed audiences, but after a rather stellar pilot the musical “Smash” lost its footing. After tweaks in characters and a better rounded direction, the musical is back for its second season. New to the cast this season for multiple episodes is Grammy and Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson as Veronica Moore, a Tony Award-winning Broadway star that knows the price for fame all to well.

The new season opens with the cast celebrating the success of their musical Bombshell thanks to its star Karen (Katherine McPhee). It’s interesting to see that fame has shot to Karen’s head; she’s been dreaming about this her entire life and its happening! The tension between Karen and her nemesis Ivy (Megan Hilty) is amazing. The duo barely shares any dialogue with one another, but the glares that these women deliver to one another are sensational. Eileen (Anjelica Houston) continues to bask in the success of the musical, as does Julia (Debra Messing), Tom (Christian Borle) and Derek (Jack Davenport).

They are all power players who know they have something big on their hands, they just have one problem: securing a place on Broadway to display the musical to everyone else. Karen gets a taste of what Broadway has to offer when she is introduced to Veronica Moore (Jennifer Hudson) who proves that singing is indeed in her blood. The powerhouse pipes that Hudson delivers on stage are simply awesome. In a predictive future, I see Moore taking Karen under her wing; showing her what not to do if she wants to sustain a career on Broadway. Take it from someone who knows first hand the drawbacks of fame.

Ivy on the other hand, continues to worry about her future with the show.  Considering that Karen is the “star” she’s expendable and receives another harsh dose of reality. The audience will easily connect with Ivy, a woman struggling to stay relevant in an industry where one day you’re a star, the next you’re not. Karen in her own way basks in the newfound power she has, and at times throws it in Ivy’s face, which is a tough pill to swallow.

It’s not just the cast of the musical that has issues in their personal lives, but also those behind the scenes.  Eileen continues to grapple with her ex-husband Jerry (Michael Cristofer) who may be behind Eileen losing funding for her show. He’s so driven for power, he’d take down a former flame to make sure he stays on top; cruel indeed. Julia thinks her marriage is back on track after cheating on her husband, but a bombshell from friend Tom, blows ups in both of their faces as Frank (Brian d’Arcy James) makes a spectacle of himself, his wife and her cast at a public event. Tom’s love-life is in a good place, but forbids his partner from turning down the opportunity to move onto a bigger show.

All of this chaos is happening and the biggest surprise of episode occurs when “Bombshell” is shelved. Karen is back where she started, so is Ivy, Tom, Julia, Derek and Eileen. Derek is in a worse place than everyone else as his womanizing ways catch-up to him; why in the world can Karen not see through this guy? Ivy did, it took her some time, but she figured it out. Just when it appears all hope is gone Karen stumbles across a rude bartender named Jimmy Collins (Jeremy Jordan) who has a gift for singing and writing. Karen steeps a bit low by allowing Derek to hear the song through her cell, as Jimmy continues to belt his heart out unaware that he’s being watched.  Its obvious Karen and Jimmy have chemistry; it’s just a matter of time before the sparks are taken to new heights.

“Smash” does something that is difficult to do; it brings great music, layered characters and drama in the perfect mix. You actually feel as if you’re watching a Broadway show when watching the series and it gives the audience a slice of Broadway that is not often seen. Broadway is a cutthroat place, if you don’t watch your back, what you’ve worked so hard for can easily be taken away from you.  Don’t miss the two-hour premiere of “Smash” on Tuesday, February 5 at 9 p.m. on NBC.

By LaDale Anderson