Television: Smash, "On Broadway" & "The Fallout"

Admittedly, Smash had an uneven first season. But I found myself riveted anyway. Mostly by Derek. And his patented DerekVision(TM). Of all the characters, I've found Derek the most complex and interesting, even though many people seem to hate him.

The musical numbers are less amazing. Some are good, most are mediocre, and a few are downright painful (like "Mr. & Mrs. Smith"). I'd like to see those get better this season. Though the song that opened "On Broadway" gives me little hope. (Jennifer Hudson killed it on her numbers however.)

Additionally, Smash's soapy plot lines are sometimes—often—ham-fisted in execution. Okay, so Julia has an affair with a member of the show's cast. Simple enough story. But the way it was written and acted left viewers howling. Maybe this season will do better. Except text messages like "Time to move forward with the plan" don't bode well for that, either.

I'm not entirely sure, then, why I'm so compelled to watch this show. But there's just something so fun about it that overrides all the flaws.

The question for this season will be whether having a new showrunner will help or hobble Smash. That, and the move from Monday to Tuesday nights.

Meanwhile, onward with the plot: Bombshell has finished Boston previews and is poised to move to Broadway—until it comes under investigation because of those underhanded funds Eileen got from her boyfriend Nick.

In terms of relationships, Karen and Dev are through (Karen now has a sassy roommate), Ivy and Derek are through, Julia and Frank are through. Really, pretty much everyone is through except Tom and that guy whose name I can't remember. Tom and Julia's working partnership is also on the rocks. Derek is still attracted to Karen, but as she puts it, she's his muse . . . Hey, wouldn't Screwing the Muse be a good name for a rock band?

Karen is sniffing around a couple of waiters who are writing a musical. The writers are trying to work up some chemistry between her and this would-be composer Jimmy, but there's not a lot there. Karen is clumsy and unbelievable as a flirt and Jimmy is obnoxious and unlikeable.

Derek is in the midst of a sexual harassment lawsuit—probably deserved, but it's a bummer to see the writing reducing him to this Lothario again. But! More DerekVision(TM)! So there's that at least.

Better original songs, though. And nice of the writers to acknowledge the fan base and its bitter hatred of Julia's scarves by having Tom demand she retire them.

All told, putting up two hours for the season premiere was stretching it; Smash is better taken in smaller bites. I found my attention wandering because very little seemed to actually be happening. And then sometimes stuff was happening that just wasn't very interesting. So here's hoping they up the stakes and make the stories less juvenile on the whole, by which I mean the whole Karen/Jimmy "take your friends and go home!" and Eileen & Co. hijacking a gala. I know people in the biz can be childish, but this goes a bit far.

Also, "apology muffins." Let's retire those too.

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