Smash Recap – Mars Musings

Here is a review from partner site Mars Musings of this week’s episode of Smash–the second for the series that aired on Monday night. I have been watching and enjoying the musical numbers. Check out this post and more great entertainment content at Mars Musings.

Musing Review: Smash – The Callback (S1, Ep2)

This is a review of Smash Season 1 Episode 2 – The Callback. Note there are spoilers.

Call me. That’s how this week’s episode started and it was beautifully performed by Karen (Katharine McPhee). What a fitting beginning to a the “cliffhanger” that last week’s episode left us on. It’s been four days since both Karen and Ivy had callbacks and that’s what this episode focused on (amongst other things). It was a good follow on from the pilot and I liked the episode. The story flowed well, they got deeper into character development and the in-episode performances were great.

It all ended up centering around a second callback. Ivy feels that it’s a formality and isn’t sweating so much because she’s 10 years seasoned on broadway. Karen on the other hand is nervous. The producer, writer and director couldn’t decide based on voice so this second callback included a dance audition.

Karen is a supposedly a good dancer but just isn’t getting the dance moves. She even had the “luxury” of training sessions with the choreographer, who happens to be director Derek Wills. He’s a bit evil. OK – evil may be a little harsh but he made sure that Karen met Ivy at the dance practice just to see how they handle things. You judge for yourself.

The episode continues along the path of practicing for the callback but before I cover the remainder of the episode I wanted to cover some of the smaller parts and my thoughts.

Julia has some family drama. We already knew from the pilot episode that she and her husband were trying to adopt a baby and that it was already hard for her to make time. (Yes, she’s a big deal broadway writer.) In this episode we find out that they are all approved to adopt which is great. The joy quickly fades when they’re told it’ll take two years for all the paperwork to approve and the baby to be adopted. This sends her life into a bit of a downward spiral. First Frank wants to cancel the adoption – devastating. Then Frank wants to go back to work, he’s not happy being a house husband (he was a teacher). Maintaing family life is apparently tough for a big deal on broadway. There’s clearly much more for the show to explore here. I’m going to guess it gets worse before it ever gets better.

Karen’s life is full of challenges as well. She’s struggling to keep it together. This Marilyn audition is distracting her from everything. She can’t focus at work and she’s having a hard time keeping her life straight. It all hits a head this week when she’s forced to stand up her boyfriend, Dev, at an important dinner for his job. She chooses to continue practicing for the audition with Derek rather than go to dinner. She doesn’t call or text. There are many seeds of jealousy sown and she just frankly disappointed him. Within the episode they talk about Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio’s relationship and how it had its troubles. I think Karen and Dev’s relationship is paralleling Marilyn and Joe. Would that maker her a better Marilyn?

I realize that I called Derek “evil” before but he did show some strength of character. When Eileen was already upset of encountering her soon to be ex-husband, her divorce and financial concerns over producing the play Derek showed heart. He informs Eileen that he was asked to go back to directing his old play “My Fair Lady” but he decided to stick with her and continue with the Marilyn play. Quite frankly that’s also a bit of loyalty I didn’t see coming. However, I did see some predictable behavior come from Derek. He and Ivy slept together after one of the practice sessions. It seemed very cliche and not surprising at all. I’m not sure what to make of it, but hold that thought.

The musical numbers were great. There were four that were notable (I think there was one more). I already talked about the opening number. The second one was a Norma Jean / Crazy doubtful number. The third was by far the best. It was a mambo dance number entitled 20th Century Fox. It was all about her getting a movie role and about the movie studios. Something about it just resonated with me. I’ll talk about the last one later.

So that brings us to the end of the episode. They did tell us in the beginning that by the end they’d have chosen their Marilyn. Ivy gets the part! Surprise, surprise. Yes, I’m actually surprised, but I guess if the underdog won the story wouldn’t be as good. Did she get the part because she slept with Derek? Did she get it on her own merits? The episode ends with one more song beautifully performed by Ivy in celebration. I guess “Dreams Do Come True.” The episode ended on that “cliffhanger” without resolving anything about Karen. It really makes me want to watch one more week. Who knows what will happen with Karen? Will she be an understudy? Will they give her another part? Will the have one play Marilyn and one play Norma? I guess we’ll have to keep watching.

Watch Smash Mondays at 10:00pm on NBC. Catch up on or Hulu.


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