Last night, NBC ran the season finale of its new hit Smash, giving the world a shockingly intense hour of television. I have been watching Smash all season, and have loved it but found myself surprised when I spent most of the finale on the edge of my seat. Without my noticing, the show had spent a season rolling a giant snowball and during the finale, they rolled it down a hill.
There is no doubt in my mind that Smash needs to be classified as a drama because, other than some killer musical numbers, the show was only filled with drama. The television show chronicles all the work and drama that goes into writing, producing, directing and creating a Broadway musical. Rather than having a single main character, the show boasts many and each main character takes part in a different aspect of creating the musical. Not only does each character have a role in the musical, each comes complete with their own specific drama.
The two possible Maralyn Monroe’s, the show’s lead character, cultivate a fair amount of drama between themselves. Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee) comes with a boyfriend trying to work his way up the political ladder and a naive disposition that does not suit Broadway. Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) feeds on drama and eventually ends up sleeping with the show’s director, Derek Wills (Jack Davenport). Derek is an angry man that takes no nonsense and will do anything for the show. The show’s writers, Julia Houston (Debra Messing) and Tom Levitt (Christian Borle), both claim their own relationship problems. Tom is trying to navigate his way through the world of gay dating, eventually starting a relationship with one of the show’s dancers, Sam Strickland (Leslie Odom Jr.). Julia is desperately trying to hold her marriage together while dealing with her affair with one of the show’s male leads, Michael Swift (Will Chase). The show’s producer, Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston), is going through her own divorce while trying to scrape enough money together to produce her first show.
The over abundance of drama knitted together perfectly to create an entertainingly dramatic and eventful season. Each episode held multiple speed bumps for the show that forced characters to grow and drastic changes to be made to the show. While each episode presented obstacles for the show or drama between characters, the show never seemed to be immediate danger of failing. Everything seemed to be completed with just a little time to spare or a character stepped up to fix the problem. That’s why, when everything goes wrong with twelve hours to performance time in the last episode, the entire episode becomes unbelievably intense. Each character is forced to race the clock as each new catastrophe brings the show closer and closer to its seemingly imminent destruction.
I highly recommend this show, especially to fans of Glee that have found themselves disappointing with anything past Season 2. Each episode features at least one original song from the musical and one song cover. Each number seems to be straight out of a Broadway musical, containing a diverse set of styles in dance and song. The acting is great, the fairly unknown faces like Christian Borle and Leslie Odom mix very well with faces we have seen before like Jack Davenport, Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston. The face and the voice that stood out among the others was Katharine McPhee. Charming to a fault, I was unable to take my eyes off her while she was on screen. The show is certainly worth watching for the acting performances but more so for the musical performances. I give the season a 8 out of 10 and recommend giving it a shot.
This may be common knowledge, I’m not sure, but the phrase :jumping the shark” has developed a very specific meaning in the television world. It is something that I like to refer to as television slang. I went to use the phrase jumping the shark in a recent post but stopped myself because I honestly don’t know if the meaning is commonly known. I figured a post was in order to make sure we are all on the same page.
Jumping the Shark: when a show is still on the air but has run out of good ideas so they air a shitty, ridiculous, bad idea. Basically, when a show has been on the air too long and is barely holding a story together then it has jumped the shark. The phrase was originally coined by Happy Days. An episode close to the show’s end featured Fonzie jumping over a shark while water skiing. The phrase jumping the shark is quite a literal term. It specifically refers to the moment when the Fonz went from “cool” to ridiculous but has grown to refer to shows that no longer hold a solid enough plot line to stay on the air.
Shows that in my opinion have jumped the shark.
- Heroes: when exactly did it jump the shark? There have been more times than I care to count. The first season of the show was really good but after that, something happened. Somewhere between the shape shifting, government conspiracies, twins stick in the same body that are actually triplets and a group of enemies who live in a traveling circus, the show jumped one giant whale of a shark.
- Prisonbreak: For me it happened during the third season, when a handful of the main characters landed themselves in a second prison in south America. The first season of the show was mind-blowing and riveting but somewhere along the way they used too much material too fast.
- Glee: It happened with Finn’s proposal to Rachel. The minutes it happened I realized that the show was just recycling material and using it on different characters. The music is still awesome, which makes it worth watching but the story line has completely lost my interest.