Smash Review: Selecting a Star

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If there's one thing you should know about me, it's this: I'm a sucker for looks behind the scenes. Of anything, really.

I haven't eaten at McDonald's in years, and the mere thought of a Big Mac makes me nauseous, but show me a documentary on how employees get the kitchen ready every morning and I'll be glued to the screen.

I say this because the second episode of Smash, "The Callback," had its flaws. It was predictable at times - of course Derek was going to sleep with Ivy; and did anyone think Karen would actually make the dinner with Dev and his co-workers on time? - and straight up confusing/boring at others.

Sorry, but I don't care about this adoption storyline and Julia's son expressing such shock and frustration at his father seemingly quitting the process was just odd. How long has he been promised this brother or sister? Won't he be in college in two years anyway? I just didn't buy this teenager caring so incredibly much about the prospect of a sibling.

Watching the Callback

All that said, I still enjoyed the episode, and it's for the reason stated above: I legitimately feel like I'm behind the scenes of a Broadway musical.

I love just sitting back and watching these auditions, especially considering how well they're produced and crafted. Props to whoever decided to oscillate between the mundane callback setting and the grander, fully-staged performance pieces whenever Ivy or Karen sing for the crew. There's not much analysis needed here, they're simply a blast to watch.

Ignoring Julia and Frank's adoption storyline (the former wrote a very nice letter and all, but this arc just feels like a distraction, like a forced way to spend time with Julia at home), the crux of the episode, of course, was the battle between Ivy and Karen for the lead in Marilyn: The Musical.

As they did in the premiere, Megan Hilty and Katharine McPhee excelled, both during their actual numbers and also in expressing their anxiousness over the callbacks/waiting period. I know the series has set up McPhee's Karen as the protagonist, but darn it if my eyes didn't well up when Ivy reacted to her great news with a huge hug for Tom. It's easy to sympathize with both women, but I'm partial to the story of someone who has worked in the business for years, just waiting for her big break, over someone just starting out.

Karen's time will clearly come - perhaps as Marilyn still, there's a very long time to go before this production hits Broadway - but Ivy was clearly the right call here. She's a veteran of the industry. She has no personal life to slow her down. And she's damn talented.

Will Karen still be involved with the play? As an understudy? Will Derek's dalliance with Ivy come out? What drink will Eileen throw in her soon-to-be-ex-husband's face next? This episode left us with plenty of questions, perhaps none more pressing than this:

How much do Broadway musical writers make?!? That New York City apartment in which Julia and Frank reside is downright insane, and he's a chemistry teacher who hasn't even worked in a decade. I very much enjoy watching television for a living, and I hope you appreciate my take on everything small screen-related... but I'm obviously in the wrong business.

What did everyone else think of "The Callback?"


Editor Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
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Rating: 3.8 / 5.0 (115 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


Broadway song writers make a bunch. They gets a royalty for every performance, they get royalties for every song on every "original cast production" sold (about $1 per album), they get a royalty every time some high school or college drama department does the show. They get a royalty when sheet music is sold through piano teachers, they get a royalty when any of the songs appear on a television show like American Idol, and if one of the songs makes it into a movie - or a commercial - yep, they get a royalty then, too.
Frankly, the house that Frank and Julia live in is too modest given the income that she should be generating (remember that 'Heaven on Earth' is a big hit, and there have been several others in her past), and he's kicking in a little something with the teacher salary, too.


I can understand the son's frustration....I was an only child for 15 years before my sister was born. I wanted a younger brother or sister so badly growing up! My mom had a miscarriage when I was 13 and it was devastating for all of us. makes sense =)


At 1st I felt bad about being so hard on Ivy but then she slept with the director and I lost any repect I ever had for her. I think that something is going to happen where she'll lose the part of Marilyn and it'll go to Karen. I'm sick of Tom being all in love with Ivy and stuff. I don't like how he implied the director would take advantage of her and I feel like she led the director on.


Agreed that the dialogue, plot and acting of the teenage son stopped the episode dead in its tracks. It's like the writers had literally never met a teenage boy before. The rest of the show is very good. It seems obvious to me that both actresses will end up starring in the musical though. The book is a work in progress after all and the revatiin will be the starring role of Marilyn being split into 2, with Ivy as MM and Karen as Norma Jean to show both sides of her evolving and conflicted character; the small town girl thst exists inside the sex symbol movie star.


Saw commercials last night during Law and Order SVU.......Karen IS going to find out Ivy slept with the director!!!! ....Can't wait to see what happens!


P.S. Think the show is great. I'm sick to death of Glee - the plots are contrived, the same-old-same-old week after week. This has substance. My wife and I discussed it the other day - you can tell if a show is any good when you pout after the closing credits because you know there is a whole week to wait to find out what happens. We used to feel that way about glee, but nowit is PVR'd and often deleted... Can't wait for the next 13 episodes!


"How much do Broadway musical writers make" Well, they own the musical. Every time it's performed they get paid. Then there is the outright payment they get from the producer to option the property, as well as a percentage of the gate. Then there are any movie options that might be on offer, soundtrack royalties along with the performance payments for radio, tv, live, etc. Richard O'Brian gets a royalty from every school production, every showing of the Rocky Horror Show at every cinema worldwide. Andrew Lloyd Webber is richer than Paul McCartney, third wealthiest man in Britain. Cameron Mackintosh is fourth wealthiest. So, someone with a hit musical can end up very, very wealthy.


I do not like Julia's husband. In the premiere when he was upset saying that she promised to take time off for the baby but then decided to do the musical , I was expecting him to be a surgeon or something so he could not be stay at home dad BUT then we find out he does not work. Then for him to say he wanted to stop the adoption process as he is 45 and that would make him at least 47 when the baby came..sorry but 2 years when you are in your late 40's really does not make a difference when you are not a woman having the baby
While I did not love it as much as the premiere I will keep watching


I PVR this show as I have Hawaii Five 0 that is priority, so I watched it last night
On the premiere when Derek tried to sleep with Karen and she said that it was not going to happen I had said to myself that next week Ivy will! I was right! I guess there is nothing like sleeping your way to the top and I think that is the only reason she got the lead. Derek was team Karen but then when Ivy slept with him he was all the sudden team Ivy and you can tell that Julia new what happened when they were all deciding on who would get the role and all the sudden Derek was pro Ivy. I bet that something will happen and Karen will end up taking the role...Ivy will get pregnant or something


I didn't like that Ivy got the part. It was obvious, though, that that would happen after she slept with the director. He tried with Karen but to no avail. It doesn't matter to me who had more experience. Sometimes the one that doesn't have it is the better one. I'm hoping it gets revealed that Ivy slept with the director. However, I am happy that who got the part has been revealed and wasn't drug out all season. I also agree with the assessment of the adoption's really adding nothing to the plot.........not yet anyway......

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