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?"

The Callback Review

Editor Rating: 4.1 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.8 / 5.0 (115 Votes)

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

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