Smash Review: "The Callback" (Episode 1.02)

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<i>Smash</i> Review: "The Callback" (Episode 1.02)

Is it ever okay to be cliché? The answer is almost always ‘no,’ but somehow Smash manages to take every single plot point you could possibly imagine and produces an hour long drama that hits every single one of those scenes that still captivates the viewer.

The new musical provides decisions based on sex, girlfriends standing up boyfriends to stay late at something she loves and marriage conflicts that aren’t really conflicts all within one episode, but it doesn’t feel like it’s too much. Maybe it’s because the plot is laid out so simply that it’s not an epic whirlwind like other dramas.

“The Callback” focuses primarily on Karen and Ivy battling each other to win the role of Marilyn Monroe. Karen, a relative novice at auditioning for this top-notch of a musical, struggles at the beginning and is still shaken from Derek the director’s sexual advances. At first, the episode looks like it will show her debating whether or not she should cave and allow him to take advantage of her to help advance her career. Somehow this seems to be the one instance I was wrong in guessing what comes next in the episode. She was adamant that she needs to work hard and proves that she is an upstanding moral character.

I have a feeling that in the ensuing episodes she will continue to play this squeaky clean image which will grow tiring. I know every show needs a moral compass, but so far Karen has no faults to speak of. Eventually she will be forced to make tough decisions and of course she will make the wrong one to create a more dramatic element to the show. Until then Karen will prove to be a rather boring character who is there for the audience members who want the good girl to succeed happy.

Meanwhile Ivy is the exact opposite of Karen. Whereas the Iowan is hopeful and has a wide-eyed innocence about her, Ivy is jaded and almost unbearable. Her constant whining about the role is understandable and warranted, yetsomehow the show showcases her almost as too needy and is a big turn off for the show.

Those two provide the majority of substance in this week’s episode, but there are a few moments of grace and disappointment elsewhere. Julia and Frank disagree on whether or not they should continue to proceed with the process of adopting a baby. This tension is woven in and out of the episode, but in the end everything plays like a cheap Lifetime movie. The two hug and continue on their path of a happy married couple.

Eileen, who has difficulties with her husband, is put into this episode to fill time and give her some moments on screen. It’s understandable to keep her involved in an early episode to showcase how important she is going to be in the future, but it seems like the writers put in conflict and resolved it to provide some obvious foreshadowing. Look, we get it, Eileen’s husband is going to try and sabotage the show. It was understood in the pilot that it would happen eventually and you don’t need to put in pointless scenes to remind us of it.

Smash wasn’t as strong as the debut episode, but it still had substance. It felt more like the second half of a two-part introduction and I have a feeling next week will expand on the foundation the series has laid out in the first two episodes presented.

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