Smash “The Callback” Review

On this week’s episode of Smash, casting for “Marilyn: The Musical” continued while Tom and Julie worked on putting musical numbers into a structured format. “The Callback” put the raw talent of the inexperienced Karen up against the equally talented and accomplished Ivy Lynn for a side by side comparison. The writers and directors see Karen’s star potential, but they don’t have the time or resources to help Karen realize her potential when they’ve got a sure deal in Ivy Lynn.

Seeing the two women perform side by side, I have to say it would have been difficult for me to believe the story if Karen had been picked for the role of Marilyn. It’s kind of a miracle that Karen got as far as she did and that they were willing to invest so much time into her. Before I’d believe that any producer would bank their investment on some no-name kid from the Midwest who would probably buckle under the real pressures of a Broadway production, Karen would need to build up the same kind of relationships and experience that Ivy Lynn had.

Landing the role of Marilyn was no small feat for Ivy Lynn who has a long history on the stage but had never been more than a chorus girl. Although she slept with Derek (and the previews for next week imply that she ends up dating Derek), I don’t believe that their night together affected why she was picked for the role. Derek might be scummy, but he doesn’t seem like the type who would make a casting decision based on his most recent seduction.

Based on Tom’s opinions of Derek in the pilot episode, I get the feeling that it’s pretty standard for Derek to take advantage of the hopes of young starlets in the course of production. Dev’s reaction to Karen’s description of Derek was a pretty typical response – a warning for young hopefuls that guys can be sleazy, so beware of creeps.

While Derek can have meaningless flings and come out unscathed, I suspect that Ivy Lynn will probably become the center of unfortunate rumors suggesting that her role was not earned by her talent and hard work, but by bedroom favors.

The music in this week’s episode of Smash was quite good, particularly the “20th Century Fox Mambo” which was a catchy tune with engaging choreography. The visualization of “Let Me Be Your Star” which put both Karen and Ivy Lynn in the Marilyn roles was also very well done. I’m enjoying the way Smash has been handling the musical numbers thus far. They’ve been mostly in daydreams, rehearsals or in places that you might actually see someone singing in real life. We don’t get exposition through the musical numbers and there are no spontaneous song and dance routines in the middle of the street so everything stays grounded in reality even as imaginary stage costumes work their way into various scenes.

I was not a fan of the continued adoption plot line this week. Last week it seemed like it was just a way to get to know Julie’s family life a little better, but this week they spent a good chunk of time on the adoption issue. It was the slowest plot line of the episode and I think it would be best for Smash to let the adoption thing fade far into the background.

On the other hand, I did like seeing more about the roles that Julie and her husband have at home. The bored housewife is a pretty standard character trope, and I liked the little role reversal here. Her husband had been a stay at home dad raising their son while she very successfully supported the family as a career woman. Now with a grown son who is rarely in the house, he wants to get back to work so he doesn’t have to stay at home with nothing to do. I am interested in seeing more of their family dynamic, but I don’t need any more of the adoption struggles or awkward moments with their teenage son who is strangely upset about not getting a new baby sister from China.

This week’s episode of Smash stayed pretty consistent with my expectations after watching the pilot. There were still some odd moments with dialogue and the focus on the adoption thing went on for longer than necessary, but overall it was an entertaining Monday night watch.