NBC isn’t raising the curtain on Smash Season 2 until Tuesday, Feb. 5 — with a two-hour opener, no less. So to help the musical-drama’s fans, both existing and prospective, bide their time, we previewed the premiere and compiled this list of non-spoilery observations.
* Things between Ivy and Karen (played by Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty) are as fr-fr-fr-frosty as ever, no thanks to Derek (Jack Davenport). (Seriously, there’s one Derek/Karen scene that will have you progressively screaming, “No…. No!… NO!” at the telly.) Will that change when the almost-Marilyn is afforded a chance to save Bombshell‘s bacon? And are Derek/Ivy not necessarily dunzo — this despite a sordid scandal that erupts around him and threatens his planned revival of a well-known, super-soulful ’70s musical?
* It turns out the reviews for Bombshell‘s Beantown try-out were largely rousing — save for a chorus of damning digs aimed at one (and only one) person.
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* Eileen rides quite the emotional roller coaster, going from proudly touting Bombshell’s tony Broadway home to… suffering all sorts of humiliation. But hey, she’s still dating Patrick Thornhart, right?
* The fallout from the Rebecca Duvall boondoggle is far from over (if I may invoke the title of the Satan’s Alley showstopper).
* Of the four characters cut from Season 1, Michael Swift’s absence is swiftly dealt with, Julia’s husband Frank figures into a fantastically messy farewell scene and Karen’s cheatin’ fiancé Dev gets in a few last (handwritten) words. Ellis, meanwhile, is… not mentioned at all (unless you count a reference to The Poisoned Smoothie Incident of 2012).
* Meanwhile, new additions Jeremy Jordan (Newsies) and Andy Mientus (Carrie) get a good chunk of screen time as Jimmy and Kyle, pals/coworkers who aspire to write the next great musical. Alas, despite knocking Karen’s socks off with his skills, Jimmy gets off on the wrong foot with the highly eligible chanteuse. Karen’s new roomie Ana (played by Krysta Rodriguez) seems fun enough (if a bit morally casual).
* Oscar-/Grammy-winning recurring player Jennifer Hudson first belts out a rousing number as the Tony-winning star of a musical called Beautiful, then later duets with a Bombshell star.
* When Tom suggests that Julia crash with her gay bestie for a bit, he says, “It’d be like a sitcom!” — yet amazingly stops short of specifically likening the scenario to Will & Grace.
* There’s a quite random yet nonetheless visually irresistible performance number that manages to mash Robert Palmer music videos with the Eurythmics.
* Someone is faced with the difficult choice of love… or joining the Book of Mormon national tour.
* New York City namechecks during the two hours include the restaurant Butter (yummm), New York Post theater critic Michael Riedel (who gets quite an earful at a Bombshell party) and Broadway vet Harvey Fierstein (playing his raspy self in multiple scenes).
* Justified Emmy winner Margo Martindale sneaks in an appearance as a persnickety theater wing mucky-muck. Hmm, makes one wonder if Ellis got slipped some “apple pie”….