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Smash Season Premiere Recap: Jennifer Hudson Reigns Supreme

Smash is back for its second season and the first question that pops in my mind is this: will the story get interesting this time around? After a resounding pilot last year, Smash just went on to become another typical story on TV.  So did tonight’s premiere show any signs of recovery?

Here’s the story in a nutshell: “Bombshell” closes with success in Boston, meets an immense financial stumbling block in New York and everybody’s personal lives just go haywire. Let’s start with Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee). She’s on the verge of finally tasting success as she closes the play in Boston. After going through a whirlwind of events in her career and personal life, she’s ready to kick Ivy’s bum.

As Derek Wills’ new pet, Karen practically gets to call the shots. First, she gets to meet Veronica Moore up close and personal. That’s Jennifer Hudson living the life of a successful Broadway star. Moore gives her a piece of advice that resonates through her growing diva personality: failure to focus on the job opens opportunities for others. What may have initially been revulsion for Ivy has progressed to getting Derek to kick out the blonde star from the play’s future Broadway run. Karen does so thinking that Ivy is a threat to her career.

So what gives from Karen’s story? We get to see her watch Hudson sing on stage and we get to see her sing with Hudson, too! On both counts, Hudson’s (as Moore) singing is staggering! No cuteness nor exaggeration; just spot-on performances. I never thought I’d see two American Idol alumni reunite on TV until it happened tonight. Of course Hudson overshadowed McPhee; still, it was a treat to see her singing with panache.

Ivy Lynn’s life is on a downturn as well. She’s not getting any contract for “Bombshell’s” Broadway run and she’s now scrambling for bit roles in musical plays. What does she need to do to get back in the good graces of the creative team? Julia tells her to apologize to Karen, not for what she did but on why she slept with Karen’s ex-boyfriend.

Julia Houston is reunited with her husband Frank; she’s also taking things in stride now that her play with Tom Levitt is headed to Broadway. Unfortunately, Tom sees Frank kissing another woman and is now torn whether to tell Julia or not. Eileen Rand’s life is turning out pretty fine, too. She’s got the money to bankroll the play and she’s not using a dime of her ex-husband’s (Jerry Rand) money.

So that’s where everybody’s at, until bad news gatecrashes Eileen’s party. It starts with a report that her funds have been frozen pending an investigation by the federal government. Blame Jerry for this matter; he’s bent on making life very difficult for his ex-wife until he gets to be part of the play. Without money and jobs, they world stops for Eileen’s creative team and stars. On the same night, Tom decides to tell Julia about Frank’s apparent infidelity; this leads to a public confrontation between the couple which ends with a revelation of all the bitterness in their marriage.

This is where the drama begins. Karen’s spotlight is out, Julia’s depressed and gets more miserable after learning that the critics don’t like her output for “Bombshell” and Derek loses another project after learning that he’s being charged with sexual harassment by several dancers in his previous work. At least Ivy gets to sincerely apologize to Karen before the night ends.

Karen drowns her misery in a bar where she meets Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan) and Kyle (Andy Mientus), a team of aspiring song/story writers who plan to make their way into Broadway someday. After hearing Jimmy’s material, Karen pursues him but ends up being rebuffed. Kyle tries to make matters right by sharing Jimmy’s work to Karen. The problem is, Jimmy isn’t in the mood to take on any of their offers. Kyle’s tenacity eventually succeeds and gets Jimmy to share his work to Karen and by extension, to Derek.

Eileen and her team are also being shunned by their peers, particularly at the American Theater Wing gala. Knowing her strong personality, Eileen decides to show the people what they’ll be missing if “Bombshell” never gets to see the light of day. Julia and Tom act fast and get Ivy to sing “Coming to Broadway”, much to the amazement of the audience. This scene is a must see! Too bad for Karen: her unavailability during Eileen’s crucial moment just gave Ivy a free pass to her spotlight.

What happens next? Julia leaves her misery behind and starts to get her life together especially for Tom’s sake. She finally understands that Tom has no intention of replacing her as his work partner. Meanwhile, Eileen is left with no choice but to take Jerry’s financial backing. As for Ivy, well, a night of clarity with Derek doesn’t get her back in his good graces. Karen’s still around, remember?

Overall, the two-hour show has shown some promise of good things to come. I just hope that the plot would eventually thicken without having to resort to frenzy storylines.

That’s our recap of Smash’s second season premiere today, 2/05/13. We’ll have another recap next week. 

Image credit: Smash

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