Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Book Doctor (Television Review: Smash, "The Dramaturg" S02 E03)

This episode is titled "The Dramaturg" and I actually had to look up the definition of the word, and here is the official definition according to Wikipideai. 

A dramaturge or dramaturg is a professional position within a theatre or opera company that deals mainly with research and development of plays or operas. Its modern-day function was originated by the innovations of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, an 18th-century German playwright, philosopher, and theorist about theatre.

Well, I think what Eileen really wanted for "Bombshell" was a book doctor. Bombshell's is apparently a hot mess, based on the Boston reviews, so she has hired Peter (played by Daniel Sunjata) to help out. Of course, Julia And Tom are taken aback, and Julia is offended, which is a natural reaction. Sunjata seems miscast. On paper, I am sure it was good but there was something off about him in the role. A little fey? Too cocky, or not cocky enough? (Perhaps I am remembering his scene in 'Take Me Out" and it's ruined me for life?)  In any case, his banter with Julia seems forced, though we can all agree that we all know where that is going. (Of course, just to hammer it, they are talking about the book not having enough sex appeal in it)

The Hit List sounds like a horrible musical - one of those Rent rip-offs (with a touch of 'Next to Normal' thrown in ) that proliferated off Broadway in the late 90s (Brooklyn, The Musical, anyone?)  and even the songs sound sophomoric. I don't really see why Karen is so attracted to it, and why is she championing it so much, and shouldn't she be focusing on her Marilyn role anyway? Her scene as Marilyn with JFK (played by both Matt Bogart - in rehearsals - and Julian Ovenden - in the run through) was atrocious, and if I were in the creative team, i would have fired her on the spot based on her performance there. That scene needed sex appeal, and she was a wet noodle. The duet version of that song, though, sounds great on the cast recording.

And speaking of bad acting, it really does seem that Jennifer Hudson is one. Her line readings are horrid, and I read in a gossip site that she was being spoonfed all her lines. This is an Oscar winner? But, her brief singing of "Home" was fantastic, I must say, and I love that she was singing some of the alternate lyrics, away from the pop version of it. And also good: Megan Hilty's slowed down melancholy version of Robyn's "Dancing On My Own" set to Karen rehearsing Marilyn scenes. Of course, both these songs are not available as singles. 

Over all, not a bad episode, but not great either, as it seems to just set up plot points. I hope the show pumps up its wow factor, as the overnight ratings show even more audience erosion. I am still rooting for this show.

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