While “Smash” technically does not premiere its second season until Feb. 5, NBC announced on Friday that they would be putting the first hour of the special two-hour premiere available online beginning Monday, Jan. 14.
On Saturday, Chicago TV Examiner had the opportunity to watch an advanced screener of the entire two-hour premiere so that we can provide viewers with some scoop on what to expect from the show now that Josh Safran has taken over as showrunner and retooled some of the show.
When the premiere begins, “Bombshell” has finished its Boston-run and the cast and producers return to New York so that they can finally get the show to Broadway. Karen (Katharine McPhee) has been playing Marilyn to rave reviews. She loves being the star, but she hasn’t recovered from learning that her would-be fiancé slept with Ivy (Megan Hilty). She also remains wary that Ivy might still try to undermine her even though Derek (Jack Davenport) has made it very clear that he will do whatever it takes to keep Karen happy.
Julia (Debra Messing) is trying to cope with her personal problems and fix her marriage, but Frank (Brian d’Arcy James) is having trouble dealing with the fact that everyone involved in the show knows all about their personal business. Tom (Christian Borle) wants to help his best friend and partner and he’s been purposely shielding Julia from her less than favorable reviews that her portion of the show received. But after Tom witnesses something that might be really terrible for Julia, he has to decide whether or not it’s time to come clean and give her the push that she needs to get her life together.
Ivy is struggling after everything that went down last season and she has not bounced back from losing the role of Marilyn. She’s truly sorry for what happened with Karen’s boyfriend and her friends warn her that she needs to make nice with the star or she’s going to be out of the production. Ivy’s efforts are not initially well-received, but a surprising person helps her see that she shouldn’t give up.
Eileen (Anjelica Houston) has a run in with her ex-husband and even though she does not throw a drink on him this time, she does push him into doing something that causes major repercussions for “Bombshell” and everyone involved. Things continue to go from bad to worse and Eileen has to make some difficult decisions.
Several new characters are introduced over the course of the two hours, including Jennifer Hudson’s character, a two-time Tony winner starring in a different Broadway show. Derek introduces her to Karen and she has the potential to become a mentor for the young star. We also meet two aspiring singers and composers played by Jeremy Jordan and Andy Mientus. They end up on Derek’s radar after a chance encounter with Karen.
While the show still has a lot of familiar elements from the first season, anyone who watched “Gossip Girl” over the years will recognize some of the touches Safran has sprinkled in. New York City itself seems to play a bigger role this season and all of the changes are good ones so far.