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'Smash' is back. A smashing success? Or a bomb?

Posted by Katie McLeod  February 5, 2013 10:45 PM

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NBC's musical drama "Smash" returned Tuesday night for its second season in a two-hour premiere that brought characters Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee) and Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) back to center stage. Last season, Karen and Ivy battled it out for the starring role of Marilyn Monroe in what became "Bombshell," a show that we learned this episode got its start in Boston before it didn't make it to Broadway. Karen won the role, but will she ultimately make it big? Will "Bombshell" get its due? The scene has been set, introducing new characters who look to be the next up-and-comers in the Broadway world -- one of whom may turn out to be a love interest for Karen.

After last season when Karen's engagement to her off-Broadway beau went south (yes, Ivy got in the mix here, having a one-night stand with Karen's fiance), it's to be determined who she will fall for now: an unknown musical composer she discovers in a bar, or could it be Derek Wills (Jack Davenport), a musical theater big shot who was caught up in a heated relationship with Ivy last season? Time will tell, but for now Derek seems a little stuck between these two starlets, and Ivy and Karen appear to have flipped positions when it comes to Derek. (Karen, you almost kissed him? Ivy, you pulled away?) We also saw Karen and Ivy's relationship shift a bit, with Ivy showing a softer side and Karen asserting herself as a bolder, more confidant star in the making. And how will Julia Houston (Debra Messing), Tom Levitt (Christian Borle), and Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston) fare? Will they succeed after all in their endeavors to launch a hit Broadway musical? Will Julia's personal life iron itself out? We've embarked on the next chapter in this musical ride, with the usual highs and lows, to find all of this out as season 2 unfolds. We also have some superstar power now, with Jennifer Hudson making her "Smash" debut.

The questions are: Did you watch? Are you invested in this season? Did you start watching last season and drop off? Or are you in it for the long haul? Let us know what you think about the new storylines and characters introduced in this episode, and whether the music carries the plot -- or if the plot could stand on its own and the music is, well, below Broadway or big enough to work. Thoughts?

Oh, and Megan Hilty is performing with the Boston Pops May 23. Are you going?

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Katie McLeod is's features editor.

Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at

Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at

Sarah Rodman is a TV and music critic for the Boston Globe.

Meghan Colloton is a Things to Do and Arts & Entertainment producer at

Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.