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Smash: Surprise Parties & Dress Rehearsals

I promise I'm still watching Smash. Unlike America, that fictionally monolothic "America", which has been fleeing Smash in droves each week; the media has major schadenfreude with this show's ratings with headline's boasting "record lows!" each week. I'm just not as quick with my write-ups. Oddly, as the show is improving and slowly working its way back to Season 1 quality levels my drive to discuss is as wishy washy as all of the show's plotlines.

"All" should not be mistaken for "many" though. There are still but two major plots: "Bombshell" the Marilyn Monroe musical stumbles through endless landmines of the emotional, financial, artistic and public relations variety as it works its way towards opening night whilst "Hit List" the fringe musical about something or other (I've lost track -- it seems to change each week) which doesn't seem to have any obstacles that aren't solved in seconds as it races from one pivotal metamorphosis to another. It was a vague idea a handful of episodes ago, then a fringe success, and now suddenly a buzzy Off Broadway hit that's already threatening to transfer to the Great White Way.

But one thing it doesn't have is a naked Marilyn! more

2.10-2.11 "The Surprise Party" & "The Invited Dress"
After failing to drum up much drama in "The Surprise Party" which revolved around Tom & Ivy's hurt former-friends feelings when Tom is not invited to Ivy's birthday despite delivering her Liza Minnelli (!) singing to her at dinner, the Tom & Ivy drama now involves whether he can convince her to get naked for her role -- a sudden artistic change-up prompted by a wardrobe malfunction in the JFK number. Ultimately everyone wants Ivy to get naked except for her friend Sam (cue: "Take Me Out" jokes) who is suddenly wise to how bad Tom is for his career despite their romance last season.

Which brings me to my final real point in tonight's brief Smash-up: the show's two least useful supporting gays, Sam and Kyle, suddenly get backbones in this most recent episodes despite having previously been rather jellyfish like in the spine department: Sam tells it to Tom like it is and walks out, and Kyle resists Jimmy's dickish 'you secretly want me' blow and suddenly has confidence in himself. That came out nowhere!

Best Moment (Surprise): LIZA! On network television. Singing.
Best Moment (Rehearsal): Ellis actually returns. In Tom's bed. In a dream sequence. It's somehow comforting that the most wildly hated Season 1 Actor/Character was a good enough sport to show up for this scene which is essentially saying "you're nightmarish! we all hated you!!!". 
B♡BBY: Wesley Taylor gets lots of face time including a brief reprise of his Method Actor Spoofing in "Bombshell"'s Stanislavsky number
Most Confusing Moment: The show has spent 1½ seasons placing Karen (Katherine 'dead-eyes' McPhee) on a pedestal, and suddenly decides it doesn't like what it sees while looking up her skirt? WTH? I mean she's always been a whiny entitled princess as written but the show is just NOW realizing this about her when her "Hit List" spotlight gets stolen by virtue of someone else's talent and she is a total ass about it? But then the show still wants Karen to win everything with ease since "Hit List" than steals "Bombshell's" thunder with a New York Times article about how one show is the future while the other show celebrates the past. ARGH. LEAVE BOMBSHELL ALONE. This show hates itself so much. For a show that was sometimes alluding to the possibility of a spin-off Broadway show (imagine seeing "Bombshell" live!) it is constantly warning us away from actually liking "Bombshell". Damnit show, want good things for yourself. Make peace with yourself before we all live unhappily ever after imagining what could have been...

How are you handling the latest episodes?

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Reader Comments (10)

slowly working its way back to Season 1 quality levels

if that's the case, it's clearly showing a lack of ambition

April 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

i liked it!
what happened to the adults this week made it compelling and i can't wait for the next episode to see what happens with Eileen, Tom and Julia, and i'm intrigued by the chaos an ana/adam mashup might cause.

this is a recurring pattern with Smash. Just when i think I i can let go, they make me care again.

April 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterverbocityeric

par3182 -- i hear what you're saying haha but you should remember that i think season 1 was not quite the disaster others thought it was. I thought it started off quite strong but just got stuck in "what do we do with this loops" and an unfortunate refusal to budge from the original plan when it became clear who the star of the show was -- the best tv shows always adapt to how it actually plays and even in season 2, Smash really hasn't.

verbocityeric -- i'm not sure it makes me "care" per se but there's nothing else like it on television and that is SO rare to say about any show really. I mean who else gives me showtunes on a regular basis? what other show would let Bernadette and Liza sing at me for 3 minutes at a time? For this it will always have my heart until the bitter end.

April 16, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Quick hits:

Ivy should've invited Tom to her party after LIZA. I mean, come on, girl. I get her rationale for not doing so though.

The new intro was great. "Broadway, Here I Come" took on a whole new meaning.

These two episodes were great! I hope its stays at the same quality. Next week looks AMAZING. I already bought the new single and Ivy is debuting as Marilyn and is supposed to sing Don't Forget Me in the episode. I'm soooo there.

I loved how the interpersonal drama and the Broadway drama came together with the Times review. Really well done. That is what Smash should've been from the start.

I don't know who i'll have to hurt to get Megan Hilty an Emmy nom. She deserves it all. I've turned into a complete fanboy over her. That entire convo with Take Me Out was gold.

I love Smash in that it is not another goddamn procedural. there is like 500 of them on TV now. Smash will probably get replaced by one. ugh. Plus Megan and the original songs (i don't mean you, Hit List) are amazing.

I will always support an episode where everyone shits all over Karen and Jimmy.

"This isn't about talent."
"Maybe not for you."

Damn, right.

"Maybe you should've slept with Derek when you had the chance."

High five, Ana.

April 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

These two episodes were such a marked improvement upon the earlier episodes of the season that I practically stood up and cheered when they ended. It just sucks that it took them this long to get the crap out of their system. Seriously, they're finally dealing with actual theatre-based problems - even the interpersonal drama in Invited Dress is based in what is happening to the shows (and I have seen that Ana/Karen dynamic before. Trust me, it ain't pretty). SMASH is much better when it leans more on the "workplace drama" mode than when it leans more on the "soap opera" mode.

I'm really going to miss this show when it gets cancelled, but now that we're coming down the home stretch (we are coming down the home stretch, right?), I seriously wonder how much more story they could have squeezed out of this premise, and how much of it actually would have been worth watching. I still contend that there is a great show at the heart of SMASH, but the writers/producers only reach it once in a blue moon. This most recent episode was one of those times.

However, I gotta say, I am utterly confused by Julia's "solution" to the long intermission. "Dig Deep" doesn't really work BEFORE "Public Relations," does it? I mean, it looks great, but how do they justify that using the show's internal timeline/logic?

April 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

bernadette peters will be back next week. it's opening night for bombshell and she will sing a song with marilyn as a kid.
unless they cut it, of course.
(this show is very weird... maybe others are like that, but I don't follow their production. I remember that line from uma thurman in a preview where she said something like "I want her [karen?] gone!" and then we saw nothing of the sort. this last episode, in that previously on smash segment, there was a scene that was NOT shown last week - derek asking if ivy will have another drink -, and we saw a scene from a different angle - karen saying "I'm not your property". yes, I payed attention to those details... I read that that jfk character was supposed to have things to do besides singing. that girl from "hairspray" was hired to appear for what, 2 minutes, and doing basically nothing? and the list goes on...)

April 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

"the invited dress" was the best episode this season. I would say I was completely happy with it except for that reading the nyt review scene... and btw, I love that the show (unintentionally?) always portrays ivy as someone interested in the work and not the fame! glory! that comes with it, and karen is ALWAYS more interested in that (see: her with rebecca duvall and whatever was jennifer hudson's character name).
and can't the show have someone ever say something superlative about ivy lynn? "karen is a star" has been said a million times, she was called "luminous", "every bit as good as they say" (or something). I remember ivy getting a "I forgot how good she was" from eileen and that's it. sure, maybe there is more, but let me complain.

April 16, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

Can I just say, I LOVE how every week you say exactly what I'm thinking about Smash that I am just too painfully inelegant to put into words! My roomate and I have been with the show from the beginning and needless to say it has been quite the disappointment watching it fall week after week so sort of its potential. We started drinking to ease the pain (it's okay, we're still in college). We call our scheduled weekly dalliance "Smashed for Smash" (I know, I know). After a while, we weren't sure if the episodes were getting worse or we were just getting more tipsy; as it turned out, both!

April 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterandrew

I'm so behind with this Saturday move, b/c I'm never at home on Saturday nights. It was on 9 p.m., now it's 8 p.m, and I never remember to record it. There's always Hulu thankfully, but it sucks that I can't discuss the show with the rest of you while I can b/c I'm not caught up yet. Oh well.

I just looked this up, and the title for the series fiinale is "The Tonys." So Ivy and Karen will be competing for the Best Actress in a Musical Tony, right? EPIC! No, not really, but still.

April 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

Smash is one of the best looking shows on TV. I love its color, clarity of image, and variety of composition. It isn't just close ups of a single head. I love the scenes with several actors in a shot, showing their whole bodies. These are people with expressive bodies and this is fun.

I also like the roster of actors I hadn't been familiar with before. I'd already liked Anjelica Huston and Jesse L. Martin, but now I'll make sure to watch anything with Megan Hilty, Christian Borle, Jack Davenport, Leslie Odom Jr., Ann Harada, Wesley Taylor, and Savannah Wise.

I like Megan Hilty even more this season. Last season I was introduced to her singing and performing power. This season I'm noticing how great she is with dialogue and how funny she is. Especially on re-watching an episode, she has funny throw away lines that she delivers with a quick underplayed pace so they don't take away from the motion of the scene, but they add texture. She's also great as a scene partner, feeding the other actor what they need, generously giving them the attention so the other person's lines get laughs. Hilty wins me over more all the time.

April 17, 2013 | Unregistered Commenteradri

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