Television: Smash, "The Bells & Whistles"

When last we left our starlets, Karen had ankled Bombshell to move on to Hit List and Ivy's Liaisons had crashed and burned, leaving her free to return to play Marilyn.

In a contrast of directing styles, in rehearsal Derek tells Jimmy how to act and react while Tom throws open the doors by allowing his actors to make suggestions for each of their characters. Neither of these styles is working.

Oh, and Sam (that flame of Tom's that I was wondering about a couple weeks ago) has returned. Tom wants to find him a part in Bombshell but all the parts are taken. And then—miracle!—as Tom is searching for a break in Act Two, he pulls out an old musical number he'd been playing around with as potentially part of some other show, and Sam puts on a show of his own √† la Nat King Cole. Tom, in a directorial decision, immediately inserts the number into the show, which riles both Julia and Eileen. And turns off a major Arts Editor who has come to see a preview.

Derek is having his own brand of troubles trying to make Hit List fancier and more upscale by bringing in big LED screens and technology. But pretty much everyone else thinks it's the wrong direction for the show.

So Tom is too nice and Derek is too mean. Where's the just right?

Derek steps back and leans on choreography instead of, you know, sets by making a pack of dancers into "obstacles." Jimmy mostly makes ridiculous faces while singing.

Oh, and Julia . . . Who has lost Peter and now is dealing with Scott who, by coincidence, is the theater manager (? truthfully, I'm not clear who or what Scott is) for the place putting on Hit List. Wow. Out of all the theaters in New York, and all the people who might be working at this one, it's the guy Julia screwed over fifteen years ago! In a plot point no one cares about, Julia and Scott have a confrontation then make up.

Sassy roommate's name happens to be Anna. She wants the role as "Diva" in Hit List. So it's her turn to put on a song and dance in order to convince Derek she's right for the part.

And Eileen wrangles an agreement from Ivy's mother to play a role in Bombshell. That will be fun.

Despite Derek's continuous efforts to detach Karen from Jimmy and vice versa, the episode ends with Jimmy coming up to Karen's apartment. I wish I could see/feel any kind of chemistry here, but there's none. Maybe this is because I can't see why anyone would like Jimmy to begin with; certainly I can't figure out why anyone would choose him over Derek (though I'll concede the awkwardness of sleeping with one's director).

Considering Debra Messing has now signed to shoot a CBS pilot, one can more or less assume Smash will not see a third season. And if next week's previews were anything to gauge by, there's a good reason for that. While I do enjoy the show, it really reaches for its drama. Ooooh, Karen's dad might catch her with a boy in her apartment? What is she, sixteen? Oh, and Jimmy's dealer comes looking for some money Jimmy owes him? If I cared at all about Jimmy . . . But no, even if I did, this device would be trite and forced. I feel like, when there's dialogue like, "Do you like me? . . . No, I mean do you like me?" that the show isn't sure who its audience is. High schoolers who are staying up late? Grown ups who can't be bothered with Glee? Or, based on the ratings, almost no one.

Last week Smash could have ended with everyone satisfied. But now it seems we are to be subjected to the strangled mess that will be the end of the season—and the show.


sp said...

Fancy like this?


M said...