Television: Smash, "The Surprise Party"

Ivy and Tom are fighting because Ivy is angry he cast her mother. In addition, it is Ivy's birthday, and she's planning a party with her castmates—no Tom allowed.

Tom has conveniently forgotten it's Ivy's birthday until some flowers arrive for her. In an attempt to win her over, Tom phones Liza Minnelli.

And over at Hit List, Jimmy and Karen continue to sneak around, making out in the wardrobe room. Richard (that Times Arts editor guy) has dropped in, in the hopes of getting a story.

I have to say, Smash really seems to be reaching in order to find dramatic story lines. And the songs they keep piling on Hit List are of the generic, pop-radio sort. Are they hoping for actual airplay? Or just planning ahead for the release of the season's soundtrack? After all, these songs will have broader appeal than the Broadway sounds of Bombshell (which have mostly already been put out for consumption anyway).

Scott and Julia corner Kyle into reworking the sequence of scenes in Hit List. Ivy is bored to tears at dinner with Tom until Liza turns up. But Eileen has used this as a photo op to boost Bombshell's buzz, which almost breaks Tom and Ivy up again, and loses Eileen her date with Richard . . . And then Tom and Liza duet on a song Tom has written for Ivy's birthday. (Which in turn seems like a stunt to boost Smash's ratings. But one can't really fault them for it. Not like shows don't do it all the time.)

Karen tells Jimmy she doesn't want to do it in the closet. Or keep their relationship in the dark. Or something. Then she has a heart-to-heart with Derek and admits she's "kind of" seeing Jimmy.

Ivy escapes to her other birthday party (the one with her castmates) and Tom follows because the show's writers have used the fantastic old trope of Ivy having left behind her keys and Tom needing to return them. And by "fantastic" I mean really, really weak. Also, is Smash written by a bunch of pre-teen girls? Are we really using someone being left out of a party as a serious plot point?

Oh, and Karen gets mad at Jimmy when she realizes all their sneaking around was because he couldn't stand up to Derek.

And Kyle presents the revised Hit List to Derek. Who is pleased, though a lot of that is possibly derived from the idea that Karen's and Jimmy's roles will be reduced to accommodate more of Anna as "The Diva." Spiteful. But also one of the only interesting bits of emotional motivation in the entire episode. Derek, while not always likable, is in many ways the most complex character on the show, which makes him the most interesting. And episodes that feature little of him are thereby some of the least interesting.

Jimmy goes to apologize to Karen and they make up. And then she finds that baggie of drugs from a couple weeks ago. So . . . Yeah.

I am starting to wonder why I'm still watching this show. I find I care very little about the characters any more because their goals have more or less been met: Karen and Ivy are both starring in productions, and their relationship issues are not compelling. The obstacles the productions face are vague and amorphous. So maybe it's just as well Smash is ending as it seems to have lost its own clear drive.

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