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Mar 21 2013

Smash: "Musical Chairs"

"Smash",the confused conflicted self-sabotaging TV Show rife with behind-the-scenes drama is about "Bombshell",a  confused conflicted self-sabotaging Stage Musical rife with behind-the-scenes drama.The TV series has gone so meta lately it's now devouring itself live.Which is turning it into must-see or at least can't-look-away television again.

Backstage at "Liaisons,"another show within the show,slumming movie star (Just Jack) has read the online bitching about the show he's starring in and turns to Ivy (Megan Hilty) his supporting actress...

That's "Smash" in a perfectly nutty nutshell.more...

No one loves the show (anymore at least) and the only people whodon'tthink Ivy is the best part of it are actually writing / producing / showrunningthistv show!Usually when shows describe themselves this succinctly they're in on the joke.But you'd be hard pressed to believe that Smash's creative team is since they still seem to have no idea what they're doing.Which is a pity because the evidence of what this show should have been committing to and doing was right there on view.Cue up "Let's Be Bad"from Season One again;there's your Smash for "Smash".

Smash 2.7 "Musical Chairs"
For most of this episode we cross-cut around through rehearsal / performance time for the show's three different musicals: "Hit List,"starring Jimmy (still written and played for the most part as a childish insufferable unprofessional asshole that everyone inexplicably roots for...except the viewing audience),"Bombshell"starring Karen,and "Liaisons"starring Terry & Ivy.By the end of the episode,Karen will quit Marilyn for Hit List,Liaisons will close freeing up Ivy to replace Karen as Marilyn (which is what should have happened about ½way through season 1 but whatever).The episode mostly revolves around rehearsals and communication trouble between Directors and their Stars -- though why Derek or Tomkowtow to their non-famous "stars"is a mystery that's presented more like a fact so it's closer to a plothole.

Set List: Originals: "It's Not My Fault"(Sean Hayes),"ReWrite This Story"(McPhee,Jordan),"National Pasttime"(McPhee);Jukebox/Showtunes: none.
B♡BBY: is not amused by Tom's direction choices...

Did he just give her a line reading?

Neither is Eileen.Anjelica Huston pulls out her best Morticia line reading watching Tom try to direct.

Oh dear."

Why does the show want Tom to fail?Honest question.I can't figure the answer.

Best Moment: Derek offering coffee to a bouncing hyper active child.Ha!
Worst Moment: A more general pick this time.Why are Kyle and Karen always so lobotomized?Both of them say the dumbest things or continually state the obvious.Andy Mientus is a cutie but as Kyle is written (or maybe written and played?) he comes across like a dimwitted apologist with no self confidence.Meanwhile Karen comes across like a dimwitted entitled mediator.Karen to Derek when he gets a little too self-aggranizing "so you're Bob Fosse now?"DUH,KAREN.THAT'S WHAT THE SHOW HAS BEEN SAYING FOR TWO SEASONS.
Tweet of the Night:

Grade:C+Like last week,quite a marked improvement from the first five episodes of season two but so little so late...

Takeaway: Why didn't they just do a time jump and start with last week's episode for the Season 2 premiere?They spent five hours of the season extricating themselves from the "bad"decisions of Season 1 (still a vastly superior season) while introducing a bunch of new characters that are either extraneous (Jennifer Hudson) or are deeply annoying (Jeremy Jordan).If it's going to be a show about stage musicals in general instead of just one stage musical "Bombshell"I'm fine with that but then why not just jump right into the thick of it as so much Good TV does?The audience knows how to catch up.

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Reader Comments (20)

Nathan,awesome writeup as usual.I am so impressed with Debra Messing.I think this is the best acting she's ever done.Too bad it's being wasted on this boring show.My favorite part of this eppy was Julia warning Tom not to do a British accent.Very cute reference to a line from Will and Grace.

March 21,2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Things just keep going around and around in circles on this show;Ivy is Marilyn,then she's not,then she is again!Karen is doing Bombshell,now she's doing Hit list,except oh wait she can't do Hit List,SORRY GUYS,ah screw it,she's doing Hit List anyway!Derek totally wants to do Hit List,except he can't - nah,he just doesn't want to,oh wait he does,but not OFF Broadway,oh okay,fine,he'll do it Off Broadway if he has to!Eileen is producing Bombshell,but now she can't because Jerry and Ellis are assholes,but look she found a way to produce Bombshell again!Julia's script for Bombshell is great - no it's not - well,she'll rewrite it into the best thing she's ever written - except we won't do that version - no really,what she originally wrote wasn't really all that bad and now even she thinks it's kinda good!Tom is really good with actors - no he's not - well,maybe he is - nah,it's just because he sees Ivy as Marilyn,not Karen!And now I've gone in a circle,too!

Watch.Next week they'll probably find some way to keep Karen and Derek with Bombshell because Jerry will have a change of heart and decide to hell with it,Bombshell is HIS,DAMMIT,and he will do anything to make it his biggest success and Eileen's biggest failure!

SMASH is failing on the most basic level: None of these characters have really grown or changed since Episode 1.Except MAYBE Ivy.And as happy as I am to see everyone finally where they belong/where we all knew they were headed,it's gotten to the point where I just know they're going to screw it up.And that sucks.Season 1 was a real high-wire act,and despite going off the rails spectacularly more often than was probably good for it,it mostly came out on top,and in my opinion even stuck the landing.Season 2 replaced the high wire with something much wider and lower to the ground,but it can't even stay on top of that.It has gotten better as it's gone along,but it's not really fun to watch.

March 21,2013 | Unregistered Commenterdenny

denny,your post made me dizzy.LOL.hilarious and RIGHT on the MONEY!The sad part is that it would be so easy to fix this show by just making it about putting on the damn musical and leaving out all the other crap.But for some reason,they just won't do that.Terrible.

March 21,2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

I love how the showrunners realized everyone hated Ellis so they got rid of him...only to create an equally awful,obnoxious,entitled young man that everyone hates (whatever Jeremy Jordan's character's name is).It's like they learned...only,they didn't.Seriously,why are they expecting the audience to be so emotionally invested in him and "Hit List"?We can go along with Ivy in "Liasons"because we spent a season getting to know her and root for her,so we can follow her storyline outside of "Bombshell."Not so much with Jerk Face and his spineless partner.

And,once again,I think McPhee is actually getting worse.Although I will say this: her little comedic bit with Tom getting interviewed about the show was actually pretty well done.But man,she is just so bad.And note to the costumer department: stop putting your tall,broad-shouldered leading lady in jackets with big,sharp shoulders.She's going to poke someone's eye out.

March 21,2013 | Unregistered CommenterDJDeeJay

I posted this before the show runner ruined Gossip Girl almost the same way when at the helm there,it's really bad when you start missing Ellis.I will watch til the end mainly for Messing,Hilty and Huston they are still so damn watchable

March 21,2013 | Unregistered CommenterRami

So since this trash heap isn't getting a third season,what's the end game?"Bombshell"and "Hitlist"premiere on Broadway at the same time,pitting Karen against Ivy yet again.Both shows are hits,and the two of them later compete for Best Actress Tonys?I like the metaness of all that,but of course this show would have Karen best Ivy even then,which is inane.

Not sure what was the point of J-Hud or Sean Hayes if this is what nonsense you're going to give them.Even Uma Thurman was better than them last season,and everything about the Rebecca Duvall storyline was misguided.I don't get what Safran is doing with Karen and Jimmy,and now is Derek going to bed Karen like he does all his leading ladies?Didn't she reject his passes before?Why would she do it now when they're friends and she's "smarter"than before?I really don't get this show sometimes.All I really like here are Hilty and Huston.

March 21,2013 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy


Eileen (and Jerry) keep an eye on every detail of their shows.Where were the producers ofLiasons?"Why weren't they protecting their investments?And where were the copyright owners?Certainly they would have someone on hand making sure the work was being done as they intended,because a flop revival would seriously affect future royalties.

They still had live sheep backstage atLiasons?And the gaudy chorus girl togs?Presumably everything we saw on stage was killed before tech rehearsals.But Sean Hayes makes a great song-and-dance man.

Can Tom really be such an idiot?He's spent all his adult life in rehearsal rooms and he doesn't know NOT to give line readings?(I just direct commercials and I only give a reading when absolutely necessary).At least they knew to hire a choreographer.

Why all of a sudden is everyone concerned with what a showmeans?What doesAnniemean?What doesCatsmean?What doesBreakfast at Tiffany'smean?This sort of thematic categorization is not necessary for the creative team,not the audience.Jesse Martin needs to look up the definition of SUBtext.

IfBombshell is about how men created Marilyn,what role does her mother play?None.A show about Marilyn creating herself would have to include her mother.

That new song forHit Listsucked.Hit List is not about recreation,it's about losing yourself in self destructive fantasy.That song sounds like a 10:30 number from a rom/com--for the moment when all seems lost just before the boy and girl kiss and make up.

March 21,2013 | Unregistered Commenterverbocityeric

Another thing that bugs me is that they wasted the opportunity to reunite Sean Hayes and Debra Messing.It would have been nice to have just one small scene where they meet up and drop a knowing reference.But the show runners couldn't even do that.

March 21,2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Being a theatre person myself,I was really hoping this show would get it right and actually provide some insight into the process for those unfamiliar with how live theatre works.Instead,we get a stupid and overly convoluted soap-opera filled with characters we hate,played by a mostly wonderful cast whose talents are wasted.Everyone involved in this show should know better.

March 21,2013 | Unregistered CommenterProspero

Each week,Smash should just be Megan Hilty wailing Let's Be Bad on a loop for an entire hour.

March 21,2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoey

The saddest part for me is that we are never ever ever getting another TV show about the theater.Never.More police procedurals coming right up.

March 21,2013 | Unregistered Commentermikey67

I thought this was the best episode of the season so far.It's so annoying because there's a good show here somewhere lost in the darkness.

But then again,i'm high on Ivy finally being Marilyn AS IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE DAMN FIRST PLACE.Karen even flew up in my book (she was so low,she was almost out of the book entirely) when she left Bombshell behind.Realistically,i can't see her giving up the show that easily but i don't even care.

Once this show ends (and i fully plan on going down with this ship),i wish only good things for Megan Hilty because i grew to love her and rooted for her...even when they tried to destroy her character in season 1 so Karen could shine.

Sean Hayes' swan song sequence was a hot mess,but an *enthusiastic* hot mess which puts it into "omg,this is fantastic"territory.It reminded me of "A Thousand and One Nights"from season 1.Plus,his whole conversation with Ivy by the stairs might be one of the most meta things i've ever seen on TV,unintentional or not.

It was indeed a crime that they couldn't even get a short scene with him and Debra Messing.Ivy couldn't meet Tom for dinner at him and Julia's apartment and bring Terry along?Maybe Ivy could've critized Julia's outfit and Terry could've gone and take something from the fridge.

Can Jimmy die already?I never wish death on characters but he is such a DICK when things even slightly don't go his way.Almost every line he had tonight reeked of "self absorbed bitch".

Also,this might be the budding theater geek in me but i made this connection in my head as Derek got all possessive with Karen at the end of the show:

Derek sounds like Erik.Erik is name of the Phantom of the Opera who is obsessed and possessive with his muse,Christine like Derek is with Karen.The whole discussion about "Notes"at the end really drove this point home for me.

I'm SO looking forward to next week.NBC released video of the whole "Let's Start Tomorrow Tonight"number and it made me very happy.No dream theater,just the Bombshell crew together singing or dancing.No Karen or any Hit List member in sight.

March 21,2013 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

I wish they had never done this show on a major network but on cable instead,like Showtime which was originally offered the series or HBO.We might have gotten a more nuanced character portrait of creative types working in New York theater instead of this hot mess soap opera that co-creator Theresa Rebeck and NBC insisted upon.And why was Rebeck even given this series in the first place,when she has NEVER been associated with musicals,but rather dark comedies and bleak dramas.Even Spielberg,who has always wanted to direct a musical,would have brought more fresh ideas to the storytelling and narrative arc.I love this show for its potential and great original Shaiman and Wittman songs,AND I hate it for screwiing up the premise so spectacularly.What an epic fail and it could have been so great.Sigh.

March 22,2013 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan


Your post made my day.Sooo funny...Thanks.

March 22,2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeisgrados

@Jonathan.Took the words right out of my mouth.This could've been SO much better.

March 22,2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoel V

@Timothy: Karen vs.Ivy for Best Actress in a Musical,and both will lose to either Veronica (J-Hud) or an Eve Harrington.

@Everybody: No mention of the Return of the Spawn of Streep?

March 22,2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

@ Paul - It really doesn't matter if Karen loses because she'll bland her way into an EGOT for sure.

March 22,2013 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

I still watch Smash and like it,but I'm disappointed with Season 2's "improvements",replacing an irritating supporting character like Ellis with a whiny brat main character like Jimmy.

And yes,the lack of success for Smash means we're unlikely to get more backstage theater stories.If there was a new series they'd try to "fix"it by having less women in the story.(THAT was why it failed!) They'd have 3 Jimmys,1 Karen,and maybe a Kyle and an Ana.But they would never have an Ivy,an Eileen,a Julia,or a Tom.

Anyone who could create a Jimmy and try to tell me this is what I want to watch,earns my everlasting scorn.

March 22,2013 | Unregistered Commenteradri

OK,Wilson and I are back on board this sinking Titanic.(Wilson is my Red Persian Cat.He is wise and wondeful,and I named him after the volleyball in Castaway.I knew you wanted to know...) Not back on board because it's any good,because Smash is still totally awful,but Ivy is Marilyn again,and I bought hairball control food for Wilson so he is now able to get through the scenes involving revolting while revoltingly bland Karen/McPhee without hacking up a planet sized hairball,and we're just waiting until Bernadette Peters comes back and plays Ivy's mom/Marilyn's mom,and sings 'Hang the Moon' and breaks my heart (and Wilson's) into a gazillion little pieces.Maybe Jimmy will drop dead on opening night of 'Hit List' and make things perfectly perfect.And of course the Perfect Princess of all Princessdom the Amazing Karen will win 6 Tony awards in the finale,which even with Iams Hairball Control Cat Food will have Wilson hacking up yet another frothing pile of bile and orange cat fur,so he'll have to miss that one.But WTF......Ivy is Marilyn.I never really asked for anything more than that.Well,except maybe a watchable show about the making of a Broadway Musical,or perhaps never having been subjected to the vapid vacuousness of Katharine McPhee....But
I'll take what I get at this point.Team Ivy.

March 22,2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeattle Girl

Very disappointed that Karen is no longer Marilyn and no longer being directed by Derrick in Bombshell.She (they) were amazing in the season finale,which I watched over and over again for Let Me Be A Star.That was by far the best show of the year.I had high hopes for this year,but so far am disappointed.

I am really tired of Ivy.They need to do something with Karen's bad wardrobe and frumpy hair.

March 27,2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaty

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