Between the frenetic pacing, the gratuitous celebrity cameo – Hi, Ryan Tedder! Bye, Ryan Tedder! – and that cheese-tastic bowling alley number, tonight’s episode of Smash reminded me of Glee. And I don’t mean that in a good way. “The Workshop” was stuffed with drama, Bernadette Peters, and pure Broadway goodness. “The Coup,” by contrast, was just stuffed with…stuff. Including a dull Dev plot that makes Juila’s adoption look as fascinating as Inception by comparison.
Damn, damn, damn, Smash! I’ve grown accustomed to your face. And when you present an episode that features Bernadette Peters absolutely murdering “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” plus a cameo from the Sex Couch, plus the greatest pan to Terrible Ellis in the history of ever, I have no choice but to be charmed.
Between Ivy having a full-fledged Spanonian meltdown, Karen hypnotizing a group of tiny Jews, and Eileen crowing “it’s my turn” before annihilating an animated deer, “Chemistry” may have been Smash’s campiest episode to date. And that’s saying something. (The writers also might owe some royalties to Darren Aronofsky – but hey, who among us doesn’t?)
Want to know what happens when Smash characters stop being polite and start acting bad? Just watch tonight’s episode, in which nearly everyone misbehaves. Julia’s son Leo gets arrested for [being next to someone who was] smoking pot in Central Park; Derek purposefully humiliates his leading lady; Ivy continues her descent into the Unsympathetic Character Valley; Karen wears a red dress. And, oh yeah, Michael and Julia totally make out in full view of the Lord, Carroll Gardens, and Leo himself.
At the end of my very first Smash recap, I asked whether readers found themselves rooting for Karen or Ivy. It was a legitimate question; according to the show’s pilot, both characters were talented, likeable, and deserving. But tonight, Smash started bending over backwards to get us to favor Karen over Ivy – and I’m worried about what’ll happen if the show continues down this path.
We all learned a valuable lesson tonight: Beware any episode of Smash that doesn’t feature that gorgeous, airy rehearsal room. While “Enter Mr. DiMaggio” did set up a few important story lines, it also spent far too much time reiterating stuff we already know: Eileen is having a rough time financing the workshop. Karen is a small town girl with big girl dreams. Terrible Ellis is terrible.
Kudos to Smash for resisting the urge to draw out the Battle of the Would-Be Bottle Blondes. By the end of tonight’s episode, we learn who will play Marilyn Monroe in Tom and Julia’s workshop: Broadway baby Ivy Lynn, an enormous talent who’s somehow been laboring just outside the limelight for 10 years. But can the series sustain our interest now that a choice has been made?
You hate them. You really hate them! But you can’t stop watching them, either. That’s how it always feels when good shows go bad. Who among us can swear that we turned the TV off immediately after Smash went Bollywood and Katharine McPhee lost her mind (and the better half of her shirt)? Or whenever anyone tripped, walked into a glass door, or cried to a Coldplay song on The Newsroom? Or that time on New Girl when Jess taught us that ladies get so irrational on their periods? (You know what really makes us crazy?
Remember the punk revival that Guns N’ Roses were supposed to incite last year with ”The Spaghetti Incident?” Ignoring the hype, people just shrugged and instead found a new breed of punk rockers — first Green Day and now the Offspring, a Southern California band whose independently released Smash has pummeled its way into the top 20. As with Green Day, what did the trick was a hyperactive single — ”Come Out and Play,” an antigun rabble-rouser whose novelty hook (a growled ”You gotta keep ‘em separated”) will pogo into your brain and stay there.
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