TV: “The Read Through” shows the irony in ‘Smash’

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl
Smash airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC
Rating: 3/5


Why can’t Smash see the irony in its own writing? Between Debra Messing’s over-acting and Katharine McPhee’s lack of acting, the show really needs to have a thorough read-through and dramaturg analysis in order to amp it up so it could live up to its full potential.

Tom (Christian Borle) and Derek (Jack Davenport) visit the new home for Bombshell, where Tom envisions the new number, “Public Relations” – a lavish number depicting Marilyn’s love of the press. This is when Smash does its job well. It seems as if the only thing the show can do right is its musical performances (I’ll talk about this irony later).

Let’s also take a moment to remember the greatness that is Christian Borle. Why does he not perform more often?!?! His performance last season in “Don’t Say Yes Until I’ve Finished Talking” was terrific and it was hilarious and perfect tonight. Display his talents more!


Peter (Daniel Sunjata) and Julia’s (Debra Messing) sudden dynamic duo relationship is frustrating until someone tells her that he’s a back stabber. The two have created a new book, but now, she’s not sure if she wants a read through to happen because of her mixed feelings about Peter. Oh, brother.

Derek is set on giving Hit List a chance to possibly play for an audience, so Karen (Katharine McPhee) prepares for a read-through of the current book. All is well between her and Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan) until some girl comes down from his room. I can’t even tell if she’s upset because she is that bad at acting.

Terrence Falls (Sean Hayes) arrives as the leading man for Liaisons, except he thinks it’s a comedy and expects everyone else to make it a comedy. Oh how I love Sean Hayes!

Ana (Krysta Rodriguez) tells both Karen and Jimmy to set a professional relationship boundary, meaning no kissing ­– “high or not.” Are we supposed to yearn for those two to be together? Because I have no such feelings.

Yet, Karen can’t forgo her feelings and has to sing Death Cab for Cutie’s “Some Boys” – a performance that would have been actually ok had she not been drooling after Jimmy the entire time. I understand the pining for a relationship song, but this was too much. Who would ever think that smelling his shirt would be a great idea?

The Hit List read-through did not go over so well. Jimmy’s songs were a hit, but Kyle’s (Andy Mientus) storylines and dialogue were horrible. Dear Smash writers, DO YOU NOT SEE THE IRONY???!!!  The only thing Hit List and Smash do well are the musical numbers and both fall flat on the story side.

When Terry is hamming it up, Ivy (Megan Hilty) gives a beautiful, dramatic performance that Liaisons requires, inspiring Terry to be a true dramatic actor, which, to him, meant getting off his medications in order to feel the raw emotions drama needs.

Quick round of applause to Hilty for acting again, which I believe is because she was acting as a character in a play instead of the void of depth known as Ivy.

Nick (Thorsten Kaye) breaks up with Eileen (Anjelica Huston) so that she won’t waste her time waiting around for him. Again, I think I’m supposed to want these two to be together and yet I don’t really care.

Jimmy presumably breaks things off with Karen, thinking that she is dating Derek.

On trying to figure out how to remedy the problem, everyone compares Hit List to Rent. I don’t even want to talk about that blasphemy. However, they do come up with a good point. Hit List should be like Rent in the sense that all the dialogue will be sung.

This is actually a great idea. Why don’t we do that for Smash?

tn-500_6Unlike Hit List, everyone raves over the new Bombshell. Derek and Julia love the men-centered new plot, but Tom and Jerry (Michael Christofer) – oh that pairing of names – both prefer the old workshop draft that focused on the spectacle that is Marilyn Monroe. Jerry refuses to produce the new version because he insists it is “too good for Broadway,” meaning it is too “insightful” and won’t be the big blockbuster that will make him a lot of money.

The group goes to Eileen to make the final decisions. Before she can say which version she prefers, the episode ends. Oh really? Surprisingly though, this terrible cliffhanger is working; I really want to know what version they will go with.


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