TV: ‘Smash:’ Good on paper, bad on screen

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl
Smash airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC
Rating: 2.5/5


Though the acting still needs a ton of work (here’s looking to you McPhee), the storylines in tonight’s episode, “The Fringe,” were not too shabby. Interesting twists were taken and important insight was given – all a girl could ask for from a show that could do so much more.

Eileen (Anjelica Huston) picked the workshop draft as the future of Bombshell, creating a very unhappy Derek (Jack Davenport) and Julia (Debra Messing) who both sulk around the entire episode because they didn’t get their way.

Take that dismayed attitude you are thinking of and multiply it by a 100 and you get Messing’s performance. I have a solution. Messing, you give half of your over-acting to Katharine McPhee’s zero-acting, and then we might get two actors who act normally. If only.

Setting up for The Fringe, Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan) sings The Zombies’s “This Will Be Our Year” and actually acts a little bit! The best part, though I do love Jordan’s voice, was when a manager came in to tell them all to shut up. Seriously. I laughed more than I’d like to admit.

The interaction between Sean Hayes and Megan Hilty was flawless. All of a sudden, actors were actually acting on the show. Weird, right? Terry’s (Sean Hayes) outlandish ways are ruining Liaisons, and Ivy’s (Megan Hilty) reaction to everything is perfect.

This subplot, which probably only took up about 10 to 15 minutes total, was the highpoint of tonight’s episode. And how could you not love it? Sean Hayes! Who doesn’t love Sean Hayes?!!

Jerry (Michael Christofer) is less than pleased when he finds out that Karen (Katharine McPhee) is to be a part of Hit List’s Fringe performance because Bombshell is supposed to be her big introduction, not Hit List.

Oh, no. How will they do the show? Asked no one. Seriously, I’m not really pulling for Hit List because every time it is brought up, some focus is put on Karen and Jimmy, who are both terrible.

When Karen tries to tell everyone about the news, the lack of emotion and acting is actually surprising. Lines like “I feel terrible” were hard to take because I couldn’t actually tell if she cared or not because McPhee is terribly monotone in her dialogue. Please take an acting class.

The night of the first Fringe performance, Ellis’s ex-girlfriend tells Karen about Ellis and Jerry’s partnership. To the writers, you are already doing a terrible job; don’t bring back that monstrosity.

The first night Fringe performance was a flop, prompting this fictional tweet: “Hit List at The Fringe. WTF what a mess #60minutesclosertodeath.” What literary genius! Years from now, when our children’s children look back at our culture, they will re-watch that scene over and over just to appreciate the talent of the show’s writers.

The next time Jimmy says he’s going to get high, I may throw my TV out the window. Why do the writers think this is something that needs to be said?! Stop it, now!

During a press-filled performance, Ivy impresses the audience with “A Letter From Cecile,” in which she finally gets to sing again and performs wonderfully. So wonderfully that Terry wants to cut it from the show because he’s the star; he has to be the best.

The cut prompts Ivy to confront Terry and tell him that the show is completely terrible. Terry praises her for her honesty because most people usually agree with whatever he says. Thus, Liaisons is going to be totally revamped before going into tech. I hope this is going to be fantastic! I hope we get to see more of this! I love Hayes and Hilty so much!

Can we please play up Hilty more? You are wasting her talents.

In order to make room for the “Public Relations” number, Jerry wants to cut “Never Give All the Heart,” much to the dismay of Tom (Christian Borle), Derek and especially Julia.

In an attempt to save the song, Tom pitches to transform it into the style Eileen and Jerry want: light, feel-good and upbeat – so the complete opposite of the point of the song? This was one time I agreed with both Derek and Julia. The song is wonderful as it is; not every musical number has to be cheery and upbeat. Stop commercializing the theater!

Tom re-works the number and directs the choreography for the new style, much to Derek’s displeasure. Everyone loved the new style, except Derek. After some witty last remarks to the cast and crew, Derek quits.

After Derek’s departure, Karen runs off to do the second night performance at The Fringe, telling Jimmy that rehearsal “sucked” and she immediately wanted to be in Hit List. This could have been a great scene – maybe it was on paper – but the performance was sub-par at best. I suggest hiring new actors sometime soon.




During Jimmy and Karen’s duet to “Heart Shaped Wreckage,” Derek envisions a cinematic scene like he used to do with Bombshell. While the song was good, again, the performance was terrible, again. Seriously, who thought this was a good look for McPhee?




16_rent_lgJESSE L. MARTIN showed up! You know: Collins from Rent and Detective Green from Law & Order. His guest appearance was such a thrill! Let’s just have the entire cast of Rent come on the show and just perform Rent each week. The show would be much better.

Anyway, Martin plays Scott Nichols, the artistic director of the Manhattan Theater workshop who is interested in Hit List. More great news for Jimmy and Kyle: Derek agrees to be the show’s director. Oh, wow big twist there, not.

After Karen’s tip, Eileen tells Julia and Tom that Jerry paid Ellis for Nick’s background information so that he could shut down the show. Her fire and hatred toward Jerry is back! Thank goodness. I was disgusted with her sudden easiness with him.

Both Eileen and Julia push for Tom to be the show’s new director, and he agrees. Yay for Borle! I love him so much. Hopefully, this means much more screen time and more performances! One can only hope. However, I’m a little frustrated with Julia’s sudden renewed love for the show. This whole episode you were talking about how much you hated it and now you are in it 100% again. Ugh.


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