TV: Even “the bells and the whistles” can’t save ‘Smash’

By Meryl Gottlieb| mg986611@ohiou.edu| @buzzlightmeryl
Smash airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on NBC
Rating: 2/5

Smash-Season-2-The-Bells-and-Whistles

I’ve stopped expecting much from this show.

I know the acting will essentially be terrible. I know the storylines will be pretty ridiculous. I know that the songs are the show’s life support. And I know that Megan Hilty needs to move on to something that deserves her time.

Throughout the entire episode – and what seems like will be the entire season – Derek (Jack Davenport) and Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan) fight over the direction Derek is leading Hit List. Jimmy wants it to be all about the story and the characters while Derek is pulling in Broadway-ish elements into the off-Broadway show.

This could work if there was more than one side to Jimmy. All we ever see is him yelling at everyone about his work. If that could just be counter-balanced once, then we might have something to go off of. However, he’s stuck in one dimension and one-dimensional he shall stay.

I would just like to point out the hilarious moment when Jimmy was shouting at Derek for considering Lea Michele for the role of “Diva” in Hit List. It may have just been funny to me, but hey I enjoyed it.

One of the two points I gave tonight’s episode was from the thirty seconds Hilty sang “Let Me Be Your Star.” Seriously. The fact that Ivy is Marilyn again is the smartest thing the show has done this season, besides the wonderful Jennifer Hudson of course.

Tom (Christian Borle) wants to be everyone’s friend and invites the cast to tell him their thoughts and opinions on the show. Well this will be an original storyline, not. Of course, people begin to walk all over him as he tries to accommodate to everyone.

Sam (Leslie Odom Jr.) has returned and quit The Book of Mormon tour, which he wasn’t enjoying anyway. He quit because, after performing a Nate King Cole piece that Julia (Debra Messing) and Tom had written, Tom offered to put that song in Bombshell so that Sam could stay permanently.

Don’t get me wrong; I loved the “(Let’s Start) Tomorrow Tonight” song. Odom and the dancers were wonderful, but the idea to include it in Bombshell was just ridiculous. In no way can they just add that in; that is not how Broadway works people. Second, how does he not enjoy being a lead in one of the most talked about shows from Broadway? What on earth is that nonsense?

To quickly summarize this back-and-forth sub-storyline, the song does not get included after Eileen (Anjelica Huston) yelled at Tom and when Julia finally convinced him it was the wrong thing to do.

3

Apparently the original Broadway cast of Rent is slowly having its reunion on this show. Not only is Tom Collins aka Scott (Jesse L. Martin) on the show, but now Mimi aka Eileen’s publicist (Daphne Rubin-Vega) is on the show as well. I love her. Shame on you if you didn’t recognize her! C’mon, it’s Mimi!! The feline of Avenue B!

Eileen (Anjelica Huston) just waltzes into The New York Times office, looking to secure a story about Bombshell from her friend, Richard (Jamey Sheridan). Excuse me; is it really possible to just walk into an editor’s office? If so, goodbye, I’m off to go ask for a job…

…Well that didn’t work…

Karen (Katharine McPhee) is beyond terrible tonight. I have never heard lines spoken in such a monotone fashion before. Do the producers and anyone on the show think that she’s good? Do they listen? Do they watch?

Her attempts to flirt with Jimmy are more awkward than when I try to talk to a guy – and that’s saying something.

Julia and Scott’s history is revealed. She promised Scott that he could direct her first play, but when the opportunity came for it to play at the Lincoln Center, someone else directed it. The play launched her career but almost ruined Scott’s. That is a pretty interesting back-story; I’ll give them that. But I swear, if they make these two lovers, I will be beyond angry.

After they talk and mix their directing personalities, Tom becomes more like Derek in the fact that he finally shapes up and acts like a leader. Derek actually listens to Jimmy and gets his input on a number the two had previously argued about.

What resulted was a weird staging of “I Heard Your Voice in a Dream,” another original Hit List song. As usual, Jimmy’s vocals were superb. But, the choreography was strange. The point was to show the obstacles that lovers face, but it was just too much. Also, Karen literally did not do anything during her parts of that staging. She stood there and lifted her arm, once.

Karen says she gets “all melt-y” for Jimmy. Just thought I should point out the high quality of writing there.

At an after-rehearsal bar party, Ana (Krysta Rodriguez) sings Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy” to show Derek that she can play the Diva role. Some parts were just too low for her register and then others showcased her voice beautifully. However, there are millions of songs to choose from that could have exemplified her talents better.

The ploy worked and Derek decides Ana will play the Diva. Yay she may actually get to do stuff in the show now!

20100331-131742-939545-300x268In order to actually have a story for The New York Times, Eileen proposes having Ivy’s mom, Leigh Conroy (Bernadette Peters) play Marilyn’s mom. Oh, snap. That’s going to cause problems for Ivy. However, I love Bernadette so whatever it takes to get her back, do it! Tom agrees.

I’m a little disappointed in Tom. He knows this is really going to mess with Ivy. I get he wants to seem in charge now but I don’t believe he was thinking clearly. It’s going to come back to bite him.

After Derek walks her home, Karen answers her door, thinking it is Derek, to find Jimmy there. In a scene that I think is supposed to be romantic, he barges in and the two start undressing each other as they make-out and head to the kitchen table. That’s not even your apartment! Get off the table! People eat there.

I hope she doesn’t greet all her guests like that.

More and more, I’m getting disappointed with this show. Pretty soon, my review will just read that the episode was terrible. The end. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

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