Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Smashed, April 17, 2013

The Dress Rehearsal
by Stuart Munro

Hello again friends! Not only is the school year done, but all my papers and presentations are finished as well. Let us celebrate with a glass and the newest episode of Smash! Perhaps we can figure out why ratings continue to plummet . . .

The episode gets off to a good enough start – Christian Borle’s toned backside in his naked nightmare – and then Ellis has a two-second cameo . . . which is admittedly pretty funny. But despite waking up from the nightmare, the pressure’s not off Tom yet: tonight’s the invited dress rehearsal. And surprise, surprise – Ivy and Derek have spent the night together, though Ivy has him totally confused about what’s going, which is also pretty funny. And across town, Karen and Jimmy are also waking up together. So it seems no one’s waking up alone these days. Except for me.

But that’s another story.

There wasn’t a single new song this episode – the production number we see is something we’ve seen before (though possibly from last season, I don’t remember fully)

Moving along! The Bombshell dress rehearsal isn’t exactly going according to plan (Ivy ends up naked), but she also gets some stupendous reviews, and not just about her “Monroes.” The accidental nudity gets some buzz going, and Eileen tries to convince Ivy that it’s worth keeping in the show. The technical issues, however, force Eileen to cancel the first preview . . . unless Tom can fix all the issues by 3pm. So no pressure! Sam, meanwhile, tries to talk Ivy out of appearing nude on stage (“I was in Take me Out. Do you remember the plot?” “I remember penis.” For the record, that’s all I remember too), and Tom is freaking out because not all of the problems are resolving as fast as he’d like, but Julia comes up with a quick fix that everyone seems to love, but that makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE. The company all start Act II in the audience? Including Marilyn? And no one in the audience notices them getting there? Please. . . . Ivy is keeping her nude decision for the first preview a cliffhanger, hoping she’ll know in the moment. She makes an interesting decision, and changes the timing of the nude scene giving it even more impact, and at the end of the night there’s a crowd waiting for her at the stage door. So apparently the first night went well.

At Hit List, Karen and Ana are discussing Jimmy’s drug habit like it’s passé (“He gets high, you know that.”), but Karen seems to be more worried about the fact that she might be losing songs to Ana. I’m sure glad she’s got her priorities straight. Derek, on the other hand, seems to have lost his “connection” to the show (by which he means he’s lost Karen) and Julia manages to help him clear his head before the Times shows up for their evening stumble through. Problem is, Ana’s Diva is becoming more and more the centre character, much to the chagrin of Kyle, Jimmy and Karen. Derek creates a new opening around Ana which is certainly more dramatic (though without proper context I’m not exactly sure how it would work), but it takes Karen’s favourite song and gives it to Ana off the top, pissing Karen and Jimmy completely off. Artistic Director Scott puts the pressure on Kyle to pick which opening gets shown to the Times that evening – and he picks Derek’s new vision. Jimmy accuses both Derek and Kyle of being jealous of his relationship with Karen, and Karen tells Ana that she only got Karen’s song because Derek was mad, which, in turn, pisses Ana off. So everyone’s angry! Everyone except Richard Francis from The Times, who thinks Hit List is “really something special.” Afterwards, Karen confronts Jimmy about his drug use, and Katherine MacPhee shows, once again, just what an appallingly wooden actor she really is. It’s painful to watch when she’s surrounded by people who can, you know, emote. Why she has two men obsessed with her is utterly beyond me.

All things come to a head with Richard’s article on Hit List, which gets published on line that evening. He links the two musicals together, calling Bombshell a look at the past, and Hit List a look at the future. But he also points out that Julia is the latter’s informal dramaturg, something Tom didn’t know anything about. Tom is furious with Julia, and Eileen with Richard.

There wasn’t a single new song this episode – the production number we see is something we’ve seen before (though possibly from last season, I don’t remember fully) – and the episode really had the feel of drama about it that I suspect the creators had been going for since day one: intense, but not forced. I was actually on the edge of my seat on more than one occasion. It’s a shame that Smash seems to have completely lost its audience at this point.

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