This week on “Smash,” there is... wait... why are we talking about golf right now? Has Jimmy found his new high in sports?
Oh, wait! It's because NBC gives not a care in the world about this show anymore, and we're missing the whole opening scene because some old white men are talking about other mostly white men swinging sticks around in a grassy field. Golf claps! Thank goodness Jeremy Jordan was on Twitter to inform us that we missed an entire musical number, otherwise we'd be confused forever.
Meanwhile, when we finally join the show, Ana is stumbling around confused and her understudy, Daisy, who we didn't even know was in “Hit List,” is chomping at the bit for her shot – which she gets when Derek suspiciously tells Ana to take a day off.
Over in “Bombshell” land, Ivy is busy selling cars, wanting a Tony real bad, and being shocked to find her personal life splashed across the pages of the paper in blind items. Tom also wants a Tony real bad, so he takes a little cabaret of his and Julia's songs and turns it into a huge, flashy review to prove what a great director he is. And Eileen is exploiting Tom and Julia's personal drama to get “Bombshell” some pity-votes at the Tonys.
Jimmy and Julia are trying to figure out why the Broadway staging of “Hit List” feels lackluster, all without changing a word of Kyle's work, and its making Derek insane. Also making Derek insane? The fact that Daisy is blackmailing him for a big role. We also assume he's also bothered by the fact that Karen can't dance, but that's just conjecture on our part.
By the end of the show we've had several unexpected and unforeshadowed plot twists, and it kind of seems like even the writers are as fed up with “Smash” as the rest of us are. Looking to learn more? Read on!
And Starring Lindsay Mendez... as Herself
It's like “Smash” knew that we all needed a break from all of the far-fetched, vocally-enhanced quasi-reality spinning across the screen, so they hired Lindsay Mendez. They were even smart enough to have her play herself, instead of molding her into some crazy character version of herself, where she says things like, "OMG, belting is so fun and maybe you'll play Elphaba too someday, Karen! Let's meet for lattes!" They also let her do what she does best – belt some big crazy notes. For this oasis of genuine talent and non-stupidity, we were infinitely grateful.
Lin-Manuel Miranda Is Better Than Everyone
In his devastatingly brief time on screen, Lin drops several of the most amazing insults we've ever heard, makes us entirely sure his guest spot is entirely improvised, and creates what has to be the best thirty-five to forty-five seconds of television in NBC's entire programming week. Also, it must be noted that he drops the actual best line that has ever happened on “Smash,” which is as follows: "That's the thing about Jonathan Groff, he curses like a sailor."
“Smash” Gets Meta
For two entire seasons, “Smash” has been about people with no real problems, manufacturing themselves some problems, and then crying about how no one is paying attention to/understanding how bad their problems are. And this week was no exception. When Derek tells Karen he's being blackmailed for his inability to stop behaving like a sexist pig, their conversation immediately devolves into teenage histrionics, wherein which they both accuse the other person of trying to make everything about themselves. (No, focus on me! I have the real problem!) For a moment, as we basked in the unintentional meta-ness of that scene, we really felt like the writers at “Smash” understood us. Sure, it would have been better if the scene had been, well, intentional. And played for some satiric laughter, and not just... glossed over immediately. But we're going to hold onto that moment where we shouted at our TV "OMG, RIGHT?! WHY IS IT ALWAYS ABOUT YOU?!"
#DerekProblems Don't Even Deserve a Whole Episode
And this week, soaring in from left field is a plotline about Derek being blackmailed by Daisy the former dancer – which we only know about because Derek recaps the entire situation for us in one tidy little speech. While we kind of think Derek deserves to have his grimy ways used against him, we're still scratching our heads as to why this story – which Derek tells us has been brewing for weeks – didn’t merit an entire episode. Or even just a few minutes here and there over several episodes. OH WAIT! That's right. We're not scratching our heads about that at all. Because we already know this got no attention in earlier episodes because it's entirely unnecessary drama to be wasting our time with at this point in the season. Nice try, though, guys.
Karen is a Triple Threat! To Humanity!
Maybe in some warp parallel universe of television fiction, Karen Cartwright is an outrageously talented, articulate, big-singing woman of mystery who oozes charisma and charm. In the universe of “Smash,” however, she still kind of seems like a monosyllabic scrap of window dressing who could not manage eight shows a week if she had Caissie Levy covering for her on three of them. Also, she cannot dance. She cannot dance in spectacular fashion, as we learned this week. She will undoubtedly be nominated for a fake-Tony, but we suspect the fake-Astaire Awards will not come knocking.
Who Wrote “Hit List”? Everybody!
Much as “Bombshell: The Musical” is not our thing for its pastiche-y score and it's old-time Broadway style, at least it seems like a real show. “Hit List,” on the other hand, suffers from such an identity crisis that we can't even figure out what it's about, never mind who wrote it. (The show's creators recently released a synopsis to New York Magazine. Thanks for the primer, guys! Too bad you have a whole TV show on which to establish this and yet there is simply NO TIME to do it amidst killing Kyle, making Jimmy scowl some more, and ensuring that all of Derek's hair gets in the shot. Thank God for magazines!) We love that “Smash” has given up-and-coming composers the chance at getting their songs on TV, but we sort of wish they'd settled on just one or two of those, instead of sixteen, and we bet Joe Iconis does too.
Kyle's Big Idea
When we saw Jimmy and Julia cooing over the brilliance of Kyle and his mid-show "modern newsreel" idea, we were actually sort of glad that he died. Hell-bent on modernity and youthfulness, “Hit List” now has incorporated a fancy new technology – text messaging! Never mind that getting a text during a show is actually totally annoying and distracting, and that gimmickry is a poor, poor excuse for storytelling, “Smash” is working so hard to predict the future that it can't manage to keep the present interesting.
Ana Goes to... Ivy?
Ana being upset that she's getting screwed out of her first major role by some chorus girl with an agenda and a dirty Derek video is totally understandable. Her reaction? Totally not. In any kind of reality Ana would immediately and threaten to take her story to a lawyer and/or the papers if Derek didn't fix it. She wouldn't stew in the back of the theater, storm around, beg Derek to change his mind, and then look to Ivy Lynn for moral support and/or assistance in getting her job back. But hey, now we have some more unnecessary Ivy/Karen drama to be thankful for... right?
Ivy's Bundle of... Joy
It's like they know that it's dying, so the “Smash” writers are just throwing anything at the screen to keep the show moving. Killing a main character? Done! A pregnancy? Done! We can't wait for the scene where Ivy is barfing during intermission in the Marilyn costume, and where she tearfully decides to keep the baby – and announces it during her Tony speech, immediately following the tight shot of the father, Derek Wills. When your show is on life support, anything goes. We'll patiently wait for the scene where Karen texts Jimmy, "We've got AIDS." But that's a whole other musical.
Laura Motta and Aileen McKenna blog as Lucky and The Mick on their Broadway-themed blog of insanity, The Craptacular.