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TV Recap

'Smash' Recap: Episode 4, 'The Song'

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'Smash' Recap: Episode 4, 'The Song'
Photo Source: NBC

This week on "Smash," we see Veronica Moore rehearsing her televised one-night-only concert that's directed by Derek, only it's going badly. Veronica's signature song isn't working, her "momager" is on the prowl, and everyone's suspicious of Derek, thanks to his reputation as a spectacular ho. Meanwhile, Julia heads to NYU to speak to Peter's theater class, only she quickly realizes that she's not there to speak. Peter's students instead do a read-through of "Bombshell" so Julia can hear honest feedback. They give it the Brantley treatment.

Cut to the Pottery Barn version of Brooklyn where Kyle and Jimmy get a phone call from Karen, who wants them to write an edgy new song for Veronica. She asks how quickly they can get into Manhattan. (Answer: Four hours on the G train.) They schlep downtown and play songs for musical director Tom who thinks all of their songs are too angsty and minor-key-ish. Jimmy then attempts to write a new song with Karen's help. Kyle looks on, forlorn.

Back in grown-up-land, Eileen refuses Jerry's suggestion to lie to the Feds, because she's in loooove, which gets her booted from "Bombshell's" production team.

At The Veronica Show, Derek freaks because Veronica, or Ronnie for short, isn't sexy enough – and not, amazingly, because she's wearing stirrup leggings. Veronica's mom tries to intervene, and Jimmy turns up shouting/instantly storms off because Derek won't listen to his new song.

Now everybody's mad. Ronnie's mad because she has a controlling mom and she can't be sexy. Kyle is mad because Jimmy has flown the coop. To make everything better, they sing a Billy Joel song. Then Tom gives Derek Jimmy's new song and says it's a winner, and Jimmy eventually turns up after a full night of drinking and drugging.

Meanwhile, Julia has an epiphany about the "Bombshell" book, having internalized and accepted the opinions of a bunch of college freshman. The Veronica Show goes on, and no one's mad – not even Ivy and Karen, who sing backup for Ronnie like they're not even the stars of "Smash" anymore. Oh wait...

The Awesome

Jeremy Jordan is Really Singing, Yo!
Unlike "Les Misèrables," "Smash" is basically never sung live from the floor. You know how we know? Because everyone sounds like a computer instead of a human being. Well, except for that moment this week when we see Jeremy Jordan, err Jimmy Somethingorother, sit at the piano and he sings to us for real. That's right America. Jeremy Jordan sings so well they let him sing for real! Bathe in that aural goodness. Try not to die of joy. We'll be over hear saying, "I told you so." Repeatedly. As if that makes us feel any better he's on TV and not on stage right now.

Is this a good musical number? What's going on here?
Plunked right in the middle of the show comes a performance of Billy Joel's "Everybody Loves You Now." And go figure, it gives us something that's kind of a rarity on "Smash": A genuinely excellent musical moment. Sung by Veronica and Kyle in their own respective universes, their moment of mutually troubled reflection plays – dare we say it – like a real moment in a real musical. Organically motivated, well-sung, fun to watch. I mean, really, we almost forgot what show we were watching.

Tom Levitt Is Wearing His Big-Boy Pants
Look who's the only smart person in the entire episode! It's our resident adult/sane person and composer/musical director, Tom Levitt. The guy gets all the good lines, is hard on the young'uns in a productive manner, and manages to sell Derek on the merits of Jimmy's song, thereby landing Jimmy's beautiful, crooked mug on television, all while maintaining the perfect level of bitchiness. Call us, Tom! We want to be your bestie. We promise to wear better clothes than Julia.

The Awful

No One Has Any Long-term Memory and Derek is the Big Bad Wills
What we learned this week is Derek is the worst, and he's totally wrong about everything and Ronnie can't figure out why anyone would do anything he says. Which makes sense because we definitely didn't spend half of the last few episodes watching Ronnie tell Derek how much she loved and respected him or call every producer she could find to vouch for his wonderfulness/remind them how ardently she looked forward to working with him, or ask him to help her sex up her image with a solo show. Nope. Not at all.

Karen the Impossible Dullard
"You are getting a thicker skin." "You'll get more than noticed. You'll get famous." "It's simple! It's fresh!" Seriously, why does Karen talk like she's getting her ideas out of fortune cookies and/or continuously auditioning for a tampon commercial?

Julia's Entire Life as Punishment
This show is mad at Theresa Rebeck. Really mad. If you want to see just how mad, take a gander at Julia's plotline, which now exists solely to humiliate and punish the woman on which her character is based. From the whole tedious business of "Bombshell's" book being an unqualified disaster to her flattering-as-a-barn wardrobe, "Smash" is now working overtime to kick Julia while she's down. Not even gorgeous Daniel Sunjata can make her crack a smile. The problem with this? We liked Julia. She's one of the few characters on this show with a functioning frontal lobe and her tribulations have seemed kind of relatable. If only this show hated on its actually hateable characters.

The Inexplicable

Ivy The Sage
Last week, Ivy was crying into her Cheerios about Derek and Karen again. This week? She's everyone's go-to girl for wise advice. Because we all usually get our advice from the pill-popping chorus girl who recently attempted suicide and can't rustle up a reasonable mate, a flattering outfit, or steady professional growth for the life of her, right?

Too Bad Derek Wills Has No Actual Talent
Smash spends a lot of time telling us that Derek Wills is a brilliant director. Even Ivy Lynn cites his "genius" as one of his irresistible charms, because she's clearly smart enough to know. But when it comes to showing us Derek's vision, the show can't do better than a fake-y Fosse number with faux-lesbian intimation and copious ass-slapping. Somewhere, floating on some lovely cloud, Michael Bennett is relieved that he's dead. In his London apartment, screaming at the TV as loud as we are, Nicholas Hytner wishes he was. 

Jimmy and Kyle Get a Whole Bow
While we would normally never complain about more screen time for Jimmy and Kyle, there is just no reality in which these two get a full bow at the end of Ronnie's show. In reality, the star of the show who got handed a song – written by nobodies – at the last second doesn't even remember the composer's name. And since Kyle's primary role in the creation of that song was watching Jimmy in pitiful silence from 15 feet away, he's especially not getting a shout-out. Nice try, though, "Smash."

Ellis
Really, people?! Ellis is back? We couldn't find one single better way to inject life into this show? It's gotta be the cardboard cutout of a bad guy who wields an unusual amount of power, given his complete lack of stature in the industry? Jerry is an interesting and complex baddie on his own – would it kill us to work on developing him instead of defaulting to Ellis? That guy is about as deep as a puddle, with all the nuance of a Nicholas Sparks novel. Can't wait for that 12-episode arc in which he sleeps with Ivy and tries to kill Derek, Karen, Jimmy, Linda the Stage Manager, and that one dancer who kind of looks like Malcolm Getz.

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