Smash Recap: If You Can't Stand the Heat, Check Out the Size of the Fridge in Julia's Kitchen

bernadette peters smashBefore I say a single word about this week’s episode of Smash, can we pause to discuss Bernadette Peters’ performance of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”? Holy mother of Broadway, I can honestly say I grinned ear-to-somewhere-three-inches-past-my-other-ear for the duration of the brassiest, most charismatic number in Smash‘s seven-episode history.

And just as impressive was Peters’ turn as Leigh Conroy, Broadway legend, tsunami of charisma, and not exactly World’s Greatest Mom to our fair protagonist Ivy Lynn. (Come on, you know Leigh did her vocal warmups before she jumped in that cab to the workshop space.)

When Ivy finally got around to telling Mommie Dearest that she was a black hole who sucks all the air out of the room, I half expected Leigh to respond “You say that like it’s a bad thing!” I know, I know, she’s not a noble creature — and she draped her coat over her daughter to seize her moment in the spotlight — but dang, Peters’ Leigh is mesmerizing. If Smash ever achieves the kind of success that warrants a spinoff, please let it be called Leigh! From her introductory musings on taking the subway (“Not in heels, I won’t”) to her response to Julia apologizing for fawning (“there’s no need for me to forgive you for that!”) to her noisy-quiet last-minute entrance to the Marilyn workshop (“Oh please, don’t mind me. I’m not here!”), Leigh scored more laughs per minute than any character this season — save for Eileen. Hrmm. Maybe that spinoff should be Eileen! (& Leigh!). Thoughts?

Peters wasn’t the only great thing about “The Workshop.” Indeed, Smash is at its best when it downplays the interpersonal turmoil and focuses more intently on the inner workings of mounting a major Broadway production, and we got more juicy glimpses of the artistic process tonight: Julia struggling to put the finishing touches on the book; the studio space plagued by a faulty (over)heating system; chorus girl Karen wondering if she should/could ditch her low-paying, possibly futile gig for a most likely bigger opportunity with a major record producer. And best of all, the workshop of Marilyn itself, featuring snippets of previously heard numbers “Let Me Be Your Star” (slow clap here for a stellar job by Megan Hilty), “Twentieth Century Fox Mambo,” “History Is Made at Night,” and “National Pasttime,” plus a new number, “Lexington and 52nd Street.” Seriously, I’d go to Ticketmaster right now and buy two seats for Marilyn the Musical — if it actually existed. And as long as it didn’t conflict with Idol recapping duties.

As for the week’s key plot points:

* Ellis finally has some competition for Smash‘s creepiest creepster in the form of Michael. Yes, Julia was heinously indiscreet holding hands with the show’s leading man right in front of the workshop space, and yes she shouldn’t have been adulterously humping around with dude where she could easily be caught by Tom (as well as Ellis, who’s stealthier than a Downton Abbey servant and more menacing than Shark Week), but I still couldn’t believe how borderline stalker-y he was when she tried to break off their affair, or how unaffected he was when his wife and young son showed up at rehearsal. At least Julia had the decency to become nauseous with guilt.

* Bravo to Eileen for serving hardcore bitchery — threatening Ellis with Broadway blacklisting — when the sniveling assistant gossiped about Julia and Michael’s affair. I can only hope Eileen will be throwing a drink in Ellis’ face by the season finale.

* What’s with the way Karen is always blaming public transportation for being late to major auditions? First her Marilyn callback, and this week her recording session with that major record producer who you just know was the dude behind the control booth. (Also: Hasn’t girlfriend ever heard of Google Image Search?) That said, I don’t think Katharine McPhee’s voice has ever sounded richer or more pleasing than on her cover of Colbie Caillat’s “Brighter Than the Sun.” This show might make a pop star of McPhee yet! (Side note: Nice touch by the writers having Karen describe Ivy Lynn’s performance as “incredible,” and thereby not contributing to the fiction that two talented female coworkers must be engaged 24/7 in bitter rivalry.)

* I liked that we finally got to see a decent side of Derek in his relationship with Ivy, the way he comforted her after her mother stole her thunder. “I know I don’t say this enough, but you’re wonderful in this show, and you’re gonna be great tomorrow.” But two things bothered me later: Was it really so wrong for Derek to put on his director hat at intermission and tell his girlfriend she needed to pull it together for Act 2? And also, does anyone really believe that a seasoned pro like Ivy would be slipping and stumbling through the workshop? I’d rather have seen Derek questioning something more intangible about her performance than such hammy/obvious mistakes.

* Methinks Tom is setting up his boyfriend, er, guy he’s dating, for the brushoff. I just wish the writers would give new crush Sam a few character traits other than “likes sports” and “hot” before Tom falls head over piano for him. Also: Tom’s unyielding support of Ivy pretty much solidified his position as my fave character on the show.

* I also breathed a sigh of relief when Leigh finally gave some love (and encouragement) to Ivy: “Your day will come because there is no question you’re a star.” Oh, Leigh, hopefully your multi-episode arc will come now that you’ve extended an olive branch to our protagonist.

* Everybody needs to stop mentioning Scarlett Johansson as a possible replacement for Ivy. Ditto Michelle Williams, who isn’t about to take a role in Marilyn the Musical after starring on the screen in (and earning an Oscar nod for) My Week With Marilyn. Actually, I’m not buying Sutton Foster, either. #TeamIvy

* Was there anything more ice-cold than these two lines?
Tom: “I think the real problem is Michael Swift”
Julia: “Yes, I think he should go.”

* And even though Julia hasn’t quite redeemed herself in my eyes, Debra Messing was aces in that scene where she told her son that Michael had been fired from the show (and from any additonal front-porch smooching sessions). “He wasn’t right for the part.” No, Julia, he most certainly was not.

* Lastly, Julia’s refrigerator is a thing of appliance-department beauty, and possibly bigger than most Manhattan studio apartments. I’d like it to also get a multi-episode arc. That is all.

What did you think of this week’s Smash? Were you wowed by Peters? And what did you think of the actual Marilyn workshop? Sound off in the comments!

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  1. Go Karen! Go Smash! Can’t wait for Episode 8!

  2. Best episode to date yet! I also loved how Tom supported Ivy, first right before the workshop and then in the meeting with Julia, Eileen and Derek later. So cute :) And I thought Ivy’s stumbling just went back to her having taken sleeping pills on top of “everything else”, so I was ok with that. Loved it!!!

  3. Snsetblaze says:

    I had the same thoughts about the frig as Slezak.

  4. YowzaPowza says:

    That fridge was insane. This is the best headline I’ve ever read on here.

  5. Domencia says:

    Peters was PERFECT. And your recaps are brilliant, I agree with everything you said #TeamIvy

  6. Titina says:

    LOVEd this episode so much!
    Is up there #4! I think Derek actually has a hear in there sometimes he is just too much into his job and I don´t think anyone will take its place. He likes Ivy but not as much.
    Still want him to dump her for Karen though. At least next episode Karen and Derek get to rehearse together for a number to steal the musical. Yay.
    This show is getting better and better.

    I am still Team Karen btw. Go Karen! Love ya. I am tired of how sorry we have to feel about Ivy all the time.

  7. Drew says:

    Not a bad episode, though I have to admit that I started laughing when Julia’s son started crying. Not one scene with that kid has ever felt genuine.

    When was the last time Julia actually worked on the production? They keep showing her not going to work for different reasons. Does she actually do anything there?

    I was hoping that they would have cut the baseball number. Horrible.

    I like the “I think I love you” line from the recording studio guy. I think he summed up the reason I’m cutting this show a lot of slack as they figure out what their style is.

  8. tuppy says:

    1. Greatest thing about the Sutton Foster reference was seeing Christian Borle (her ex-husband, who cheated on her with Laura Bell Bundy when they were in Legally Blonde together) screaming “no”!

    2. “Was it really so wrong for Derek to put on his director hat at intermission and tell his girlfriend she needed to pull it together for Act 2?” YES. Once the curtain goes up (or proverbial curtain, in this case) the show is on and directing stops. It’s really uncouth to give notes during a performance.

    3. THANK YOU for the Bernadette love. Any reasonable person who saw her Gypsy in 2003 and Patti LuPone’s in 2008 knows that Peters is the superior Mama Rose and always will be!

    • Margaret says:

      omg YES to #1!! I’m a major theatre geek & I was watching tonight w/ my roommates who aren’t really into theatre, I howled laughing at that line & they looked at me like I had 3 heads. I like that their one example of a “broadway star” is the ex of one of the lead actors, oh broadway…Bernadette was perfection tonight, so happy she’s coming back for the season finale.

  9. JustMeMike says:

    That one car garage size fridge. Wow.
    I missed some of tonight show – so I’ll have to re-watch it tomorrow. For the record, I predicted Tom and Sam as well as Michael Swift becoming history last week in my recap. I wasn’t a bit surprised that Peters as Leigh Conroy was brought in as a ratings boost . But I was surprised that she and Ivy were antagonists.

    I think personally that the SWift firing was in the cards – but Julia wasn’t honest with Leo and that bothered me.


  10. I want an Eileen spin-off. I would watch an hour every single week of her being faced with problems, not complaining about them (OMG, the whiners on this show), and doing whatever the hell needs to be done to solve it, all while not taking crap from anyone. And drinking awesome $7 martinis with her sexy new bartender friend at the end.

  11. nguber says:

    Loved it definitely the best episode to date. OMG Ellis is soooooooooo creepy. What is the point of him? He does no assisting at all. All he does is lurk in corners and tattle on everyone. I mean where exactly are they taking his character??

  12. DB says:

    will they finally get an Italian as the new Joe Dimaggio??? and we get it, Sam is gay gay gay gay gay, can we stop with that meaningless throwaway gag now? this is the 3rd episode in the row where we have to endure the those idiotic set-up scene between so-not-gay Sam and Tom. finally, did anyone burst out laughing when Leo started crying? good god, why did they torture the awful actor to do the impossible.

  13. Ashly says:

    Really, really good episode. It made me want to go to the theater. Some random thoughts: 1) Derek is the most entertaining character on this show. I was glad to see him get some funny lines. His support of Ivy was sweet, but I don’t like them as a couple. I think I’d like to see him with someone not in show business. 2) Although Ivy’s personality is a bit annoying to me at times, there really is no better person to play Marilyn. I officially became Team Ivy after this episode. She really is amazing. 3) I really enjoy Karen’s voice, but I wish she would put her arms down when she sings. 4) Zach from All My Children plays the bartender who helps Eileen. I hope he stays for awhile.

  14. I like Smash !
    Hope it gets a second season and look forward to more of this guilty pleasure !

  15. #TeamIvy all the way. Ivy is perfect as Marilyn and I really don’t see why Karen would ever get the part or even deserve it right now.

    I wasn’t crazy about this episode, but Messing as Julia is always amazing. And I love Sam, I wish they’d develop his character more.

  16. Matt Webb Mitovich says:

    My “problem” with the repeated ScarJo references is that at some point they should start sprinkling in the name of whatever movie star Uma Thurman will be playing, so we can believe she was ever on their wish list.

  17. Titina says:

    Really hope this show is renewed! It´s my guilty pleasure! LOVE it.
    I so love Derek, he is my favorite character. So many layers to him you never know what to expect. I also agree I don´t like him with Ivy as a couple I think his chemistry with Karen is way more special. Hope they explore that relationship too in the future.

  18. says:

    LOVED Derek’s comment about “that’s the least offensive thing I’ve said all week…..oh, what, you too?”

    so acurately portrays my experience with theatre directors….and i love dry british humor!!!

    This show is such a nice break from cop/doctor/lawyer shows……

  19. I completely disagree about Michael being stalker-y or aggressive and what annoys me the most is the double standard. A woman NOT letting the other treat her like dirt and pretend nothing happened when IT DID and it’s not the first time it does would be called fierce and “good for her for standing up for herself!” And Michael is called stalker-y? HELL NO. I don’t understand how people, reviewers included, are completely blind to the fact that Julia HAS LIED TO HER HUSBAND FOR FIVE YEARS, because THAT is when the first affair took place. And she is clearly in love with MICHAEL, NOT with Frank. A teenage son whining because he saw his mother kiss another man is certainly not the wise way to make decisions about relationships. Michael is the only one who obliges Julia to face the truth. Tom instead, the ever blind man he is, is the one who keeps feeding her denial. (and his own, but that’s another matter).

    Julia’s marriage is over regardless, after five years of lies and an affair with the same person, TWICE, and the ONLY fault Michael has is that of being head over heels in love with Julia. That’s the only thing that motivates his actions, and it was made abundantly clear in this episode. Dialogue between them, songs, all that. It couldn’t be clearer. Just like it was made clear that Julia is madly in love with him. And pretty please, the nauseous wasn’t simply because she realized she was having an affair, but first and foremost because she saw Michael with someone ELSE, which so far, she didn’t have to endure (while Michael did the whole time with her, Frank and Leo). Of freaking course he pretended nothing was going on when wife and kid showed up, what was he supposed to do? Scream “oh wait the woman I actually love is here, I can’t kiss child and wife”. Uh? And hasn’t Julia been doing the same and actually worse for FIVE YEARS? (as opposed to him just having started to lie to the wife, seen as he was NOT married during their first affair). If there’s someone who is a cold liar here, that is Julia, not Michael. Ask Frank, who will punch Michael in episode 9 (and I will never understand why they made us see this in the promo for episode FOUR). Please…this is TV and even in real life, I’d tell my friend to have the backbone to tell the husband it’s over and go be with the man she actually loves in such a situation. You’re not a good parent when you stay in a marriage out of obligations for the child. And that’s exactly what Julia is doing. Social conventions and obligations trump being honest about your own feelings. No, Julia, no. That is no way to raise a child and to have a happy life.

    • Drew says:

      You’re really rationalizing the affair? They’re both liars. They’re both cheaters. They’re both doing damage to their kids. And saying that they should just go ditch their families and be with each other because it’s best for the kids is a total cop out. What’s best for the kids is working on their families. They made commitments to their families. Tossing those families aside just so they can go have fun with each other isn’t what’s best for their families. What would be best for their family is putting some effort into their marriages and fighting for their families… with the other person completely out of the picture. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. But making the decision based on some twisted passion isn’t the healthy way of dealing with it, and it’s not what’s best for their families.

      • You’re really rationalizing being a liar in a marriage because appearances matter most? What’s best for their kids is having parents who are well adjusted and love them. That does NOT equal being in a loveless marriage. They can’t be well adjusted if they’re with a spouse they are CLEARLY not in love with. It’s not good either for the children or for them. It’s much better to have the guts to call it quits with the original family and form a new one. It happens all the time in real life, and I know many kids who functioned MUCH better with their second family than they did with their first. And this is not a decision made on some twisted passion, that’s exactly the point. It’s abundantly clear that MIchael and Julia are in love with each other and have been since the affair 5 years ago. Julia has been LYING for 5 years. To her family and to HERSELF. That is what Michael made clear to her in last night’s episode (not that it wasn’t clear before). Michael’s heart has been broken not once, but twice (as underlined by the “Don’t do this to me AGAIN” line?). He loves her, that’s clear. Just like it’s clear Julia loves him but is too afraid of her own feelings and too “appearances matter most” to have the guts to follow her heart and do what’s best for both her AND her kid, because a happy parent in a happy relationship will always be a much better parent than one who is in a marriage just out of obligation, like Julia is. And that’s what I was saying. And I stand by it.

        • dawnmac says:

          Two wrongs don’t make a right and even if Julia and Michael left their respective spouses the damage is already done. They would have torn apart two families and it is even worse when children are involved. You may not like her son or how he is played but how would you react if you found out your mother was cheating on your father? Forgiveness would not come easy or at all and that would be whole lot of guilt Julia would be carrying around. Love isn’t some fairytale where two people belong together and everything will fall into place, it doesn’t happen like that. There has to be boundries and when lines are crossed, innocent people get hurt and it never ends well. It doesn’t take guts to follow your heart, following your heart is easy, being a good husband or wife, mother or father is hard and standing by the commitments you made even when things are not always perfect, that is hard. Having an affair is easy, but looking at yourself in the mirror after said affair and realizing that your actions have consequences that is hard.

        • Drew says:

          Julia needs to deal with her life and her family before she even begins thinking of starting a new one. Affairs aren’t about love. They’re about getting out of the routine, and the excitement of something new. Cheating and lying are not loving things. They are horrible things to do to your family.
          Julia’s marriage isn’t an unhappy one. She doesn’t not love her husband. She is simply used to him. There’s no passion, just the comfortable zone that people will tend to slip into over the course of 18 years. They don’t fight. They still support each other and love each other. They simply don’t do it in the rehearsal room, on a couch that the actors will be performing on ten hours later.

          If her marriage has issues, she needs to address them. If they can’t be resolved after some good hard work has been put into it, she can leave. She owes it to her family to fight for her family.

          Michael should have nothing to do with her family or her decision to leave them. Slipping out of bed with her husband and into bed with Michael is a selfish, hurtful thing to do. If this was about her marriage not being a happy one, then she needs to address her marriage before she starts sleeping around with someone else. There is nothing right or good or healthy about an affair.

          But it’s not about her marriage being broken. It’s about her breaking it because she enjoys that “new car” smell that her relationship with Michael has.

  20. I’m so not agree with this review AT ALL, Michael was sooooooooo PERFECT as Joe really perfect and fired him like that was so unfair, I can’t believe they did this to him, him and Ivy as Joe and Marilyn will have great chemistry and his solo was heartbroken. And I really hope he will be re-hired because he deserve this part.

    • CJ says:

      Don’t worry about Michael. Derek is on his side and will undoubtedly take him along with Karen to his own Marilyn project. Michael Swift/Will Chase is not going anywhere.

      • That’s a good point actually, I’m not entirely sure Derek takes him on board right as he puts up the alternate number with Karen, but it’s certain Derek is (and rightly so) on Michael’s side. I wonder if in the next two episodes Michael is there also because he’s working with Derek and not just because of the drama with Julia and Frank. He is anyhow definitely back for the final two episodes which is when the musical goes on stage, so clearly he will be re-hired. After a four-episode break that will be much too long for me to take, as Will Chase singing is one of the things I enjoy the most in the show.

    • cathiecat says:

      I think he will be rehired because his firing was wrongful termination, solely because of the affair. He was obviously sensational in the part. Getting fired from a leading role would be very damaging to his career. I see a fast rehire or lawsuit city.

      • Drew says:

        An actor filing a lawsuit because he was fired would be the end of his career. Nobody would hire him because in the world of acting, you lose jobs or don’t get jobs all the time and sometimes the reasons aren’t great. The fact that this is a workshop means that people are expected to come and go as they tweak the production. They don’t need an explanation. They can just say that he wasn’t right and move on. In show business, there is no such thing as “wrongful termination”. Can you imagine lawsuits being filed every time a character got killed off of a TV show?

    • Mark says:

      My guess is that the bartender turns out to be an actor and gets the Joe DiMaggio part.

  21. Smooshiest says:

    All I can say is more Thorsten Kaye please; his mere presence on the screen is a plus – even sweaty and dirty from working on a building boiler is hot!!

  22. #TeamIvy and #TeamLeigh all the way! Love #Smash!

  23. Sharon White says:

    I’m committed to Smash! I agree that it’s far more engaging when it focuses more on the “show” than on character relationships. However, I have a BURNING QUESTION I hope someone can answer!!

    Why does Debra Messing wear those.. billowy, cloak-like, flowing, body concealing outfits?? She did the same on Will & Grace. As far as I can tell she’s thin as a rail.. so why why why? Surely I’m not the only one confused by it?

  24. Smash says:

    Tom is your favorite character? How do you feel about how he has been treating John? Tom is so rude to John. John is hot and sweet. I don’t care about Sam. How many times now have they talked about Sam being SO STRAIGHT and LOVING SPORTS even though he’s gay?

  25. I still don’t understand how Tom telling Ivy that she has ice-water in her veins is a compliment.

  26. Jewels83 says:

    So I’m not a big musical theater person myself (and I work for an off broadway theater, the irony…) but I share in your excitement about the actual Marilyn production most particularly “History is made at night” what a gorgeous song!

  27. Jasmeen says:

    I find Derek and Karen the most exciting characters on the shows and I would love if the show explored the possibility off them in the future. They have amazing chemistry!!! Way more than Ivy and Derek. And saw preview of touh me song with Karen next week. Sounds great! Can’t wait :)

  28. Linderella says:

    Am I the only one who put the TV on mute when Bernadette Peters was wailing? I can’t take the combination nasalie and Minnie Mouse voice talking or singing. One thing her appearance did do is give me some sympathy for poor Ivy. No wonder she’s a wreck with Leigh for a mom! I guess it’s clear I’m for Team Karen.

    That being said, you can tell from some of the comments about Michael/Julia who has cheated and who has been cheated on. Talk about judgment! It’s a tough spot to be in – in love with one person and married to another. I absolutely love Julia but Michael is yeck and who ever heard of a blond Joe DiMaggio? She tried to avoid hiring him in the first place and was steamrolled. I say cut her some slack.

  29. J says:

    Tom and Eileen are my favorites. My favorite moment was Eileen putting Ellis in his place. And Derek was funny this episode. Made me kinda like him. Megan Hilty has a fan in me. I also was impressed by the fridge.

  30. JAO says:

    Love the show, the trauma/drama, the music, the people! Lexington & 52nd STreet was great! This show has me hooked. I love when they do more focus on the inner workings of putting on a show. Good cast!

  31. Loni says:

    I’m so glad you noticed the fridge too Michael. It was pretty crazy. Awesome. But crazy.

  32. Paloma says:

    Much better show than last week. Didn’t like Lexington & 52nd … Terrible song. Didn’t believe Karen would blow off Raskin like that. Glad to finally like a cover that she sang and to have a good reason for her to be singing it.

    Who is Ellis working for now? Because we never see him with Tom and I don’t remember Eileen hiring him away (though I thought she would).

    About the fridge … it isn’t as big as it looks. It is only 24″ deep (cabinet depth) instead of 36″ deep like most home fridges. OTOH, it does cost more than $10 grand for a Viking fridge that size.

  33. Bill says:

    Will Chase, who is a fine performer with a stellar singing voice, has not the remotest connection to Joe DiMaggio. Michael was all wrong for the part, and firing him was a good idea, and would have been a good idea even if he weren’t having the affair with Julia.

    Meanwhile, Megan Hilty was aces in everything she did in this episode. The fact that she could 1) be so good in the workshop while 2) being flustered and unfocused due to Mommie Dearest’s passive-aggressive presence and Derek’s intermission horror–both speak volumes about Hilty’s skill and charisma.

    And McPhee, I agree, had her finest moment yet (and I’m including Idol, where I never particularly liked her anyway) in that recording studio. I now officially have McPheever. But Ivy should still be playing Marilyn.

  34. Jackie says:

    I love Derek’s line “That was by far the least offensive thing I’ve said all week”

  35. Bill says:

    Is no one but me laughing out loud at the notion that Ivy’s mother being a Tony-winning Broadway star would never have been mentioned by anyone until this week? In real life it would have been Topic #1 in every chorus member’s daily dish, and someone would have used it against Ivy as “of course she got the role, she’s Broadway royalty.” Come on, really!

    • Lime says:

      I sort of got the idea that Ivy HADN’T told anyone that. Even Derek was surprised. That’s why she uses (I’m assuming) her middle name as her last name – she wants to be a star on her own merits. It definitely happens in showbiz families (I’m thinking in particular of Angelina Jolie Voight and Emilio Estevez aka Sheen).