I’ve said it before (and I can’t promise I won’t say it again): Smash is at its best when the show focuses on the drama of mounting a major Broadway production. And while I don’t expect it to serve us Law & Order-style “all work life, no home life” story arcs, I sometimes wish the pesky peccadilloes of its central characters were a wee bit less unrealistic.
I mean, I can suspend my disbelief to an extent, but NBC might as well have Ivy Lynn and Karen score side gigs as Charlie’s Angels-style agents if they’re going to ask me to swallow Dev punching Karen’s boss in the face. And Eileen burning her investors’ contracts in a metal wastebasket (just because they had the nerve to include some demands with their $7 million). And (ugh) Ellis not being unceremoniously hurled into the unemployment line (and/or fed to the bears at the Bronx Zoo).
Which isn’t to say the episode was all ridiculata all the time. Here’s how things played out in “Understudy.”
* With movie star Rebecca Duvall stuck in Cuba because of her assistant’s visa troubles — wait, did the Broadway neophyte score the role without so much as an audition? — Karen stepped in as understudy/punching bag for Derek. Cut to Karen accidentally spilling to Dev that her director “sexually harassed me the day I met him,” Dev somehow using that as an excuse to get angry at the victim, and then Dev going to bed angry and shirtless. (Yay for the shirtless part!) As Ivy’s urging, Derek decided to try being nice to his inexperienced muse, going so far as to give a hilariously roundabout (and in-person) apology for his former sleazy behavior, but getting rewarded with a punch in the face from a jealous Dev. (Boo!) I’d accuse Dev (who hasn’t told his live-in girlfriend that he officially got passed over for press secretary) of purposely making things awkward for Karen at work — “I don’t want you anywhere near that sod!” he huffed — but then again, Dev is the type who makes out with Karen at work with his office doors wide open. (Gross!) So maybe he’s into awkwardness generally?
* Tom stepped in brilliantly in rehearsing the role of Darryl Zanuck in a snappy production number set in a steam room. Best line of the song: “I made a star out of Rin Tin Tin, and paid him with a bone!” Plus, Karen got to deliver a lovely reprise of “Never Give All the Heart” — but all the applause went to the Lady Duvall (Uma Thurman), who made a grand entrance (and activated Ellis’ starf***** gene), as the number drew to an end.
* An unemployed Ivy — yep, the Heaven on Earth meltdown cost her her job — wiled away the hours by defacing Rebecca Duvall magazine covers, befriending Karen (with possible ulterior movites?), and delivering a knockout cover of Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” while fantasizing about getting back the role of Marilyn.
* Julia used Leo’s phone to get through to estranged hubby Frank, telling him she was going to die if he didn’t talk to her. But alas, it looks like Frank is waiting for a call from the coroner’s office to come identify his wife’s body, because dude is not talking.
* Tom had two conversations with Sam in front of his boyfriend whose name I can’t remember, but when he showed an interest in the score of the Knicks game, boyfriend got all Barbra Streisand/Donna Summer and said “Enough Is Enough.” “You never look at me like that,” he sighed before a not-so-dramatic exit. Will he be back, or is that all there is? If it’s the latter, kudos to the writers for the rare acknowledgement that sometimes breakups can be utterly mundane.
* Eileen’s bartender beau Nick introduced her to very rich rock star Randy Cobra, who agreed to put up $7 million to fund Bombshell, allowing the power producer to ditch her early (and mildly demanding) financial backers in a surprisingly blasé fashion. But what Eileen lacked in professionalism, she made up for in bitchery to Ellis. When he overheard her Spanish-language phone conversation about The Book of Mormon and started snooping for deets, she sarcastically told him she was on the line with “Castro’s brother, Raul.” And later, when Ellis began to question the source of Nick and Randy’s cash flow, Eileen let her whippersnapper assistant have it.: “Who are you go delving into the personal lives of my friends?!” she yelled, handing back his intel without glancing at it. “Go get me a coffee and take this with you!” Hrmmm…I don’t mind Ellis so much, as long as he’s being yelled at early and often. And being reduced to coffee-fetcher in chief.
What did you think of this week’s Smash? Did you like this week’s musical performances? And did any story arcs strike you as too unrealistic? Sound off in the comments!