Its been a tough couple of weeks for NBC’s “Smash.” Ratings sliced an artery from last year’s premiere, and last week’s third episode continued hemorrhaging blood. The TV vultures seem to be circling the show, awaiting that final breath. Thankfully, the cast couldn’t eyeball the perilous cliff they’re standing on when they were filming months ago because tonight got the show firmly back on track. Are there still enough viewers to make a dent in the Nielsen’s? I don’t know, but if they can keep pumping out quality episodes hopefully word of mouth will kick in.
As we found out last week, Ronnie (Jennifer Hudson) has left her safe, comfortable starring gig in The Wiz to let Derek (Jack Davenport) direct her in a one-night-only concert on Broadway. The only problem comes in ditching her good girl persona in order to give her the edge she says she wants. That persona sold out the box office in six hours, but her performance of “We Got Love” was yawn worthy. Upping the ante, Derek finds out that Bravo will be rebroadcasting the event to their millions of viewers.
Remember last week when I said the verbal war of words between Julia (Debra Messing) and script rewriter Peter would lead to other sparks? Well Peter has asked her to come to his acting class. Her burning loins and need to be loved march her right down to NYU to impart her volumes of stage wisdom to Broadway’s next generation. The only problem is Peter didn’t ask her to come to speak, but rather to watch Bombshell reenacted. Needless to say, Julia was a little peeved.
Eileen’s (Anjelica Houston) ex-husband Jerry stops by her office to offer his sage advise on how to handle her upcoming deposition. He tells her to sail her former lover, Nick, down the river, but she is hesitant to drop him in the clink even after his rouge disappearing act.
When Derek is riffling through Ronnie’s performance numbers, nothing is standing out to him. Guardian angel Karen (Katherine McPhee) calls budding playwrights Kyle (Andy Mientus) and Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan), telling them their big break is here. They serve up a handful of numbers they’d already written for Tom’s discerning ear, but he dismisses them all saying they aren’t Broadway much less Ronnie’s voice. They’ll have to write a new song by the end of rehearsal to be in the running. Writer’s block, don’t hit me now!
The drama students largely trashed the slightly modified version of Bombshell which only makes Julia defensive (shocker). After storming out of the round of constructive criticism, Julia decides to take the evening and flip through the pages of Peter’s one play, the Singing Bird. The following day she confronts him for what a pile of drivel it was, and he whole hardly agrees. They continue this exchange until Julia eventually softens and agrees to finally hear Peter’s suggested changes.
Derek is unhappy with Ronnie’s lukewarm reception to his vision for her concert. He, of course, berates and chides our star until she’s forced to walk away. Ronnie’s mother Cynthia threatens to pull-the-plug on the Derek experiment if he doesn’t toe the proverbial line. While Derek is accepting his fate, Jimmy bursts his pity party with the new song, but the only problem is there won’t be a new song since Ronnie is going with her old, tired material. Hot headed Jimmy gets his panties in a bunch when Derek won’t even give it a listen, and he is enveloped by the night to disappear into a drug addled stupor.
Karen finds Jimmy the next morning high on who knows what. His walls and impenetrable exterior are down and the seem to talk for the first time. We see what he really wants, his appreciation to Karen for believing in him and feeling the weight of letting everyone down. She takes his hand to carry him in to face the music, and we get the kiss. I’ve always felt the chemistry between these two was iffy at best. Karen went with the smooch, but largely wrote it off as a drug fueled slip.
Julia and Peter are talking Marilyn when revelation strikes Julia. Marilyn was defined by men and the play should be written from their point of view, relaying how they saw her. Interesting take that just might work. The furious writing begins for our scribes, and Peter even suggests they go away for the weekend to his place in the Berkshires to continue writing. Is that what you’re calling it these days?
Well our first Broadway performance actually is upon us as Ronnie opens her one night concert on the Great White Way. She’s cast mom’s advice aside and decided to embrace Derek’s vision — out with the safe and predictable and in with strong and sexy. As it turns out, Tom forced Derek to give Jimmy’s song “Can’t Let Go” a listen and it ends up anchoring the performance.
So Nick magically reappears the night before Eileen is to be deposed. He’s ready to fall on his sword to save her reputation, but she won’t let him. They both fess up to the crime and Bombshell is free. There’s only one catch. Eileen is out as the producer and slimy Jerry has agreed to step in to save her fledgling production. What we quickly find out is Jerry arranged the whole dirty money scheme to make Eileen take the fall and crush her confidence as a producer. The fur is going to fly when this fun factoid comes to light.
This was a much more satisfying episode than anything we’ve seen from Smash in the young season. Broadway seemed to take center stage again, and the plot started moving. Next week, Debra Messing’s “Will and Grace” co-star, Sean Hayes, will be making a guest appearance so that should be interesting.
Author: Mark Runyon
Smash: The Song
Season 2, Episode 4
Original Air Date: February 26, 2013