Following the week long hiatus courtesy of President Obama’s “State of the Union” address, “Smash” returns and is ready to continue fleshing out season two in earnest. “Smash” saw its double episode season opener take a brutal beating, down seven million viewers from the series debut last year. Needless to say, its past time to bring the heat. Heat and sex appeal were the fiery themes of the day supporting the latest episode ‘The Dramaturg.’
So as most are by now aware, Julia’s (Debra Messing) book for Bombshell was… well a colossal bomb to put it nicely. The critics widely panned it, and Eileen (Anjelica Huston) takes the bull by the horns, bringing in script doctor, Peter (Daniel Sunjata). Julia is flabbergasted at the idea of someone coming in and raping her carefully chosen words. Her collective protests fall on deaf ears as Eileen issues the edict that she and Tom are to meet with Peter.
Karen (Katherine McPhee) is still nursing the talents of Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan) and Kyle (Andy Mientus), cheerleading the two to Derek. Derek (Jack Davenport) sees the potential trapped in the duo, but doesn’t have time to baby a production that could take three to four years to reach the stage. Karen badgers and paws at Derek until he agrees to meet with the budding, young playwrights.
Ivy’s (Megan Hilty) Bombshell wounds seem to be on the mend as we find her auditioning for another Broadway musical, Liaisons. She is wrapping up her audition for a supporting cast member when she asks the director if she can read for Cecile. After some reluctance, he agrees to give her a shot.
Jennifer Hudson is back as Veronica Moore and is paling around with Derek. He’s looking at the costume choices for Dorothy in the The Wiz, writing the whole lot off as horrible. Veronica likes his ideas and suggests he repetition the producers to get his director gig back on The Wiz. I mean those sex scandals were so last week. Although auditioning is normally beneath him, Derek agrees to host the producer the following day at Bombshell rehearsals.
Back to the meat of our story. Julia sees Peter’s ‘notes’ for Bombshell and finds out he intends to take a wrecking ball to her baby. Incensed, Julia gets all huffy with Eileen who promptly reminds her who the boss is. An inch away from canning Julia, Eileen tells her Peter was sealed away in the audience in Boston during previews and pitched the idea of massive script revisions before the crew ever set foot back in the Big Apple.
Julia storms into a dinner with Peter and friends, calling him out for the string of half truths he fed her. He admits the only good thing about Bombshell is its namesake, Marilyn Monroe. He accuses Julia of focusing on Joe DiMaggio because of her crush on Michael. He goes on to say Marilyn was neutered and painfully domesticated by Julia’s words. There was no heat and sex appeal that made Marilyn pop. Julia decides she’ll show him sexy. These two want to rip each other’s throats out so bad that there is no way they don’t end up comparing notes between the sheets and soon.
Ivy stops by rehearsal to discuss something with Derek and finds herself asked to critique Karen’s scene. This just brings back her flood of insecurities and her Karen inferiority complex. Tom (Christian Borle) meets up with Ivy back at her apartment, helping her read for the Liaisons part. He props up Ivy’s frail ego and restores her confidence to levels not seen since she was cooing as Marilyn. Ivy thanks Tom and comments what a great director he would make. Planting a seed, perhaps? I can just see Tom and Derek going ten rounds over Broadway’s elite jobs.
Tom and Julia pull an all-nighter, assembling a steamy sexy scene where Marilyn Monroe first meets Jack Kennedy. They had Derek put it in production first thing which pretty much burns any hope he had of weaseling his way back into the family friendly The Wiz. Julia thinks she nailed the rewrite which should translate to Peter being shown the door. Peter says he was the spark that fired off her wave of creativity. He goes on to say the scene was fundamentally flawed since Julia made Marilyn the prey and not the predator. Interesting take.
After getting his face smashed in retrieving lost scene notes, Jimmy shows up at the Bombshell rehearsal unannounced. Derek promptly flushes him from the room which only causes Jimmy to retreat back into his protective shell. Derek and Karen show up on Jimmy and Kyle’s doorstep after rehearsals. Jimmy lays out the musical for Derek, and Derek is noticeably impressed.
‘The Dramaturg’ (another name for the script rewriter) was a good episode, yet its hard not to feel “Smash” grasping for its identity at this point. Bombshell is in limbo. This new production of Jimmy and Kyle’s is eons away from the stage. Now we have this new starring turn for Ivy in Liaisons. Are the “Smash” writers splintering our attention to the point where it will be hard to find these threads compelling? “Smash” still has that compelling feel that made it a show to watch in season one, but it needs to find its track in the face of dire ratings.
Author: Mark Runyon