SMASH – Season 2 Premiere

“On Broadway / The Fallout” (aired 2/5/13)

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 The DRAMA is back, betches!  The Golden Globe nominated (ha) “Smash” returned on Tuesday night with a 2 hour premiere (basically 2 episodes smushed together to make one long one)… and if you’re like me, you set the DVR and watched it because half the show is unintentionally hilarious and the other half is just fun to watch.  Some things have changed, for better or worse, and some things haven’t, for better or worse.

Right off the bat, we see that things haven’t changed between Karen (Katharine McPhee) and Ivy (Megan Hilty) since the end of season 1.  I forgot that Ivy had slept with Karen’s fiancee Dev – maybe because he was so boring? – so Karen is seriously giving Ivy the cold shoulder… even making her take separate elevators when they’re heading up to the rehearsal studio for a cast and crew meeting.  Ouch.  Eileen (Anjelica Huston) is having a “coming out party” for their musical BOMBSHELL, and lets Karen pick the three back-up singers she wants to perform a number with her.  Karen does not pick Ivy.  These girls are definitely not friends, and no, they don’t become friends again by the end of this episode.

Cut to: the Opening Credits!  They’ve changed… they’re flashier, louder, and include faces this time!  But why is Debra Messing’s name and face FIRST?  She is so not the lead of this show… she’s still on this show??? Shouldn’t it be Katharine McPhee’s? Is it just because Debra was on NBC’s “Will & Grace” for years?  UGH let’s all hate Debra more!

Another issue I have – why do these characters actually sit on those red chairs in Times Square?  That’s not a thing… I’ve sat on those chairs once to like send an urgent work email, or to enjoy a Chopt salad amidst the bums on the nearby seats.   Do friends actually meet there and hang out?  There’s a scene with Ivy and Sam complaining about their lives and another with Karen and waiter/bartender Kyle when they talk about Kyle and Jimmy’s musical in progress.  Maybe it’s a theater thing?

Eileen’s ex Jerry just won’t leave her alone.  Luckily, it seems like he’ll be more of a villain this season… which is better than Eileen’s former conniving assistant Ellis, that’s for sure!  Jerry is up to something, as he texts some unknown character that it’s time for “the plan,” which gets Eileen, and the BOMBSHELL production, in trouble with the government, since she took cash from her bartender boyfriend and his friends to fund the show.

In comes Jennifer Hudson, playing two-time Tony award winner Veronica Moore, the sassiest gal on the show.  She’s not great (duh) and I’m not sure what role she’ll play in the plot this season, but I guess you could say she’s a breath of fresh air.  She gives Karen the advice she needs in order to become a *star*.  I didn’t realize until watching this episode that she and Katharine are both former American Idol contestants… so when they sang a song together at the BOMBSHELL party scene, you know Simon Cowell was sitting in his mansion with his arms folded nodding his head saying, “You’re welcome.”

The slimey British director Derek (Jack Davenport) needs to seriously stop being a womanizer.  It’s not only a cliche (Black Swan anyone?) but it’s getting him in trouble!  He’s back and forth with Karen and Ivy… his agent tells him that 5 actresses/dancers are claiming he sexually harrassed them… he’s apparently BFFS with Veronica Moore, so you KNOW they did something in the past… enough is enough!  He of course has a random drunken hallucination at the bar when he tries to hit on a woman, gets punched by her boyfriend, and then sees a pair of hot pink heels strutting by.  Those heels belong to Karen, Ivy, and a bunch of other hot babes in slim black dancing attire.  It’s a great musical scene, as the girls sing and dance to “Would I Lie To You” and throw him around in the process.  It’s shot very well, and is one of the few moments in the premiere that looks interesting (a lot of the musical moments on this show are just shot in a kind of bland, typical way), but – it really comes out of nowhere, and sort of copies the whole dream/musical sequences that made the “Chicago” movie such a hit.  It was definitely a fun moment in the episode, but it kinda made me think of that very random Bollywood number from last season… well choreographed and shot, but HUH?

Smash - Season 2

So, Debra Messing is still unfortunately on the show… but so is her husband?  Wasn’t he one of the guys that got axed at the end of last season?  Well, Tom (Christian Borle) and Sam see the husband on the street being flirty with another woman, even though he and Julia (Debra Messing) are trying very hard to make their marriage work after her adultery.  Tom tells the very sensitive Julia this news, and she brings it up to her husband at the BOMBSHELL party, and he angrily makes a scene in front of everyone.  No one seems to care though, because no one likes Julia and everyone just thinks it’s part of the BOMBSHELL plot.  So, Julia cries a lot and Tom is a really good friend, and lets her stay at his apartment for a week or so, so she can lay around and be mopey.  The bad reviews of BOMBSHELL’s run in Boston aren’t helping her depression, but she doesn’t really do anything to get herself back on top.  In comes Tom, again, to help her out.

Eileen, the only really interesting regular on this show, uses Jerry’s table at the American Theatre Wing gala to try to save BOMBSHELL’s image amidst the legal/financial scandal.  She wants Derek, Tom, and Julia (her creative team) to go with her, even though they’re not technically invited… but Derek is drunk and trying to hit on women, and Julia is just too sad and can’t get out of her pajamas to be a team player.  Tom bumps into Harvey Fierstein, just an old friend, on the street, and Harvey tells Tom all the bad gossip he’s been hearing about the show and about Julia.  Tom gets stuck in a lie and says that he and the team will definitely be at the gala tonight, and that he and Julia are even doing a speech!  Oh Tom!  Julia hears this through the theater gossip grapevine and is ecstatic, and Tom doesn’t have the heart to tell her the truth, so he lies more about how the American Theatre Wing gala really wants her there.  Oh Tom!  We can’t handle more of Julia’s annoying tears that are bound to come!

Meanwhile, in more interesting scenes, Karen is at the bar and meets snotty waiter Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan) and his friend/coworker Kyle.  I’m actually the waiter/bartender in the background, but I’m out of focus, so we can move on.  As she’s getting ready to leave because the place is closed, she hears Jimmy’s awesome singing… and finds out from Kyle that the two of them are working on a musical.  Not lying- the song is good!  I know it, you know it, Karen knows it… and Karen, thinking of her career now that BOMBSHELL might really be over, sees this as a potential project she can work on.  Kyle is all for Karen, and possibly Derek, to look at their work, but bratty Jimmy doesn’t want anyone’s help wah-wah!  Side note: why does Jimmy get to wear the short sleeve uniform shirt, while Kyle, me, and the others where the long sleeve ones?  Not realistic, sorry.

Kyle invites Karen, her new roommate, and her theater friends to a party at his and Jimmy’s apartment in… dun dun dun… Greenpoint!  Karen’s roommate has a great line after Karen points out Jimmy to her: “I’ll admit that’s what getting on the G train’s for.”  G train, oy.  Karen sings one of the songs from the guys’ musical to Jimmy, and all the Brooklyn hipsters hilariously stop what they’re doing to watch her, showing very little emotion or approval.  Jimmy is pissed that Kyle gave her the music and says that he “writes for himself.”  Karen and her friends, including Kyle, peace out.  It’s inevitable that Karen and Jimmy will become attracted to one another, and that will cause drama with Derek who has a thing for Karen, and therefore include Ivy, who has a thing for Derek sort of.

Speaking of Ivy, she and Sam bump into an old theater friend/frenemy in a funny scene.  The girl sounds like an airhead when she looks up from her Blackberry, but she is actually happy now that she’s out of the theater world.  She “does stationary” now and is super successful, showing them a picture of her guest house.  She said life is so much better without all that rejection, rejection, rejection… which makes Ivy and Sam wonder if they could possibly be happier doing something else with their lives?

At the American Theatre Wing gala, Julia makes an ass of herself right away.  She thanks Miriam, the head of the organization (played by the awesome Margo Martindale), for having her do this speech tonight, but Miriam says she has no idea what she’s talking about, and that she didn’t even invite her.  Uh oh, Tom’s caught in his lie!  He apologizes but the two are basically the new Will & Grace, so they’re friends again within 10 seconds.  Miriam urges Eileen to leave the event, but Eileen lets her balls hang out and decides to put on a BOMBSHELL performance tonight that no one will forget.  Tom tries calling Karen but her phone goes right to voicemail (no service in Greenpoint I guess!), so he then tries Ivy, who is currently hanging out with a very drunk Derek on her stoop.  Ivy’s available to come sing for them, so she and Derek run to the event, and Julia takes the stage to introduce Ivy, while also buttering up Miriam so that security doesn’t escort her out.  In real life, security would have pounced on Julia, Ivy and the others the minute they set foot on the stage, but this is TV, and I have to say, it’s a good way to add more tension to the the Ivy vs. Karen storyline.

Smash - Season 2

Ivy kills it, everyone applauds, and the BOMBSHELL team vacates the theater.  Miraculously, the wife of someone’s lawyer was at the event, and because she loved the performance or something, Eileen is able to resume work on the show as long as it’s not for profit.  She tells Jerry this, and Jerry asks how she’s going to pay people to work for her then?  He offers money to help her pay people… since he’s hell bent on helping her… and she actually accepts.  She says she’ll have her lawyer draw up a contract for him, keeping it strictly business.  Jerry, you better not hurt Eileen again!

After Jimmy is scolded by Kyle (will these two just kiss already?), and Kyle calls him a “selfish prick” (oh yeah baby!), Jimmy goes to Karen’s apartment and lets her listen to more of his music.  Karen then takes this to Derek’s apartment so he can give it a listen, but Ivy doesn’t know that Karen is there.  She has a friendly moment with Derek (not sure if feelings are still involved here from both parties) and gives him hangover advice, but then is thrown off to see Karen there.  Karen acknowledges that Ivy sang at the gala the previous night… “I was in the subway when they called me,” she says.  Seems like that apology Ivy gave to Karen earlier in the episode didn’t really work for Karen.  Ivy leaves, even though she wishes she could stay and be a part of this secret new musical meeting.  As she gets into the elevator, she overhears Karen ask “What was that about?” and Derek answer “It’s (read: Ivy’s) not important.”  The elevator doors close.  BURN BABY BURN!

I had fun watching it.  Some things are outlandish of course, but the struggle of getting a show going is interesting to watch.  Ratings were low though… lower than experts predicted.  But, a glimmer of hope for this season: Tom says to Julia, “It’s time to retire the scarves.”  GREAT IDEA, TOM!

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