Wow… “Smash” is actually kind of getting good. You know why? There are fewer side stories – no unnecessary family stuff, no bad flings or relationships that are ultimately forgettable, etc. The twists and turns feel real and unexpected, at least personally speaking. The show is more focused now on all the problems that the musical “Bombshell” can face – and surprisingly there are still a lot of problems!
Jerry, Eileen’s producer ex, is now working on “Bombshell” which not only aggravates Eileen, but it aggravates the rest of the creative team. Because of that financial scandal, the show can go on, but Eileen can not be part of it (she still hangs around rehearsals and stays involved but cannot be called a ‘producer.’) In comes Jerry to take her place – BUT he didn’t get this gig on his own… At the end of Episode 4, we find out he’s on the phone with ELLIS! That little ‘bisexual’ shit works for Jerry, and helped him kick Eileen out so Jerry can get in and change the show!
Because Eileen had hired Peter, a well-known and successful dramaturg, to help Julia re-write “Bombshell,” the musical is now has a different theme. Derek loves this version of the musical, but Jerry says this is actually too good for Broadway. He wants to make money, not art, and the crowds go to see big, fun, easy shows – for example, more big airplanes on stage during funny musical numbers, and less sad, lonely songs. He wants to go back to Julia’s workshop draft that Tom likes, as well. Since the group is split: Julia and Derek like the new version while Tom and Jerry (ha!) like the old version, Derek suggests they bring in Eileen to be the tie-breaker. In a clever and fun way to end an episode, Eileen is just about to make a decision when Episode 5 ends.
Jennifer Hudson is no longer around… seriously, all that promotion for just a three-episode arc?? I honestly don’t even remember what her last scene was… in Episode 4 we saw her and her overbearing mother (played by Sheryl Lee Ralph, one of the most overbearing, and un-famous, people around – trust me) fight a lot about Jennifer’s character Veronica’s public image. It actually reminded me of “Sister Act 2,” when young Lauryn Hill was constantly fighting with her overbearing mom (hey! played by Sheryl Lee Ralph!). Veronica and the gang put together a sold-out concert for Veronica to shed her good girl image, and she sang a great song written by Jimmy and Kyle, thanks to Karen recommending their music.
So, out with Jennifer and in with a new celebrity guest star. Here comes Sean Hayes as a Jim Carrey-esque Hollywood movie star named Terry Falls, who is doing “Dangerous Liaisons” on Broadway. How is this relevant? Because Ivy is doing the same show, playing Cecile (one of the leads) and this is very exciting for her, since she’s no longer involved with “Bombshell.” So this is the show’s current “C” story line. BUT, when Terry finally starts showing up to rehearsals, Ivy and the cast and crew realize that Terry sucks! Since comedy comes naturally to him, and because if it weren’t for him this show wouldn’t be happening right now, Terry wants to make “Dangerous Liaisons” light-hearted – a spoof basically – which upsets Ivy. He starts sucking even more when he decides to go off his meds and cut Ivy’s big song because she’s too good and makes him look bad. In a bold move, she actually tells him that he sucks, which takes him a second to understand. Instead of being a diva and firing her, he actually praises her, saying that she’s the only one who’s told him the truth in a long time. This pushes Terry to ask the whole cast and crew what they think of the show… and with some nudging from Ivy, each of them comes out to say just how horrible they think he and the show are. Unlike Uma Thurman’s movie star character Rebecca Duvall, Terry can handle it, and wants to perfect the show and himself with all this criticism.
Over in the show’s “B” storyline, Jimmy and Kyle’s musical-in-the-works “Hit List” wasn’t doing all that great when they had Karen and friends over to do a read-through. Jimmy’s music was good, but Kyle’s dialogue was not the best. Even worse, Jimmy pissed off Karen’s sassy theater friends (they’re still on this show?) so that made things awkward again between Karen and Jimmy. But, life has to go on, and “Hit List” has a performance at the Fringe. Jimmy, in happier spirits, sings a nice cover of OK GO’s “This Will Be Our Year” as he and his friends set up the stage. My favorite part: the stage manager comes in after they’re done singing and asks them to shut up because there’s another performance going on upstairs.
Jerry of course needs to screw up “Hit List” like he’s screwing up “Bombshell” and gets pissed off when his assistant (hi Nikki Blonsky from “Hairspray!”) shows him the newest issue of Time Out magazine. In it is a picture of Karen that’s promoting “Hit List” at the Fringe. Jerry angrily tells her that “Bombshell” is supposed to introduce her to the world – even though he’s not even sure if she’s good enough for the show he wants to produce – and that she needs to choose which show she wants to do. She of course has to stick with “Bombshell,” which pisses Jimmy off when she cancels six hours before “Hit List” is supposed to begin! Dammit, Jerry!
At the Fringe, Karen bumps into Ellis’ ex girlfriend (remember her from that one episode last season?) and she tells Karen that Ellis got a job working with Jerry on “Bombshell.” Karen, shocked, goes to talk to Eileen about this the next day at rehearsal but keeps getting ignored because of bigger problems. Karen performs Tom’s retooled version of Julia’s sad song that Jerry and Eileen, surprisingly, hate. Everyone loves it now… except directing diva Derek! Tension escalates in the room between Derek and Tom, building up so much that Jerry puts Derek in his place, and Derek quits “Bombshell!” When Karen and Eileen run after Derek outside and Derek basically flips them off, Karen finally tells Eileen about the Ellis news. Come on Eileen, kick Jerry’s ass!
Back at the Fringe, Karen (who seems to be everywhere at once – how is she not huffing and puffing all the time?) shows up to stop Jimmy from quitting his own show. After some reassuring and ego-petting, Karen gets Jimmy to stay, and decides to be in tonight’s performance of “Hit List,” since “Bombshell” now might be totally ruined (again.) When Derek shows up to watch and support “Hit List,” since he’s been keeping an eye on it these past few weeks, he envisions a “Moulin Rouge”-esque version of Karen and Jimmy’s romantic number, picturing it taking place on the roof of a NYC building, complete with extensions and a flowing dress for Karen. When the crowd applauds, “Hit List” feels complete again.
Enter Jesse L. Martin, from “Law and Order” and “Rent” fame, as Scott Nichols from Manhattan Theater Workshop. He likes “Hit List” and Jimmy and Kyle and Karen and Derek, who chimes in to say that he’ll be directing “Hit List.” Whoa, perfect timing! Scott takes them all out for drinks to discuss the show… making “Hit List” in the lead and “Bombshell” lagging behind, for those of you keeping score.
Tom and Julia go to their favorite dingy Chinese restaurant to figure out what’s going on in their lives. Eileen comes to meet them to fill them in how shitty Jerry and Ellis are. Jerry was paying Ellis for information about Nick (Eileen’s boyfriend, who is now sadly in prison for that whole illegal money thing) so that he could shut down “Bombshell” and take it over himself. Gasps echo around the table. Eileen decides that now that Derek is out (which makes Tom very happy), she wants Tom to direct “Bombshell,” which oddly surprises Tom and Julia (even though he did a great job directing Karen in the rehearsal earlier, duh!). Tom happily accepts the job and they cheers. “Bombshell” now seems to be tied with “Hit List” in their equally exciting situations.
CUT TO: the promo for next week’s episode, which shows Tom doing a bad job directing and Jerry considering hiring Derek back, which would put “Hit List” in limbo again without Derek. Oh the drama!!! But let’s just hope this show doesn’t become what “Glee” used to be like in that each episode goes to such extremes so quickly that storylines never last that long…..