Last night Smash tried to turn up the heat, promising that things were coming to a head, but instead the episode was tepid at best.
Here are this week’s Smash Notes:
The Arc of the Scarf: The plot line for scarves did come to a head last night when Julia used one as a snot rag to blow into when she was overcome with guilt and despair over her affair with Michael. Apparently, it was easy to sleep with him until she saw his wife and child and then, all at once, she realized she was a Bad Person and felt the need to run outside and cry into a silk scarf. Then she had to go home.
When was the last time Julia put in a full day of work instead of taking off somewhere with her satchel? She’s constantly running to the studio, running home, running out for pie, running out for a midnight walk…
Through all of this, Faithful But Clueless Hubby has been studying chemistry. I’m starting to wonder if it’s a chemistry textbook with a copy of Hustler tucked inside.
Meanwhile, in a show of scarf support, Tom showed up to the workshop performance with one around his neck. Purple, ‘natch, because he’s a gay man who is supposedly secure in his gayness. Which leads me to…
Relationships, Gay & Otherwise: Have the writers of this show ever, uh, been attracted to anyone? The lack of chemistry between every pairing on this show defies the odds. Tom and his new lover… they have all the passion of Bert & Ernie (friends? lovers? roomies? Who can tell?). Tom’s boyfriend might be a bit boring, but he’s good-looking, kind and well-employed. So why does he keep tolerating Tom’s dramatics and cell phone usage?
The second time someone stopped our dinner conversation with the line, “Sorry, I have to take this,” I would pay for my part of the meal and leave. But this mysterious boyfriend stays.
Yet Tom is constantly walking away, taking calls, yammering, rushing to the piano to plunk out a tune… It’s as if NBC is trying to embrace gayness without actually touching it… it’s a gay air kiss.
The same passion problem holds true for Julia and Michael. We’ve seen them make-out but they’ve never had a single interesting exchange that shows personality and spark – the very essence of what they find so intriguing about each other. Their encounters go like this:
Michael: I need you now.
Julia: I’m married. My son. My husband. This is bad.
Michael: I will not be denied.
Julia: I’m so conflicted.
Then he throws a paper cup in the trash and stalks away or they make out like fiends. Repeat entire scenario three scenes later.
Ivy, The Madness of Marilyn: It’s clear that Ivy is our tragic figure. The ambitious blond with talent but low self-esteem. Mommy issues. Love issues. Pills issues (last night we got a sleeping pill teaser). She’s not going to make it to Broadway and this story has great potential if they would only… speed… things… up. We get what’s happening. Give it to us. Let Karen take over. Let Ivy descend into madness.
It’s the tragic case of the audience knowing more than the characters but not in a good way. Viewers can only take so many guest appearances by people like Bernadette Peters singing “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” before we wander off.
I mean, not me. I’m in it for the long haul. But if NBC is wondering why their audience left, it’s because, if we can’t have great writing and real character development, then we want action. Right now, we’re not getting any younger. Tom can have his relationship problems, the director can brood and look like he wants to stab everyone and the Evil Intern can talk out of school, but if the main thrust of the story is on hold, we’re bored.
Reaction Shots: Keith said last night, “I’m afraid they’re going to run out of reaction shots,” meaning, how many times can we watch the cast perform and watch the writers/producer/director react to their performance?
Eileen reaction shot: one raised eyebrow
Derek reaction shot: scowl that conveys hatred
Tom reaction shot: dopey smile
Julia reaction shot: bunched-up mouth, eyebrows drawn slightly together, eyes narrowed
The Workshop: I didn’t think it went so badly. Did you?
Best Line: It’s a tie this week between Tom saying, “‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses?’ Don’t be ridiculous, I know it!” as he rushed to the piano and Eileen saying they were going to put on a hell of a show because, “Marilyn deserves it.”
Sunglasses, Indoors: Julia was wearing her sunglasses to the meeting the day after the big workshop performance. I actually admire this and the fact that no attempt was made to explain it. No one said, “Julia, why are you wearing your sunglasses indoors? Is it too bright in here?” The sunglasses were a signifier of upsetness, I guess. Or fatigue. Possibly migraine.
Remember, one can say so much through their accessories!