Monday, March 26, 2012

Live-Blogging 'Smash's' "The Coup"...


- I hate Julia's (Debra Messing) floral headboard the way she said she hated show business. Except she doesn't mean it; she's just frustrated and nervous. I really hate the headboard. And Frank (Brian d'Arcy James). And I really don't need him to sing-- even if it's kind of a joke. Not sexy. Not a Michael Swift (Will Chase) substitute. Not. At. All.

- Leo (Emory Cohen) cares WAY too much about his parents' relationship. He should be cringing at the cute, lovey-dovey bullshit he hears through the wall, not allowing it to make his day.

- Tom (Christian Borle) doesn't need you, Ellis (Jaime Cepero), because you're the WORST. If he wasn't so swamped with writing the musical, he would have seen that. And can you help this girl? You don't live or work there! You have no business "helping" anyone!

- Derek (Jack Davenport) was so anti-working with Tom in the beginning, that I'm actually kind of surprised he wasn't scheming to have a second version of the musical being worked on this whole time. He's clearly been behind the concept, but not the execution-- or executioners. I do find it curious he went to Karen (Katharine McPhee) first, especially after how dynamite Ivy (Megan Hilty) was in the workshop performance. She really owned and embodied Marilyn; Karen still has star quality, but she will have to just start working at this late stage in the game to connect with the material the way Ivy already has. Granted, Ivy would undoubtedly be loyal to Tom, so I'm sure it's a matter of Derek not wanting to raise red flags, but it's only going to make things worse for the "relationship" when Ivy inevitably finds out.

- Ew, Tom, using Ellis to spy on Eileen (Anjelica Huston) for you? If you don't learn, then you bring his awfulness on yourself AND others. And that makes you an accomplice of awful.

- Oh hi Michael and your soft, soft sweater. But seriously, if you can be so cold just because of the firing... You're kind of bi-polar lately. It's one thing to fall so hard for someone you never got to have closure with, but to then turn it off just as quickly? Well, I guess it never was so real after all-- more about the conquest. I want to see the good in you; I want to assume you're just hurt by the professional betrayal and acting out because of it. But you are not making it easy. At all.

- Karen, let him go to dinner with some hotsie totsie reporter. You can do better than dull Dev (Raza Jaffrey).

- Grace Gummer is very talented but all I can hear is "all that money." Like, how much are we talking? Because you could have solved all of your mother's problems by using your father's "gifts" to fund her new musical...

- Oh damn. This show really wants us to believe Karen and Dev are right for each other; they both have big consciences clearly created from their small town childhoods, but such things have no place in a cold, hard, dirty city like New York...let alone show business!

- He may be Ryan Tedder, but that's no excuse for that hair. And clearly he's not that famous anyway if Karen had to remind the audience what band he's in. Oh, I hope we don't have to see too many reaction shots of him "mixing beats" or whatever while she sings.

- Julia, your coddling and constantly sticking up for this kid is part of why he's so insufferable. Yes, you have a mother's instinct to protect, but come on, the kid f-ed up. If he had the gall to smoke pot in his own room in your house, don't you think maybe he was lying about the signage and how close he was to it? And if you keep defending him and bailing him out, he really will eventually escalate to murder. Hopefully of Ellis.

- Seriously, Grace Gummer, just go around your father and share some of your money with your mother. Do you really need three million dollars flat? What do you do with it when you backpack around whatever poverty-stricken country you clearly just came from?

- Derek, did you ever know that you're my hero? I should write an open letter to you next. You want to make Karen better (because she is still green); you tell off Ellis, even if casually.

- YOU GO, TOM!

- I don't know what to make of this bowling "number." They didn't really sing anything, so it felt kind of out of place. And honestly? I like bowling, so I would have been cool to just watch them have a regular conversation in an interesting location. It's Screenwriting 101, but it works on me if the conversation holds my interest. And Ivy's "I love the theater" despite the clear limbo they're all in would have been it.

- Dev's buddy looks like a poor man's James Wolk. Also, Dev working on a 9/11 memorial makes me like him even less. Stop capitalizing on a tragedy!

- Ellis saying he is taking ballet is the most believable thing to ever come out of his mouth. I'm sure he just said it to throw Ivy off the fact that he's a lurker, but still.

- It looks like it just dawned on Ivy that she could be replaced with Karen, but um, isn't that what the whole first half of the season was about? How she worried she couldn't maintain or measure up? How she thought this nobody would come out overnight and steal something she worked so hard for? Are the pills just messing with her memory?

- Close your legs, Ellis; I don't want to see that! Actually, NO ONE wants to see that. And you're disparaging artists? You are absolutely the worst person on the planet. You are working in an industry of artists. Even the producers of theater have creativity running through their veins. If you have disdain for that, why are you there at all? And why are you trying to undermine everyone to get ahead? There is no payday in the world of theater. If you think there is, you're much more naive than I ever realized. How old are you? Because you look 30 but you act 20, and that's not cute. How do you know so little about the world in which you're working? If you want to be "that" kind of producer, you belong here in Hollywood. Except don't come here; we don't want you. We're trying (one unique and different show at a time) to force gross people like you out.

- Dev keeping a not-important secret from Karen is not enough to drive a wedge between them. And I want a wedge driven.

- If Eileen didn't hang out at dive bars, I never would have expected her to ever willingly go to Brooklyn. I'm glad she's not as severe as you might assume from looking at her guarded body language.

- I'm going to ignore Ellis and Ivy snooping by the SUV like in an old Scooby Doo.

- I don't think Derek's assessment is entirely right: I don't think Karen's necessarily afraid of sex; I just think it's not something that comes inherently to her. I think she was one of those kids who hit her growth spurt early and was uncomfortable with her lankiness so she never quite grew into the sensual side even when she started to see herself as beautiful. I think that causes a disconnect when she sings. She focuses more on the movements; they're calculated, rehearsed, not necessarily natural. And yes, I did just analyze a fictional character.

- "Be my Marlon Brando" is jarring but still a better line than "be my black Kate Moss." So kudos, Tedder?

- I love the idea of Smash season two being about dueling Marilyn shows: one focusing on the history and reality and being told through traditional Broadway tunes, and one that has much more of a rock sensibility to appeal to the modern audience. As it is, some of the criticism I've been hearing from fans of the show is that it can go "too Broadway" at times (with its original tracks). That's a ridiculous, Randy Jackson way of thinking, and yet, I get it. If Broadway crooning isn't your thing, the musical wouldn't be for you. And this show would only be half for you.

- Also, Smash season two needs to keep Grace Gummer and let her come on as a producer of the musical. Eileen is a little too personally mixed up in this right now. The history indicates she's a good producer, but she's also friends with these people. Or friends enough. If she wasn't, she never would have bothered to apologize. Daughter being disappointed or not.

- "How did he get here?" Julia Houston, voice of reason. Ellis really is the fruit fly that you could swear you swatted away a dozen times, but he's still there, somehow surviving even though you don't even have any damn fruit in your house. And since he's always conveniently there, of course Eileen will scoop him up and use him to her advantage. Half the people who keep moving up in this business are truly awful, but they have connections, and sometimes, just plain good timing.

- Oh Tedder, you're almost as bad as Ellis. Apologizing and practically groveling just so you don't burn a bridge because you may need a job someday? We're finally getting some of the subtle seedy underbelly.

- This Tom and Derek scene is my favorite thing. More of this, please!

- If Eileen wants to go edgier with Marilyn, then Karen is really not the person to cast. How to make her fit...how to make her fit...I smell understudy!? Maybe she can learn to be edgy over time and by mimicking someone else?

- There are theater workshop blogs? Because I may want to write for one. This show really makes me miss theater. Or at least live performances. And sitcoms are a really shitty substitute. I'm glad Tom was the one to break the news to Ivy, though. This is the time when having a friend in this business really matters for "letting her down gently."

- I'm more glad that Derek was a man and faced Ivy after everything he did with Karen. I like those two, and now that I don't have Julia and Michael to latch onto, they are my second favorite couple.

- Also, I don't mean to sound like a glee fan, but where was all the music tonight!? Stupid Frank gets a few bars of a song, and there's a bowling number that's not really a number, so there's only one real performance plus a sad refrain of "Let Me Be Your Star" that will never end up for sale? I know there is a lot to fit into a 44 minute episode, people, but I need more music! They don't have to be originals; at this stage in the game, they shouldn't be originals. But there are so many songs to be covered to exemplify what's going on in these characters' heads, let alone worlds.


Closing Remarks:
There have been moments within this series that I've felt the comparisons to Marilyn's life and what characters were going through on the show were a bit heavy-handed. But what I think was perfectly captured tonight, and hopefully indicative of the trend to come, was how what was going on with the Marilyn musical was mirroring what was going on with Smash itself. The musical picked a tone and stuck to it, much to the disappointment of some critics. In order to appeal to a broader audience, Derek wanted them to go edgier, darker. And the episode around the musical kind of followed in kind with the fighting and the underhanded nature of the players. Now, I don't particularly think a show should change its tune (or tone) just because it faces some criticism from those who don't like it as is. Far from it actually! Not everyone will like everything. If you don't connect, you don't connect, and do you really want to pander? My feeling is no. But I like the idea of the show diverging down a road of questioning the tone of Marilyn itself-- manipulating which parts of her life they play up and which they conveniently leave out-- in order to craft a tale most interesting, but yes, palatable for the audience. What can I say? I like it when shows go meta. Smash may heighten the drama in many areas, but that struggle is certainly very real in show business. Let's see how it plays out: it won't merely be about Team Ivy or Team Karen anymore; it will be about Team Classic or Team Contemporary. I honestly don't even know what side of the line I'd fall down on.

I will say that this has been my least favorite episode of the series (yes, even less likeable than episode three, which I still don't find that many problems with). Structurally, I feel like they were trying to infuse too many "other than the musical" stories in now that the Marilyn musical as is may be DOA. Personally, I would have preferred the workshop to be the season finale episode, leaving us hanging about everyone's fate. It would have given us more time to explore the building the musical (and introduced us to lots more music-- that actually had a point in the story. And it probably would have minimized Dev's role. You know how I feel about him, and I just don't care about his shady politician and potential reporter mistress. Without the workshop to keep all of these people together, their storylines are bound to diverge, but this episode focused on the ones I care about least while only giving us snippets of the ones I care about most. So that was disappointing. But with such a large cast of characters, there is bound to be an imbalance; the show can't focus on my favorites all the time. Hopefully next week will provide a reprieve.

1 comment:

twee de bourg said...

I don't think Derek's assessment is entirely right: I don't think Karen's necessarily afraid of sex; I just think it's not something that comes inherently to her.

She's stated that she was raised to "look down on" girls like Ivy, who display, flaunt, enjoy their sexuality. I suppose she can still learn to embrace it, but that disdain is pretty ugly for a "big hearted" Iowa girl... Not to say it's bad for the character, just that it needs to be addressed - maybe they will when she and Ivy team up.