Smash, Season 2, Episode 3: “The Dramaturg”
Written by: Bryan Coluboff
Directed by: Larry Shaw
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm (ET) on NBC
Smash, you make it incredibly difficult to love you. You have a whole audience who turns in each week just to hate you, and you neglect your loyal liege who will sing and dance to every musical number. After last week’s dismal ratings and poor reviews, it’s trying not to want to jump off this sinking ship. Going into episode three, it’s only hopeful that the new promised changes would make a noticeable impact; regrettably the result may be a mess that’s worst than the first season.
This episode is aptly titled “The Dramaturg”, because Eileen feels it is necessary that Bombshell get a fresh perspective in the form of a professional dramaturg, Peter Gilman (played by newcomer Daniel Sunjata). This sends Julia in a rage and she takes Peter’s suggestions for a rewrite personally. Albeit the show is for the almighty Broadway stage, but one would think Julia could take a little criticism this far in her career. But it turns out she cannot, and after an infuriating conversation with Peter in which he notes Bombshell lacks heat and steam, Julia writes a new musical number. A musical number that causes a bunch of grown adults to get flustered over the sexual relationship between JFK and Marilyn Monroe. Even though the musical number occurred at a climatic point in the episode, it was such a nuisance of a moment that all the audience could help think about was “Why are Marilyn and JFK doing it in Bing Crosby’s beach house?”
Meanwhile, Jennifer Hudson is back as Tony winning Veronica Moore and she is as stiff as ever. Maybe if they could find a way to have Hudson sing all her lines, the audience could find complete pleasure in her performance. But it seems as though Hudson’s run may be a lengthy one, as Derek uses her to get his directing gig for The Wiz back and Veronica would like his help putting on a one woman show. Which is exactly what Smash needs, another competing show with more characters.
Speaking of competing shows, Jimmy and Kyle (Could casting agents not find two men who did not look exactly the same?) compete for their face time in this episode. Karen agrees to get them to meet Derek for a dinner to discuss the musical they are creating. After a cancellation, Jimmy goes off the rails and disrupts a Bombshell rehearsal to introduce himself to Derek. It seems rash, to be that mad at a famous, presumably busy, musical theatre director. Jimmy maybe should take that time to actually finish the script, or how about copyright the idea before a guy who is a directing a flop of a musical takes off with his million dollar idea.
As a matter of fact, much like Derek ignored his dinner with Jimmy and Kyle, the writers of Smash completely snubbed the spotlight from Jimmy and Kyle’s backstory, a backstory that could have added something exciting and dramatic to the show. More importantly, it would have given the audience an emotional hook, someone to root for. In the last three minutes, we get the best that Smash has offered in a quite a few episodes encapsulated in the plot for Jimmy and Kyle’s show, which involves a broken home and an abusive father. Smash finally gives the audience something to connect with; too bad it was shoved in during the last three minutes like an afterthought.
Oh yeah, and something about Ivy being cast in an adaptation of Dangerous Liaisons. It is refreshing to see something positive happen to Ivy, especially after that awkward scene where she pined for Derek while singing Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own” and Karen doing her interpretive dance thing. It’s funny how the creators of Bombshell keep telling Ivy how good she is at everything, and encourage her to take on lead roles and not give up on her career as a musical theatre actor, but yet they fired her.
Smash has taken an ugly road. After all the press of the new changes to come, the end result is disappointment. The show is flooded with too many new characters and too many new musicals. All those original characters we fell in love with (or loved to hate) have now been downplayed. And most of them have turned into whiny hypocrites. If Smash stays a chaotic mess like this, it might not be around for much longer, no matter how many new characters they get to try and raise them up.
- Millicent Evans