Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The SMASH Reality Index Season 2 Episode 6

Back by popular demand, Dave (@NineDaves) and I have teamed up to bring you our take on what’s keepin’ it real and what’s faking it each week on SMASH. Follow the 'caps here or on Dave's site.

In the previews for next week’s episode of SMASH, we’re told to expect “the moment no one saw coming.” “The moment everyone saw coming” would probably be more accurate, as everything SMASH has done for two seasons now has been entirely predictable. Why, last week, we closed our column laying out the future of SMASH down to the finale. And wouldn’t you know it - in one episode, most of those things have already happened. Tom’s directing Bombshell. Derek’s over on Hit List. And it looks like by next, Karen will be over to Hit List and Ivy will be making her way back to Bombshell. Snooze.

But rather than dwell on the future, we should probably talk a little bit about the present. And that means Episode 6 - “The Fringe.” If you remember, episode 5 left us with a cliffhanger that kept us up every night this week (aka we forgot about it until the first scene). Remember, Eileen had to choose which Bombshell book the show would go with: an older version which Tom and Jerry (he he, Tom and Jerry) loved, and a new version Julia wrote with Peter that she and Derek loved. What did she go with? Julia’s old version! Much to Julia and Derek’s disappointment. And, quite frankly, ours. Though... why are we worrying about this so much? We’re never given the chance to see book scenes. This conflict makes absolutely no impact on the viewing audience because we’re never given the chance to see the material in question. It’s impossible to judge. 

Here’s something we can judge though: Hit List. This week, the show goes up at Fringe and we’re finally given a look at its generic staging. We’re also shown a new song or two - one, “Heart Shaped Wreckage,” that involves a boring duet between Karen and Jimmy that ends in a boring kiss. Look, we’re happy that SMASH is giving exposure to so many young songwriters. But there are like, 20 songwriters writing Jimmy Collins’s music. Joe Iconis, Pasek and Paul, and now four new new writers this week: Julian Emery, Jonathan Green, James Irvin, and Lucie Silvas. Say what you will about Bombshell, but at least there is one composing team (Shaiman and Whitman) writing all the music. Hit List might benefit from some consistency here. 

What else would we like to see? We’ll let you know below.

Totally True
• Julia says the previous book to Bombshell she wrote with Peter is “the best thing I’ve ever written.” That’s probably true. Three on a Match and Heaven on Earth don’t exactly look like they have complex plot points.
• Derek admits he only let Eilleen have the final say on which book they choose because he thought she’d choose his side. Plus 20 ‘cause we’d do the same thing.
• "It's for tourists. It isn't art," Julia says at rehearsal. A show can be both, but this is definitely something New York theater types think.
• “We might have to cut something to make room for this number,” Jerry says. “It’s a lot music.” Plus 30 because we have the Bombshell “cast recording” and there are so many songs in it, we’d guess even Shaiman and Whitman feel the same way.
• A stage manager tells Jimmy Collins and company that there is a performance upstairs and they need to shut the fuck up. Plus 50. Also, a stage manager who isn't Linda? We miss Ann Harada, but yes, there are other stage managers out there.
• “Dude, it’s Broadway,” Ana tells Kyle when he complains about Karen leaving for Bombshell rehearsal. “It doesn’t work like that. There’s millions of dollars at stake. You can’t just take off.” Plus 100 because it’s like Krysta Rodriguez was writing the ‘Reality Index’ for us.
• Ivy lies about Terry Falls in the elevator because obviously she wants Karen to think she's better off not being in Bombshell.
• "Never Give All The Heart" is not the best ballad from Bombshell. We wouldn’t be that sad to see it go. Just don’t take away “They Just Keep Moving The Line.”
• Julia gets pissed that Eileen keeps agreeing with Jerry. For once, we’re on Julia’s side. It’s annoying. GET THAT WOMAN A MARTINI!
• Derek is jealous that they’re moving forward with Hit List without him. Plus 50 because that’s the ego we’re used to seeing in Derek!
• "I have the right to approve any other show while you're in my show. That's in your contract," Jerry tells Karen when he finds out about Hit List. Finally, someone putting her in her place.
• “If you want to go, go,” Jerry tells Karen. “But don’t bother coming back.” “GOOOOO,” the world collectively screams at their televisions.
• Plus 100 for Jeremy Jordan PSAs.
• When Karen bails out on Hit List, they’re forced to find a last minute replacement. “Whoever does the part can hold the music,” Ana claims. “It’s Fringe.” Apparently it’s like Encores! But even at Encores! they barely look at the music anymore.
• Ivy Lynn and Derek have a conversation on the table and chairs outside the Flatiron Building. Plus 100 because unlike Times Square, people actually sit and talk on those.
• “How am I supposed to be good working opposite a lunatic?” Ivy asks Derek. She’s talking about Terrence but we’re pretty sure this is another subtle dig at Theresa Rebeck.
• Peter tells Julia to leave Bombshell and go with him to work on a production in London. Julia claims she can’t go because of Leo. “Bring him,” Peter says. “Leave him there,” says everyone.
• “He’s like the Incredible Hulk,” Ana says to Karen, of Jimmy. “One little thing and he’s ripping through his shirt.” Plus 50 because that’s the best description of Jimmy we’ve heard yet. Plus another 50 because we can’t wait till Jeremy Jordan’s shirt comes off.
• Ellis’s ex-girlfriend says he was a psychopath and also gay, finally figuring out what everyone else picked up on from season 1 episode 1. But we’ve all been in denial about guys we’ve dated, right?
• “Oh hey somebody tweeted about us,” Kyle says. It was probably us.
• People are hate-tweeting about Hit List. Plus 200 because we love when the SMASH writers reference what’s happening to their show in the real world.
• Jimmy complains that there’s no heat in the theater. We’ve been to the summer Fringe and they never have air conditioning in the theater.
• SpotCo shout out! Plus 100!
• Derek is annoyed that Tom is directing Karen. As he should be. He’s the director.
• Derek says that Tom is commandeering his show and it’s like he’s Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean again.
• Derek quits Bombshell, and his goodbye speech is everything we wanted it to be and more: “Julia, I’m sorry. I tried to make the show we wanted. Oh, and Jerry, you truly are what is wrong with American theater. And Eileen, you are smarter, classier, and better than your producing partner, and if I were you, I wouldn’t agree with a single decision he makes from here on. Oh, ladies and gentleman. Tom, oh Tom, we’ve got a long history, haven’t we? And I’m not sorry to say it ends today. You want to direct this show so much, well now’s your chance, because I’m done. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure working with you. Some more than others. I quit.” Plus everything.
• Karen Cartwright goes after Derek.
• We finally get to see Ivy Lynn singing a song from Liaisons (“A Letter From Cecile”) and it’s just as amazing as we expected it to be.
• Seriously. All the awards to Shaiman and Whitman for this “Letter From Cecile” song. Week after week, they knock it out of the park. “I see a nomination in your future,” a reporter tells Ivy. We’d probably say the same thing if we were sitting there.
• Julia and Tom eat when they’re depressed. “Stars” - they’re just like us!
• Plus 100 for bringing up Rebecca Duvall. Any chance we can shit on Uma Thurman, we’re happy.
• “Can you come to Chinatown?” Tom asks Eileen. Sure she can Tom! Eileen loves downtown!
• Hit List looks like a show that fan girls everywhere are going to love the shit out of. Mostly because it stars a hot boy.
• The cast of Liaisons finally tell Terrance the truth, and they all agree to make changes to the show before tech. “I’ve never been so embarrassed by my work before,” says Veanne Cox’s character. “And I was in Urban Cowboy.” Plus 500, even though Veanne Cox wasn’t.
• We love that Jesse L. Martin is playing the Artistic Director of a fake organization based on New York Theater Workshop, where he starred in Rent. It’s such a full circle moment.
• Tom does the choreography for Bombshell around his apartment when he thinks no one is watching. We’ve been there.
• Just because she wasn’t in this week’s episode, doesn’t mean we still can’t have our favorite feature, THE ANN HARADA LINE OF THE WEEK! “Hey bitches, I’m slaying in Cinderella right now. Come see me on Broadway.” CONGRATULATIONS ANN! )

Oh Hell No! 
• The Hit List gang signed up for this “Winter Fringe Festival” with only two weeks to go. The “Winter Fringe Festival” may be fake, but we highly doubt they’d let a show in that close to performances. 
• "It's the Fringe. You get two days and a shoebox," Ana says. “Sometimes it’s a disaster, sometimes you break out.“ Having seen many Fringe shows, the ‘two days and a shoebox’ thing is definitely right on. But name one show besides Urinetown that’d you consider a “break out?” Yeah... 
• The Hit List gang sing a new song called “This Will Be Our Year” while they clean the theater. Minus 30 for it not being “All Over the World” from Xanadu
• Kyle complains that Karen has to go to Bombshell rehearsal. We get that he cares about Hit List, but kid - be a little gracious here. 
• Karen tells Derek that they don’t have a director for Hit List. They’re just “throwing up” the first act. Even Fringe shows have directors. 
• Okay, now they’re using the Flatiron Building ELEVATOR BANK as the fucking rehearsal building!?!? Plus 10 for staying consistent with their other choices, we guess, but Minus 20 because THOSE ARE PUBLISHING OFFICES. 
• “Ever since I went off my meds I feel amazing,” Terrence tells Ivy. “I got certified in archery, I learned French, I got arrested!” Minus 100 because a huge celebrity going off his meds and getting arrested would be a bigger deal. 
• Jerry says that there are too many ballads in Bombshell. You can never have too many ballads! Right, Ragtime fans? 
• The Winter Fringe Festival is on the cover of Time Out New York. Again, no such thing as the Winter Fringe. And the only time theater gets front page coverage on Time Out New York is when Broadway stars are photographed in “winter bars.” 
• Jerry claims that “Bombshell’s entire marketing campaign is centered around introducing Karen Cartwright.” Minus everything because that’s the worst campaign ever. 
• Derek complains that he and Karen are both “stuck” at Bombshell. Like, two weeks ago weren’t you both complaining about the show not going to Broadway? Jeeze... 
• “Your career is more important than your friends,” Jimmy tells Karen. Like, two episodes ago he was ignoring her and now they’re friends? 
• Jimmy is throwing another temper tantrum because Karen can’t do his show and it’s getting old. 
• Peter is flying to London to work on a show at the Royal Court and asks Julia to come with him. Isn’t that a little highbrow for Julia? 
• Minus 10 for not telling us who starred in Jerry’s She Loves Me revival and minus another 10 because it’s been too long since She Loves Me has been on Broadway and isn’t it time someone revived it for real?
• “That song is too intellectual,” Jerry complains, referring to “Never Give All The Heart.” “I like songs that make me feel something.” Who is he? Clearly this is why Jerry produces She Loves Me and not Sondheim. I mean, who is he? Jerry Herman? 
• Tom refers to “Never Give All The Heart” as “the emotional core of the show.” We would have picked “Second Hand White Baby Grand.” 
• Jeremy Jordan gets pissed off at the bad reviews of Hit List, and storms out of the room, claiming he won’t do the next show. The “Hulk” Ana referred to earlier is here and apparently he’s only rolling a joint and going to get high. Meh. 
• Julia wants to go to London because she’s not getting her way, and Tom is forced to sit and explain to her the definition of collaboration. Minus 50 because is this a rerun?
• “It’s not like we’ve got the problems Wicked had and look what happened,” Tom tells Julia. “Nine years later it’s still one of the highest grossing shows on Broadway.” We’re not sure if Wicked’s problems can be compared with Bombshell’s, and besides, most troubled shows do not have those kinds of grosses. 
• The rehearsal press preview for Liaisons seems a little soon for us. But even if it weren’t, they for sure wouldn’t be rehearsing in full costume here.
• Instead of rewriting “Never Give All The Heart,” Tom re-stages it and makes Karen sing the song to the men in her life. No longer a cautionary tale, the song becomes an explanation as to why Karen holds herself back from all her men. He claims he got the idea from Julia’s version of the book. Okay, first of all, minus 200 because this is a terrible restaging of what was a great number. And OF COURSE Julia is too stupid to see that and agrees with Tom. 
• “How many Best Director Tonys have you got?” Derek asks Tom. How many do you have, Derek? We’re super curious! 
• Karen not only leaves rehearsal to run after Derek, but then gets in a cab to presumably go to the Fringe rehearsal. Girl, you have to at least tell Linda the stage manager where you’re going. 
• Minus 1,000 for that Time Out New York ad at the subway station. Because no way could they afford that. We know because we’ve never paid for a subscription to Time Out New York, but we still get it every week. Even Linda’s parents in California have a free subscription.  

• Jealous that the critics like Ivy Lynn, Terrence cuts Ivy’s song. “I’m the lead of the show,” he tells her. “So If I’m not the funniest in the show, they’ll be disappointed. It’s just one of the great burdens of being a celebrity. I have to be the best all the time. You can be funny, just not as funny.” Minus 100 because once again, SMASH paints celebrities like they’re all bumbling egomaniacal idiots. Minus another 100 because even if Terry felt that way, he would never say that out loud in a room full of critics. And minus another 100 because Megan Mullally probably wanted to say that on the set of Will & Grace each week and never did. 
• And are they really going to have Sean Hayes on this show and not have him interact at all with Debra Messing? Minus your life. 
• “The only place I wanted to be... the only person I wanted to be with was you,” Karen tells Jimmy, as if she is the star of a romantic comedy. Gag.
• Ivy tells Terry that he’s terrible in the show. In turn, he gives her back her song and praises her for her honesty. “You reach a certain level of fame and everyone just says yes all the time and no one tells you the truth,” he marvels. Um... didn’t Ivy tell you the truth last week? And then you went off your meds and acted like a bigger jerk? 
• And why does this Terry have total creative control over the show again? That shit would never go down. 
• Tom is excited about the fact that Derek has left Bombshell. “Think about all the problems we have,” he says. “It all goes back to him.” Apparently Tom is forgetting about Julia’s awful book that we just spent five episodes trying to fix. 
• Derek goes to the Hit List Fringe performance and is so inspired by what he’s hearing, he starts envisioning what the number would look like staged on a big Broadway stage. To the surprise of no one, Derek’s Hit List looks awful. Karen has a bad wig on and an ugly flowy gown with a wind machine, and is singing in front of a Pepsi-Cola billboard. It’s like a bad '90s soda commercial starring Celine Dion. What is even happening in this scene? 
• Question: was this Hit List scene supposed to take place in front of a Pepsi-Cola billboard? Or were they just too lazy to paint the backdrop? 
• Karen Cartwright with bangs. Minus 100. 
• Wasn’t Hit List supposed to be sold out? The theater is half empty. Which is typical for any Fringe performance, but still. And why is everyone standing in the back? There are plenty of empty seats, guys! 
• Terry is standing in front of the Liaisons cast asking for their opinions on the night before tech. Shouldn’t they be getting notes from the director or something? 
• Jesse L. Martin’s character says he works for the Manhattan Theatre Workshop. Did you mean New York Theatre Workshop? 
• There are way more people hanging out in the lobby of Hit List than were at the actual show. And it’s not just the cast. 
• Also, Jesse L. Martin’s character was not in the audience at Hit List. We paused that shit and boy was nowhere to be found. 
• Eileen finally learns how Jerry got control of Bombshell and in the least shocking twist of all time, makes Tom the director. How, again, does she do that when she’s not the producer anymore?

Miss anything? Let's break this shit down in the comments.

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