Sunday, May 12, 2013

The SMASH Reality Index: Season 2 Episode 15


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.

First thing’s first. As you probably know by now, word came in late Friday night that NBC has indeed cancelled SMASH. This isn’t a surprise to anyone, but it’s still sad. Mostly because we will never fulfill our dream of playing ourselves on an episode.

The show’s death actually ties in with the theme death on SMASH lately. You have Kyle’s death, obviously. Then, Julia and Tom’s partnership died. Then, our hearts died when we found out in this Buzzfeed article that Jesse L. Martin and Daphne Rubin-Vega signed off on the idea of using Jonathan Larson’s story as an inspiration for Kyle’s story. Because the thing is, they weren’t just inspired by him, they took his life story. And they should know better! But that said, it’s hard to stay mad at SMASH, especially so close to the end, and when they have cameos by Lindsay Mendez and Lin-Manuel Miranda in one episode.

OK guys. We have three episodes left (including this one), and we’re going to make them count. Let’s do this thing!

Totally True
• Oh hey Hit List is at the Barrymore!
• The signs outside the theater say previews for Hit List start April 13. Just in time for the Tony cutoff!
• Ana doesn't plan on missing performances. No one plans to miss performances, right Karen Olivo?
• OMG LINDSAY MENDEZ! SINGING HER FACE OFF! PLUS 100!
• "Good lord. I hope that thing's insured," says Tom after Lindsay sings. Plus another 50.
• "I think I'll be the only one at Houston/Levitt night who hasn't won a Tony," says Lindsay. (Not yet, but you'll get there, girl!). "Except Houston and Levitt," answers Tom. (You too, Tom! But not for directing!)
• Eileen tells Lindsay Mendez that “Houston/Levitt” night isn’t about the Tonys. “It’s about old friends getting together for a wonderful celebration,” she says. Then she quickly admits to it being about the Tonys. Plus 10.
• "With the Tonys, it's not just about a great performance, it's about a great story," Eileen says. Plus 200. Why do you think actors do all those revealing interviews right before Tony time?
• Eileen then adds, "And your story is that your incredible partnership is overdue." The Tonys also like to award people who have been in the industry a long time who have never won.
• Of course Lindsay Mendez is going to be at Houston/Levitt night. Every time we go to a composer night at Joe's Pub, she's there.
• Ivy and Karen run into one another walking home from their respective shows, and promise one another they’re going to be adults about whatever happens during awards season. Plus 50 because we’re hoping this means SMASH won’t go there either.
• Derek, Julia, and Jimmy sit at Table 46, trying to figure out what’s not working with Hit List. “The energy has slowed down a bit,” says Julia. They debate whether it’s the new set or whether it’s Ana’s onstage stumbles. Ultimately, Derek mentions it could be the book. And judging by what we read of the plot this week, we’re going to have to agree.
• “Oh look. There’s Mom with her new family,” Tom says to Eileen, upon seeing Julia with Derek and Jimmy. Plus 5.
• Eileen suggests Tom and Julia sing a song together at their tribute concert, to show that their relationship is still going strong for Tony voters. “I don’t sing,” protests Julia, before agreeing to “only one song, so it’s got to be something light.” “You can sing the alphabet for all I care,” responds Eileen. “Just so as long as you’re smiling and singing together.” Plus 20 because we’d pay to see Christian Borle sing the alphabet.
• Eileen grumbles that Julia has to leave their conversation to go spend time with “the competition,” and Julia gives a response that’s pretty damn near perfect. “Eileen, a kid died before he was able to finish his work,” she says. “I know and understand the business of theater, but I’ve got to help see this show through, I’m sorry.” We may hate the way SMASH used Kyle’s death as a device to move story forward, but dammit if we don’t appreciate Julia’s honestly in this moment.
• Agnes has been talking to folks at the Tony nominating committee, and she thinks the score is a lock for a nomination. Obviously! Too bad the actual Tony nominating committee couldn’t give Bombshell’s score a nod this year. It was by far our favorite new score on Broadway!
• She also says that if Tom gets nominated, it will be a surprise. We could have told you that. Tom mentions that his concert with Julia will be at The Oak Room. Plus 10 because that place is great.
• Agnes got a heads up on a blind item running in the Village Voice, and it’s pretty damaging to Ivy. “It mentions a certain Broadway blonde’s behavior off-stage,” Agnes explains. “He mentions pills.. an incident at a previous show... he knows about you sleeping your way to the top.. and a particularly nasty comment about you and your former co-star’s fiance.” Ivy objects throughout, except to the last point: “OK, that was pretty bad...” Plus 100.
• Agnes decides to put Ivy in ‘Image Rehab.’ “On-stage you’re Marilyn,” she tells Ivy. “Everywhere else you’re Norma Jean.” Dammit we want to go to ‘Image Rehab!’ Plus 10.
• Jimmy has been reading feedback from Hit List online, and claims the fans are saying the show isn’t as good on Broadway as it was Off-Broadway. Plus 100 because they’d say that about anything.
• Julia thinks the problem Hit List is having translating to the Broadway stage has everything to do with context. “Off Broadway, the theaters are small,” she tells Derek and Jimmy. “There’s no division between the audience and the stage. But on Broadway, the stage is above the audience. They’re far away. Maybe we need to erase that separation - make the house part of the show.” While we do agree that a certain intimacy is lost moving a show from a small to a big theater, plenty of shows have found ways to recreate that in really simple ways (see: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson). Other shows didn’t change much (see: Once), finding that they could still create an intimate show in a big arena. Either way, this seems to be a real challenge any show transferring has to address. And for that, we salute you, SMASH.
• Derek loved Mendes's Cabaret. Of course he did.
• “Too many changes, people think you’re scared of something.” Derek tells Julia and Jimmy. Damn that’s good advice!
• “They’re giving you a break,” Karen tells Ana, reassuring her that Derek’s not replacing her. “You know who else had a break?” Ana says, “Erin Dilly in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Sutton Foster went on for her. Guess who’s still on a break...” Plus 100.
• We feel bad for giving plus points for that Erin Dilly dig. She was really good in A Christmas Story The Musical! It’s nominated for Best Musical at the Tonys this year. She’s doing great!
• Karen reminds Derek that The Diva character wouldn’t have existed in the first place if it weren’t for Ana. “She got The New York Times to notice the show,” she says. Plus 50 because we think this whole plotline to replace Ana is ridiculous.
• "I've got the bookwriter's parents sitting in the audience every night, counting on me to carry on their dead son's legacy. I've got a composer who is hellbent on making a living memorial to his friend, which means he will not change a bloody word. And almost everyone here is making their Broadway debut except me," Derek says. We should take away points for so blatantly copying Rent’s story again, but since it actually happened, we can’t deny it’s realistic.
• Derek is struggling to figure out how to fix the show because everyone keeps mentioning Kyle’s death. “Every decision I make I question ‘would Kyle have wanted it?’” he tells Karen. “And then I have to remind myself that some of Kyle’s ideas were young and I am formed. And then I have to ask, ‘is it good for his memory or is it good for the show?’ Because believe me it is not the same thing.” Plus 50 because we’re glad someone isn’t falling for the sympathy card.
• Oh hey Michael Musto apparently wrote that blind item about Ivy Lynn in the Village Voice. We guess they finally found another real journalist besides Michael Riedel! Plus 10.
• “Everybody guessed it was me,” Ivy says of her blind item. Sorry Ivy, but this one didn’t seem that tough to guess.
• Ivy walks in late because she had an interview with Playbill. Plus 50.
• The new Bombshell stage manager finally has a name. It’s Kathy! Yay!
• Someone leaked to the press that Tom and Julia are splitting up and people are freaking out. Bloggers gone wild! Plus 10. Ana finds out that Daisy is one of the dancers who dropped the lawsuit against Derek, and thinks she must be blackmailing Derek to get into Hit List.
• “That’s the thing about Jonathan Groff - he curses like a sailer.” says Lin-Manuel Miranda! Plus 500,000 because Lin-Manuel Miranda said on Twitter that he improved that line and we’re so glad they kept it in.  
• Lin-Manuel and Tom trade blows about Bombshell and Bring It On and we love it so fucking much.
• Also, Lin tells Tom he’s going to tweet something Tom said about Julia and we know that that’s true because he LOVES Twitter and damn we wish he would just follow us already!
• At Tom and Julia’s concert, Julia is nowhere to be found, and Tom keeps lying to people about her whereabouts. “I told Laura Benanti she’s in the bathroom, I told Norbert she’s in a Taxi, and I told Alice Ripley she’s backstage.” Plus 300 - 100 for each!
• “I have a room full of Tony voters who feel like they’re at a funeral,” Eileen says. Are they at the Houston/Levitt concert or at Wonderland?
• “This reminds me of last year,” Tom tells Julia. “Me working my ass for both of us and you, somewhere else, distracted.” Plus 100 because that’s a read!
• Julia doesn’t understand why this concert is such a big deal to Tom, and he lets her have it. “The big deal is I was looking forward to one last song with my best friend and partner of 11 years. One song that shows that even if we never worked together again, that time meant something.” Awww Tom!
• Ivy is in her dressing room, rehearsing her song. Plus 10! “You’re not a Norma Jean. You’re a Marilyn,” says Eileen, as “Let Me Be Your Star” underscores. Is this a leftover scene from season 1? Either way, that’s our new mantra!
• “Grin and Bear It” is Shaiman and Wittman and Megan Hilty and SMASH at their best. Now that SMASH is over, why don’t they just write a musical for her? We’d say why don’t they just bring Bombshell to Broadway, but we know that’ll never happen.
• Derek gave Daisy her part in Hit List because he promised her an understudy role if she slept with him and she did. She also filmed it. “All of it, including my offer,” Derek says. “If that gets out, I’m done.” Damn, we hate to say it because it makes aspiring Broadway actresses look like total shitheads, but GO DAISY. SMAAAAART GIRL.
• Karen tells Derek his behavior with Daisy is disgusting and dammit we agree with her.
• Derek and Karen yell at one another and sum up their characters perfectly.
• Karen and Daisy perform “I’m Not Sorry” in Hit List and it’s pretty not bad. Andrew McMahon wrote it. He also wrote “I Heard Your Voice in a Dream” and “Reach For Me.” We’re kinda into it!
• Though we don’t love “The Right Regrets,” it somehow feels more poignant knowing SMASH is ending. Seeing the montage of scenes of Julia and Tom from the series reminds us that for all our complaining, we’ll miss this show. We won’t even dock points for a montage. What can we say, we’re feeling generous.
• A producer wants Tom to consider running his review Off Broadway. New World Stages, right?
• Eileen says that 6 people are switching their vote to Bombshell now that Tom and Julia aren’t together anymore. Apparently she’s the one who leaked the news of their split to the press, making this a farewell concert. Hmph. We’d call Eileen out for this, but she’s got that cocktail in her hand, and we know better.
• The Hit List stage door looks great. Plus 50 for authenticity!
• Jimmy is walking in Times Square and OMG THERE’S A NEWSIES POSTER BEHIND JEREMY JORDAN. Do you think he’s regretting his decision to leave that show for SMASH?
• Not going to lie - we wish we lived in a world where Bombshell and Hit List billboards were in Times Square.
• Julia tells Jimmy she doesn't feel comfortable writing anything for Hit List because she had only agreed to help Derek transfer it to Broadway. “This was only supposed to be temporary. I have a show too and I owe it to them to be here.” Plus 20 because Julia is finally doing the right thing.
• “Thank you for the song,” Tom says to Julia, “Thank you for all the songs.” Maybe it’s the way Christian Borle delivers it, but awwwwwwwwwww.
• Ana approaches Ivy, asking her if Derek fired her after the workshop of Bombshell because she stopped sleeping with him. Ooh way to cause trouble, Ana!
• We know we said we didn’t want Ivy and Karen to go after one another anymore, but Ivy telling Karen off for telling Ana that she slept her way to the top was pretty great: “You play this naive just-off the-bus routine to get exactly what you want. But deep down, you’re just as calculating as the next person... You know, I’m actually glad that Hit List made it to Broadway. Because the only thing better than getting the Tony will be beating you to get it... See you on the Red Carpet.” Plus 100.
• “Really, three times in a row?” Ivy screams into the phone, after it rings three times in a row. Plus 20.
• The previews for the 2-hour season finale show Cheyenne Jackson and Christine Ebersole announcing the fake Tony Award nominations! OMG WE CAN’T WAIT!
• We will forever find a place for our favorite feature - THE ANN HARADA LINE OF THE WEEK. “Have you picked up the Rogers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella Original Broadway Cast Recording yet? What are you waiting for? It’s available for digital download!” CONGRATULATIONS ANN!

Oh Hell No! 
• Minus 1,000 to NBC for cutting off the beginning of the episode due to golf. Golf?! Haven't you treated SMASH badly enough already? At least there's Hulu.
• If you did watch on Hulu, you’d have seen Karen singing “Pretender” (written by Lucie Silvas and Michael Busbee) which is kind of meh. We can see why Julia and Derek think something isn’t working on Broadway.
• OK, so Jimmy sang that one song last week, but they had already hired Sam to replace him. What happened? Is Jimmy back in the show? Was Kyle’s death enough to get him his part back? Minus 100.
• Houston and Levitt haven’t won a Tony yet? But we thought Heaven on Earth was a big fat hit? Minus only 10 because we don’t know who they were up against that year.
• We understand that Eileen is obsessed with getting Bombshell that Best Musical Tony. But she’s doing a lot of work before the nominations are even out! At this point, Bombshell is guaranteed the nomination. Shouldn’t she cool down on these special events until post-nominations? When all this work might actually be able to transfer into Tony votes?
• Ivy and Karen run into one another in the middle of Times Square as they’re both on the way to Table 46. Which... is a few blocks in the opposite direction they’re walking. Minus 20.
• Also, there are other restaurants besides Table 46. Would Jimmy want to spend so much time at his former place of employment?
• A waiter at Table 46 sees Jimmy drinking with Derek and Julia and tells him “we’ve got tables to bus if you’re feeling nostalgic.” Minus 10 because Jimmy was a bartender at Table 46, not a busboy.
• Derek tells Jimmy that Hit List is sold out until next January. WHAT THE WHAT? It’s April. Even The Book of Mormon wasn’t sold out for nine months in advance. Minus 50 because... just... no.
• Jimmy says that he wants Hit List to win a Tony “for Kyle.” We should probably feel sentimental about this. But considering Jimmy was a total dick to Kyle for the entire season, it’s hard to really feel like he’s genuine here.
• Agnes says some people say that if Tom is nominated for a Tony, it’ll be a surprise, and Tom is SUPER pissed about it. Like, Tom - how can you be shocked by this news? You didn’t get the best reviews for your directing. And PS the whole show was staged and choreographed by Derek before you even got involved. You don’t really deserve it.
• Eileen says that Derek’s direction of Veronica Moore’s concert “reignited his career.” Um... it did? After the concert, Derek went back into directing Bombshell. Until he quit to do Hit List - which he really only got because he knew Scott (after all - he had nothing to do with the Fringe production). So from where we sit, we can’t really see how “Roni’s concert” did anything to help Derek’s career. Minus 50.
• Tom mentions that Veronica Moore’s concert was televised on Bravo. Has that happened yet? Did we miss it? We’re not sure why Eileen thinks that Tom and Julia’s concert will help score Tom a Tony nomination for directing Bombshell, but yeah, okay - we’ll go down this ridiculous plot point path.
• Agnes delivers the scoop about Ivy’s bad press waaaay too calmly. We hate to criticize Agnes, because she’s pretty flawless. But damn girl - freak out a bit! This is some seriously damaging shit!
• We swear on all things good and holy, if this “blind item” is from Ellis, we’re going to throw our computers at our televisions.
• Derek thinks Ana is exhausted and making too many mistakes. He tells Marissa to give Ana the night off, and put Daisy, Ana’s understudy, in. “It’s taken care of,” he whispers to Daisy as he walks out of Table 46. Minus 30 because this Daisy plotline is already annoying.
• Karen and Jimmy aren’t dating anymore, because Jimmy is too focused on the show. Minus 10 because we know this shit isn’t going to last.
• Sorry Julia, but the problem Hit List has doesn’t seen to be a separation between the audience and the work. It seems to be the work itself!
• “This is what Kyle was good at,” Jimmy tells Julia. Those big ideas!” Really? We don't want to speak ill of the dead, but he seemed pretty bad at it from where we sit.
• Derek says that casting Daisy in the role of The Diva will be an interesting experiment. “The Diva is older than Amanda after all.” Yeah, but like, on Broadway, you don’t see age that clearly. And if you did, then Kerry Butler pretty much wouldn’t have a career, since she’s 41 and always cast playing 16 year-olds. And the whole cast of Newsies would really be in trouble.
• Whoa whoa. Derek says that Kyle’s parents have been in the audience every night. Carolee Carmello is there and we haven’t seen her again? Minus 100.
• Derek tells Daisy she’s done a good job, despite the fact that he was talking to Karen the whole time and didn’t see what she did at all. Minus 10.
• Ivy Lynn is doing Ford Fusion commercials? When’s the last time a Broadway star became a national spokesperson on the strength of their second Broadway starring role? Selling cars, no less. How ‘bout never!
• Tom has decided to transform his Houston/Levitt concert into a something more memorable. As he tells the cast: “we’re going to change what could have been just another boring cavalcade of Broadway stars singing forgotten numbers from obscure musicals into a review with a story and movement. We’ll transform the Oak Room into a down-on-it’s-luck Vegas strip club in the 50s.” Is Tom friends with Jerry Mitchell? Because this sounds like a Broadway Bares event. Minus 50 because even though we know we’ll love it, the idea is not necessarily new and not necessary. We just want to hear some talented people sing some good songs.
• “Commenting on fame was like Kyle’s big thing,” Jimmy tells Julia. Um... isn’t it Hit List’s big thing? And your big thing too? Like, that’s what you’ve said the show’s been about since the beginning. Why are you acting like this is new news?
• “Kyle had an idea for an updated take on newsreel footage,” Julia tells Jimmy, “blown out across the proscenium, just in your face. Gossip sites, tabloids, Twitter, YouTube, a multimedia assault.” Don’t do it, Jimmy! Newsreel footage didn’t work for the Annie revival.
• Apparently at Fringe, Kyle wanted to take the ticket holder’s phone numbers and send them texts during the show. “Live updates during the show?” Julia gasps, in full support. “Audience participation in a 21st Century way!” Call us old fashioned, but we see when people check their phones during the show, and it’s hella distracting. Minus 100.
• Whoa SMASH is sponsored in part by the Ford Fusion! We didn’t see that coming! (Minus 50). That Jonathan Groff line was priceless, but we doubt that clean-cut boy curses like a sailor.
• Also, Bring it On was intended to be a limited run, Tom, so that dig about it closing so fast doesn’t quite work. But props for trying.
• Tom says he hates Lin-Manuel Miranda? Minus 10. But according to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Twitter feed, Christian Borle improvised that, which we appreciate.
• As much as we love Norbert Leo Butz shout outs, we can’t get past the fact that he was on SMASH last season playing an actor starring in Heaven on Earth. So that means he can’t exist as Norbert Leo Butz.
• Julia has no idea that their tribute concert is a review now, or that news broke that she and Tom broke up. Because Julia is the worst.
• After Julia tells Tom she’s leaving for the concert, she then tells Derek she’ll stay 5 more minutes. Choosing the legacy of a dead kid you knew for 2 months over the friendship you had with someone for 11 years. Smart move, Julia! Minus 60.
• “Taking a risk is good. That’s what previews are for,” Julia says as they are trying to implement a tech change into Hit List. We love a show that takes a risk, but maybe not an hour before a paying audience is coming. And we find it hard to believe they could implement this change that quickly.
• Ivy is nervous about doing a striptease number for Tom’s concert. Um... you’re naked in Bombshell, Ivy. We think you’ll be okay.
• Derek says he’s hoping Jerry hates Daisy in the part and then he can be let off the hook. Try keeping it your pants, Derek. Maybe that’ll help!
• Why does Derek think he can only sleep with woman if he gives them a role? He’s so fucking sexy. Of everything on SMASH, this might make the least sense.
• Wait, so what part is Sam playing in Hit List now? And why isn’t he pissed about it?
• Oh shit. That dialogue between Sam’s character and whomever else that was? How terrible. It was all exposition! Did Julia write that? Did Kyle? That’s your problem right there, Derek.
• We’ve seen a fair share of our VMA performances, and this doesn’t look anything like something we’d see on the big show.
• This texting thing is awful. Why does everyone in their audience have their phones on? How do they have everyone’s numbers? Turn off your phones! You’re in the theater! Minus 100.
• Julia interrupts Tom’s show, and the two sing an original Houston/Levitt song, “The Right Regrets.” Turns out Julia was right! She can’t sing! Minus 50.
• If “Grin and Bear It” is Shaiman and Wittman at their best, “The Right Regrets” is Shaiman and Wittman at their worst.
• Is “The Right Regrets” supposed to be in Bombshell? Because it’s on the “cast recording” they released a few months ago. And it’s from an Arthur Miller quote. But shit, it’s terrible. It has to be a cut song, right?
• Jerry loved Daisy in the role of The Diva so he basically fires Ana. “Derek, this is my job!” Ana yells. “Yeah well it’s my career,” Derek responds, explaining that he can’t take the risk of Daisy’s tape going live. Minus 500 because Derek is making this sounds like Ana did something wrong and man we want to like him but he’s the worst right now.
• Karen tells Jimmy that Kyle would be really proud and that she’s proud too. You know what we’re going to say here, right? Do we even have to say it anymore?
• Ivy says that David Cromer wants to do a workshop with her. We love Ivy. We love David Cromer. But we can’t really imagine a project that would suit both of them.
• Karen says Ana is her best friend. We think she meant only friend.
• Ivy’s pregnant! Probably with Derek’s baby! Minus 500! Remember when they tried to make Julia pregnant at the end of season 1 and forgot about it?

…. 
So what did you guys think? Are you happy Ivy and Karen are at one another’s throats again? Did you see that pregnancy coming? And do you want to see Derek’s demise as much as we do right now?

2 comments:

Mack said...

So I'm doing a Smash re-watch (because I'm a masochist like that) and reading the reality index after each episode.
You said "Houston and Levitt haven’t won a Tony yet? But we thought Heaven on Earth was a big fat hit? Minus only 10 because we don’t know who they were up against that year." and I did some thinking.
They opened up the West End production of Heaven on Earth right as Smash started, so early 2012. If it was a big hit here, it probably opened up quickly there, and I'm guessing it was up for Tonys in 2011. Which means it went up against The Book of Mormon. That's why it didn't win. Mystery solved!

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