Smash: The Coup

Posted on March 27, 2012

Sometimes we long for the early days of serialized drama on the radio and TV. Not because we have an aversion to HD television but because sometimes, after watching a bloated, go-nowhere episode like this one, where all the most interesting things happened in the last 10 minutes, we find ourselves thinking the old fifteen-minutes-per-episode format worked better than what we have now.

We’ll take:

Derek and Tom’s rather illuminating argument.

Oh, Geez. That was supposed to be a list of the scenes we liked. Turns out? We didn’t like almost all of them!

Dev’s career? Don’t care! Julia’s son’s minor infraction? Don’t care! Eileen’s daughter’s saintliness and predilection for lecturing people? REALLY don’t care!

It’s amazing how much this show about a musical theater production is so determined to be about anything but a musical theater production. Who knows? Maybe all of the dreck we had to wade through last night will pay off somewhere down the line but we kind of doubt it. Unless you define “pay off” as “more scenes with Julia’s family.”

Derek and Eileen’s plan was a stupid one from the get-go, but the one thing it managed (aside from straining credulity with the idea that Anjelica Huston produced Meryl Streep’s daughter from her loins) was that it got Tom and Derek to have an argument that should, if the writers know what they’re doing, get to the heart of the tension in the story. Personally, we were fascinated by what Derek was saying; that Tom’s sanitized and relatively sexless take on Marilyn was coming from his gay male perspective when so much of what made Marilyn an icon arose out of the straight male point of view she spent her career courting. You could wring a ton of drama out of that very idea, with both creators making their point through musical numbers. Chances are, it’ll never get as much attention as Julia’s mouthbreathing son or Ellis and his UTTERLY POINTLESS schemes which anyone with a brain stem should be able to see right through and wave off as the delusions of a poser.

At least we got an Ivy/Karen confrontation out of it, which — oh, wait. There have been about five Ivy/Karen confrontations already. Since they’re all essentially the same dialogue, you can forgive us for getting confused. But this one was outside! Near the docks! And Ivy wasn’t medicated!

But poor Ivy’s out (and credit where it’s due: that was a nicely played scene between her and Tom). How did Karen singing an incredibly lame song wrapped in a sheet get the producers to fire Ivy? Well…just because. Because they’d spent the previous 40 minutes dicking around on a sub plot that went nowhere and they had to something to move the story forward, even if nothing in those first 40 minutes seemed to have much to do with anything that happened in the last ten.

We’re still vaguely optimistic about the show, but we’ll chalk this one up to a need to move the figures around the board, with the plot suffering from it. Of course, no one really moved around the board that much, but like we said, we’re trying to remain upbeat.

Just never make us watch anything as lame as that “Bowl to the Music” number again.

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