Dying Out Here.
Smash Season 1 Episode 14 recap
I know it's going to make you fall off your chair but "Previews" was the episode I liked best in awhile. There was a plot that moved from A to B to C, and that's more than we've had to hang onto in a long while. Also, we saw actual production numbers in the show, and for the most part, they're pretty flawless. It's clear that they've hired the best in the business in terms of musical theatre staff who can translate a show onscreen, and it worked really well. I won't point out that maybe the reason this episode felt like it had a plot is because there were about 12 minutes of full musical numbers and nobody was talking. The lack of applause was ridiculous, because apparently nobody has heard of lighting cues, you know, that “cue” the audience to feel things, but fine.
So those were the good points. (Also of positive note: Karen's dress in that "Smash" number.)
The bad points are less points than they are sinking realizations: I don't like these people.
There are a few exceptions. I like Tom, still. He's the only one in the entire ensemble who seems to have any sort of rational sense, and Christian Borle is the only actor who seems to be able to navigate his character's lines and absurdities without turning into a complete cyborg to make the emotional turns each episode. Tom continues to be a real person, and especially to have real relationships. I am interested in each person he's in a scene with, so that's something, if only for that moment.
I like Ivy, in spite of how much the show doesn't want me to. Broken record, but it's because Megan Hilty and her expressive face are somehow making all the stupid machinations of her sometimes-nice sometimes-Machiavellian character seem reasonable. This is a feat no less than Olympic hurdles or piloting a space shuttle, and she is to be praised. Not that it does her any good.
I want to like Sam, but I gave him a side-eye for implying that church fixes all things and all people. I might give him a pass if his argument was "Nobody can stay mad in the face of an awesome gospel choir number" but how would I know? He didn't get to say that.
I theoretically like each of the dancers, but since they all have the same character description - Hyper. Yappy. Likes Drinking. Travels with other dancers at all time - how fair is it to say I like “them”?
Everyone else, I hate.
I mean, I don't want to. But what can you do? The characters are being assassinated, one by one, as they contort themselves into ridiculous positions in order to make the story of the week make sense. And what kills me about it is that they are so strident. Or Julia is.
Who is this woman? Do you all know her and I've just never met her? Who is this woman who:
2.Hurts her marriage
3.Freaks out (all sounding logical so far), then
4.Goes to break up with the guy until he says he never wants to see HER again
5.Thinks all is better
6. FREAKS OUT when he's back in her life for the same ostensible reason he was there before: because he's an actor and the business is small
7.Sees him try to come onto her again which under the circumstances denotes a severe personality disorder - and then
8.Blames her WRITING PARTNER?
Doesn't try to get the guy fired. Doesn't get a restraining order. Doesn't go all Ellis on the situation and try to have Michael offed and find another guy who'll make an even BETTER DiMaggio (and how come Marilyn has an understudy but DiMaggio doesn't)? And shrieks like a wronged fourth-grade girl the whole time?
The thing is, I'm trying not to blame Debra Messing. I don't think she's a bad actress, but she's reacting to all these whiplash changes, including devotion to the world's most boring, bland family ever, by assuming that the character is rigid. Which I buy. I even buy that all the arguments she's hurling at Tom are actually the ones she wants to say to herself (see: "You're never wrong" for example). But it isn't working.
In fact, the saddest part is that the actors themselves seem to have ceased to try. I'll exclude McPhee because I think the span of her emotional range goes from “irritated by a mosquito” to “they have my favourite ice cream in stock”. But that phone call in the beginning from Anjelica? "I-need-those-costumes-yesterday" in a monotone? Julia's hapless husband has ceased doing anything but sighing, and sometimes looking concerned. I bet you Jack Davenport doesn't even read his lines - they're all combinations of "WHERE is REBECCA" and "WE'RE DOING A SHOW." And Dev, well, he was a caricature of an upstanding boyfriend, so I guess it's...fitting that he's a caricature of a cad who sleeps not with the woman who's been hitting on him for months, but a girl who showed up next to him after a rejected proposal.
Also, if Ivy slept with him to devastate Karen so she'd drop out of the show, she did a really, really poor job of it. And that's not like our girl. Maybe she's running a long con but since even the peanut scam is now a completely victimless crime - after all, whoever did it was doing Rebecca a favour - she's basically going to be back at square one trying to take Karen down, unless she decides to wear Dev's wedding ring next week. Which wouldn't phase me.
I liked meeting Sam's parents, and thus I hope we get to meet Ellis' parents, so that we can know what the Smash casting department thinks is the right stereotype for two people who raised the single worst person on the planet.
Oh, and Karen. Even in the one situation where it's OK to be over the top on TV - a medical emergency - even then, you do “Hey, um...you guys? Someone do something!" My GOD woman, have a little urgency!
Attached - Katharine McPhee at the Met Gala yesterday in Elie Saab