“Smash” 204: Big Breaks and Second Chances

Previously, on Smash

We open at rehearsal for Veronica Moore’s big concert, which in true Smash fashion is missing a number the day before it’s set to go. Ronnie’s singing something that based on the repetition of the phrase “I got love” approximately eleventy-billion times is called “I Got Love”. It’s boring as all hell, but the chorines seem to like it. Derek agrees with me, but it’s apparently Veronica’s signature piece. He tries to convince her it doesn’t fit into the new adult image she’s trying to create for herself but her newly-arrived mother Cynthia “They don’t call me Cyn” Moore (Sheryl Lee Ralph) sees no reason to mess with the two-time Tony-winning persona. Stage Manager Linda, aside to Tom: “Isn’t she a little old to have a mom-ager?” I demand more Stage Manager Linda now!

As the ensemble takes a break, Linda informs Derek that a dancer called Beth will not be participating at the request of her boyfriend who wants to keep her away from Derek’s meathooks. He tells her to find someone “who isn’t afraid of the Big Bad Wills” and then turns to Tom, wondering why as musical director he hasn’t found some fresher material. Tom declares allegiance to the diva, but Derek demands “something raw.” In the house a tiny light switches on in Karen’s brain.

Tom takes a call from Julia, who’s more excited than she ought to be about guest-lecturing at Peter the dramaturg’s acting class. Tom’s suspicious of this sudden turn in Peter’s favor, but I’m not. They have to set up the inevitable banging two episodes hence.

Out in squalid Brooklyn, Jimmy Charming is pitching pennies in a jar (productive!) while the half of the writing “team” that cares about having a career tries to hustle a gig. Everywhere Kyle calls has given him variations on “we’re booked for months”. Even dropping Derek’s name doesn’t get them in the door since he won’t direct their concert. Jimmy Charming bitches that the internationally renowned director won’t shepherd their nobody asses into instant stardom. Kyle plays devil’s advocate, declaring that there are no shortcuts as a call from Karen lights up his phone. “Tell that to our shortcut” Jimmy snots and much as it pains me, point Jimmy. She summons them to Manhattan.

Jerry arrives at Eileen’s office in advance of tomorrow morning’s deposition about the non-specific legal problems attached to the Bombshell financing. He’s arranged for a friendly prosecutor to take her depo and insists all she has to do is paint herself as the hapless victim of the unscrupulous and currently in the wind mobbed up bartender Nick. Eileen’s all, “Me a victim? Have you met me?” And Jerry’s all “Do you want to get the show back or not?”

Julia visits the next stop on her Humiliation 2013 Tour when she learns that Peter has not invited her to speak to his class but to hear them read the revised book. Julia refuses at first, but he convinces her that with just ten days before she turns in her new draft to Eileen she needs to hear the words spoken. But it’s OK because he’s changed all the names. No one will ever figure out that an actress who married a baseball player and a playwright is Monroe because Peter changed her name to “Mary”.

Ivy arrives to pinch-hit for the missing Beth. She and Ivy know her from when Ivy was the swing when Ronnie played Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. As I try to wrap my mind around both that casting and how playing that part has somehow perpetuated some “innocent Broadway waif” image for her, Ronnie reminds us about the upcoming Liaisons plot by congratulating Ivy on landing the lead. Karen and Ivy are totes fine with working together on this and Karen heads over to greet the arriving Jimmy and Kyle, who going forward will be known as “Team J/K”. Derek wonders why they’re there and Jimmy offers up his trunk songs. Tom gets there first with his self-described “raw” contributions to which Derek reacts, “No…no…no…oh no…what’ve you got?”

They get introduced to Tom and Kyle describes them as big fans while Jimmy Charming denies having seen any of his work. This guy never misses a trick. Derek gives them six hours to come up with “something vital”.

Mama Lee Ralph arrives back on the scene and she and Derek break the news to everyone that Bravo will be taping tomorrow night’s concert for later broadcast. The last concert Bravo broadcast was an old Marlene Dietrich gig in 1991 (and she was fabulous) so unless the Real Housewives are attending, I don’t buy it. Kyle assumes that this means they’re out, but Karen begs to differ. If they bring the right song they’ll not only get noticed; they’ll get famous. Title card!

Or title sequence, actually. Have I mentioned how much I loathe the title sequence? The first season, with its simple fade-in on the name of the show in lights, was simple, understated, classy and cool. Now it’s like every other sitcom from the 1980s. I’m surprised there isn’t an up-tempo Alan Thicke-penned theme song rhyming “Eileen’s Manhattan splash” with Marilyn Broadway smash”.

Tom listens while Karen auditions Team J/K’s material. He likes it, but it’s not right for the show. Jimmy Charming sings another one, but when he catches Tom glancing at his watch snits about whether Tom has someplace else to be. Tom: “Let’s see, I’m music directing a concert for a huge Broadway star in less than 24 hours that is apparently going to be televised, and I don’t know what songs she’s gonna do, so no, totally free.” I love you, Tom.

Karen suggests another song and Kyle suggests just the chorus. Jimmy Charming balks and Tom smacks him down again, telling him how back in the day he and Julia would walk through the snow uphill both ways for five seconds with a music director and by God they liked it! He gets called to the stage. He offers a parting piece of advice, that they need to offer something that Ronnie will sing and that Derek will accept. Kyle offers to write a new song; Tom says they’ll need it by the end of the day.

Peter’s acting class is dissecting Julia’s new book and Julia’s seething. Drama girl one says the play is supposed to be about a strong woman, but “Mary” is totally defined by the men around her. Julia explodes that Marilyn was defined by the men around her, that she was their object. Drama girl one goes to drama girl two, “totally knew it was based on Marilyn Monroe.” Julia says not based on, is, which they would know had Peter not changed the names and the setting. Peter says he did the same thing with Hedda Gabler and the drama girls squeal that they just loved it.

Back at the theater Team J/K is feverishly trying to compose. Jimmy Charming demands intoxicants and space; Kyle provides space. Karen joins him and he sings a four-word phrase. She fixes it because she’s Jimmy’s goddamn muse now too. She moves to return to rehearsing the concert that will be staged tomorrow but he calls her back and she actually stays.

Julia arrives home, talking with Tom on her cell. She calls Peter a sociopath who enjoyed seeing her humiliated. If seeing Julia humiliated is the mark of a sociopath then lock me up right now. Tom invites her to the theater where there are only sane well-adjusted people. She’s bought a copy of Peter’s one play produced under his own name, called The Singing Bird, and rather than join Tom she settles in to hate-read it.

Ivy and Ronnie eat salads in Ronnie’s dressing room while Ronnie complains about not having a life outside of show business. She wonders why Ivy dated Derek: “Was it the accent or the hair?” Ivy says it’s because Derek’s a genius and she can’t resist geniuses. Ivy, I love you, but get real. You didn’t “date” Derek. You slept with him to land the lead role in a musical. And that’s fine that you did, but girl, own it.

Ronnie wonders why if Derek is such a genius she’s so reluctant to go on stage. Ivy tells her that Derek will push and cajole and demand until you want to give up and then you’ll give the performance of a lifetime. Ronnie: “So you’re saying I should give his way a shot.” Yes Veronica, 24 hours hours before show time with a missing song and a potential audience of millions you should consider listening to your director.

Cut to Ronnie and the ensemble working on a sexed-up version of “I Got Love”. It doesn’t work for a second with Ronnie alternating between giggling and pulling “why are these people touching me” faces. Derek berates her for acting like a virgin in a whorehouse and she tries it again, with him screaming at her all the way. Tom calls him on it but it’s not until Mama Lee Ralph thunders down the center aisle that Derek takes notice.

They go back and forth until Mama Lee Ralph threatens to replace him with Tom. He tells her to do it but she calls his bluff, wondering how it will affect his already tattered reputation should the story break that he was replaced for pushing his star in an unwanted sexual direction. Derek drops his petals and folds his tent.

 

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