Smash Review: A Difficult Decision Ahead

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It was judgment day for Julia and her new book. Bombshell's fate would be determined by "The Read-Through." A simple, yet crucial step to getting the show to Broadway.

After the journey that Julia and Peter went through to finish the new story, it was surprising to see that she wasn't nervous at all. At the same time, it was revealing that Peter gave her the confidence that she had been lacking for so long. The range of emotions that Julia went through - from excited about the new story... to resurfaced doubts about Peter's loyalty... to dreading the read-through - felt authentic.

Ivy Meets her Costar

It was as if I, the viewer, was experiencing the highs and lows with her. When the readers finished and the room was left silent, I waited with anticipation to hear the response. And, a glorious one Julia received.

Julia: Why isn't anyone saying anything? Is it that bad?
Derek: No, it's that good. It is brilliant. | permalink

Wow. She did it. She really did. Of course, the next few minutes were another emotional whirlwind for her and the show. She created a brilliant, creative story, but Jerry wasn't going to use it. What?!? And, the self-doubt and anger returned, though, Peter didn't betray her. It was her own work that did. How about that? An unexpected twist.

As an avid television watcher, I get irritated when great shows don't find an audience and get canceled, while certain trash remains on, in some cases, it seems forever. It's a societal problem of quality for the few versus mediocre for the many. Jerry's concerns about the show and its direction were valid from a business perspective. As a producer, he wants to make money. It's a business, not a charity.

While the new book could be a critical success and win awards, that doesn't mean it will fill the seats and make a profit. Instead, Jerry decided he wanted to use Julia's workshop draft, which would be accessible to more people meaning a greater likelihood of making money. While watching, I was entirely on Julia and Derek's side agreeing that they should put on the best production. 

Now, though, after some time to consider the real-world situation, it pains me to agree even a little bit with Jerry, but he has a point. There's a reason that art house films make only a small fraction the amount of money of big, commercial blockbusters. Which one should Bombshell be?

Julia and Derek should want to make the special, unique, and award-winning show. While Jerry is in it for the money. Tom is a creative person, but it does make sense that he wants to go with the the showy musical numbers over an intense, story driven musical.

It all comes down to Eileen. She could go either way. As a producer, she could side with Jerry and Tom. Or, as someone who wants to make a name for herself for excellence on the stage, she could side with Julia and Derek. Plus, going against Jerry would be an added bonus. She's going to have a tough decision to make. After all that she has been through and having to give up her Producer title, it's fitting that the direction of the show will be in her hands.

Bombshell's reading went exceedingly well, while The Hit List's read-through was horrendous. The dichotomy of the musical with well-established writers and producers with that of one with new writers was well played. It was reflective of the quick and easy ascension of Karen versus the hard road that Ivy had to take to make it in New York. Jimmy and Kyle were fittingly following in Karen's path.

They've been noticed by a world-renowned director, Jimmy had his song sung in front of millions of people, and now the musical hit a temporary block of just a few minutes, maybe an hour. That is barely a stopping point at all. They will overcome the problem in the story telling and still be able to move forward with the Winter Fest. Jimmy and Kyle are on a fast track to success.

I enjoyed the tension of both read-throughs. The emotional highs and lows were palpable and the results mattered. In contrast, Ivy's show with the introduction of the star, Terry, was a letdown, especially since Sean Hayes' appearance was heavily promoted. Most of the story felt forced and was uncomfortable to watch. The only highlight was Ivy's breathtaking performance opposite Terry's farce. And, then their honest discussion afterward. 

Now that Terry's off his medications, her show is certainly headed for trouble. Will its demise get her back on Bombshell? It seems likely and that Karen will leave it to headline The Hit List. 

Overall, "The Read-Through" was one of the best episodes of Smash. I'll be sitting in anticipation until next Tuesday to find out Eileen's decision.

Odds and Ends

  • Another episode where the songs were a let down. The rest of the episode made up for it though. During Smash season 1, it was often the other way around. I'd rather have decent songs with an outstanding story like we had here. 
  • Karen and Jimmy's relationship continued to be awkward. He had a girl in his room. Karen was clearly into him, but he said they should be friends. At least, his actions began to make sense when we found out Kyle told his friend that Karen was with Derek. How long will he continue to believe that? I hope the truth comes out soon.
  • Tom's moderate jealousy over Julia and Peter's relationship was touching. Loved when he noted that Julia used "we" to refer to her and him again.
  • Eileen needs a win with a musical now that she is losing Nick. Will it be with Bombshell? Since she is forced into a limited role there, perhaps she will produce The Hit List. That would be a perfect fit for her and something Jerry would probably never consider touching.
Which version should Eileen pick? Should Karen and Jimmy keep a strictly professional relationship? Did you enjoy the serious versus farce story on Ivy's show?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.7 / 5.0 (38 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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Interesting perspectives have been shared since my first post. I actually believe that the one by @Mrs alex o'loughlin could be a possibility.

Deann

"As an avid television watcher, I get irritated when great shows don't find an audience and get canceled, while certain trash remains on, in some cases, it seems forever." said the reviewer, and I say AMEN to that! That has been my gripe about TV for a long time. It seems like even more so in the past several years, that wonderful well-written shows with great ensemble casts get the hook and are yanked off the air while trash like "Reality" shows and The Mindy Project get renewed for some reason beyond my understanding. Anyway, LOVED the part of the ep where they had to go to Eileen for the tie-breaker, and I was also glad to see she got dumped by the prison guy. I hope she takes over Hit List and makes it a huge success, just to show Jerry who the REAL producer is! I also hope she chooses the older version of Bombshell, and that it becomes a hit with Karen in the lead. She was born to play Marilyn!

Tvgarth

I agree that the musical numbers were perhaps the weakest part of this episode, but I love all the intrigue and getting to see all the "ins and outs" of what it's like to mount a show, including how wrong producers can be with their decisions. Case in point, Sean Hayes. Now, I like Sean Hayes, but that performance (regardless of where it came from) was worse than vaudeville. Did some director really ask him to play it like that? He's so much better than that, though it really did demonstrate just how good Ivy can be when she wants to rely on her acting chops! Karen of course is another immense talent, and the camera loves her whether she's dressed up or down, blonde or brunette. Yes, Kyle is in love with Jimmy but we all know that's not going anywhere, so it seems Jimmy and Karen are destined to be together. I'm excited about the prospect of two hit musicals from totally different points of view and wildly different talents both finding their way into our homes via Smash, a show that deserves its place in prime time. There's really nothing like it and with the arts and music being cut from so many school programs at an alarming pace, it's more important than ever to have a show like this on the air. It's the kind of show that can build dreams in our youth and entertain adults at the same time. Years from now, those drams just may come true because of Smash and though I know that it's expensive to produce, I hope NBC realizes it is money well spent and there are plenty of us out here who really enjoy it. Yes, it can be better and I'm only too eager for that to happen...and I'm sure that given a chance to succeed...it will. Break a Leg!

Tvgarth

I agree that the musical numbers were perhaps the weakest part of this episode, but I love all the intrigue and getting to see all the "ins and outs" of what it's like to mount a show, including how wrong producers can be with their decisions. Case in point, Sean Hayes. Now, I like Sean Hayes, but that performance (regardless of where it came from) was worse than vaudeville. Did some director really ask him to play it like that? He's so much better than that, though it really did demonstrate just how good Ivy can be when she wants to rely on her acting chops! Karen of course is another story and the camera loves her no whether she's dressed up or down, blonde or brunette. Yes, Kyle is in love with Jimmy but we all know that's not going anywhere, so it seems Jimmy and Karen are destined to be together. I'm excited about the prospect of two hit musicals coming from totally different points of view and talent will both find their way into our homes via Smash, a show that deserves its place in prime time. There's really nothing like it and with the arts and music being cut from so many school programs, it's more important than ever to have a show like this on the air. It's the kind of show that can build dreams in our youth and entertain adults at the same time. Years from now, those drams just might come true because of Smash and though I know that it's expensive to produce, I hope NBC realizes it is money well spent and there are plenty of us out here who really enjoy it. Yes, it can be better and I'm only too eager for that to happen...and I'm sure that given a chance to succeed...it will. Break a Leg!

Sarah-silva

That was Broadway.

Sarah-silva

This was a pretty good episode!
Last week when there were comments from people saying that Kyle likes Jimmy, I was not so sure. However after last night now I am! When Jimmy went to Kyle and asked if he was sure she was dating Derek and he said yes. That made it clear that Kyle likes Jimmy and does not want to see him with anyone! Kyle is not gay. I really hope that we do not have to wait all season for Jimmy to realize Karen is not with Derek. I am not as mad at Jimmy as I was when he slept with another girl, I assume Kyle told him the Karen and Derek lie so then he slept with a random girl.
My prediction for what will happen next week and onwards: Eileen will coose the Marilyn the Musical script. Derek quits and goes to Hit List. Julia will quit and help Kyle with his book for Hit List. Jerry tells Karen she can not do both and she quits and goes to hit list. Dangerous Liasons will be a disaster and Jerry will ask Ivy to be Marilyn. Then both shows will make it to Broadway by the end of the season!

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LOVED PUBLIC RELATIONS! my favorite Bombshell performance ever! Karen & Tom were amazing in this number! She shines as Marilyn! Excited about Hit List . Will it be my favorite, maybe!

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I loved your review... But I can't say that about the episode. I really see why it is getting such poor reviews. This show is doomed to be cancelled if they do not clean up their act fast with better storyline. The acting talent is wasted with the direction they are taking.

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I loved the Public Relations number. :)) I think that was the best episode in this season. Finally more Bombshell, some Ivy, some everything... this was the first time i didn´t want too fastforward through the Jimmy/Kyle stuff :D I would like some Tom/Derek friendship. They are funny when they bicker at each other. And the promo looks great! Really sad that the ratings are so bad :( (as always, sorry for bad english)

Delphincik

That scene with Ivy and Terry was off the charts. "I've decided to go off my meds" "whaaaat?" it had me laughing. Maaan, Megan Hilty is one fine actress.

Smash Season 2 Episode 4 Quotes

You cut me off and said "we."

Tom

We can't afford for you to stumble again and neither can your career.

Derek [to Julia]
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