Smash, Season 2, Episode 7: “Musical Chairs”
Written by: Becky Mode
Directed by: Casey Nicholaw
Airs Tuesdays at 10pm (ET) on NBC
Yes Smash fans, unfortunately the end is near. NBC ‘s decision to move the show to the television graveyard that is Saturday night puts the final nail in the coffin for Smash. As disappointing as it is it better not discourage viewers from watching because there is still some good stuff left here, if only for the original songwriting. We’re finally getting to the inevitable face-off between Bombshell and Hit List. Even with the schedule changes hopefully those dedicated few will continue to watch and prove to NBC that they had something pretty terrific here and ruined it.
“Musical Chairs” features directors Tom and Derek taking on their new shows. Tom fails miserably at trying to teach new choreography to the Bombshell cast since Derek refuses to sign the papers that allow Bombshell to use his choreography. Tom (the extremely underrated Christian Borle) flailing about as new director is endearing as it captures Tom at his best. Meanwhile, Derek finds working for Hit List almost impossible after learning he has to fetch his own cup of coffee, once again proving that these show business people obviously have no idea what it’s like to work in actual show business.
Newcomer Scott Nichols (played by Rent alum Jesse L. Martin) is the artistic director of the Manhattan Theatre Workshop who decides to pick up Hit List but only to show it in a small 80-seat venue. Scott says the show needs an overriding theme and if Jimmy and Kyle can tweak it it might get a chance at the main stage. Once again this leads to Jimmy and Kyle complaining like they always do, but for anyone who has ever created art you got to have a theme. Actually Jimmy and Kyle, the audience can pretty much smell your theme a mile away. Maybe if you guys didn’t spend all that time getting high you could see that you have a prevalent theme that could capture a large audience.
While the directors are busy adjusting to their new shows Eileen and her daughter Katie (played by Meryl Streep’s daughter, Grace Gummer) try to conjure up a way Eileen can have control over Bombshell again. Julia discovers papers from the Marilyn Monroe estate that give Eillen exclusive rights to use journals and letters from Marilyn herself. Julia used those sources to write the show meaning Jerry does not have permission to produce Bombshell. In the end it’s not the legal nonsense that gets Jerry to sign over the show to Eileen, but rather their daughter Katie who wants her parents to love again. It would have been nice to see Eileen throw another drink in Jerry’s face, but Katie is a resourceful voice of reason in the whole Eileen and Jerry fray. Too bad Katie can’t stick around for more episodes.
At the Liasions opening night Tom brings Karen as his date and Derek brings Jimmy and Kyle as his dates. Ivy and Terry have already made a pact to deliberately throw the show in the toilet since confessing they hate the show. Which, why not commit career suicide in an industry that is incredibly tough to break into, let alone get a role alongside a famous comedic actor. This story line, one of the more exaggerated, is reminiscent of the first season of Smash and the reason so many people took to hate-watching in the first place. However, the result is not even remotely amusing and completely awkward (not even in the hate-watching kind of way). If the writers of Smash really wanted something interesting to happen they could have taken a note from The Producers and made the terribleness a hit. That might bring back all those hate-watchers who clearly have abandoned ship.
Really though Smash can’t afford to have Ivy continue with Liasions because that would interrupt their long foreshadowed switch of Ivy as Marilyn in the Tom-directed version of Bombshell. When Ivy informs Karen and Tom that Liasions is ending their run on Broadway you can literally see the lightbulb go off in Karen’s head- Karen will perform in Hit List and Ivy can have her chance at Marilyn. Which excites everyone because they all love Ivy and think she is so talented which is why they let her go in the first place. Seriously though, Ivy is by far so much better at being Marilyn than Karen could ever be.
Derek finally signs the paperwork for Bombshell to use his choreography and admits it’s difficult to break away. They could have spent more time allowing Derek to have these feelings because they are the first human feelings Derek has ever exhibited. It’s refreshing to see Derek not be a jerk. After a rehashing of “Rewrite This Story” for Scott Nichols (why are they wasting Jesse L. Martin’s time with this throw away character?) he agrees to put it on the main stage. This gives Jimmy the confidence to ask Karen out for drinks, but before they even make it out of the theatre Derek gives Jimmy a pep talk about dating Karen. Derek prefers Jimmy concentrate on his work while Derek concentrates on his muse, Karen. This pep talk is supposed to sound stern but comes off kind of creepy for Derek. Apparently those reports of sexual harassment from former actresses haven’t put Derek off his game.