Smash, Season 2, Episode 12: “The Producers”
Written by: Becky Mode
Directed by: Tricia Brock
Airs Saturdays at 9pm (ET) on NBC
As Smash heads into the final stretch, most likely for good, this Saturday’s episode gives the audience an overdue taste of what Hit List is all about. But it might be too little too late. Why are we just now getting to see the heart of Hit List? Before the second season even began the audience knew everything there is to know about Bombshell so why after nearly a whole season does Smash now get around to showing us the whole of Hit List (or at least the best part when Karen gets shot)? “The Producers” is mostly a series of performances from Bombshell’s competition Hit List split up with scenes of Tom and Julia bickering. Oh, and Kathie Lee Gifford is here for about two minutes, because…?
First lets begin with Tom, mostly because this entire episode seems out of character for him. Remember a couple episodes ago when Tom was that happy, friendly director who worried about revoking a role from his ex-boyfriend Sam after Sam left a national touring company? Tom has always been one to be helpful and considerate of his fellow Broadway chaps, even when a more aggressive role might benefit him more. But now his character has turned into this selfish, ugly wannabe high-profile Broadway director. Sure, one would probably grow in abundance of self-confidence after successfully turning around a sinking ship like Bombshell but that doesn’t mean he takes it out on his best friend and writing partner Julia. Tom is mad at her because she decides to be independent and write an adaptation of The Great Gatsby by herself. What was Julia suppose to do, wait around painting her toenails until you, Tom, decided you were ready to begin writing again?!
Julia gave Tom ample time to consider writing the adaptation with her, but he choose to direct instead. And good for Julia for standing up for herself and admitting she loved the writing she was doing on her own. Hopefully Tom has learned a lesson here and Julia sticks to her guns. As much as we don’t want to see a terrific friendship like Tom and Julia’s fall apart, we would much rather not see a good soul like Tom reap the benefits of being a douchebag (especially after said douchebag threatened legal action against his best friend).
Okay, now that that’s out of the way we can properly discuss Hit List. As Derek and Scott prepare to pounce on the opportunity to get their show on Broadway, Jimmy decides this is a fine time to get fired. Good riddance! In a turn of events that maybe not too many saw coming, Tom’s ex, Sam, auditions to be Jimmy’s understudy. From what little we get to hear of Sam’s singing during his audition, it’s a fit that makes sense. Sam has a class and style that is desperately missing from Hit List. Also one would think Scott would approve of adding some color to the mix, and no a Black stage manager doesn’t count.
To be quite frank Hit List has a horrible plot, right? For a show with some really good songs, the plot simply rests on this “murder mystery” trickery which brings the show down to a phony level. After the show publicist Agnes mentions Hit List has a likeness to something cult such as The Rocky Horror Picture Show or Hedwig and the Angry Inch it’s hard not to crave that edgy, offbeat spirit from the show. But it’ll never get to that level (probably because of the lack of men dressed as women). Songs such as “The Goodbye Song” and “Don’t Let Me Know” are pretty decent (“pretty decent” here is measured by my willingness to dole out the change for an iTunes purchase) but the show as whole feels light on plot. Take for instance that fact that a majority of the musical numbers are just dancers wasting space on the stage swinging around chairs and iPads (Anyone else confused by the iPads?) There is a lack of substance that maybe could be fixed if Jimmy wrote his drug addiction into the script. Hey, they say write what you know!
The end is rather a somber one for the Smash cast. Tom and Julia are breaking up. Jimmy would prefer to get high than being famous on Broadway. Kyle’s boyfriend breaks up with him after it’s revealed Kyle cheated on him with Tom (which is still really, REALLY creepy). Ivy gives up sex with Derek in favor of a Girls marathon (Girls is great and all, but not better than sex with a sultry Brit) and Derek ends up walking Karen “all the way home” if you get my drift.