Smash Discussion Post – “Fringe” (Recap Added)

So, Smash fans, what did we think of last week? Although I loved the way the episode closed with a bit of cliffhanger, I do have some gripes to address. Let’s run through them briefly.

First: Can’t the writers make better use of two extremely talented actresses? Megan Hilty and Angelica Huston have either unnecessarily over dramatic or pointless story lines in my opinion. After reading some of the comments from last week, it seems I’m in the minority, but I don’t care to see Ivy working in Dangerous Liasons with Sean Hayes’ character, Terry Falls. Regardless of either of their talent, I want to see Ivy front and center in the Bombshell drama. This side story she’s in just seems like the writer’s didn’t know where to put her while they address the two other shows, Hit List and Bombshell. Oh yeah, and having Eileen fall in love with a convict and sobbing during a prison-visit breakup scene? C’mon! Last season this was a determined, strong power-woman ready to prove to the world she didn’t need a man to be successful.

Second: Jimmy and Kyle seriously be buggin’–like seriously. Mostly Jimmy though. Why does this grown man act like a toddler and throw an complete hissy fit anytime something doesn’t go exactly how he wants it to? I mean, maybe that’s just his character’s trait or whatever, but I’m just bugged. Did I mention he bugs me?

Third: This show is so difficult to recap! Given, it is likely poor writing skills on my part, but it’s like a roller coaster. Not a fun, exciting one either. And maybe roller coaster is a poor comparison. The point is, it’s rare to see a scene that lasts longer than a minute. We’ve got what seems like 20 separate story lines and characters jumping back and forth–essentially chopping the episode up into a collection of super short scenes. Oh, and the scenes range from amazing musical numbers to randomly ridiculous fantasy-land numbers. From terrible acting and poor writing to brilliant acting and smart twists. I’m left drained and confused about which story is supposed to matter at the end of every episode. CAN’T WE JUST FOCUS ON BOMBSHELL AND ONLY BOMBSHELL? Sheesh, maybe I’m stuck with this one-track mindset, but hey…it’s how I feel, peeps.

Oh, and lastly: I love Katharine Mcphee so much. Why can’t she be a better actress? Whhhhhhhhhy?! It tears me apart to read the comments every week and see her get ripped apart–especially when I’m entirely aware that most of you are spot on with your critiques. Girl better catch another break somehow when this show gets cancelled. As MJ mentioned last week, it’s in seriously trouble.

Anyway, have fun watching tonight! I’ll have the recap ready to go tomorrow morning!

RECAP:

By the look on Julia’s face, it seems that Eileen went with the older Bombshell book that Tom secretly sent him behind Julia’s back (still can’t believe he did that). Oh, and Derek is just as pissed off as she is. He’s directing the show like he couldn’t care less about what’s happening. “This show is for tourists,” he grumbles. And Julia is convinced her new book was “the best thing she’s ever written.”

Meanwhile, Jimmy and Kyle have to perform their new show, Hit List, in less than the 24 hours, and the theater looks like some rundown dive bar. But surprise, surprise. Spoiled brat Jimmy must’ve ate his breakfast this morning—he’s actually optimistic about the whole situation, even when Karen is forced to leave for Bombshell rehearsals. Kyle, however, seems baffled by the fact that the star of a Broadway has to actually show up to rehearsals.

On her way to the contentious rehearsal, Karen runs into Ivy. They both proclaim their respective shows are going great. Ha. Karen is dealing with evil ex-husband Jerry as a producer and Ivy is stuck with a lunatic co-star—and a pointless story line.

Back in Bombshell rehearsals, Jerry is even taking his destroying of the show to a whole new level. He’s insisting they cut “Never Give All the Heart.” Julia and Derek can’t believe it, especially since Eileen is defending this decision to cut one of the best numbers in show. “You just said ‘Jerry’s right’ for the third time this week,” Julia says to Eileen. “Has everyone lost their mind”?!

No worries—Tom insists he’ll somehow talk with Eileen and get the number back in the show. “Get me my song back and we’ll talk,” demands Julia.

What comes next is some bad news for our writing duo Jimmy and Kyle. Jerry continues being the worst human being ever by dropping a bomb on Karen. He discovered her profile in a magazine covering the season’s upcoming “fringes”—a Broadway term a somewhat understand (sorry, too lazy to use the Google machine right now).

“The whole show is centered around ‘introducing Karen Cartwright,’” says Jerry. I have to say, I can understand where he’s coming from. How does it make any sense that Karen wouldn’t be focusing all of her efforts on her big break? Oh yeah, because Smash is all about random story lines now—hence, Hit List. Anyway, Jerry said if she does the fringe, she can’t come back to Bombshell.

Here’s the Jimmy we all know and hate. Of course, Karen is bailing on their fringe six hours before show time, so I guess I’ll give the toddler a break this time.

In a short Ivy and Derek scene, he gives her some encouragement, saying that if you can be good in a bad show, that’s great. Really? He tells her to forget Terry, block out the white noise, and do the show the way it’s supposed to be done.

Oh look, Julia is back with Peter, who seems to be her new writing partner, apparently. It’s pretty obvious they’re crushin’ on each other as they sit at a romantic dinner, sipping wine and confiding in each other. And if that weren’t a big enough sign, Peter starts in on this crazy idea that Julia should leave Bombshell, grab Leo, and jet off to London with him to work on a new show. After all, he “loves” working with her. Ugh…Peter, don’t even mention the name “Leo.” Thanks. Peter also does some major dissing on Tom during dinner. “It seems like he’s already left you,” he explains to a surprised Julia.

Remember how Tom promised to get “Never Give All the Heart” back into the show? He’s meeting with Jerry and Eileen to try and make good on that promise. And after some back and forth, he’s given a challenge. Jerry and Eileen explain that he has 24 hours to make the song more exciting and less of a “downer,” because Jerry thinks “that song is too intellectual.” *eye roll * “I like songs that make me feel something,” he says. Please shut up, Jerry.

Hey, it looks like the fringe for Hit List is back on. They’ve found a mediocre replacement, and Karen is there to support Jimmy, who is now being described as “the Hulk” because of his childish outbursts. (Hmm…I’ll have to remember to tell my brother that his children are just imitating the Hulk every time they throw an unnecessary tempter tantrum.)

Oh boy, Karen bumps into Ellis’ ex-girlfriend. Apparently he’s gay. (OMG, that is SO shocking, you guys. I had NO idea. Did you? He seemed so heterosexual! Right?) *quadruple eye roll * Anyway, she explains to Karen that she hasn’t heard from him since he started working with Jerry. Say whuuuut? Yeah, Karen seems puzzles as well.

Back at the boys apartment, Kyle reads a horrible tweet about the show. Jimmy—who’s rolling a joint—says they need to cancel the next show. Kyle’s not having it, which leads to another infamous tantrum from Jimmy. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get high and then go to work,” he declares while storming out. Man Smash writers, you guys are really shooting for that Emmy with this dialogue, aren’t ya.

There’s a press event for Dangerous Liaisons that goes horrible and blah blah… Don’t. Care.

We’ve finally reached the big rehearsal where Tom needs to pitch “Never Give All the Heart” in a more exciting way. He’s coaching—or should we say directing—Karen in a new direction. Derek isn’t liking this one bit. The song is performed, and I don’t like it as much as the original. Seems I’m in the minority though. Julia, Jerry, and Eileen all love it. Derek on the other hand, hates it. He has a huge standoff with Tom and goes on a bit of tirade, addressing the faults of each person in the room. Then it happens: he officially quits Bombshell.

(Can we talk about how awesome that scene was? See, writers? See how great Smash could be if you centered the story around Bombshell and the drama behind the production? Why The Hit List? Why Dangerous Liaisons? Why random guest stints? Whhhhhy?! Okay, rant over.)

Back to she show, Karen chases after Derek on the street and asks if he’s really quitting. (Oh my God, I hate saying this, but Katharine really is just such a terrible actress. I don’t know if it’s all her acting, or if it’s this character or what. But this scene…she just can’t act.) Eileen shows up and Karen explains she bumped into Ellis’ old girlfriend.

Back at the Dangerous Liaisons press event, it’s Ivy’s time to prove she’s the good part of a bad show. And she does just that by performing her big number and wooing everyone. They laugh, and they love it. Terry is not happy. So unhappy that he’s going to have her number cut. Ouch, Ivy.

Just when I thought Katharine couldn’t get any worse, she shows up at the fringe to talk with Jimmy. She begs him to not let his anger with her get in the way of the shows future. (I feel like Katharine Mcphee’s acting is equal to Britney Spears’ reality-competition-show judging. Am I right? It’s the deadness behind their eyes. Their inability to emote in any way.)

We head back to Ivy, who is discovered by Terry, crying on the stairs. She finally has it out with him and goes into every detail on how he’s ruining the show—how terrible he is. What’s this? Terry has a sudden epiphany and agrees with everything she’s saying. Really? Two seconds ago this was completely unlike the character of Terry? For some reason, he’s suddenly accepting critiques like their bouquets of flowers? And to add to it, the entire cast gets in on the bashing, explaining how he is ruining everything entirely. And of course—because it’s totally believable—Terry just loves the feedback and is ready to fix the show. *eye roll *

Back at the fringe, Jimmy has decided to go on with the show. Apparently Karen has two, because the two of them perform an incredible duet. Wow, maybe I can get on board with The Hit List if it’s as great as that song was. I’m not the only one who was impressed either. Derek is in the audience, and he seems mesmerized. Jimmy, Kyle, Karen, and Derek meet up backstage and seem to be celebrating the successful performance. A director from the Manhattan Theater Workshop interrupts their celebration to tell them how much he loved it as well. When he asks to meet the director, Derek jumps at the opportunity and claims directing responsibilities. Hmm…Looks like The Hit List might happen after all.

Good ol’ Tom and Julia go out for dinner and discuss Derek’s outburst and resignation from the show. Surprise…Tom thinks it is the best thing that could of happened. He thought Derek was what had become toxic in the show. But enough about that. Eileen shows up with the big news: she caught Jerry red-handed. She explains to them that Jerry paid off Ellis for information that would give him control over the entire show. So is she getting drinks ready to throw in his evil face? Nope. She’s not saying anything until she gets her show back.

Here’s the big ending. How will she do this without a director, they ask? We already have one, she says. We do? Tom and Julia are confused. Then Julia gets it. “Of course. We already have a director!” Tom is still confused until Eileen spells it out for him: it’s him, Tom is their director! “You wanna save Bombshell, or what,” Eileen asks. “I thought you’d never ask,” Tom replies as they cheers to the new director.

 

  • Kat Pack

    Listen to the FULL new Hit List song sung by Katharine & Jimmy! SO GOOD!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfJugzpJScc

  • pmreyn2010

    Regarding Katharine– I don’t think she’s the greatest actress. And I am a big Katharine fan. I think she has a terrific voice, and I don’t think the writing for ‘Karen’ is the greatest either… but she’s just not the greatest actress. Having said that, I enjoy watching her play Marilyn… just not so much Karen.

    In regards to Megan Hilty– very talented singer & actress. Ivy was ridiculously unlikable by the end of last season… I hope she gets balanced out & redeems herself.

  • Garrett Clayman

    Spot on right there, last week during “Public Relations” i was thinking, I get how Kat got the part of a Marilyn, I just have no idea how Karen got the part of Marilyn (or how Kat got the part of Karen for that matter)

  • ptslittlecomment

    Truly loved tonight’s show! The drama behind the drama, or comedy, or musical! And the prospect of “Ivy” as Marilyn…… Yeah!

  • sjames08

    Katherine probably beat out a lot of other actresses for the role because she can do justice playing Marilyn Monroe. And that was such a crucial part of the show in the first season. This season, not so much. Apart from that, I don’t see the chemistry between Jimmy and Karen. I find myself tuning out when it’s their scene. Then Ivy comes on and I’m happy again! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Li-Wright/100001622678180 Li Wright

    Bottom line, it’s poorly written. My fave network dramas are Nashville and Scandal. These writers know HOW to write for the woman viewer. I am so disappointed with Smash, having high hopes. And for them to yank Jennifer Hudson after five eps….wtf? She had one of the more interesting story lines — a BIG star that was trying to do GROWN up roles.
    Kat McPhee cannot carry this show and notice they have diminished her role. I dunno….I think this is a done and over TV show. I read somewhere that it’s not coming back for S3.
    Speilberg seems to have bad luck with TV. He had another show on FOX and it failed.

  • Larc

    I agree with poorly written. When Karen showed up at the Hit List bar/theater after Derek walked out of Smash, the dialog between her and Jimmy was so poor that it was downright painful to listen to.

  • http://twitter.com/KariannHart Kariann Hart

    Sorry, I replied at the other tread! I do believe Kat is IMPROVING in both singing and acting. The fact that I like her as a person may be why I feel as I do! I really love watching all that goes on in producing a show. I know SMASH is ending soon, but at least we got to see some great musical numbers! Meghan is terrific!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7LS7KC5AHEOV5R27XD7GCWBHFU J

    I like Kat as a performer, but not as an actress. That being said, she doesn’t make or break the show for me. I still like her performances and it’s an ensemble. There is good talent on the show, but the writing this season has become horrendous. I hate the way the female characters are being written. Where have all the strong women gone?

    And I seriously hate that Jimmy character. Are whiny brats really supposed to be attractive? If Karen has to be reduced to making her career decisions to please a guy, couldn’t they at least have given her a MAN to pine after? Why is this snotty little boy suddenly such a big part of the show?

    I agree with those who like Nashville better. It has that behind-the-scenes feel and actually seems believable.

  • Niall

    Kat’s weaknesses as an actress are made obvious mostly due to being in the same show with the incredible Megan Hilty. Kat isn’t bad but she’s limited, and those limitations become obvious around Megan.

  • Niall

    Katharine got the role because Steven Spielberg was a fan of hers back to AI. She was pegged for this role long before the pilot was filmed.

  • mjsbigblog

    Megan Hilty just lights up the television screen. She’s amazing. I’ll never understand why the show isn’t built around her.

    And Steven Spielberg wanted to fire her! No wonder Smash is a trainwreck.

    I’m still watching, tho.

  • mmb

    Sigh. Feel like I’m beating a dead horse. Kat is so beautiful and such a good singer and pretty good dancer too. But last night I repeatedly wanted to thrust my arms through the TV, grab her, and shake her awake. She plays the character in such a sleepy, lethargic, dead-eyed, quiet manner. Why?!? Yes, the character is very poorly written, totally not her fault. Yes, the audience was hammered over the head with “Karen is the greatest thing to happen to Broadway since Hugh Jackman” season 1 (with no apparent reason why). But come on Kat, perk things up a bit. Unfortunately her character/acting/whatever you want to blame it on really does adversely effect my enjoyment of the show. It just doesn’t work and I tune out during every scene she is in — except for when she is singing songs from Bombshell or Hit List, all of which she delivers well. This is her big break — and she is a talented performer who deserves a big break. But its all gone horribly wrong. The show is so good in concept, so poor in execution. Such a bummer

  • mmb

    I’m all for any show built around Megan Hilty! Maybe we can get a spin off of a show with Megan Hilty and Christian Borle. Maybe throw Kristen Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Taye Diggs and Jesse L. Martin in the mix

  • jpfan2

    There’s no drama in the show at all. The Jimmy character is beyond horrible. Nothing he says or does makes sense. Ditto for Karen. Kat is fun in the musical numbers but horribly subpar as an actress. Still love Megan even if her character also makes no sense if you watched S1.
    What a mess.

  • usedtobelucy

    “Oh, and lastly: I love Katharine Mcphee so much. Why can’t she be a
    better actress? Whhhhhhhhhy?! It tears me apart to read the comments
    every week and see her get ripped apart–”

    I’m with you on finding this terribly sad. Mainly because it’s always been my impression that Katharine’s much more committed to *being* an actress than she is committed to being a singer. Seems to me that acting has always been her biggest aspiration. ….

    Anyway, sad for her (and for the audience, especially those of us who’d like to see her do very well…)..

    I still espouse the theory I developed during her AI season — she may be fundamentally too self-conscious (without being terribly self-aware), people-pleasing, insecure, and the like, to ever be a really good actor. To act, you have to let go of yourself and lose yourself in the role, let all your deep and sometimes worst stuff just fly out of you, not think about how you’re presenting yourself, etc., I believe. And she just doesn’t seem to have it in her to do those things — so she’s always sort of half in the character/half out, a little stiff… you can see the space between her and the character really easily, a lot of the time, in my opinion. You can see that she’s earnest, and workmanlike, in what she does, but not very moving or, often, entirely convincing. Especially compared to some of the major talent she’s sharing the camera with in this show. Wish she could get over this, but it doesn’t look as if that’s going to be, at this point.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    MJ wrote:

    “Megan Hilty just lights up the television screen. She’s amazing. I’ll never understand why the show isn’t built around her.”

    Totally agree. I find myself waiting for Megan to be onscreen and being rather bored when she’s not. IMO, she’s an outstanding performer and a very good actress, and I find it pretty unbelievable that Kat was chosen over her for the lead in “Bombshell”. I love Christian Borle (Tom) and there’s too little of him in the show as well for my taste.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Li-Wright/100001622678180 Li Wright

    WELL FINALLY! An episode worth watching. A storyline worth getting interested in. Fighting producers, fighting songwriters. And the knives come out! Kat McPhee is still a limp of an actress, everybody is acting rings around her.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Li-Wright/100001622678180 Li Wright

    I think her role as a star will be diminished, if the show lasts beyond this season. Notice the story lines are moving more towards the producers and the writers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Li-Wright/100001622678180 Li Wright

    Agree….finally the writing is picking up. Just saw it today on hulu.