Tuesday, March 20, 2012

'Smash' Review - 1.07 The Workshop

        In the newest episode of NBC's Smash, Eileen, Derek and the team present Marilyn The Musical to would-be investors; Ivy is under pressure to perform as her mother, Broadway star Leigh Conroy, undermines her at every turn; Karen must decide between the workshop and a meeting with a music producer; and Julia and Michael must face up to the consequences of their actions.

        Throughout the past few episodes, it has become rather apparent that when Smash focuses on the drama surrounding the production of Marilyn, it is fantastic and when it delves into the personal stories it struggles and is rather hard to watch.
        As the title suggests, the main focus of this episode was the Marilyn team presenting all of the hard work they have been created to investors that could make or break them. The actual performance of the material was fantastic as we saw glimpses of past songs (Let Me Be Your Star, The 20th Century Fox Mambo, History is Made at Night, National Pastime) as well as a new one called "Lexington & 52nd Street." Michael led the vocals on the new song and it was definitely his best vocal performance on the show so far. It also wonderfully detailed the emotional angst between Marilyn and Joe DiMaggio in a way the show hadn't shown yet. However, the investors apparently say a different performance of the show than we did as most saw huge flaws in many elements of the production. I can understand that the writers did this in order to create better dramatic tension but if they were going to commit to that then why did they show us great production numbers for the musical? The two points just don't add up the way they should to intrigue the audience.
        As much as I hate the Julia-Michael affair, this was most definitely their best episode - and no it wasn't just because of their (supposed) breakup and his subsequent firing from the production. My biggest complaint of this story was why? Why would these two who have happy marriages (we haven't seen anything to contradict that assumption) want to risk everything just to be with each other. I only bring this up again because in this episode Julia sees the reality of it all when his family makes a surprise visit at rehearsal. She becomes physically ill and in turn desperately tries to stop it and Michael's very creepy behavior. Hopefully with the turn of events at the hour's end, we will see a different side in Julia's personal life going forward and not Michael making a scene about being fired and fighting to be with her even more stalker-like.
        Lastly the episode featured a guest appearance by Broadway legend Bernadette Peters as Ivy's famous Broadway mother, Leigh Conroy. Peters plays undermining well as the latest thorn in Ivy's ever-growing performance paranoia. After upstaging her daughter with a rousing performance of "Everything's Coming Up Roses," the two spend most of the hour with conflicting personas culminating in argument where Ivy compares her mother to Marilyn's own crazy absent mother. By not to worrying, everyone makes up by episode's end with Leigh claiming that Ivy will make it big one day. Overall Peters guest appearance was fun to watch and should make her upcoming re-appearance in the season finale very interesting as we see more from this show.

Side Notes:
  • Is Ellis going to learn everything by simply being around a corner and eavesdropping?
  • Eileen's budding friendship with bartender Nick is definitely unique and unexpected but like the rest of the show Eileen is at her best when interacting with Derek, Julia and Tom. 
  • The only explanation I can think of for Karen (stupidly) choosing the workshop over the meeting with the producer is that she still holds out hope that she will get the lead in Marilyn.
  • The less time seeing and talking about Leo the better.