Image credit: Craig Blankenhorn/NBC
THE LADY AND THE TIGER Or should I say Little Red Karenhood and the Big British Wolf?
Derek schemes to turn Marilyn into a techno-pop nightmare; somehow, this turns out not to be a good idea| Published Mar 27, 2012
Between the frenetic pacing, the gratuitous celebrity cameo -- Hi, Ryan Tedder! Bye, Ryan Tedder! -- and that cheese-tastic bowling alley number, tonight's episode of Smash reminded me of Glee. And I don't mean that in a good way. "The Workshop" was stuffed with drama, Bernadette Peters, and pure Broadway goodness. "The Coup," by contrast, was just stuffed with...stuff. Including a dull Dev plot that makes Juila's adoption look as fascinating as Inception by comparison.
Maybe this installment was so jittery and unfocused because Smash's characters are feeling jittery and unfocused after their less-than-triumphant workshop. Or maybe it was just an accidental whiff; after all, if you make 15 episodes of something, one of them is bound to be a dud. All I know is that this is the first time I've walked away from Smash without having one of its originals stuck in my head -- and that isn't a good sign.
Also not a good sign: Neither Marilyn's cast nor its writers have any idea whether Eileen intends to keep propelling their show forward. They're being kept in the dark because the producer and her director have secretly decided to try taking the musical in a different direction -- one that involves a new composer and creepy, bargain-brand Sleep No More masks. Because if there's one thing Marilyn is missing, it's Eau de Eyes Wide Shut.
Derek calls Karen to an out-of-the-way restaurant so that he can break the news to her, then drops another revelation: They want Iowa herself to perform the new song they've commissioned. Sweet, simple Karen used to live in Africa with all the little birdies and the little monkeys, so she doesn't really understand that agreeing to this is a big slap in the scarf to Tom and Julia.
Speaking of neck wear: Julia meets with Michael in a playground. She casually asks about his family; he reveals to his lover that his wife and son are frolicking at that very same playground. Ellis, you're off the hook: Michael, you're officially the worst. Anyway, DiMaggio intuits that he's been fired, then tries to save face by claiming that he would have quit anyway: "They're everything to me," he says, looking at the wife and kid he has suddenly deigned to care about. Whatever, Swift; go back to oversinging in your experimental Bruno Mars show.
Karen wants to cook some curry for Dev, but he blows her off to get dinner with hot New York Times reporter RJ. The reporter tells Dev that she's got dirt on his rival for the press secretary job. My eyes glaze over; it's been minutes and minutes since someone made a Sondheim reference. If I wanted to see cops, lawyers, or political intrigue, I would watch any other television show. Get it together, Smash!
Eileen, meanwhile, is busy spending time with her visiting daughter Katie. Katie is the kind of girl who devotes her life to helping the poor because she's secretly ashamed of how rich she is. The kid -- played by Grace Gummer, offspring of Meryl Streep's cheekbones -- lets her mother know that Jerry has dumped a cool $3 million in her trust fund. He's being generous specifically to spite Eileen. Wait, why can't Katie invest in Marilyn? Wouldn't that solve a lot of problems?
NEXT: My bad -- logic has no place on Smash!