In which the series returns to some of its better instincts, while continuing to indulge it’s bad ones.
After a decent premiere and a shaky follow-up, Smash returns to some of its Season 1 strengths here in week 3.
“The Dramaturg” draws its title from the nomenclature (mis)applied to script doctor Peter Gillman, who Eileen hires to give Bombshell‘s book a makeover. Meanwhile, Derek bonds with Victoria as he preps a Wiz presentation, Jimmy and Kyle fight for their time with Derek and Karen, and Ivy books her first role on the Broad Way!
A lot works in the episode, mostly the stuff centered around Derek. I think that when Smash actually decides to get into the nuts and bolts stuff about building a show, it’s actually pretty interesting, and he’s the character that most often exemplifies this.
He touches most of the story lines this week, and I loved his thoughts on a Wiz concept, his jockeying for an audition, and his evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of Jimmy and Kyle’s Hit List book, as well.
I also dug the scenes of Julia and Peter arguing about the show, as well, even as I watch seeds get planted for their inevitable hookup later this year. Seed-planting also occurs in the final beats of the episode, setting up the inevitable Jimmy/Karen pairing as well, particularly in the on-the-nose story presentation for Hit List.
But let’s back up a bit – WHAT THE HECK IS THIS JIMMY STORYLINE?
Almost every time Jimmy was onscreen, all I could do was roll my eyes. He appears to break and enter into some random office to steal back his own script pages, gets beat, and literally whines about EVERYTHING. After their meeting with Derek gets cancelled and he laments how it will get rescheduled in “like 8 months…or never”, I just want to smack the kid.
Hopefully the reveal that Jimmy found Kyle in a basket on his doorstep and he swore an oath to protect him at all costs will emerge sooner rather than later, so the softening can commence. We already know Jimmy’s backstory, thanks to the Hit List presentation. As a final note on this, I will admit that I wrote down “Jimmy is the new Ellis” at one point. Yuh oh.
Speaking of which, Hit List actually does sound like an interesting show, and the music continues to interest me (this week represented by “I Could Be Good for You,” sung by a pink-haired, crowd surfing Kat McPhee). So, too, do our occasional new Shaiman/Whitman gems from Bombshell. Matt Bogart guest stars (as…himself?) to give us a bossa-nova tinged “Just Us Two” that could totally have been a cut song from Catch Me If You Can.
Finally, let’s all let out a big sigh of relief, for Ivy Lynn is off to Broadway! She booked Cecille in a new revival of Liaisons, a made-up musical version of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Ivy beats out Jen Damiano and Jessie Mueller (proving that the casting directors really had no idea what they wanted), thanks to the coaching of Tom, who should totally direct. We’ll see where that one goes in the future.
In general, I’m happy to report this was a step up, with great direction on all the numbers and a returned focus on some of the series’ strengths. As long as “making a musical” is the focus of Smash, it tends to work. It’s too bad that the production cycle isn’t going to allow a ton of course correction on the misfiring Jeremy Jordan storyline, but hopefully it starts to improve as Jimmy has less and less to be bitter about.