Tuesday, February 28, 2012

smash thoughts episode four: the cost of art

(Eileen) I need some bubble wrap.
(Her assistant) Bubble wrap?
(Eileen) Yes, bubble wrap.  Perhaps you’ve heard of it.  (Shuts door).

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A little throwaway scene not even ten minutes into last night’s incredible episode of “Smash”, and it totally nails why I love this show.

Here’s a woman in Eileen (played by the incredible Anjelica Huston), who WAS the biggest thing going on Broadway.  Now, in the midst of a divorce in which her soon to be ex-husband has somehow (apparently) absconded with every cent in the escrow account, the potential play of a lifetime has fallen into her lap.

And how does she react to the bad news, and to the incredible opportunity?

By ordering bubble wrap.  I’m sure you’re saying “well sure she did Stevo!  Who doesn’t like to pop those bubbles every Christmas when you get two boxes full of them from your Aunt and Uncle (insert name here) in (insert state here)!”  And yes, I am one of you – popping bubble wrap rules.

But using that bubble wrap to cart off a million dollar plus work of art, in the hopes of hawking it for $200 grand to simply get a quarter-written musical off the ground?

Takes a belief in things unseen, not just in the playbook … not just in a cast of characters we’re still getting introduced to … but says everything about Eileen’s character.

If you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything.  (Which probably explains why I’m a lowly blogger with 10-15 core readers who works as a (jimmy johnson voice) puuurly paid accountant by day.)

Call me a dreamer, say I’m a little naïve … but I believe in the underdog.  The Lost Trailers sang that in a hit song last fall, and it’s kinda how I feel about this show, and the little production that could that is the show within the show.

I believe in the underdog.  And thankfully after last night, due to a VERY FORTUITOUS Juan Pablo Montoya crash of a lifetime at pretty much exactly 8:57pm … “Smash” posted its best ratings to date, all but ensuring a full season pickup … and eleven more of these recaps.

(“the biggest fan of this site” bashing his head against a marble counter repeatedly in frustration …)

Here then, are some relatively quick thoughts on last night’s “Smash”, it’s best episode to date, entitled “The Cost of Art”

* Best scene of the series so far: possibly Eileen and Julia’s chat right before the commercial break in her office, when Eileen offers a glass of something alcoholic (I’m guessing scotch) to Julia, who replies by noting “Drinking on the job!  I can get used to this!” before clanking glasses together. 

* Worst scene of the series so far: when Ivy has Karen and some backup singer removed during initial rehearsals.  I kinda like where the writers are taking Ivy … but she doesn’t strike anyone who has watched all four episodes as a bitch.  That was a bitch move.  Something, again, not in her nature to date.

* Worst scene of the night: Karen and Dev discussing Karen’s demotion.  For the love of God.  If you have that little self-confidence in yourself, what in the hell are you doing in a Broadway production?  And the snarky “well, she’s sleeping with the director” putdown.  Christ, how many people in this country have slept their way to the top?  Millions?  Billions?  More than McDonalds can put on a logo sign?  For God’s sake, get it over.  Lord knows countless potential “Big Brother” hosts such as myself have had to stash our pride away every summer watching a talentless bimbo “host” the show solely due to her relationship to the head of CBS.

* If you play the EW “scarf and tea” drinking game … you ended last night sober.  Sucks to be you people who seek a reason to drink beyond “escape from reality” (like me).

* Julia mocking Tom being set up on a date by his mom was hysterical.

 * On the other hand, Julia’s awkward moments around the potential DiMaggio (her ex-lover) plays out perfectly … awkward.

* I do have to honestly admit … as much as seeing Karen’s dream fall apart sucks for her … as the resident President of the “I Hate (Insert Foul Words Here) American Idol’s Season Five Runner Up” fan club, I kinda like seeing her get her come-uppance.

* On the other hand, “I could have slept with him.  But I didn’t.  That doesn’t make me stupid, or lame, or hick, or untalented.”  At the risk of offending the easily offendable, it does make you one of those four things honey, and possibly three.  (“Hick” seems pretty safely off the table.)

* I know a lot of critics blasted the “ensemble members take Karen out shopping” scene … but I actually kinda bought it.  They’re probably just as pissed off at being in the background as she is.  And if they can bribe her into the top slot, she might take them with her.  Yes, I think in scheming ways sometimes.

* “$80 million?  Huh.”  Again, I love scheming people … sometimes.  Eileen realizing that $200,000 out of $80 million is the equivalent of chucking a quarter at a bum asking for bus fare* played great.

(*: as always, the “Stevo Guide to How to Deal With the Destitute”: I am always willing to help those down and out in life … because half the time, I’m down and out in life … under one condition: be honest with me when you ask me for money.  Don’t come up to me with some lame “I need a couple bucks to catch the bus” bullshit.  I know how crappy the KCATA is.  I’ve lived it in the last couple weeks.  You ain’t using my spare change or spare $1 bills for “bus fare”.  You’re using it for Newport’s or some one-shotter of booze.  And you know what?  That’s fine!  Honest to God, that’s great!  Just be honest about it!  If a grimy looking dude comes up to me and goes “man, I need a couple bucks for a one hitter”, I’ll fork over the $3 if I have it on me.  If he asks for bus fare?  In the words of my (still honorary) Uncle Geno: Fuhgedaboudit!)

* I love how an “intervention” on Broadway involves overhauling a wardrobe.  Beats the hell out of my “you drink too much, you gamble too much” intervention from a decade ago.  That was NOT good times, let me tell you.

* I’m just asking: how the hell do single chicks manage to zip up fancy dresses in the back?  Sadly … ok fine, pathetically embarrassingly … I’m being serious with that question …

* Funniest “Insider Addict to this Show” Scene: when Ivy (finally) steps foot in Derek’s apartment for Lyle’s birthday bash … and IMMEDIATELY checks out the pipes on the ceiling for damage.  The “DJ School of Convenient Excuses For Why We Only Hook Up at Your Place” EPICALLY failed on that one!  (And yes, had me laughing out loud.)

* Most UNBELIEVABLE Scene of the New Century: was that a glass of alcohol (granted, champagne) on a piano with a Jonas brother playing said piano?!?!  Or is it just sex they’ve sworn off?  I swear, our society is so f*cked up, I can’t even keep track with what f*ck up is #trending nowadays.

* And to the critics who hated that scene, because “who would POSSIBLY hog the scene at their own birthday party”?  Uum, you apparently don’t know half the ego-maniacs that I do.  Let alone that Hollywood and Broadway possess.

* “Your place is beautiful” while looking behind her.  Great “I see RIGHT through your shit Derek” moment.  (What, you thought the “DJ School of Convenient Excuses” stood for … uum, anyone other than Derek?  My bad, my bad (rimshot!)  Thank you, thank you, I’m here until someone chucks another bowling ball at me.  Then you can visit me at some third-rate hospital where I’m receiving fourth-world treatment.)

* Wait, a Jonas brother is joking about “showing you the bedrooms”?!?!  I swear to GOD, I thought they were all about the waiting until marriage mantra that not even the ancient Egyptians were dumb enough to fall for?  (And they were dumb enough to interpret conditions worse than last night’s Daytona 500 as “it’s cool, it’ll pass” for crying out loud!)  Am I missing something obvious here?

* “Seriously, I had no intention on going out on a date my mother set up for me, but then I checked you out online and thought, wow, yay mom!”  OK, I don’t care what you think about gay people*, that is one damned funny moment.

(*: this site supports the words of the founding document of this nation: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all (people) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  If that offends you, good.  King George III was pretty damned offended by those words as well.)

* And then Eileen runs into the Jonas brother … excuse me, Lyle, “hiding” on the stairs.  In his defense – and I actually mean this – if someone threw me a huge surprise party?  I’d be hiding on the couch.  So stairs in loft on the West Side = couch in South KC?  Yup, I buy it.  Sadly.

* The incredible thing about that scene … is that whatever Jonas that kid is, holds his own against Anjelica Huston.  Unreal.

* “Rumor Has It” by Adele!  Not bad.  And to one reader of this site who thinks Adele’s “21” is the greatest thing since the dugout was “invented”, a reason to give this show a chance!

* Again, from the “I love a schemer willing to do anything to stay afloat” department … well, Eileen kinda hit rock bottom there … but again, sometimes (three west mafia voice) it’s hard out there for a pimp … yes, I just worked that into a post, because I am #epicawesome like that …

* Wait … Derek and Tom were friends?  Not just friends, but “best of friends”?  Christ, not even I’ve pissed away a friendship this badly!

* the USO number rocked.  This, honestly, is the best musical sequence yet.  “I’ve never met a wolf who didn’t love to howl!  I’ve never met a man who didn’t like to prowl!”  Honestly not sure what was funnier at the end of that sequence: Ivy asking a Jonas brother “are you still interested in showing me those bedrooms” … or the Jonas brother damned near nutting on the spot when walking off with her.  Gotta go with the latter, if only because , uum, well, in his spot, with a chica that hot and a performance that hot, I’d, uuh … LETS JUST MOVE ON … NOTHING TO SEE HERE PEOPLE …

* Again: if you can’t make fun of yourself, then expect to get made fun of.  I know that’s a Steve Rule.

(unsolved mysteries voice) UPDATE:  My God, it really IS a Steve Rule!  Number 45!  Take THAT, Agent Gibbs!)

* “Don’t, Derek, don’t.”
“What?”
“Everyone saw you.”
“Everyone saw what?”
“Everyone saw your hand on her ass.”
(pause)
“Ivy!  Everyone at this party is a potential investor …”

That’s classic.

* The final scene at the bar didn’t do much for me.  Having said that …

We’re four episodes in, and this show is a winner in my books.  The last show I liked this much four episodes in was “Swingtown” four years ago, and at that point, they’d had two classic episodes (the “Pilot” and “Cabin Fever”, that I still pull up on iTunes every now and then to rewatch).  “Smash”?  Has two classic episodes – the “Pilot”, and “The Cost of Art”, with two “move the pieces” episodes in between as well.

The fifth episode is the key.  "Swingtown"'s was awful.  Here's a toast to believing "Smash"'s will be better.

Or at least not be worse ...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Charles Nelson Reilly