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Smash – Why does this feel like a holding pattern?

The episode might be called 'Let's Be Bad,' but aside from drunken Ivy, the only 'bad' in this was the show's lack of advancement.

- Season 1, Episode 5 - "Let's Be Bad"

 

We were promised all sorts of drama in this week’s Smash. So why did it feel like we got strung along?

“Let’s Be Bad” didn’t show us anything new about any of the characters, and didn’t really live up to much of what we were given in the promos. In fact, some of the exact same clips that we saw in last week’s commercial reappeared again in next week’s teaser! It felt like a little bit of a bait and switch, and left me cold.

Here’s what didn’t work:

  • We get it: Ivy has developed into a diva. That was painfully established last week, and I’m happy to take it as read and move on. I didn’t need to see her unable to even take a compliment. For me, she’s bordering on unwatchable, and that’s not good when I’m talking about a show’s co-lead.
  • Let’s also take as read that Derek is an a-hole. I’m surprised that Dev isn’t tired of hearing Karen complain about him already. I certainly am.
  • If Ivy and Derek are going to fight all the time, can the fights at least last more than two minutes and not end with Ivy folding like a cheap house of cards? It’s hard to take her seriously when I know she’s just going to hop back into bed with him.
  • The romantic tension between Julia and Michael still feels heavy-handed to me. If you saw the teaser for next week, what happens with them didn’t surprise me at all … in fact, it had me rolling my eyes a little.

The episode wasn’t entirely worthless, though. There were some things I liked:

  • For what it’s worth, the musical numbers in this show are still first-rate. For those few minutes, it’s like watching a broadcast of a stage production. The question is: will that novelty wear off, especially since those segments are such a small part of the show?
  • ┬áIt was nice to see some of the minor characters (Julia’s son Leo and Tom’s boyfriend John) have slightly larger parts to play in this episode. One of my recurring pet peeves is shows where characters are parents but we only see them parent when it’s convenient for the story. Hopefully we’ll see more of Leo after this episode.
  • As much as I don’t care about Julia and Michael, it was nice to hear that she was behind on her pages. At least the subplot appears to have consequences.
  • I’m going to sound like a broken record, but damned if Jack Davenport doesn’t throw a spark into the narrative every time Derek is in a scene. It’s the nature of his role, but he gets the more in-your-face material and he takes advantage of that. And Derek has a very valid point when he tells drunken Ivy where he’s coming from. He’s very focused on making the best musical he can, whether it’s staying up late or ticking off his girlfriend. All that has to come second, and she’s either going to have to grasp that or get out of the way. (Hopefully the latter.)

I’m still somewhat in the same place with Smash that I was last week. I like that the musical theatre world is getting some airtime, and I love that I get to see Jack Davenport every week, because I maintain he’s one of the best actors I’ve ever seen. But I’m not very fond of the soapier aspects. There’s so much more to talk about in this world than who’s sleeping with who.

Here’s to hoping next week the drama reaches a head, and perhaps in that happening we’ll branch out into some more storylines.

Photo Credit: NBC

Categories: | Episode Reviews | Features | General | News | Smash | TV Shows |

One Response to “Smash – Why does this feel like a holding pattern?”

March 9, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Very, very soapy this week. Derek rejects Ivy. Ivy is bitchy to Karen. Ivy goes to see Derek, sleeps with him again to get him to like her again. Julia tries to avoid Michael. Michael flirts with Julia. Michael kisses Julia. And of course, Julia’s son oversees. I feel like I’m watching recycled “Dynasty” episodes from the mid-80s. It’s not what I signed up for with “Smash”.

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