Smash: Seeing Sparks

Smash S01E06: "Chemistry"

I'm seriously going to find somewhere else to keep my diary. Not that the Lisa Frank notebook that I keep trussed up in 17 layers of rubber bands appear to have been tampered with, but what other explanation can you give me for Smash being so exactly on point last night with where I want the series to go? Sure, there was a tiny misstep in "Chemistry," but otherwise the series fired up the stakes without sacrificing either of the dueling Marilyns' likability. It was the episode we've been waiting for, and not only said "GAME ON" to our rivals Karen and Ivy, but took the time to give their competition some compelling depth.

Namely, DRUGS. Ivy losing her voice due to stress and strain isn't just a realistic threat for a Broadway star, her "sensitivity to drugs" gave her the perfect excuse as a character to blow her top in rehearsal, take down Derek, and put the spotlight on Karen. Not that Karen needs any more spotlight than she's already been enjoying.

I'm not a Katharine McPhee fan, nor am I particularly fond of Florence and her Machines, but Karen's rendition of "Devil on my Back" was undeniably gorgeous. No wonder a major producer gave her his card—someone who sounds that produced live is going to save him a ton of money on equipment. Seriously though, Katharine's virtuosity is undeniable, that performance captivated me right alongside those adorably awkward teens who formed an impromptu mosh pit at her feet. (And who, due to that mini dress, probably got quite an eyeful. That little boy became a man last night, in more than one way.) The idea that Karen might have a huge offer to use as leverage in the future is a brilliant move. Cannot wait to see what happens with this storyline.

Ivy's predicament—choosing between her job and using steroids—is one that Broadway stars actually face, and the pressure on her to perform was illustrated beautifully in three scenes of mounting tension: Derek waking to Ivy's voice breaking, Ivy nervously practicing in the mirror and being interrupted right before the trickiest note, and then her voice failing her in front of Eileen was absolutely ingenious pacing. I felt for Ivy. Unfortunately, when she was trying out her vocal chords after her steroids, the show gave her a weird bed top music video that broke the fourth wall about 18 too many times. I'm all about singing in your bedroom at the top of your lungs, but at least one shot revealing that Ivy was singing to her wall versus the camera would have been nice. Still, the show continues to fight to keep the music embedded naturally in the plot, and the effort is greatly appreciated.

Also appreciated: There were no whispers about adoption in this episode. Julia was going into desire-induced seizures, trying to make pancakes instead of lusting after other men, meanwhile Frank returned and showed her his periodic element flashcards. Oh, Frank.

It did make me laugh how much flour Debra Messing had on her pajamas. I get she's bad a cooking, but what exactly happened here?

The son got as few lines as possible, which was another great decision, and Julia and Michael had a weird, sizzling meet-up in the rehearsal room. Okay, I don't believe in adultery, and if Julia were a real person I'd be indignant and whatnot, but this is great decision making for the future of the show. Michael simply pulling the shirt off Julia to stare longingly at her flapjacks was kind of hilarious, but also shamelessly romantic. I mean, what middle-aged woman trapped in the world's most comfortable marriage wouldn't swoon over a smoldering dreamboat who's unable to sleep because he's plagued by the memory of bespectacled, sweater-robe enthusiast Julia? In a daring move, the show rewarded the characters for giving into their illicit urges, allowing Julia to finally finish some lyrics after being ravished on that old leather couch. it was Very Sensuous for network TV, and while you may feel iffy about breaking marriage vows, adulterous affairs have been the basis of good drama for centuries, and it's working for Smash. Baby it is WORKING.

Eileen and Ellis are forming a mutually beneficial relationship. I love Anjelica Huston but I do not understand this plotline anymore. She is charmed by dive bars and video games, and Ellis is making himself useful by being a villainous gossip. It's pretty obvious that he will hold Eileen hostage in some way by exploiting her the way he's exploiting every other connection he has in helping her, but can we assume that Eileen knows that? She's been at this longer than he has and seems to be handling him with one raven eyebrow raised. Whatever dance of destruction they're about to begin, let's just hope it's kept as relegated to the sidelines going forward as it was last night.

The best thing about this episode was that Karen was bandied about as a replacement for Ivy by not only Derek and Karen, but also by Tom. She's clearly being prepped to take Ivy's place, and with that card clearly on the table alongside Ivy's drug-addled behavior, the pressure cooker has finally warmed up and things are getting hot. As usual, this episode ended way too soon, and after giving our ladies short shrift last week, it went a long way to repairing my high opinion of this show. You're still my star, Smash.


QUESTIONS:

– Is Eileen using Ellis or vice versa?

– With Ivy unraveling, how many episodes until Karen fills in for her at rehearsal?

– Julia and Michael: hot, gross, or deeply upsetting?

– Is Derek consciously pushing Ivy past her limits or is he just a jerk?

– How long 'til Tom and Sporty Chorus Boy get together?


Finally, congratulations to LL305 for getting last week's Marilyn Trivia Question! Marilyn Monroe's first role was as an uncredited extra in The Shocking Miss Pilgrim. This week's question: Name all of Marilyn's stepchildren.

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Okay Hi, Im A Super Obsessed Smash Fan . Im Prolly The Biggest Fan Ever And I ReWatch The Episodes ALL THE TIME . One Of The Main Reasons I Watch Smash Is JULIA & MICHAEL . I Think Its The Best Part Of The Show . Chemistry Is Legit My Favorite Episode On Smash . . . For A Lot Of Reasons . But What Would Make The Whole Life ? If Julia & Frank Got Divorced And Michael & His Wife Get A Divorce And Then Their Family Will Be Julia, Michael, Leo, And Michael's Son . But Obviously That Will Never Happen :(



I HATE ELLIS . So So Much, But This Is Killing Me To Say This, But He Has Helped Eileen With Her Issues . . But It Was A BAD Idea To Cast Rebecca Duvall . -.- Overall, Ellis Could Just Die .



Karen Did AMAZING On Shake It Out, I Honestly Think Its A Bit Better Than The Original Song !



Derek Will Always Be A Jerk, But Now Hes Giving Ivy A Bit More Respect . But Yeah I Think Ivy Was KIND OF Over Reacting . Oh Well .



I LOVE JULIA AND MICHAEL SOSOSO MUCCHHH
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KATHERINE McPHEE's RENDITION OF THE FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE SONG WAS TERRIBLE! Seriously! Even Glee isn't THAT lame! I was incredibly annoyed by it - Florence Welch has an incredibly powerful voice, that having her covering it is just setting up for failure.



And I really love Anjelica Huston, especially with her dark hair, she reminds me so much of my Aunty. And when she was getting all excited about the dive bar - she is just so darn cute!
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I have to disagree with you, Katherine did an amazing job on the cover. As I love Florence + The Machine, I was rather excited to hear the song, and I love Katherine McPhee, so it was all good all around.
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Why did they give Micheal an adorable little family, I just can't root for breaking that little boy's heart :( Would've been so much hotter if he had a girlfriend who we all hated!!!!!!!
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Messing is usually seen as a do-no-wrong light hearted two dimensional character but that got turned on its ear with this added depth and it is appreciated. Often writers showcase the spouses getting cheated on as being people that should be cheated on since conventional wisdom says keep the main characters likable. In this case, one is cheating on a seemingly wonderful husband who wants to teach for the love of it and the other a new mom caring for their infant son. This cheating feels dirty and messy opening up the cheaters to be disliked. Certainly not the standard writing for broadcast.
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Katharine McPhee is so freaking talented...I have no idea why Taylor won american idol over her...that was just plain retarded. she should've won AI.



as for this show, yes, I like the direction, but a little too much drama. I guess that's what sells, but I wish the show would do more singing and dancing and less drama.



Karen is a fantastic character, katharine is just so damn talented and the one that plays Ivy is very talented as well. those two are the only reasons why I continue to watch this show.
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I LOVE Julia and Michael! They're the hottest couple in like forever.

Smash is awesome, please start watching (if you're not already) so the show doesn't get canceled!
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I'm not so down with this whole Julia / Michael thing. I can get over the they're-both-cheating-on-their-spouses thing, but Michael took things beyond that when he threatened to blackmail her by outing the relationship in front of the whole cast. From that point on, I was literally shouting "fire him for sexual harassment!" every time he said something to her.



As for that Bar Mitzvah, I was really surprised about how badly the writers missed the realism mark. While Karen's performance was good, there would never be a performance like that at a Bar Mitzvah! Bar Mitzvahs include 3 kinds of songs: upbeat jumpy dance songs, sappy slow dance songs, and quiet fade-into-the-background dinner-eating songs. The song we heard was probably the latter of those, but not really. I also thought it was weird that all the kids stopped what they were doing and went up to watch -- because that NEVER EVER happens! Plus, the singer isn't supposed to ever upstage the Bar Mitzvah boy. Anyway, I just thought that a show that's done New York so well so far should have been able to get the Jewish "culture" thing right too.



For the record, I was thinking the same thing about that dress and what exactly the boys in the front were so captivated by. Next time you try that, Karen, hop off the stage at least and sing from the dance floor!



I can't help but notice that your evaluation of Karen's awkward stool dance last week was much harsher than your critique of Ivy's awkward bed dance this week. I disagree. I had more trouble with this week's. While we can blame some of the weirdness on the drugs, I think the fact that Ivy was staring right at us the whole time (and not just the mirror, which would have made sense), made it much less believable.
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Lily doesn't like Karen. That much is obvious. Ivy, however, can do no wrong. :P
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you get that smudge on your forehead when you are cooking and push pack you hair with your spatula or you hand(which has flour on it)
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Best barmitzvah ever. Easily. Karen did a very good job with "Shake it Out", but the kids were so awkward. I'm sorry, but standing and shaking your right hand above your head is not dancing. I feel for Julia-she's in a tough spot. Definitely not "gross". But Michael is definitely being a jerk. He's recently married with a baby and insists on seducing Julia, despite her initial rejections. It's good that the Chinese adoption wasn't mentioned-it was unsuited for the dramatic tension they wanted to create.



Derek is, I think, both pushing Ivy and being a jerk. He's a jerky guy. He's self-centered. But, I think he's an excellent director so far. They're on a tight schedule and someone needs to be the hard ass. Ivy is overreacting a bit. She has no right to go diva, because she's not a star yet.



Eileen's story line is just weird...
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Great episode and a vast improvement over the previous one, That being said, it`s getting kind of annoying that the show is so inconsistent.... what do you think about that Lily?
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Katharine's Shake It Out was amazing. Her voice is truly spectacular.
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I liked the episode,, much improvement from last week's episode,, looking good NBC (for once.. or twice)
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the name of the song is "Shake It Out", she even says so before she sings :p. I love F+TM, I'm only a casual fan of Katharine McPhee but I thought this was a good performance... the audience, however, was horrible. wtf was up with that awkward dancing?! the whole cheating thing is such a cliche plotline and it's super annoying.. it's not as annoying as Ellis being such a kissass though



also, they released the original song but not the Jessie J and Florence + The Machine songs as singles? those much better than the original song..

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It could have been that maybe Fl+M would not sign away single rights, even cover single rights maybe? Sorry for mistaking the name! I am no longer up on what the kids listen to these days, and my old lady memory comes and it goes. Thanks for setting me straight though.
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"There were no whispers about adoption in this episode. Julia was going into desire-induced seizures,"



If they mention adoption one more time on the show it is I who is going into seizures...

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Yes, seriously, yes. So glad its being quickly swept under the rug. The ratings plummeted on the second episode which was ALL adoption so I think they've taken the hint.
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1. They are both using each other in their own way. Ellis is trying to weasel his way to the top ( I really dont like him) and Eileen is getting info and discovering new and exciting place with cute bartenders to boot!!

2. It s too soon for Karen to take the lead. I think they ll drag the story line on until Ivy has a complete melt down before the opening night and Karen will be called to save the day (show must go on)!!!

3. I get Julia getting swept off her feet by the singing shirtless hot guy but Michael has been married what? like 3 years? and his wife in not bad looking. Come on man, show some restrain.

4. Derek is a jerk, and Ivy knew what she was getting into. Never mix personal and professional. The weakest character will always end in tears!!

5. Opposites do attract, so its a matter of Tom confirming Chorus Boy's sexual preferences!!
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Shake It Out was awful, way too much autotune. Then again, I'm a huge Florence fan...



I agree that this episode was up from last week, although I had this feeling nothing really happened? The only story moving forward was Julia and Michael's, and this was the least enjoyable one in my opinion. This comes way too soon in the season (same with that kiss last week).. Have them swoon and back away over each other for a few more episodes, until finally giving in at the end of the season. The way things went now, I had absolutely no anticipation or interest in this happening, so I didn't care for it at all... But good episode overall!
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Love this show! Team Karen. I give it 2, 3 more episodes.
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The trivia question answer is Joe DiMaggio Jr And Jane and Robert miller.
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I couldn't be more disappointed with this show and the name of the song is actually Shake It Out.

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