Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The SMASH Reality Index Episode 15

Inspired by NYMag.com’s brilliant Reality Index recaps, Dave (@NineDaves, www.NineDaves.com) and I have teamed up to bring you our take on what’s keepin’ it real and what’s faking it each week on SMASH.

It's finally here. The season finale of SMASH. We’ve stuck by this show for 15 episodes, and this episode, “Bombshell,” is our reward. Or punishment, depending on how you look at it.

We’re still in Boston for previews, just shy of opening night. Our star Marilyn, Rebecca Duvall (Uma Thurman) has just quit the show, and now everyone is scrambling. Tom (Christian Borle) and Julia (Debra Messing) are writing one last song for the finale. Eileen (Anjelica Huston) is trying her best to be heard amongst a sea of disorganized creatives. And Derek (Jack Davenport) is spending an odd amount of time yelling for a wig. Oh, and we still need a Marilyn. Ahhh yes. The quest for the perfect Marilyn; something we thought we knew in episode 2 but apparently had to wait 13 more episodes to really find out. Would it be Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty), the girl with the experience and the pill problem, or Karen Cartwright (Katharine McPhee), the girl with the heart and the cheating fiancé?

SPOILER ALERT – it’s Karen Cartwright. Lame ass Karen Cartwright. The wrong choice, clearly. It’s not that Karen Cartwright isn’t talented. It’s not that she isn’t working hard. It’s just that… Ivy Lynn’s better. Ivy Lynn completely encompasses Marilyn (believe us – we saw Megan Hilty in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes this weekend – she was outstanding). Ivy Lynn deserved that role. Heck, if we saw Bombshell, we’d probably spend the whole time saying, “Why isn’t that girl in the chorus playing Marilyn? She looks perfect!” It looks like even in the make-believe theater world, an American Idol player gets top billing over a Broadway superstar. Just like when Ace Young and Diana DeGarmo came into Hair.

For what it’s worth, “Bombshell” was one of the best episodes of the season. That could be because we were treated to an episode free of any painful pop songs. As if the producers were like, “you’ve stuck with us this long – you theater people might as well pipe down have your showtunes.” We did get plenty of showtunes. A slew of returning hits (What up “Mr. and Mrs. Smith!), favorites we hadn’t seen staged yet, (“I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl”), and even a new ballad - “Don’t Forget Me.” Which is kind of strange considering the show already has 16 different ballads (“Let Me Be Your Star,” “Never Give All The Heart,” “Second Hand Baby Grand,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “History is Made at Night,” and “On Lexington and 52nd Street,” plus reprises of “Let Me Be Your Star,” “Second Hand Baby Grand,” and “Mr. And Mrs. Smith.”). Could Bombshell be the most ballad-heavy show ever?

While you’re answering that, here’s another question for you: Is Sam (Leslie Odom, Jr) actually in Bombshell? We’ve seen him rehearsing numbers with the ensemble before –but only in the rehearsal room. Has he ever put on a costume and performed with the rest of the ensemble? Is he playing someone special who doesn’t have to do that?

And is Ivy Lynn in any numbers besides the opening? Because she certainly had a ton of time on her hands to sit up in her dressing room and overdose on pills, now didn’t she? We guess we’ll have to wait and find out when SMASH returns for it’s second season in January. By then, Karen will probably be out as Marilyn, and Ivy will be back in the running, and we’ll be rolling our eyes out of our heads. Before we go, some housekeeping. Remember on Friday when Dave and I posted THE ULTIMATE SMASH BINGO GAME? Well guess what? Vulture picked it up. Totally crazy, right? A complete and utter honor – especially since the Reality Index was very much inspired from our friends over at Vulture. Bananas, we tell you.

Then a bunch of people were tuned into our stuff who haven’t been yet (Hi, by the way). Oh, and then we got to meet SMASH composers Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and SMASH star Megan Hilty, and give them copies of THE ULTIMATE SMASH BINGO GAME. And they totally loved it and OMFG.

But as cool as that’s been, it’s been the support we’ve received from you guys out there that’s really mattered. We just want to thank all of you for reading. We’ve had so much fun writing these this season and we really appreciate your feedback and support and healthy debates on Twitter. You guys floor us with your love, and we couldn’t be more grateful.

So yeah, we’re writing this week’s Index from beyond the grave because we’re dead.

Now let’s get to it:

Totally True
• It’s a Catch Me If You Can poster! We’re not just excited because we love the show, but because it’s the first square we were able to cross off on our bingo board.
• This fight between Tom, Derek, Julia, and Eileen feels realistic. They all have a lot at stake and picking the next Marilyn has taken ALL FUCKING SEASON.
• Eileen says it will cost half a million dollars to put the show on hold for a week.
• All the ensemble members are sitting in the lobby eavesdropping. They learned it from watching Ellis.
• Karen Cartwright thinks that Ivy Lynn is going to get the part. She’s the goddamn understudy and she still she feels like she’s not good enough. Oh Iowa.
• Karen Cartwright’s been engaged for less than 24 hours and she’s no longer referring to Dev by his first name, just as her fiancé.
• Michael Riedel of The Post calls to check in on things. Say what you will about him, but he always knows where the story is. Like a moth to the flame.
• Eileen Rand spins things to Michael Riedel that Rebecca Duvall is getting some “rest.”
• “Don’t talk to me about understudies. They don’t get rehearsed in until after previews.” Leigh Conroy knows what’s up. After all, she’s probably fired a few understudies in her life.
• Plus 100 for Tom’s outfit. Those pants and that sweater look exceptionally good on him.
• “There’s a lot of stuff she doesn’t know,” says Tom about Karen Cartwright. Like how much we don’t like her?
• The costumes don’t fit because Rebecca Duvall is “like a foot taller” than Karen Cartwright. Uma Thurman is a giant.
• “If you feel yourself panicking, ask for help,” Julia tells Karen Cartwright. “Now is the time. 
• Everyone loves you here and wants you to succeed.” Except for Ivy. Who just fucked your fiancé.
• Seconds after delivering the speech above, Julia and Tom make faces behind Karen Cartwright’s back.
• Karen Cartwright needs to make a phone call. Once again, to her “fiancé.”
• Ellis can’t believe this. He would be upset that he hadn’t snooped to find out this information beforehand.
• This:
     Julia: [hands song to Tom] “It’s good, I think.”
     Tom: [looks at Tom] “Maybe not so much, honey.”
     Julia: “Yeah, I know, it sucks.”
• Tom keeps telling Julia that they have so much time. Maybe the should call the new song “Denial.”
• “It’s a grand old theater story. Movie star goes out. The understudy goes in,” Eileen says on the phone. This is true. Just ask Sutton Foster. And Peggy Sawyer from 42nd Street.
• We still hate Ellis, but he has a point that Ivy Lynn should get the part.
• Eileen tries to dismiss Ellis by sending him on a Starbucks run for the creative team. Plus 10.
• “Everyone knows what I did,” Ellis says, referring to the fact that he put peanuts in Rebecca Duvall’s smoothie. Yeah, we called it last week.
• Eileen fires Ellis. And then throws a drink in his face. Plus a million.
• Ellis tells Eileen, “You haven’t heard the last of this.” Yeah, unfortunately, Ellis is a cockroach that • won’t be that easy to get rid of.
• We’re glad that “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” wasn’t cut from Bombshell. We like it.
• Derek is right. Karen Cartwright does look like a sack of turnips.
• Surprise! Derek is yelling again.
• Monica left Michael Swift. Because he cheated on her. And he’s an asshole.
• Frank sees Julia and Michael Swift together and assumes there’s something going on. Also, WE LOVE YOU BRIAN D’ARCY JAMES.
• Frank tells Julia he can’t even see her talking to Michael Swift. “I want to trust you, but I can’t do it,” he says. We want to hug him. PLEASE DON’T LEAVE US BRIAN D’ARCY JAMES. NOT WITHOUT SINGING TO US AGAIN.
• Ann Harada gets more than one line in this episode!
• We like watching Tom and Julia write together and we hope to see more of this next season.
• We see Karen Cartwright struggling through her quick change, which is something actors spend a fair amount of time rehearsing.
• Derek just wanted to see Karen Cartwright in her underwear.
• “Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl” is one of our favorite numbers. Though we’re unsure of why it’s suddenly set in Korea at a USO show, we’re glad it made the show. And we like seeing Ivy Lynn’s flashbacks.
• Ivy Lynn has the ring. Duh.
• “Yes, Derek, we’re all under a lot of pressure, but according to equity, there are still breaks,” Linda the stage manager says. Plus 10.
• Karen Cartwright has to practice her costume change. Again. Which is weird because she was good at taking off her clothes when she was in Derek’s apartment that one time.
• “Derek, I have had it up to here with you blowing me off,” Eileen says. “Now I have $7 million in this production, and I want a conversation right now.” Eileen Rand FTW.
• Karen Cartwright is eavesdropping on the conversation between Derek and Eileen. This shall now forever be called “pulling an Ellis.”
• Remember last week when we told you Ivy Lynn was going to tell about sleeping with Dev? Told ya.
• “It’s very Joe DiMaggio of him,” Ivy Lynn says in reference to Dev’s proposal. Figures even when she’s not playing Marilyn, she’s still wrapped up in Marilyn’s world.
• “Will you stop talking about Marilyn?” says Karen. “This is me. This is my life.” Have you watched this show?
• “I thought we were finished. I was drunk. It was a mistake,” Dev says when trying to explain why he slept with Ivy Lynn. First of all, this is his second affair. Second of all, the Ross and Rachel “we were on a break” isn’t going to work for you.
• Derek undermines Eileen. “I hate collaborating. I hate it. I’m an artist and storyteller and this is my vision and no one is going to get in my way. And if you want a hit then be quiet and I will give you one and afterwards you can say thank you.” GUUUURL.
• Jerry shows up. He would want to see how Eileen is doing.
• Sam and Tom talk art. “Art is a sick compulsion. Art is an ego gone haywire,” Tom says. “Art is beautiful,” Sam responds. We’re pretty sure he’s talking about Jesus.
• Eileen is pouring a drink while talking to Jerry. She always like to have one ready.
• Tom does his own orchestrations. How very Jason Robert Brown of him.
• Tom tries to add gospel into Bombshell. Because he just saw Sam in church. And Leap of Faith. #RIP #getoffthebus
• Julia tells Tom, “This is a disaster. It’s such a good musical.” Artists like to believe their work is good no matter how bad it is.
• Julia throws up because she is pregnant with Michael Swift’s child. OR IS SHE?
• Lyle West refers to Ivy Lynn as a “gorgeous blonde” and “spectacular.” He still has a crush on her.
• All the ensemble members are gossiping about Karen Cartwright leaving. Plus 10.
• “I’ll tell you one thing, Ivy wouldn’t run,” Bobby says. Fair-weather friend, as always.
• "If we have to cancel another preview, who knows what they’re going to write about us,” Eileen says, clearly having read Michael Riedel’s Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark columns.
• Everyone says break a leg to Karen Cartwright. Because that’s what you say in the theater.
• Ivy Lynn is pouting during this number. We’ve seen that expression before. When she was in Heaven on Earth. And we know what happened there. Quick, someone get Norbert Leo Butz! And lock the doors because she’ll run out with that costume on.
• Frank’s face while watching Michael Swift sing is priceless.
• Is it just us or does it sound like “Don’t Forget Me” was written at the last minute? Which it was. But it’s still a decent song.
• Ivy Lynn takes enough pills to kill herself. She IS Marilyn! That’s called method.

Oh Hell No!
• Tom and Julia are writing final lyrics sitting in the lobby as the house is open and the audience is filing in. They shouldn’t still be writing this close to curtain anyway, but at least go backstage.
• Again, as we mentioned last week, they don’t have Playbills in Boston.
• Tom and Julia cut through the house to get backstage. That’s what stage doors are for.
• Both Karen Cartwright’s and Ivy Lynn’s phones ring and everyone assumes that they’re going to find out who is playing Marilyn. Who do they think is calling? And why on earth would they receive a phone call to find out who gets the part when the entire creative team is on the other side of the door? AND THEY’VE BEEN EAVESDROPPING ON THEM THIS WHOLE TIME.
• Why is Ellis wearing a Gryffindor tie? Minus 10 because he’d be a Slytherin.
• Derek has to look at costumes to decide who should be Marilyn. What kind of sick fetish is this?
• Derek tells Karen Cartwright she’s going on as Marilyn in front of the whole company. Wouldn’t he take her aside first?
• Karen Cartwright going on as Marilyn.
• Derek says Karen Cartwright “has proven herself.” How?
• Why does Ellis care so much about Ivy? He only cares about himself unless he can get something from someone and what can she really do for him?
• “I didn’t get Rebecca Duvall out of your way so you could ignore me yet again.” That’s right, Ellis. • • Also, REMEMBER HOW YOU WERE THE ONE WHO SUGGESTED HER IN THE FIRST PLACE?
• Ellis says that Rebecca Duvall is “a nice enough person... for a movie star.” Clearly, he didn’t actually spend time with Uma Thurman.
• Why does Ellis think that poisoning Rebecca Duvall makes him a producer?
• “I thought you needed me. That’s why I came.” Michael Swift is being so Michael Swift.
• “I’m not running away from you,” Julia tells Michael Swift. “I’m running away from myself.” BARF.
• Hey look guys, it’s Boston. And by Boston, we mean Nyack.
• Leo is acting like a 10 year old. Why does his personality change so often? Sometimes he acts like a kid and sometimes he acts like an adult. And we hate him no matter what.
• “He wouldn’t even discuss it,” Tom complains to Julia regarding Derek. Yet just before that, Tom never fought to even discuss anything with Derek.
• “The good is bigger than bad” is apparently something, according to Tom. Sounds like a trite lyric to us.
• Karen Cartwright singing “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl” is so terrible. She is the second worst Marilyn ever. Rebecca Duvall being the first. Mira Sorvino being the third.
• Speaking of which, they retooled the show for somebody who couldn’t sing or dance, so did they go back to the original versions of all the songs when Rebecca Duvall left?
• Can we take points away again for Ellis singing at that party?
• In “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl,” there’s a line, “Leo the lion will be roaring your name.” We wonder if Julia wrote that line thinking about her son and now we hate it.
• The ensemble finishes “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl” and claps for themselves? No.
• Derek thinks that was beautiful? Seriously, what is happening inside Derek’s head?
• Derek basically admits to Ivy Lynn that he’s crazy and is having hallucinations of Karen Cartwright as Marilyn. Has he been taking her pills again?
• “She just has something that you don’t,” Derek tells Ivy Lynn. Like what? An American Idol runner up title?
• Who took that picture of Karen Cartwright and her friends singing “Redneck Woman” in that bar? And why is it hanging on her mirror?
• “Admittedly, that was thrilling,” Eileen says about “I Never Met a Wolf Who Didn’t Love to Howl.” What number were you watching, Eileen?
• Ivy is just sitting up in the dressing room, brushing her hair. Don’t you have somewhere to be?
• Dev says, “All this was tearing us apart.” You mean when she was in the ensemble of a workshop of a musical for what, a month? And then she went to Boston for a couple of more weeks? Or was it when you slept with RJ, you fucking dick?
• Eileen didn’t throw the drink in Jerry’s face. Minus 100.
• Karen Cartwright isn’t wearing a wig cap under her Marilyn wig.
• This is Karen Cartwright’s long-time dream. She’s not just going to leave because of her stupid boyfriend.
• Why would Lyle bring that super-expensive painting back to Boston? Where Eileen doesn’t live?
• “She’s mine now,” Derek says to Dev. Because Karen Cartwright is a property that can just be traded, obviously.
• Karen Cartwright leaves a trail of clothing items, like breadcrumbs. First of all, that would never happen. Second of all, wouldn’t someone have seen her? Like the costume designer?
• “I don’t want to do it,” Karen Cartwright says to Derek. What have we been doing all season long, Karen Cartwright, if not watching you want it?
• Actually, everything in this scene between Karen Cartwright and Derek is ringing completely false to us. For example:
    “The more you hurt the better.”
    “You don’t understand because you don’t understand love.”
     “Doesn’t matter if I don’t. You do. Marilyn did.”
• Ivy Lynn is surprised that her mom, Leigh Conroy, drove all the way from Connecticut to Boston. That’s, like, 2 hours.
• Ivy Lynn tells Leigh Conroy that she’s just in the chorus. It’s the ensemble!
• Ivy Lynn isn’t wearing a wig cap under her Marilyn wig either.
• Why does Joe DiMaggio sing “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” after Marilyn dies? He wasn’t married to her at the time of her death.
• “Whatever happens next, don’t ever doubt you’re a star. And I do understand love,” Derek says to Karen. Oy.
• Don’t forget Ivy! She’s killing herself in her dressing room. And clearly not coming to curtain call. She’s not even in costume!
• Minus 100 for no Lyle West/Ivy Lynn sex scene.

Miss anything? Are you Team Ivy or Team Karen? Or are you Team "Thank God this shit is finally over?"


Anonymous said...


Will Clark World said...

I agree.. Karen is MUCH better than Ivy and Ivy is not Marilyn. Megan Hilty was great as 'fun Marilyn' in City Center's "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" but cannot do 'vunerable Marilyn' as well as Catherine McPhee.