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This week’s adjective: DULL!

February 14, 2012 Comments Off on Callbacks, Adoptions, Manhattans, Oh, My! Views: 1082 TV Land

Callbacks, Adoptions, Manhattans, Oh, My!

“I love fast, go get my Marilyn.”  Episode 2 of NBC’s “Smash”, about putting together a Broadway show on the life of Marilyn Monroe, titled “The Callback” does not open with that line, spoken by Eileen (Angelica Huston), but the line defines the pacing of this episode, fast.  This episode brings us plot and character development at a satisfyingly brisk clip, unlike certain other shows about show tunes.  I will try to mask this pace in my recap this week:

First we get Karen (Katherine McPhee) singing Blondie’s “Call Me” in a dimly lit New York City cabaret.  McPhee has a great voice but she is no Debbie Harry and this song is not for her.  As she sings we notice more members of the principal cast, in fact all members of the principle cast sitting in the audience annnnddd shocker it’s another “Smash” fantasy scene.  Karen is actually spacing out at work yearning for a callback (I see a theme!).

Fast forward to the creative team Tom (Christian Borle), Julia (Debra Messing), Derek (Jack Davenport) and Eileen (Ms. Anjelica Huston) discussing who they should cast as Marilyn.  Tom in his best prissy queen manner is advocating for his girl, Ivy (Megan Hilty).  Derek prefers Karen who he considers fresh and new, like Marilyn when she was Norma Jean, Julia and Eileen tend to agree.  Tom, on the verge of a hissy fit, pushes hard for Ivy and Derek says he is right and everyone is shocked.  Derek qualifies his agreement saying Karen could also be Marilyn but they need more info.

We next get scenes with Ivy talking about her callback with her chorus boy and girl friend, Dev (Raza Jaffrey) giving a boring press briefing (it would have been more interesting if Dev was shirtless) which leads us to a scene between Julia and her husband Frank (Brian d’Arcy James) learning, from their social worker, that overseas (Chinese specifically) adoptions take a looooong time, SHOCKER!  Apparently Frank and Julia are the only prospective adopters that think you sign a piece of paper and get a Chinese baby from the next room.

Next scene: process.  Tom and Julia are arranging the order of numbers for Marilyn the Musical.  Tom seems to want a linear progression but Julia disagrees.  Julia wants to lead with “Let Me Be Your Star,” the end number from last week’s episode.  We then go to another fantasy scene where Karen is Norma Jean being berated by people that don’t believe in her, one of which is Ivy, before both Karen and Ivy sing snippets from Star.  The number works well but at this point I am wondering why we haven’t seen more of Eileen.  Instead we are back with Tom and Julia talking about the order of numbers when suddenly Julia hates the fact that Tom’s assistant, Ellis (Jaime Cepero) is in the room with them.  She tells Ellis to get out, she needs her space and when Ellis says he likes to see his idea come to life (awwwww) Julia’s eyes narrow and she patronizes Ellis telling him it wasn’t his idea and she and Tom have work to do.  Ellis leaves to go get Tom’s dry cleaning but first hears them talk about how good he is at organizing Tom’s closets, BITCHES!

We then go into the callback scenes.  Karen has trouble picking up the dance numbers, Ivy is waiting outside reading up on Marilyn where Tom finds her and makes suggestive comments and then decides to introduce Ivy to Karen who is AWKWARD and then tells Karen to go and the door slams in her face, OUCH!

We then see Karen and Dev buying hot dogs at hot dog cart (how NYC!) and Karen says she thinks Derek is messing with her head (duh, Karen) and Dev makes some ponderously wise statement about powerful men and I am still wishing Dev was shirtless.

Back to Ivy and she is doing a Marilyn impression, voice, mannerisms, still upper lip that is totally creeping out her chorus line gal pal which leads us to another scene about adoption.

Frank is getting cold feet.  He doesn’t want to wait two years for a Chinese baby.  Julia is pissed but not as pissed as their teenage son who bursts in and tells his dad off for being a quitter and then storms out to the family’s expansive deck (oh teen angst).  Julia comforts her son and I am left wondering why her son is pining for a Chinese sister; doesn’t he know that a Chinese sister will just muddy his inheritance?  Julia has clearly made a bundle form her Broadway shows.

Finally we get to a major Eileen scene.  We see Eileen walking into a restaurant where she is to meet Derek to discuss financing for the workshop of Marilyn the Musical.  Before she can reach her booth she is waylaid by her soon to be ex-husband who is still an a-hole.  We find out that Eileen will have to raise $200K for the workshop before Derek is taken away by another diner who is also a producer.  This allows the a-hole ex to come up and berate Eileen about her lack of business sense.   When Eileen has had enough she throws her Manhattan in her ex’s face in flawless fashion (best moment of the episode) and storms out with Derek to find another restaurant.  On the street she says the second best line of the episode, “There’s nothing bigger than Broadway!”

Back to another boring scene between Julia and Frank where find out Frank used to be a science teacher and wants to go back into teaching, blah, blah, blah.  Frank still doesn’t know if he wants to continue to wait for the Chinese baby.

Next we see Dev waiting for Karen to join him at dinner with Deputy Mayor, Karen is very late.   Karen is very late because she is being held back by Derek to read a fight scene between Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio.  Derek apparently held her back to give her the stunning advice to not act like Marilyn but to be Marilyn, thanks for that ground breaking and original advice Derek.  Karen shows up after the dinner has finished, her no-show has caused Dev to flub the dinner and he is furious, she is apologetic and this scene is one big cliché from beginning to end.

Next we see Ivy reading a scene where Marilyn is waxing poetic about not wanting to be a sex object; she’s a person DAMN IT!  Derek gets creepy and let’s Ivy’s hair down and next thing you know, wham bam, he’s banging Ivy.  Didn’t see that coming…right.  SLUT but as Roxy Hart said, “That’s showbiz kids.”

Flash forward to Karen doing a screen test number, “20th Century Fox Mambo.”  Great number, strong singing from McPhee, snappy dancing and good mix of the real audition with the fantasy where all but Karen are in costume.

Now it’s time for decisions.  Eileen will have her Marilyn.  Slutty Ivy is cast as Marilyn but Eileen tells Derek to keep his eye on that Cartwright girl, Karen (foreshadow much “Smash?”).

We then get a celebration scene with SLUT, I mean Ivy, and Tom when Ivy is asked to sing a song.  She sings Carrie Underwood’s “Crazy Dreams;” an uninspired song choice paired with an equally flat performance by Hilty.  This dull scene is paired with Julia at some sort of perspective adoptive parent support group reading a letter to her Chinese baby’s momma.  There is a lot more adoption and parenting cliché, I am bored, and of course Frank shows up because he now wants the Chinese baby.

The last scene with dialogue is Derek telling Eileen that he told Eileen’s a-hole ex that he wasn’t interested in doing “My Fair Lady.”  HOORAY!

We then see a disappointed Karen drinking wine and lying in the arms of her boyfriend Dev who is STILL WEARING A SHIRT!

Overall I enjoyed this episode of “Smash” but I am still waiting for more.  More Eileen, less cliché, and more backstage drama!  The teaser next week seems to hit on those three points and I will be tuning in.  We see Ellis standing up to Julia, a set-up for some “All About Eve” style feuding (Karen is offered a role in the ensemble), and more Eileen!  Until next week, curtain!


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