Episode 01 of Smash’s Second Season aired Tuesday night. I thought it was a good effort, though far from perfect. Characters were disposed of rather easily – except for Frank who we first saw in what might have been a compromising situation with his school superintendent. After Tom told Julia, Julia and Frank had a very public shootout at Eileen’s soiree. Moments later Julia announced that Frank was gone and her marriage was over. Was it the scarves? Never mind.
New characters like Jimmy, Kyle, Veronica Moore, and Karen Cartwright’s new roommate were introduced with the highlights being a few songs with ‘Ronny’ Moore, played marvelously by Jennifer Hudson, and the episode’s finale called Broadway Here I Come was sung by Jimmy. This song was performed after a bar closed but was witnessed by Karen and heard by Derek via Karen’s speaker phone.
Eileen’s production of Bombshell has been placed under the microscope by either the DEA, the IRS, or the Department of Justice, or all of the above, with all assets frozen. Someone chirped to the authorities about Eileen’s money man, and the authorities promptly shut the show down to investigate. The short version, Bombshell is currently on hold
Another matter of darkness and importance that swirled around was Derek Wills bad press. Rebecca Duvall now claimed that she pulled out of Bombshell in Boston, not because of any reported illnesses, but rather, because of sexual harassment by Derek. Who didn’t exactly deny everything but claimed it was based on a remark taken out of context. Ivy is now jobless after Derek let her go from Bombshell as he was trying to protect Karen..
And that readers, is the meat and potatoes of Episode 01 (full recap is here) which was entitled On Broadway which was, not coincidentally, the title of the song sung in a duet by Karen Cartwright and Veronica Moore.
Episode 02 followed Episode 01 immediately as NBC went for the big ratings enchilada or bonanza which they didn’t get. Instead the numbers declined. If you’re ready, the recap of Episode 02 called The Fallout begins now.
As dawn breaks, rather as Episode 2 begins, there’s Karen waiting outside the bar where Jimmy and Kyle work. Karen is interested in Jimmy’s music, but he’s not interested in her interest. He coolly denies even being a musician, and is rude on top of that. Kyle chases after Karen and basically says that they are interested despite what Jimmy says. And Jimmy is ‘complicated’.
At Eileen’s office, Derek and Tom exchange snide remarks. Eileen tells them that there’s nothing to be gained by turning on each other. News from the IRS investigation contains an uptick but they’re not out of the woods yet. Eileen mentions that Karen will be singing at the American Theater Wing gala tonight.
Ivy and Sam are still bemoaning their fates. They run into a former gal pal from back in the day. She’s alive and well and knocking them dead in a new business – stationery.
Derek meets with his agent. The news is bad. Derek is now jobless. What? They fired me for shagging a few actresses? The new bad news actually is that five dancers have come forward to accuse Derek of sexual harassment. And that’s why the other show, showed Derek the door.
Eileen meets her ex-husband Jerry at her office. She needs a favor. Specifically – Jerry’s tickets to The America Theater Wing gala. Eileen has been delisted, leaving her ticket-less and off the guest list, and she won’t stand for being excluded. Jerry’s table will fix all that. Jerry says, So you want to be my date? Eileen – You won’t be going. I need the table for my creative team. Moments later, Eileen calls Derek and Tom. A change of plans. Karen is no longer singing at the gala, and we aren’t invited, but somehow Eileen has got them in.
At Tom’s apartment, Julia remains in bed. She’s a mess. She unhappy with herself and afraid to face the world. Tom mentions the gala, but Julia says she has to have the night off.
Later Kyle meets Karen and hands over Jimmy’s notes about his music. They aren’t music scores as such, but Kyle invites Karen to come to a party that night.
Julia finally has to get out of bed, when Ivy arrives unexpectedly.
Meanwhile Derek meets one of the women who have accused him of sexual harassment. Derek: Since when is it sexual harassment to ask someone for a date? Daisy: You don’t get it. You’re a big shot director. You’re in a position of power from the minute you wake up in the morning, and you don’t treat that power with respect. Or did you really think that women say yes because they actually like you? The score: Daisy 1 Derek 0.
At the apartment Ivy thought she would be venting to Tom, Are you sure this is okay? Julia: Of course. I’m thrilled to be of use to anyone. Ivy: I know you guys are super successful but did you ever feel like giving up? Julia [candidly] I could barely get up [just now] to answer the door. No other way to describe it, but this is clearly going to turn out as a mutually beneficial pep talk. Each will help the other. They toast the occasion with a dollop of marshmallow on a spoon.
Tom runs in to Harvey Fierstein on the street. They talk about Bombshell, and Harvey wonders how Julia is doing. When Harvey mentions The American Theater Wing-ding-thing, Tom gets caught up in the moment and tells a few white lies about how he and Julia will be ‘presenting’ at the event. Not true – but Harvey doesn’t know this.
Derek is at a bar getting blitzed. He’s told by Eileen via the phone that the count is now six dancers that are pointing a finger at Derek. Derek tries to flirt with a woman at the bar. But she’s with Mr. Muscles who throws Derek to the floor, where he hallucinates a song in which 8 angry women, all in tight black cocktail dresses, including Ivy and Karen, toss him around the bar like an unwanted rag-doll. Payback is a bitch. Neat little bit of fantasy.
Tom arrives home to find Julia up and about. She got the news. Mary Testa just called, and she said she heard from Jackie Hoffman who heard it from LeShan Jackson who heard it from Harvey Fierstein that we’re presenting tonight? Wow, Tom’s fib has circled the globe in no time at all. Rather than ‘fessing up – Tom continues the lie. But the good news is that Julia’s back!
Karen and her crew are working with the music provided by Kyle. They have something but not nearly enough. The question is how will Karen get Jimmy to come around and share the music?
Ivy is on the phone with Sam and arrives home to find Derek ensconced on the steps to her building.
At The American Theater Wing gala, the first thing that happens is that Julia runs into Fierstein and Miriam Abramson, the head of The Theater Wing. Julia gushes her thanks. Miriam has no idea about any of this. Tom’s fibs have just been exposed. Julia to Tom: I had a million reasons to be embarrassed before I came here tonight, and you just created a new one.
Borrowing from Sir Walter Scott: Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive. Tom is busted, and will he be able to dance his way out of this one? They discuss the lie, and Julia is bristling. She simply can’t recover as quickly as Tom does. Tom tells her that the word on the street is that Julia can’t hack it, that she suffered a nervous breakdown, and they think Tom should be looking for a new partner. That’s what is being said on the street but Tom finally says the right thing. I don’t want a new writing partner, I just want my old one back.
At the party in Brooklyn, ‘So this is Greenpoint’, Jimmy and Karen are going to bump heads again. Is Jimmy a jerk, or is he a big jerk. Either sobriquet fits.
Ivy and Derek are still on the steps talking. Derek (still drunk) says, I was a complete ah-ss alright? I’m no monster am I? He’s really in bad shape. But he manages to be supportive of Ivy. Things improve. Derek leans in for a kiss. Ivy: Nope – not going to happen. That was cute. In two episodes, with two opportunities, Derek has not been able to kiss the girl. Twice.
Still at the ATW gala, now it is Eileen’s turn to be busted by Miriam. Not good.
Still at the party, Karen turns on the charm. She’s after Jimmy or so it seems. She starts to sing one of Jimmy’s songs, Caught In The Storm. The party stops to listen.
I’m caught in the storm
I’m caught in the rain
I’m caught in the rush
that hides this pain
Is Jimmy charmed, maybe. But rather than show that, what he chooses to show is anger. As Karen sings, Jimmy gets up and walks out but not before calling his friend Kyle a son-of-a-bitch.
In the street, Kyle has chased down Jimmy, as has Karen and her friends. Things don’t get better. They get worse. Jimmy says he knows he has talent. Does he know he’s an ass-hole? Jimmy : You know, I think you should just take your friends and go. Karen: Don’t worry, we’re going.
At the ATW, Tom is with Eileen. We came, we saw, we got shunned. I say we go. Eileen agrees, we will go, but not before putting on a show they’ll never forget. A call to Karen goes straight to voice mail. Second choice is Ivy. Moments later, Julia is on stage, Tom is at the piano, and Ivy is on stage singing Moving The Line.
This was a nice piece. Sort of snatching a victory from the jaws of defeat. Unfortunately the song is staged, with Ivy singing,
Tom on the ivories, a bass-man, and a drummer. Your basic cocktail hour 4 piece musical ensemble. So I have no idea where the full brass accompaniment came from.
As the applause grew, Eileen says, Now I’m ready to go, as they all exit stage right.
Next day. Jerry and Eileen chat. Seems like some of the folks at the government agencies have softened their stance. Eileen may proceed with the production as long as it is not for profit. We wonder if Jerry ‘s lengthy reach was involved seeing how the US Attorney’s wife was at the ATW gala. Jerry says, That’s all fine and dandy, but how are you going to get production afloat without having any money? How much do you need?
Eileen, I’ll have my lawyers draw up the contract. I don’t want to owe you anything except money.
Later on Restaurant Row, Kyle and Jimmy have a shootout. Kyle is eventually disgusted with his friend Jimmy’s cavalier and stupidly thoughtless attitudes. Kyle storms off but not before calling Jimmy a ‘selfish prick’.
At Tom’s place, Julia has been up early. She’s been baking. Tom: Wow! What’s the occasion? Julia: These are ‘apology muffins’. Julia promises to work hard. Tom apologizes for having lied.
He also suggests, in the spirit of honesty [and complete candor between partners], that it’s time for Julia – to retire the scarves.
At Karen’s, there’s a surprise visitor. It’s Jimmy. He’s got a thumb drive containing all the music he’s done with Kyle. Jimmy says, The only reason I’m trusting this music to you, is because I owe it to Kyle.
Ivy arrives at Derek’s place with extra caffeine (a take out coffee) and extra grease (take out donuts) Derek seems distracted. Ivy: I’m sorry, is this a bad time? Do you have company or something? Derek: Actually I do. It is Karen who arrived only moments before. Derek: We’re just having a little work session.
Ivy makes her exit. Derek heads back to the desk. Right then. This kid’s music better be damned good to get me out of bed with a stinking hangover.
As Ivy steps into the elevator, she hears Karen ask, What was that about? Derek: Nothing important. As the elevator doors close we hear Jimmy singing –
High above the city
I’m standing on the ledge
The view from here is pretty
And I step off the edge
And away we go. Along with the new music, the new characters, and the new developments, we still have the old soap-opera-ish elements. See you in a few weeks with more of Smash.