Smash recap – 1×10: ‘Understudy’

Courtesy of NBC

It was another ho-hum episode on Smash this week, but it did deliver the best musical number of the entire series thus far.

Let’s bitch it out.‘Bombshell’ is back in business this week as rehearsal resumes now that a big name movie star has signed on to portray Marilyn. We get a lot of talk about Rebecca Duvall (Uma Thurman) but her name is mostly tossed around to drive the plot since she literally only shows up at the end of the episode and says one line. That’s a lot of promotional hype for a single little line.

As we wait for Rebecca to arrive, Karen (Katherine McPhee) is ecstatic to sub in as understudy. I don’t know why she goes as crazy as she does when they’re essentially just using her for blocking and to spew out a few lines of dialogue. Clearly, we’re supposed to see this as another step in the slow, inevitable move towards Karen playing Marilyn in the full-fledged production. Although McPhee has been significantly less annoying these past few weeks, I still absolutely hate her breathy Marilyn voice. Even if she had a mic, I’m not convinced we would even hear on a stage. Heck I’m surprised Derek (Jack Davenport) was even able to standing three feet away.  Her performance of “Never Give All the Heart” was alright but mostly because she was just required to stand there and sing, much like she did when she was in the studio a couple of episodes back. When she doesn’t have to flail her arms about, or give bedroom eyes, I think she’s quite tolerable. But she’s no Ivy (Megan Hilty).

Courtesy of NBC

Tom (Christian Borle) also stands in for the only all male number in the show, and finally Smash delivers its best musical piece from top to bottom. We’ve seen full numbers before, but they’re almost always interrupted, or intercut with some fantasy sequence that ruins the entire ambiance of the piece. With “Don’t Say Yes Until I Finish Talking’, we finally get a beautifully sung, staged and choreographed number in the rehearsal hall that is completely uninterrupted. And I loved it. If we could have more of these in the show I would be one happy camper. I am quite aware that it’s likely pretty expensive to do one of these, but it really is the highlight of the entire run of the show for me. If we get rid of the extraneous crap, I’m sure we’d be able to get more numbers like this one. And more happy viewers (and recappers).

Some other observations:

  • Eileen (Anjelica Huston) – with the help of the dreamy bartender Nick (Thorsten Kaye) – managed to find a sole investor in the project and therefore dumps her other ones. Unfortunately his name is Randy Cobra, (yes, Cobra) and likely came to his fortune by questionable means. Little rat Ellis (Jaime Cepero) does a background check and tells Eileen that both Nick and Cobra are engaged in some eye-brow raising activities. Her reaction? She scolds Ellis for sneaking around and digging up dirt on her friends. Normally I’d be jumping for joy for the Ellis bashing, but I doubt that this is what any sane businessperson would do. It will very clearly come back to haunt Eileen. Looks like we’re back to “painfully obvious storyline set-up” territory once again.
  • Despite all of this, Eileen gets a kiss from dreamboat Nick. So that makes it worth it right?
  • Emory Cohen (as son Leo) continues to shock us with his ability to suck the life out of scene with his horrible acting. I think he had a total of 3 lines this week and they were all increasingly cringe worthy. Some one needs to do a YouTube video compilation of his lines. It would have Wicker Man cult status for sure.
  • Tom’s fling John (Neal Bledsoe), breaks things off when it becomes obvious that Tom is starting to have feelings for Sam (Leslie Odom Jr.). Personally I think it would be awesome if Tom and Sam just remained friends, but I doubt that’s going to happen. Whatever the case, John wasn’t the right one for Tom so…see ya!
  • Julia (Debra Messing) finally reveals to Tom that Frank (the awesome and already missed Brian d’Arcy James) left her after he found out about the affairs. How are we honestly supposed to believe that she and Tom are such besties when he isn’t the first person she runs to?  I don’t know what it is about Julia, but I just cannot like this character or Messing’s portrayal of her. Maybe it’s because of her hideous wardrobe?
  • Don’t even get me started on how much I don’t care about Dev’s (Raza Jaffrey) workplace conflict. Why is he not telling Karen about his problems? Oh right, so that the show can bring this up later as a source of “conflict.” Gee, I wonder if Dev will blow a gasket and hit his new boss when he finds out that that guy also hit on Karen? Or maybe he will choose work over  love and have to move? Pretty please?
  • Did anyone else laugh when the show closed with a slow pan across all of the pained, lonely characters (Julia alone in the coffeeshop, Ivy alone at home with perfect hair, Tom eating his breakfast solo, Dev leaving Karen silently, etc)? It’s just false emotion when we don’t care about any of them. Try harder, Smash!

What did you think Smash-ers? Do you think Uma Thurman will launch the show into the realm of “must see” TV? How do you think Ivy will be able to reinsert herself back into ‘Bombshell’ after her drug-induced debacle over at ‘Heaven on Earth’? Sound off in the comments section below.

Smash airs Mondays at 9pm EST on NBC

About tvangie

Angie is a TV addict currently pursuing a PhD in media studies. A freelance researcher and writer on the side – she really misses talking about her favourite shows because none of her friends watch them. Help her out.

2 thoughts on “Smash recap – 1×10: ‘Understudy’

  1. so much is wrong with this show. Most of this background noise with Dev and John and Julia wouldn’t be missed and get in the way of what most of us thought this show was about – bringing a show to Broadway. Again we have another Glee-style pop number from Ivy. show tunes, please! And Eileen…Now she seems like an intelligent woman. Although she hasn’t run her own show before, she’s been involved enough to know how it works. That stunt she pulled in the bar with the three prospective investors?! Well let’s just hope this show makes a lot of money – those three won’t be backing her EVER. Instead this show is going to be built on what – drug money? mob money? Frankly, it’s all just stupid. I can’t WAIT until Ellis reveals it all, as we know he will. Since they’re going so over the top, can he be hit in a freak blimp explosion or something? HATE HIM! I was looking forward to Uma, but I now fully expect she’ll just simply add some hyper-exaggerated controlling star mess (if the preview is any indication).

    Thank goodness for moments like “don’t say yes until I finish talking” or I wouldn’t care for this show. rant over…for now.

  2. It’s funny how I never realize a show sucked until I read the recap. I thought it was a good episode. I’m not team Ivy, so maybe that’s why I enjoyed it.