Recap/Review – Smash – “Chemistry” – 3/12/12

Hi, guys. Another week and another Smash. I have to say I’m really liking that it’s running uninterrupted. And this week marks the return of Community so for the first time this season, I’ll be covering three shows at the same time. If you haven’t yet, check out the Community Returns Trailer on YouTube. It looks to be an exciting remainder of the third season. And speaking of good comedies; this marks the first week that Community and Cougar Town are both on at the same time this season. A big reason to rejoice the return of some very awesomely funny and smart comedies. But back to business. Let’s take a closer look at this week’s episode, titled “Chemistry.”

Jump with me to read my recap & review.

Recap:

This episode starts with Ivy practicing “Let Me Be Your Star” in front of her mirror, but her voice cracks on the belt. Derek asks if everything is all right, but Ivy lies and says it is.

That day in the rehearsal space, the cast is practicing “Let Me Be Your Star,” and just as Eileen walks in, Ivy looses her voice. Ivy is forced to visit the doctor, who prescribes steroids (Prednisone), which Ivy doesn’t want to use because of the side effects. Derek, Julia, and Eileen contemplate using Karen as Marilyn for the workshops, which are starting in a week, but Tom doesn’t want to. Ivy doesn’t want that to happen, either, so she decides to take the drugs. As a result, her voice is fine, but she isn’t feeling too well.

Julia is having a hard time getting over what happened with Michael and that’s reflected in her work. When Derek asks why the lyrics aren’t finished, she defends herself by mentioning her home situation, and Tom defends her. Julia comes clear about kissing Michael to Tom.

That night, Ivy practices a song by herself to see if her voice holds out. It does, but afterwards, she envisions Karen as Marilyn, which she doesn’t like. She calls Tom, who is being introduced to his boyfriend’s (John) friends. Tom rushes over and finds Sam is there, as well. Sam has more knowledge about the drug, which causes Tom to warn Karen to be prepared for taking the lead the next day, but to be discrete about it, as well. Sam asks Ivy if he wants her to call Derek, but she turns the offer down. Tom finds out Sam is gay when he says Sam might be the straightest chorus boy he ever met. Ivy apologizes to Tom for interrupting his date, but he was glad to get out of there.

Michael tries to get closer to Julia, but she tries to steer clear. When Michael calls her at home and Frank answers, she intercepts the call, and Michael has to hang up when his wife walks in, but not before he invites Julia to come to the rehearsal space that night.

Julia is hesitant at first but lies to Frank about needing a walk, and she goes to see Michael anyway. She explains she only came there to clarify that their fling needs to end, but she allows Michael to take her shirt off, and after some lingering looks, Michael takes his shirt off, as well, and they kiss and move to the couch.

As rehearsals are starting the next day, Derek and Ivy meet, and Derek asks about her voice. Her voice is fine, but she’s not too happy about how Tom and Sam came to take care of her and he didn’t even ask how she is doing.

Michael and Ivy get a finished version of “History Is Made At Night,” and they test the original staging to the new lyrics. Michael steals some looks from Julia, but when Ivy trips, Michael and she burst out in laughter. Derek explodes and tells Ivy he wants to see more sex while she is singing. Ivy asks, in a hostile tone, why he can’t give notes without publicly humiliating her. She tells him she can’t take endless abuse without being affected. Derek responds with “Miss Monroe is having a moment,” and Ivy responds by saying Karen could take over. Eileen and Julia try to defuse the situation, but Ivy doesn’t calm down and says she needs to not be sleeping with a selfish prick who isn’t even that good in bed and storms out. Tom goes after her and asks if she’ll be fine. She says she will, and they have a laugh about the situation.
 
In other storylines:

Eileen lands an investor, flirts with a bartender, finds a new home because Jerry tries to make her pay for a house that is in his name, and has Ellis give her information on Tom and Julia while going out with him.

Tom moves forward with John, but it appears there isn’t that much of a match.

Ivy gave Jessica a gig at a bar mitzvah, which Jessica gives to Karen, who is glad to take it over. When she gets there, she is mistaken for Ivy, but sings anyway. The final song is “Shake It Out,” and the crowd loves it. She gets a card from a man. The next day at rehearsal, Jessica and Karen talk about the gig, and Karen shows her the card. Jessica recognizes the name and urges Karen to call the number, but Ivy isn’t too happy when she overhears Karen took the gig instead of Jessica. Ivy complains to Sam about the situation and mentions she should’ve had Karen fired way back.
 
Review:

This episode was up-and-down for me. It had some very nice parts and some lesser parts. And I’ll try to clarify both.

Tension is clearly rising as the workshops get closer, which showed mostly in Derek and Ivy. Ivy lost her voice, probably as a result of stress and overuse of her voice. And Derek is being more prickly than usual, taking it out on almost everyone. I loved how he explained the holes in the book/story by ending up with the title “Marilyn: The Red Dwarf.” When Ivy spilled her feelings, he also had another great line: “Miss Monroe is having her moment.” Coupled with his British accent, those lines couldn’t have been delivered any better.

Ivy, on the other hand, had some very supportive friends, who seem to have started flirting in both directions, but she didn’t get any attention from her boyfriend. When Derek snapped at her at the end of the episode, she exploded with a speech that has been featured in a lot of promos, and it was everything I hoped for and more (as I love drama). And I loved Hilty’s acting in the scene.

What I noticed about this episode was how there were a lot of very short scenes. It gave me a scattered impression. From what I remember, most episodes started with some very short scenes, but they got longer over the course of the episode. This week, the scenes stayed very short, and it prevented me from investing in some of the stories.

Anjelica Huston had a lot of short scenes which didn’t seem to lead anywhere. Eileen is using Ellis as a snitch (and who likes a snitch?). She’s still busy with investors and trying to get rid of Jerry. And although Eileen had some success on some of her endeavors and started flirting, it got very little attention. Eileen can do more, and Huston definitely deserves more.

Michael and Julia were both moving into full infidelity this week. It appears like Julia has more of a moral problem about it, because Michael keeps coming on to her. By the way, I liked how Tom didn’t judge, but did caution Julia. And that scene with Messing and Chase just standing there, bare-chested, looking at each other, the only thing I wrote down was HOT DAMN, and I’ll leave it at that. One other note about Julia: she‘s run out of the rehearsal space quite a lot over these episodes.

Karen singing at the bar mitzvah was…well…it was. She sounded great, but apart from her getting a business card, it didn’t add that much to the episode. And at the start of the episode, she mentioned a credit card statement. Was that supposed to give an urgancy to her taking the gig? It felt forced and unrelated to the story.

To me personally, there is a lot of story in this episode, and it’s nice to see progression, but it might’ve been handled better. In my opinion, they could’ve dropped any or all of the secondary stories to get deeper into the stories they did decide to run with.

As for the songs this week, Megan Hilty sang “Who You Are,” originally by Jessie J. I love the original, and I loved this version. It does feel like Jessie J’s voice is more raw, which does suit the song very well. McPhee sang “Shake It Out,” and I liked how the song worked. The shots of everyone at the party moving to the band was a little forced, though. And we got a full version of “History Is Made At Night” by Hilty and Will Chase, and I loved it. I liked the shorter version we heard a few episodes ago, and the full version didn’t disappoint.

Next week, on “The Workshop,” Bernadette Peters guests as Ivy’s mother. When “Marilyn: The Musical” is presented to would-be investors, Karen must decide between the workshops and meeting a producer, and Julia and Michael face the consequences of their actions. It’s on at 10/9c on NBC, and if you want, you can check this episode http://www.nbc.com/smash/video/chemistry/1390065 and find some of the music http://www.nbc.com/smash/music/?106, but note that some songs won’t be published before the end of the season.

– JJ

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