Bad news, guys. The Smash ratings dropped a LOT for episode two. What is wrong with people? This show is great. It probably won’t appeal to too many straight guys, but every musical-loving girl in America should be watching and are apparently not. Ugh. The show deserves more for writing really decent songs, having a stellar cast, and moving the plot along at 90 miles-per-hours. They already cast Marilyn, for heaven’s sake!
The episode opens with Kat McPhee doing a pretty rendition of “Call Me,” a song that’s not really supposed to be pretty. That song is supposed to be sung with personality, and it’s not really a good song to cover anyway. The song is happening in Karen’s imagination as she performs her waitressing duties, badly. She wishes the audition people would just “call me.” Ugh. The episode gets better guys, don’t worry.
The showrunners are meeting, while Tom’s assistant, Ellis, eavesdrops at the door. Julia still hates him. Tom wants Ivy, because she has the experience, looks like Marilyn, and is a great performer. Also, he’s friends with her. A few of the others like Karen because she is “fresh,” “innocent,” and “feels like Marilyn.” Karen and Ivy are called back again. Karen has to prove that she can dance, so Derek is teaching her the choreography to a fast-paced number. For some reason, everyone in this episode keeps saying that Karen can dance. This scene makes us question that. Even when she learns the dance properly and does a good job, we are underwhelmed. She doesn’t really move with charisma.
Ivy shows up and sees Karen. Ivy utters a diss veiled as a compliment, and we get the idea that this show is going to start making Ivy a little more unlikeable. We don’t like this, because it’s generic. It was better when we liked Ivy and Karen equally. The show continues to ruin this by having Ivy bang Derek. We hope she had sex with him because she wanted to and because he is good-looking, but we think she did it partly to secure the part of Marilyn. Ivy, you were good enough to get it without that. Karen was bad at reading lines and Ivy can act. We hope the show doesn’t make Ivy into a slutty villain. It comes across like a morality tale.
Julia and her husband, Frank, are told that they have to wait two years to get a child from China. Mr. Julia is upset and says that by the time this kid is 18, he will be 65. He wavers on their decision to adopt. Their teenage son hears the wavering and gets upset. He tells his mom, “Ever since I was little, you told me I’d be getting a little brother or sister. My sister is in China, you said, and we have to go get her. She’s waiting for us. What’s going to happen to her if we don’t get her?” Good point, kid. The kid will still exist even if you are too lazy to acquire her.
When you’ve made the decision to adopt a child, it’s kind of crappy to throw in the towel just because it doesn’t fit perfectly with your perfect rich life and perfect rich timing. JEEZ. These people don’t even have to work! They can just sit at home and work on their adoption process. Most people continue with their lives while they complete this process. That whole thing sort of made us hate Frank a little, even if we still love the Broadway vet who plays him. When you hear him sing, his purpose on the show will be explained, we predict. Still, we laughed pretty hard when Julia acted turned on by him. No way. He looks like a caveman.
Eileen has a nasty run-in with her husband and his freakishly young, blond wife. Eileen wins this week, because Derek decides to do Marilyn with Eileen rather than My Fair Lady with Jerry, who has recently acquired enough money to continue with that show. Soon, it’s time for the final audition. Karen is coming from a hard night, because she missed her boyfriend’s important business dinner in order to spend more time working with Derek. Dev yelled at her. Still, Karen kills her rendition of “20thCentury Fox Mambo,” dancing and all. Halfway through the number, Karen is transformed into Marilyn. After seeing Ivy pulling it off last week in the baseball number, we are appalled that Karen is even an option. Stop trying to make Karen happen. It isn't going to happen.
Even dressed up, Karen looks nothing like Marilyn. She can do Norma Jean and all-American innocence, but she’s one of the worst picks for Marilyn Monroe we’ve ever seen. It pains us to say that, because one of us loves Kat McPhee a LOT. She did a good job in the song, but she is clearly not the right choice. The showrunners see that as well and pick Ivy. The way she finds out slightly redeems her character after her actions this week. Ivy sings Crazy Dreams at a cabaret club. It’s a sweet song and Ivy’s voice is great, but this song didn’t really end the episode on a strong note. It was sappy. We get a shot of Karen lying on the couch, looking sad. We know the showrunners aren’t done with her yet. There are other parts in the play and they mentioned that she is “one to watch.”
Thank you, show, for being credible and picking the right girl for the lead. We are surprised and pleased. Oh! One more thing- That letter Julia wrote to the birthmother was just about the greatest thing you could ever write at one of those meetings. That bodes well for the dialogue in Marilyn. We also like that Julia and Tom have decided to make the musical less chronological. We like the theory that they are going to have Karen play Norma Jean (Marilyn before she was famous) and Ivy play Marilyn Monroe in all her glory. You know, the version all the drag queens imitate. It could still happen. None of the songs were amazing this week, but this is still a worthwhile show that we will continue to watch.
Episode grade: B