Smash Review: A Difficult Decision Ahead

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It was judgment day for Julia and her new book. Bombshell's fate would be determined by "The Read-Through." A simple, yet crucial step to getting the show to Broadway.

After the journey that Julia and Peter went through to finish the new story, it was surprising to see that she wasn't nervous at all. At the same time, it was revealing that Peter gave her the confidence that she had been lacking for so long. The range of emotions that Julia went through - from excited about the new story... to resurfaced doubts about Peter's loyalty... to dreading the read-through - felt authentic.

Ivy Meets her Costar

It was as if I, the viewer, was experiencing the highs and lows with her. When the readers finished and the room was left silent, I waited with anticipation to hear the response. And, a glorious one Julia received.

Julia: Why isn't anyone saying anything? Is it that bad?
Derek: No, it's that good. It is brilliant. | permalink

Wow. She did it. She really did. Of course, the next few minutes were another emotional whirlwind for her and the show. She created a brilliant, creative story, but Jerry wasn't going to use it. What?!? And, the self-doubt and anger returned, though, Peter didn't betray her. It was her own work that did. How about that? An unexpected twist.

As an avid television watcher, I get irritated when great shows don't find an audience and get canceled, while certain trash remains on, in some cases, it seems forever. It's a societal problem of quality for the few versus mediocre for the many. Jerry's concerns about the show and its direction were valid from a business perspective. As a producer, he wants to make money. It's a business, not a charity.

While the new book could be a critical success and win awards, that doesn't mean it will fill the seats and make a profit. Instead, Jerry decided he wanted to use Julia's workshop draft, which would be accessible to more people meaning a greater likelihood of making money. While watching, I was entirely on Julia and Derek's side agreeing that they should put on the best production. 

Now, though, after some time to consider the real-world situation, it pains me to agree even a little bit with Jerry, but he has a point. There's a reason that art house films make only a small fraction the amount of money of big, commercial blockbusters. Which one should Bombshell be?

Julia and Derek should want to make the special, unique, and award-winning show. While Jerry is in it for the money. Tom is a creative person, but it does make sense that he wants to go with the the showy musical numbers over an intense, story driven musical.

It all comes down to Eileen. She could go either way. As a producer, she could side with Jerry and Tom. Or, as someone who wants to make a name for herself for excellence on the stage, she could side with Julia and Derek. Plus, going against Jerry would be an added bonus. She's going to have a tough decision to make. After all that she has been through and having to give up her Producer title, it's fitting that the direction of the show will be in her hands.

Bombshell's reading went exceedingly well, while The Hit List's read-through was horrendous. The dichotomy of the musical with well-established writers and producers with that of one with new writers was well played. It was reflective of the quick and easy ascension of Karen versus the hard road that Ivy had to take to make it in New York. Jimmy and Kyle were fittingly following in Karen's path.

They've been noticed by a world-renowned director, Jimmy had his song sung in front of millions of people, and now the musical hit a temporary block of just a few minutes, maybe an hour. That is barely a stopping point at all. They will overcome the problem in the story telling and still be able to move forward with the Winter Fest. Jimmy and Kyle are on a fast track to success.

I enjoyed the tension of both read-throughs. The emotional highs and lows were palpable and the results mattered. In contrast, Ivy's show with the introduction of the star, Terry, was a letdown, especially since Sean Hayes' appearance was heavily promoted. Most of the story felt forced and was uncomfortable to watch. The only highlight was Ivy's breathtaking performance opposite Terry's farce. And, then their honest discussion afterward. 

Now that Terry's off his medications, her show is certainly headed for trouble. Will its demise get her back on Bombshell? It seems likely and that Karen will leave it to headline The Hit List. 

Overall, "The Read-Through" was one of the best episodes of Smash. I'll be sitting in anticipation until next Tuesday to find out Eileen's decision.

Odds and Ends

  • Another episode where the songs were a let down. The rest of the episode made up for it though. During Smash season 1, it was often the other way around. I'd rather have decent songs with an outstanding story like we had here. 
  • Karen and Jimmy's relationship continued to be awkward. He had a girl in his room. Karen was clearly into him, but he said they should be friends. At least, his actions began to make sense when we found out Kyle told his friend that Karen was with Derek. How long will he continue to believe that? I hope the truth comes out soon.
  • Tom's moderate jealousy over Julia and Peter's relationship was touching. Loved when he noted that Julia used "we" to refer to her and him again.
  • Eileen needs a win with a musical now that she is losing Nick. Will it be with Bombshell? Since she is forced into a limited role there, perhaps she will produce The Hit List. That would be a perfect fit for her and something Jerry would probably never consider touching.
Which version should Eileen pick? Should Karen and Jimmy keep a strictly professional relationship? Did you enjoy the serious versus farce story on Ivy's show?

The Read-Through Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.7 / 5.0 (38 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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Smash Season 2 Episode 4 Quotes

You cut me off and said "we."


We can't afford for you to stumble again and neither can your career.

Derek [to Julia]