THE "SMASH" REPORT: Season Two, Episode 8, Or, Tomfoolery

By Kenneth Jones
28 Mar 2013

Jeremy Jordan faces "obstacles."
Photo by Will Hart/NBC

MEANWHILE, DOWNTOWN: Hit List composer Jimmy (Jeremy Jordan) has a temper and an ego that does not match his experience. On the first day of rehearsal at MTW, he argues about a scene with Derek, the Tony winner who is slumming on this show because a.) the songs are apparently brilliant; and b.) he's in love with leading lady Karen (Katharine McPhee). The tension here is not only artistic: Derek previously told Jimmy that Karen is off-limits, essentially claiming her as his territory. (And Jimmy is not thrilled that Lea Michele and other stars are being considered for the show's vivacious role of The Diva in Hit List.) This triangle would be more interesting if you believed for a second that Derek would be pushed around, creatively, by a non-Equity actor/newbie musical-theatre songwriter. And once again, the meek Hit List librettist, Kyle (Andy Mientus), is silent on the sidelines. Shouldn't the book writer weigh in? Derek then asks Karen's advice (inexplicably), and she agrees with others in the room that Derek's vision of using multimedia (LED screens — all those bells and whistles) in the show upstages the humanity of Hit List. So, he reconceives a scene to feature dancers as literal obstacles in the murky plot of Hit List — Jimmy, stage right, has to fight his way through twisting bodies to get to stage left, where Karen's character dwells. He plays Jesse in Brooklyn. She plays Amanda in L.A. But Amanda is going by the name Nina. (It's still a work in progress, folks.) Joshua Bergasse, the series' Emmy-winning choreographer, staged the number, perhaps as a parody of teeming-humanity sequences in rock musicals of yore — think Jesus Christ Superstar. A catchy pop song by singer-songwriter Andrew McMahon, of the group Jack's Mannequin, is used in the sequence. It's called "I Heard Your Voice in a Dream." Like last week's song by Pasek and Paul, you might want to get it on iTunes. (P.S. Karen and Jimmy have sex on her dining room table at the end of the episode.)