We know that there are behind-the-scenes changes going on with Smash - I wonder if it's as dramatic as it is on the show - so perhaps that will help. The thing with Smash is that it does seem to be salvageable - there's a great and talented cast with plenty of chemistry, and kernels of good storylines.
Take 'The Coup'. The idea that Derek could be planning to steal Marilyn from Tom and Julia, his manipulations of Karen in order to do this, and Ivy's resultant fury are all interesting things to explore, and unsurprisingly these were all the high points of the episode.
Admittedly, Ryan Tedder's cameo was pasted on ("I'm such a huge fan of OneRepublic!" Karen gasps, as no-one in the real world has ever done, ever). And Karen's performance of 'Touch Me' was bizarre, though it was at least meant to be.
But as a general idea, it's great, and introduced some fun conflicts. We already know that Ivy has barely disguised hatred for Karen, who she's always considered competition, and since it feels like I've warmed to Ivy, it's genuinely quite sad to see her so defeated when Ellis sneaks her in to watch.
Of course, she fights back for a wonderfully bitchy and passive aggressive meeting with Karen ("I totally understand why you stabbed Tom and Julia in the back," she smiles sweetly) just in time for Tom to tearfully tell her that actually, to save Marilyn, Eileen wants to cast a star in the lead role.
Great, I care about that. I'm not as sure what I feel about Tom and Derek's huge argument after the disastrous 'experiment'. I almost wish that the pair just didn't get on - those famed artistic differences - instead of having all that history.
I was also really disappointed to hear Derek's verging-on-homophobic comments - he's never been a loveable character, granted, but I was enjoying his snark and sneakiness, and I'll like him less if I think there's a genuinely unpleasant person under there (as a side note, is Ivy ever going to kick him out the door? Please.)
Still, if the episode had focused entirely on that whole storyline, and had delved into the subtleties and manipulations (particularly in regards to Derek's wooing of Karen for the side-project), we could have had a really interesting and involving instalment on our hands.
Instead, the Smash writers don't seem to be able to leave well enough alone, so we had all manner of irrelevancies piled on top. Did we need to see Michael and Julia's little meeting in the park? No - I didn't think we'd see Michael again after everything seemed resolved in 'The Workshop'.
Did we need to see Leo's court date? No. Did we need a performance of 'Dance To The Music' in a bowling alley? We most certainly did not. Did we need the confusing politics of Dev's attempts at promotion? Again, no (I guess this was mainly to introduce more of that silly Karen-on-RJ jealousy, but that's unnecessary in itself). We watch Smash for the exploration of putting on a musical, not for the work troubles of a chorus member's boyfriend. Right?
That's without even mentioning the arrival of Eileen's daughter Katie (Grace Gummer), who appears to be a plot device for convenient conflict resolution (Jerry and Eileen; Eileen, Tom and Julia). She's jokingly nicknamed Mahatma Katie, but she's so damn nice that she's just a bit irritating - like eating too much candy and being sick.
I mean: "I don't want to put toxic garbage into the world, I want to put something good into the world"? Leaving New York to count wild salmon in Alaska? This isn't necessarily Gummer's fault - she could only work with what she was given, and Katie just seemed to pop up to move the plot along.
As I said, I feel very defensive of Smash because I do believe there's a genuinely good show hiding in there somewhere. I feel like Smash just needs to take things back to basics - show us the mechanisms of putting Marilyn on the stage. Surely there's enough drama in that to keep us satisfied.
- I know that people love Ellis and will be absolutely thrilled to hear that he's now working for Eileen as part of his masterplan to become a producer.
- Speaking of which: "I would say good riddance, but we're still stuck with him." Julia speaks for viewers?
- I know I moaned about Katie, but she did slam the door in Ellis's face quite magnificently.
- I do love that Julia wears sunglasses whenever she's in a bad mood.
- I don't even know where to begin with Frank's Guitar Hero moment. But hey, at least Leo enjoyed it.
- Dev's 'I have a conscience' face is quite amusing. Shame it didn't last. (Also, I wish we'd seen the dodgy photos. It looked like they were something else.)
- Karen's conscience is similar to Dev's. "I'm not comfortable with this arrangement... RYAN TEDDER? OK!"
- Leo's court date: Let me get this straight. He was in court for walking on the grass? Sure.
- "It's this kind of crap that made me want to flee to Micronesia!" Oh, Smash.