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

By Kenneth Jones
28 Mar 2013

Anjelica Huston and Christian Borle
Photo by Will Hart/NBC

Composer Tom (Christian Borle) is directing Bombshell with a soft mitten, trying to be everyone's friend — and making the rehearsal room happier with coffee and croissants from downtown's Balthazar. (By the way, Balthazar's scones are awesome, too; the only place we can find them in the theatre district is Oren's Daily Roast on Broadway between 40th and 41st Street.) The "Smash" writers and producers have stranded Tom with very little weight or credibility here. It's hard to believe he's been in professional show business for any amount of time. He's such a novice about what a director's position means that he even encourages everyone in the company to give him notes and ideas about the show, inviting them to a cast party at the place he shares with librettist Julia (Debra Messing). He bills it as "an intellectual salon," but without a hint of irony. He might as well be wearing a t-shirt that says, "Walk all over me." Julia schools Tom on the job of director: "You have to be a parent; set strong boundaries."

The always refreshing Leslie Odom, Jr. returns to the series in this episode, as Tom's ex-boyfriend, Sam, Ivy's bestie — a Bombshell ensemble member who ended up snagging a principal role in the super-hot national tour of The Book of Mormon. (He's got a week off, so he's visiting New York.) When Sam took the job, Tom decided their relationship was over. Sam, we learn, is not happy on the road (mostly because "Smash" is committed to the idea that any artistic expression outside of New York is a humiliating waste of time — see last week's "Smash" Report about Manhattan Theatre Workshop artistic director Scott Nichols [Rent's Jesse L. Martin] complaining about regional theatre as a kind of purgatory).

Tom decides as director that he's going to create a specialty principal role for Sam — Nat King Cole, no less. Sam quits his job in The Book of Mormon! Sam and Tom sleep together naked! And then Tom, with some advice from frenemy director Derek (Jack Davenport), realizes he cannot cast Sam in the show! Nat King Cole meeting Marilyn and JFK is not right for the show. Tom cannot be a pal to all. He has to set those boundaries. Sorry, Sam.