In a way, "Smash" reflects a reality in musical theatre: The past century (even the past decade) has offered many awkwardly-plotted musicals buoyed by effervescent musical numbers. Anything Goes, in all its versions, has a dopey, groaner-packed book that exists to introduce such songs as "I Get a Kick Out of You," "Blow, Gabriel, Blow," "All Through the Night," "Buddie, Beware," "You're the Top" and the title tune.
Likewise, the musical part of "Smash" remains compelling, even with the serious season-premiere misstep of womanizing director Derek (Jack Davenport) appearing in a fantasy sequence (to the Eurythmics' "Would I Lie to You?") in which he is brutalized by leggy sex objects (including Karen and Ivy) in a bar (in the second hour, an episode called "The Fallout"). The drunken vision is prompted by harassment charges that Derek is facing from six female dancers. The allegations come as no surprise, as he crossed a lot of lines in Season One — sleeping with chorus girl Ivy, played by Megan Hilty; making a pass at Karen; flirting with investors; kissing his movie-star leading lady, Rebecca Duvall, played by Uma Thurman, in her dressing room. Recalling the old "Simply Irresistible" Robert Palmer video, women in heels are getting their revenge (with music) in that bar fantasy, literally throwing Derek around the room. "Smash" fantasy sequences about artistic aspiration are pure oxygen for the series, but fantasy sequences about humiliation are just deflating. (The producers have said they are committed to such fantasy numbers this season.)