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Smash recap: The Workshop

It’s curtain time for Marilyn’s workshop — and for Bernadette Peters as Ivy’s undermining mom

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Bernadette Peters
Eric Liebowitz/NBC


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Damn, damn, damn, Smash! I’ve grown accustomed to your face. And when you present an episode that features Bernadette Peters absolutely murdering “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” plus a cameo from the Sex Couch, plus the greatest pan to Terrible Ellis in the history of ever, I have no choice but to be charmed. Honestly, I’m starting to love this show’s groan-worthy moments just as much as its legitimately great moments — although I must dock points for piling more misfortune on poor Ivy. But hey: That’s showbiz!

Tonight, tonight, won’t be just any night. Eileen’s band of merry misfits is presenting Marilyn: The Musical: The Workshop for an audience of powerful would-be investors, cuckolded husbands, and boring lawyer boyfriends. Though we’ve spent weeks listening to Smash‘s characters tell each other that their material is amazing, the workshop proves that Marilyn is still a long way from Broadway. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

Fade in on a man with a hunger for Julia: Michael, who’s blatantly holding hands with his flame-haired Lady Chatterley in broad daylight. Their icky forbidden love is so scorching that it’s making the entire building feel as hot as Bali H’ai. Wait, just kidding: actually, the boiler’s just on the fritz. (How does Derek find out about this? Ellis tells him that he overheard the news. Of course.) Though Eileen is trying to get the problem fixed, the building’s manager isn’t exactly cooperating. Sounds like someone could use a talking-to from Lurch and his Frankenstein’s Monster fists.

Karen, meanwhile, is busy cutting a demo for the all-powerful but yet unseen Bobby Raskin. When she begins singing with her signature Broadway belt, a surly music producer snarls that she has to tone it down: “You trying to blow out my speakers?” Karen does as he says, dialing her theatricality back to Idol-approved levels and delivering a lovely, understated rendition of Colbie Caillat’s “Brighter Than the Sun.” Surly Producer suddenly straightens in his chair and looks sharply at her, as all mortals must when Karen bestows upon them the gift of song. By the end of it, he’s making moon eyes and telling her that he loves her. Now do you get why Ivy hates you, Karen?

Michael drags Julia into a seemingly empty room, and the two start furiously making out. By doing this in a studio stuffed with nosy, drama-craving theater people, they’re practically begging to get caught. Sure enough, Tom walks in as the couple is mid-smooch. All three sheepishly exit, and the camera slowly shifts over to a corner of the room… where, yup, Ellis happens to be standing. Guys, I can’t even tell you how hard I cackled at this. I sounded like Hecate sampling some particularly tasty eye-of-newt. The leisurely pan to Terrible Ellis might be the new Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes: It starts out funny, then gets frustrating, then gets absolutely freaking hilarious.

NEXT: Presenting! In person! That 5’3″ bundle of dynamite…