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T.V. That Matters 2/23/12: Smash, Justified, 30 Rock

By Matt Ern, Columnist

 

Matt Ern

Smash- "Enter Mr. DiMaggio" 

Grade: B-

 

The biggest problem for "Enter Mr. DiMaggio" was unfortunately a rather important one for musicals not to have- all of the musical performances were lacking.

 

 I found the Bruno Mars mashup grating (although that could just be personal taste); Katharine McPhee's rendition of "Red Neck Woman" didn't live up to what we've already seen her to be capable of on the show, and the original song at the end "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" was just plain boring compared to the other numbers the show has pulled off.    

 

While my issues with the songs didn't keep me from enjoying the rest of the episode, it just stuck out to me as a potentially big problem.  A musical can't keep going successfully if the worst things about each episode are the musical numbers.  

 

But music aside, the rest of the episode was solid.  There was some good forward momentum in the plot and the addition of Michael Swift, the early first choice for Joe DiMaggio.  Things are complicated by the fact that Julia had an affair with Swift last time they worked together. 

 

 And then an even bigger wrinkle comes in the form of Tom's assistant Ellis, who overhears Julia telling Tom about the affair.  Ellis, feeling slighted by the way Julia treats him and for not getting paid for coming up with the idea for the Marilyn musical, sets out gather dirt on Julia and steals her notebook.  

 

Karen, now relegated to the chorus, worries about money since she'll have to miss shifts at work to be in the musical's workshop.  And in a contrived act of plotting she has to go home to Iowa for a friend's baby shower, which will cost her even more money.  The Iowa storyline proves to be the episode's least compelling.     

 

Matt Ern

Justified- "When The Guns Come Out"

Grade: B+

"Justified" pumped the breaks, if only slightly, this week but that's not to say it wasn't a compelling episode.  The opening salvo in the inevitable war between Quarles and Boyd was fired but it's not until the episode's final moments that we find out the whole thing was a bit of sabotage set up by one of Limehouse's men.  

 

When one of Boyd's Oxy stashes is hit, the immediate suspect in Quarles but he investigates the incident all the same.  Raylan is dragged into the mix because Boyd was using Raylan's late aunt Helen's property for the Oxy stash.   

 

Despite all the different villains and storylines up in the air this season, "When The Guns Come Out " does a good job of showing how closely related they all are, and how small a town Harlan really is.  Raylan is closely tied to Boyd and now being targeted by Quarles who suspects an alliance between the two.  

 

The one problem with this episode is the return of the stolen evidence money subplot from last year, which was the only thing that didn't 100% work about that season.  Thankfully it didn't take up too much time here, but if the money continues to be a subject of interest in coming episodes it could really drag out these mid-season episodes.   

 

Matt Ern

30 Rock- "The Tuxedo Begins"

Grade: B-

 

This week found Liz and Jack locked in some sort of Dark Knight-esque battle for the soul of New York City.  Jack believes the lower classes are rising up against the super-rich after he is mugged by a middle aged white man and decides that he will run for mayor in order to make the streets safe again for the elite. Liz finally gets fed up with nobody listening to her rules and starts dressing up as an old lady so she can act crazy and get whatever seat she wants on the subway. 

 

Jack's storyline progresses with him fearful to leave the building for several days, attempting to plan his campaign from his office.  Liz gets progressively meaner and her disguise gets grungier and grungier until she's wearing Joker makeup.  Once the two have their confrontation on the rooftop set the storylines get a lot funnier, leading up to the moment Jack throws Liz into a pile of garbage on the street.

 

The people of New York cheer Jack for stopping the crazy woman who's been terrorizing the subway which makes Liz realize people do respect and like the rules.  Jack decides the city no longer needs him (at least temporarily) and seems to abandon his campaign for mayor.  So by the end of the episode, everything sort of goes back to square one.  

 

Even though lots of things about this episode were laugh-out-loud funny, there was something off about the way they all came together that made the episode not work for me.  Jenna and Paul's storyline fell a little flat and only managed to get me to chuckle a few times.  All the flashbacks to problems Liz has had on the subway were funny and Tracey and Kenneth had some good lines, but all in all something felt lacking.  

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