Yes, it was just last week that we were gushing lamely about Uma Thurman's guest starring role on Smash, but we're going to gush lamely some more. She's added a direly necessary element of camp, for lack of a less overused word, that the show's been sorely lacking it since its inception.
Last night we watched her movie star character Rebecca befriend lead girl Karen for mysterious reasons. They went out on the town and boozed it up and got snapped by paparazzi, Uma Thurman being breathy and funny all the while. Of course the show concocted maybe the silliest excuse yet for Katherine McPhee to sing another pop ditty — this one, inexplicably, was a Snow Patrol song (remember Snow Patrol?) — but somehow, in the warm comedy glow of the ridiculous Rebecca character, what would normally induce groans and eye-rolls instead induced... well, less serious groans and eye-rolls.
But perhaps the most ridiculous thing that the show got away with while Uma entertained us was what happened while Karen and boring boyfriend Dev took Rebecca out to eat at an Indian restaurant. Rebecca was supposed to be sort of horrified by the restaurant (even though it in no way even remotely resembled some of New York's many Indian restaurants that could reasonably merit horror) and got in a wonderfully catty fight with Dev. And while those two went at it, Karen stared off at the television, on which a Bollywood movie was playing, and all of a sudden we were in the middle of a freakin' Bollywood number on freakin' Smash. And, like, everyone was involved.
Like, Derek was in it. Debra Messing danced. The annoying teenage kid was there. And, again, it was a Bollywood number. A Bollywood fantasy number. On Smash. Boy, Uma Thurman comes in and chews a little scenery and all of a sudden everyone's chomping down on a piece. The number was patently absurd, but it also kinda worked. If this show is actually starting to get a real sense of humor I worry only that it's too late. Those who watched those bizarrely self-serious, borderline somber early episodes may never be won back to the cause, even if it's explained to them that the show has gone a little crazy and Uma Thurman is on it acting loopy.
So many shows should do this. Get a little weird, get a little dumb (in a good way). Imagine The Killing with an elaborate dream sequence. Or a Borgias bottle episode. Maybe find a way to always involve Uma Thurman, who, to our great surprise, is wonderful on television. What sometimes seems a little too thin or ethereal in movies (save for Kill Bill, obvs) plays big and fulfilling on TV. Someone give this woman a show. Or keep her on Smash. Do something with her, at least. For helping to pull this struggling series out of its moody mire, she deserves it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.