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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Glee Review: The Substitute

In a recent post on one of my favorite blogs Cocky and Rude, bloggers Adam and Mike talked about how to fix Glee. I am a Glee fan with mixed emotions. I think the show has the potential to be good, but definitely think it needs to make some major changes in order to do that. While thinking about what makes the show bad, I realized that the same problems exist every week, including overly dramatic scenes, unnecessary song sequences, and ubiquitous instances of characters acting out-of-character.

So each week, I will review Glee with the same criteria and we'll see how faithful the show is to its impediments.

Most Unnecessary Song

No question about this one: "Make 'Em Laugh" performed by Mr. Schuester and Mike Chang. After a promising first ten minutes (with a great performance of "Forget You" by guest star Gwyneth Paltrow), we come back from commercial to watch Mr. Schuester and Mike Chang dance around on a stage and sing a song that has no relationship to anything ever, except that watching Singing In The Rain is like medicine for Mr. Schue. Yeah, exactly.
Turns out this scene is a dream sequence, and the show is redeemed since no one saw that coming and dream sequences are really innovative and fresh.

Biggest Waste of Money That Should Have Been Used to Get the Kids Transportation to NYC

At the end of the episode, Schue asks Ms. Holliday to help him prove that old music and new music can be blended together and the duo performs a mash-up of Rihanna's hit single "Umbrella" and the medicinal classic "Singing In the Rain." [Note that Schue needed Ms. Holliday to help him prove this to the kids, because they had never seen such a mash-up before... except when they did "Hair"/"Crazy In Love" or when they saw Aural Intensity do "You Lift Me Up"/"Magic" at regionals.]

During this innovative mash-up, the glee club dances on a stage flooded in water. Is it cute to watch them twirl umbrellas and kick up the water? Yes. But the money required to flood the stage (sprinkler system, receptacle to hold the water), then get the water removed (expensive pump or something? Maybe Puck can help since he is/was a pool boy?), could definitely be put to better use in renting a bus so the kids can get to NYC for sectionals.

Most Overly Dramatic Scene

The two worst moments of the episode happened in the same scene basically. After psychoanalyzing Mercedes' eating habits and making (unfounded and offensive) claims that Mercedes is downing tater-tots to fill the hole in her heart where love should be, Kurt is approached by that guy from last week. The closeted jock asks him if he told anyone about their kiss, Kurt says no, and the jock says, "If you do... I'LL KILL YOU" and walks away. Kurt stands in the hallway looking frightened as the camera zooms out and I PRAY that Ms. Holliday will burst out of a locker for a "Forget You" reprise.

Most Out-of-Character Moment

I We all fell in love with Rachel because of her over-the-top arrogance and prude behavior. For most of the first season, some viewers may have gotten annoyed with Rachel, but at least she was a consistent character.

One of my favorite scenes in last night's episode was when she took over for Schue and wrote "ME." on the board, then screamed as everyone got mad at her. Pure Rachel. But when Ms. Holliday tells Rachel that she "sucks" and her condescension is met with surprising complaisance and a musical collaboration, you have to wonder if the writers even know their own characters at this point. Rachel would never respond kindly to the accusation that she sucks.

Worst Use of the Guest Star

Gwyneth Paltrow helped make this week's episode one of the stronger episodes of the season. She was a surprising casting choice, but she did a great job and her version of "Forget You" was by far the most fun we've seen on the show in a long time. And while her character, the hip-teacher-who-understands-the-kids was cool at first, it was pushed into a caricature, just like most of the characters on the show.

By the time Gwyneth is supporting Mercedes' (out-of-character) decision to wreck Sue's car and handing the answers to the pop quiz to Puck, she has turned into an insipid flat character, and worst of all, just another Glee character with no relationship to reality. American education is obviously a social institution with a lot of problems, and the boundaries of teacher/student relationships is certainly a real issue. The show addressing this issue seemed smart and realistic at first. But rather than give Gwyneth a change to explore the line between being hip and relatable while still being a good teacher, she just became naive and silly. With the way Gwyneth rocked the beginning of the episode, she deserved better. And rather than have her moping in Shue's apartment and looking lost in Sue's office, she should have been having more fun, since that's clearly what the show needs.

So what did you guys think of Glee this week? Although I thought the episode was very problematic (and I found the Mercedes storyline highly offensive), I do think that this episode was funnier than the other episodes this season. I did laugh more than usual! And Cameo definitely stole the show.


Jere Keys said...

I disagree with everything negative said about Glee on principle.

That said, I'm pretty sure the giant light-bulb wall with the pyrotechnics built in and the technicians that would have been hired to run it cost at least twice as much as a self-contained water pump system run through some short-use PVC pipe and a lot of plastic sheeting.

Mitchell said...

I agree with most of your critiques, Enrico. They need to focus on writing their characters well and letting the music come as needed. A show where characters repeatedly break into song and dance without much practice must rely on some willing-suspension of disbelief for sure, but the show is starting to devolve into "oh wouldn't it be neat if we did this," "you know what I've always wanted to try," "let's put the two craziest things together and see what we make." Enough! The lack of focused writing is even leading to Sue's lines falling flat. Get Your Act Together!

Garret of Jim and Garret said...

I have no comments since I'm a Glee newb. I've only seen 5 episodes. I LOVE your review though!

hoteltuesday said...

Jere: I agree! That was going to be my Money Waster of the week. BUT, I already covered that routine in another point, PLUS, my blogging adviser Adam told me to blog about flooding the stage.

Mitchell: Exactly! Everything feels so forced.

Garret: What five episodes?? The first five of the series I hope! "Take A Bow" is so good!

Garret of Jim and Garret said...

The past 5 episodes.

adam said...

I agree with everything you said. CAMEO!

Craig said...

I loved last night's episode! I just thought it was so light and funny. The few overdramatic parts were tiny and ignorable for me. I thought Gwyneth did a great job! I love when she's being silly (read: her as bipolar Mary Lincoln)

Travis said...

I was hoping (based on Craig's comments on Twitter) that I would love this episode. But I didn't. Gwyneth totally had moments - but this episode just wasn't awesome.

Season one set a really high standard, so I'm giving it lots of leeway, but I really hope they can get it in line. Also, NO MORE EX WIFE!!!!!! That's all.

adam said...

Craig has low standards.

Michelle M. said...

You're posting again! Hurray!

I agree with everything you said, too. I thought the same thing about the water scene. "Make 'em Laugh" was annoying. But then I can't stand Will.

I think it would have been better if Brittany had been upset about the tots ban. I was glad to see more of Mercedes, but not that way.

I hate the mash ups.

I loved the little purse falling out of Kurt's mouth.

Can't wait for your next Glee Review.

Anonymous said...

I Loved the firt season of Glee so much more then the new season!!