Saturday, September 15, 2012

Gleeful Days Are Here Again

The last season of Glee did not fill me with the emotion that the title promised. It was hard to put my finger on exactly what wasn't working for me. The best I can figure is that after two stellar seasons that smartly balanced the chuckles and the drama, able to sing out with feel-good bubbliness in one moment and lament as melodiously as Billie Holiday the next, the third season started to feel like it was playing to the audience too much. The laughs felt forced, the plotlines lacked conviction, and the twists were painfully predictable. (Yes, we knew they would win at nationals before the seniors graduated and that Finchel wouldn't continue on with our boy keeping house for his happy starlet. Cause Glee may not always nail it, but the writers are not brain dead.)

They did throw in a Christmas wookie, though. If that's not a ratings saver, I don't know what is.

Original image found here.

After the airing of "The New Rachel" last night, this season smells vaguely of redemption (perhaps with an undercurrent of teen spirit). It's not flawless, mind. There's a little been-there-done-that to some of the plotlines we've seen so far, such as the group losing sight of their policy of acceptance for all due to competitiveness and a yearning for popularity. Not only has this idea surfaced before, but in this episode, it wrapped up almost faster than one could recognize it. It might have been intriguing to see the Dark Side of the Glee club for a change (in fact, I'd pay good money to see a little Darth Britney), but it would have ultimately felt wrong to see our sweet and scrappy underdogs going all "Mean Girls." So discarding this notion was probably smart. 

The Glee Club: Give us your tired, your nerdy, your out-and-proud gay men yearning to be free.

Original image found here.

And Puckerman the sequel worries me. Don't tell me he's going to start out as a bad seed and learn the value of friendship through membership in the glee club, because I can already see that coming from a mile away. Then, all that will separate Jake Puckerman from his brother, Noah, will be the impregnation of a cheerleader and a subsequent lust for larger ladies. As for our singing Pollyanna, Marley, the offspring of the much-derided lunch lady, she concerns me as well. She's somewhat charming in an overwrought Oliver Twist kind of way right now, but she's going to need to develop some complexity to avoid being as two-dimensional as a Disney princess.

Want to hear a new level of wardrobe fail? Our musical pauper is 
depicted as wearing a thrift store sweater that her mom sewed a 
J. Crew label in to make her cheap-o duds look cool. When I moused 
over this image on the original siteit gave me the option to shop the look. 
Turns out, this is a $168 Marc Jacobs sweaterReally, wardrobe person?
 REALLY?! There goes authenticity.

However, what thrilled me to no end was how well Glee incorporated our recent grads. I smelled doom when most of characters who made life at McKinley High seem worthwhile moved on, leaving behind newbies and a few folks who made stellar supporting characters, but were questionable as leads. What reassured me and has me engrossed anew was the integration of plotlines for our favorite new New Yorker, Rachel Berry, and the man who brings style to lurking at the high school after graduation, Kurt Hummel. Those two, alone, make the whole show worthwhile. But it also gives me hope that they'll find a way to incorporate Puckerman (the elder) and Finn into the current plot, especially with Carbon Copy Jake now skulking around the high school. This will be absolutely necessary until Glee can deliver lead characters on par with Rachel, Finn, and Kurt and develop them enough to make us love them.

Concerned that the leftover gleesters can't carry the show? 
Never fear, Fancy Man is here! Look upon his cravat, ye mighty, and despair.

Original image found here.

And Kate Hudson. Kate Kate Kate. I had not been tracking the spoilers, darling, so it was a lovely surprise to see your unfairly gorgeous mug here. Kate Hudson as Rachel's dance teacher is the most delicious of bitches. She sets her sight on "Ms. David Schwimmer," as she keeps referring to Rachel, and seems determined to grind her under the heel of her tap shoes before the first semester is through. And yet, she's not so bad, as we see in her brief but supportive interaction with a TA who just landed his first Broadway role as a flying monkey in Wicked. Their conversation shows that this Grinch's heart may be two sizes too small, but it does exist, only perhaps it's a bit broken over her own lack of Broadway success. Her singing and dancing was divine, her performance quite capable, but this is a role that could also end up like a stock character from a thousand other stories. The broken, has-been alcoholic who scorns others out of pain is very well-traveled territory. I like where they're going with this so far, but Glee will need to watch its step to keep this character from becoming too cliche.

She's obviously a cold-hearted snake. Look into her eyes.

Original image.

With the dramatic reunion between Rachel and Kurt at the end of the episode, Glee leaves us with the hope of good things to come. Certainly, as discussed, there are some false notes and missteps, but the general theme remains one worth singing along to.

Are these musical puns doing it for you? Cause this last one will have you doing a...

Original image found here.