It's over, okay?
The arms I’m bidding farewell to are the many arms that embraced people in this episode: Santana’s round Britney, Kurt’s round Rachel, Rachel’s round Sunshine, everyones’ round Mr Shue. It was the exact opposite of Seinfeld’s ‘no hugging, no learning’ mantra. There was nothing but hugging and learning, in fact. And so, sad as it is to say ta-ta to a show one has followed from the start, I won’t be looking for a consoling hug from anyone. Unless Puck’s available. We’ve grown apart, Glee and I. It would be undignified for me to follow it slavishly into the next season by purchasing a Sky package or, more realistically, downloading it from some dodgy site. No, it’s time to let it go. If for no other reason that my credulity that these seasoned hoofers are school-kids is already stretched to screaming point.
This last episode was a microcosm of everything that makes Glee so great and so terrible. And alas, as with most episodes, the latter outweighed to former.
There were some terrific moments. The show being set in New York, it was inevitable that the score would be Gershwin and lifted straight from Manhattan, but hey, it worked. And how nice to hear the gorgeous opening bars of Rhapsody in Blue without having to listen to Woody whinging about his seventeen year-old girlfriend.
I know we don’t watch Glee for its gritty realism. I accept that in real life, high schools aren’t crammed with elderly-looking kids who all have Broadway-standard singing voices. A certain suspension of disbelief is vital in Glee-land, we understand that. But the writers mess with this too much, provoking even uncritical fans into yelling at the telly, ‘AAARGH! That’s just SO unrealistic.’
This week I give you:
- An all-boys school in which gay students are not only warmly welcomed, but are leaders of the pack.
- An epidemic of students – female as well as male – imagining the football coach to stave off premature arrival, and calling out her name, yet!
- Coach Beiste claiming to be forty.
- Puck returning from juvenile detention centre with an orange tan and a certain plumpness around the cheeks. Did he have some work done while in there?
- The least plausible make-out scene ever in the history of television (between Tina and Mike).
So wrong it's right.
I checked the credits to see if two writers shared this week’s episode, as the main storylines were of such differing quality. But no – step up, lone writer Mr Brad Falchuk, clearly a fellow wrestling with the effects of strong medication. He holds responsibility for the Grilled Cheesus debacle, but also wrote the wonderful Preggers episode in Season 1, in which the football team did All The Single Ladies. In this current episode how could the same person who gave us the superb storyline between Kurt and Dave-the-Bully also give us the face-palmingly awful Coach Beiste plot? I’m afraid I have no answers, only questions.
I’m not sure quite what I made of the Rocky Horror Glee Show. On the plus side, it was good to hear some of those funny songs again. When I was in my teens I went through a Rocky Horror phase, playing the film over and over on video. I had a serious crush on Tim Curry (still do, come to think of it), and I loved it when Meatloaf roared in on his motorbike. If you’ve not seen the film, I suspect the phrase ‘Meatloaf roared in on his motorbike’ might seem slightly odd. Anyway, it was great to see the Meat himself pop up in Glee, though what a waste that he just had a dull speaking part. I’d pay proper pounds for him do a song with Sue. Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad perhaps? Bat out of Hell’s too obvious.
What a lovely couple.
Also good were Kurt’s Riffraff, Quinn’s Magenta (doesn’t she look lovely as a brunette?) and Finn as Brad: at last, the role he was born to play. And I completely loved Emma doing Touch-a Touch-a Touch-a Touch me. It was so sexy. The chemistry between her and Will zinged off the rafters; and Brittany and Santana watching through the window (in homage to Magenta and Columbia in the film) was a joy.
After the behind-a-cushion cringe-fest of last week’s ‘Grilled Cheesus’ (which traumatised me too much to review), this week’s Glee was a cracking return to form. There was even a lesbian kiss, always a joy. As in all the best episodes, the plot was wafer-thin. They had to perform duets to win a meal at the excellent-sounding Breadstix restaurant (where, Santana explained, ‘they are legally obliged to keep bringing you breadsticks’). I think a Breadstix would do well in Brighton. Anyway, as there was no story I will just bring you some highs and lows.
The songs – At last, some decent tunes: a marvellous Mercedes/Santana River Deep – Mountain High, which is so obviously a Glee-type song you wonder what took them so long. Gotta love Santana’s jazz hands. And I thought Tina and Mike’s duet, in which he spoke his words like Rex Harrison, worked really well. But these all paled into insignificance next to…
…Kurt and Rachel together – at last! The moment fans of high-end camp have been waiting for. All gimmicks shoved aside, Kurt and Rachel perched on high stools and ripped into the Streisand/Garland mash-up with great verve. Channelling his inner Judy – actually never very far from the surface – Kurt looked more relaxed than ever before. And this was easily Rachel’s least annoying Barbra impersonation. Marvellous! Mr Qwerty, who is just gay enough, leaped from his seat applauding.
That kiss – Wearing their cheerleaders’ outfits, Brittany and Santana twined together on the bed. ‘Ahh,’ sighed Brittany happily, ‘Sweet lady kisses.’
Glee’s back. And it’s exactly the same! Which is to say, it’s still very enjoyable but never quite as good as it could be.
Emma, we miss you.
Actually it isn’t exactly the same. Big-eyed Emma wasn’t there and to my surprise I missed her. She does often bring some kooky kind of centre to proceedings, and when she isn’t doing that, she’s totally rocking a pretty blouse-and-cardi combo. I don’t think she died (oh, my memory), so I hope she comes back soon.
Tina’s now going out with Other Asian instead of Artie, and Santana’s apparently had a boob job, though while everyone seemed to notice them instantly, I thought she ought to have demanded a refund. Not that I have the exact before and after measurements.
And someone called Matt has left the school, but I couldn’t tell you who he was if my life depended on it.
Ah, BBC3. Its target audience is largely those aged from 16-34 years old. It’s the Radio 1 of the telly world. Your correspondent is 26 years old. However, your correspondent would rather eat a cement sandwich than watch pretty much anything on this “television channel” (the majority of its output means those quotation marks are thoroughly deserved, the fabulous Being Human excepted).
This makes me cross. True, there may not be that many serious documentary-loving twenty-somethings. However, if you’re going to insist on having a channel that is meant to be somewhat more “yoof”-orientated in its outlook, you should try and cater for all of your target audience. I admire the BBC in this respect – BBC3 may have once been BBC Choice but it had a similar yoof (yes, I’m sticking with this, however annoying) programming remit and began in 1998, 3 years ahead of the allegedly more trendy and hip Channel 4’s equivalent E4, which then didn’t move over to Freeview until mid-2005. The BBC have given itself not just a T4-style slot but a whole channel for yoof – surely there must be somewhere to accommodate young persons who don’t feel particularly enthused by “Snog, Marry or Avoid?” (shudder)?
Thank goodness, then, for “Kara Tointon – Don’t Call Me Stupid”. Ignore the typically hysterical documentary title. Although, yes, it is basically “Her From Strictly is Dyslexic – Oh DEAR”. But this very thoughtful little programme is also far more than that. Despite its annoyingly-repetitive pop soundtrack (unlike the BBC music and sound folk, as much as I like Corinne Bailey Rae’s excellent second album The Sea I also have other CDs in my house), the show is surprisingly grown-up. We learn that whilst Tointon was relatively fortunate in that she was diagnosed with dyslexia whilst at the early stage of primary school, her dyslexia still profoundly affects her life on many levels. Continue reading
So Glee ends its first season by tying up many of its loose plot lines in nice satiny bows, and whipping the rug out from under my big assumption. Most of the usual tropes were in place for this highly emotional ending: Sue doing her bit to ensure Glee is wiped from the face of McKinley High and Will shouting impotently at Figgins about the injustice (Sue is one of the celebrity judges at Regionals: “I realize my cultural ascendance only serves to illuminate your own banality. But, face it, I’m legend. It’s happened.”); Sue criticising Will’s hair (“Your hair looks like a briar patch. I keep expecting racist, animated Disney characters to pop up and start singing songs about living on the bayou.”); and the Glee club’s journey from desperation to exhilaration.
Along the way we learn that Emma is dating a dentist who asked her out after showing her his sterilisation equipment (and being very impressed by her oral hygiene…), that Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing can reduce Mr Schue to tears and that the best place for Finn and Rachel to have a face to face conversation is on the stairs (Finn at least three steps down from our favourite diva).
Will rallies the troops with the promise of a Journey medley and the slightly dodgy cry of “Who cares what happens when we get there, when the getting there has been so much fun?” Continue reading
I don’t know whose idea it was to give Mr Schue a rival to battle with instead of nemesis Sue, Terri-ble the ex-wife or sweet but mad as a bag of cats Emma – but they’re a genius.
Neil Patrick Harris brings a whole new dynamic to Glee (admittedly this is a series that does a new dynamic almost every week – but this is a new new dynamic). Harris is Bryan Ryan – Will Schuester’s rival from his show choir days – a man (and school board member) whose heart was broken by failing to make it in showbiz and who is now set on closing the glee club and dashing the students’ aspirations to stardom. “Show biz dreams are the most unrealistic of them all,” he tells them after asking them to write their dreams on a sheet of paper – and tossing Artie’s dream – Dancer – into the trash can.
In doing so he sets up the second story strand – Tina trying to make Artie’s dream come true. It’s mostly sweet (sometimes bittersweet) but includes a stunning daydream sequence in which Artie starts dancing (brilliantly) in the mall and creates a flash mob with choreography a Jackson could be proud of. It also leads to Emma actually doing some proper counselling – and you thought she was just there to do her bushbaby impersonation…
We also get confirmation of our suspicions about Shelby (Vocal Adrenalin coach) and Jesse (god, but Jonathan Groff is gorgeous – especially when rain-soaked). Jesse was ordered to befriend Rachel in order to deliver a tape of her mother singing I Dreamed A Dream and get Rachel searching properly for her birth mother (Shelby is banned from contacting her daughter until she’s 18). I fear another large dose of saccharine before New Directions win Regionals… It will probably be worth it just for Jesse telling Rachel that a baby scan picture shows her in fifth position though. Continue reading
Can you have too much glee? I don’t honestly know, but Glee seems to be a little short of glee right now and suffering from diabetes-threatening levels of sugar instead
Three story strands were woven through the episode: Rachel losing her voice through laryngitis, Kurt trying to win his dad back from Finn and Puck trying to get his popularity back after losing his mohawk (it was shaved off after his mother found a mole on his head while washing his hair).
Puck got all the best lines. Talking to Santana about losing his hair – “They maimed me over a freaking mole. I feel like that guy who lost all his hair, then lost all his power.” Santana: “Samson?” Puck : Agassi.”; working out that dating Mercedes could make him cool again: “Get ready black girl from Glee club whose name I can’t remember right now. The Puckster is about to make you his.”; When his initial bid to persuade Mercedes to date him is failing: “I’m a sex shark. If I stop moving, I die.”
And having turned a bit Robbie Williams (confession reader, it might not be cool, but I do love the Robster), with a hat and a Sammy Davis Jr song, he wins Mercedes over. (Frankly, I like him a lot better without the dumb haircut – I’m hoping the writers find a reason to stop the damn thing growing back.) This puts Mercedes on a collision course with a possessive Santana and cues a passionate sing-off of The Boy is Mine and near-fisticuffs in the rehearsal room. Thankfully Mercedes dumps Puck – because she is too good for him – leaving the writers room to set him up with someone else next week.
Reminding us why she is the star of the show, Rachel blew the competition away with her superb rendition of Don’t Rain On My Parade. It’s good she’s resisted doing Barbra till now; this was the perfect moment for her to demonstrate how well she suits that power-house, roof-raising, put-the-show-on-right-now performance that usually only Babs can get away with. It was wonderful. I had a tear in my eye, for god’s sake! Rachel explained she could do it as a last minute thing because ‘I’ve been working on it since I was four’.
The rest of the episode couldn’t live up to this. Plenty of storylines came to an end: Finn discovered the truth about Quinn’s baby; Glee Club realised Sue had leaked their set-list; Will left Terri; and Emma didn’t marry Ken. But none of this was surprising – we’d either been told or guessed. Certainly none of it had the sheer excitement of Rachel running down the central aisle of the auditorium, belting out ‘I’m gonna live and live NOW! Get what I want, I know how!’ Might have to watch it again in a sec.
Mercedes did have one belter of a song, but it wasn’t as impressive as her colleagues implied with their awe-struck expressions. The best part was before she began, tossing over her shoulder to Cool Piano Man, ‘Do I even have to tell you what song?’ He immediately started playing the opening chords of And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going, which apparently is a standard but I’d never heard it before, and wouldn’t be sorry if I never heard it again. No-one else had much chance to shine, a shame given it was the last episode.
Even Sue seemed subdued, and too easily crushed by Principal Figgins. She had one great put-down, to Will, of course: ‘I’m reasonably confident you’re going to add revenge to the long list of things you’re no good at, right next to being married, running a glee club and finding a hairstyle that doesn’t make you look like a lesbian’. Good to see her getting in one more dig about the poor man’s hair. Their chemistry is terrific; I keep hoping one of them will grab the other and deliver a great big snog, though Will saved that for Emma. His loss, I think.