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’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.
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.
Thank god for Kurt and Sue Sylvester, I cry, and not for the first time. Without them, and the baaaaad girls from Jane Addams Academy, this episode would have been just too grim. The scene where the kids from the deaf school sing Imagine, and the McKinley kids barge in to join them (why? Did they think we couldn’t handle it sung by a deaf kid?) was just horrible. I barfed all over my Radio Times. I’m a big John Lennon fan, but Imagine is one of the most toe-curling songs out there. Why did the deaf students have to be represented in such a patronisingly uncool way? Their song, choreography and school uniforms – all uncool. This is definitely not the episode to start with if you’re planning to introduce a friend to Glee (though I guess it would be sort of weird, anyway, to begin at episode 11, so forget I said anything). Bad, Glee, very very bad. We’re going to fall out if this sort of thing continues.
Let’s focus on the good bits, as Gok Wan says. I loved the sassy Jane Addams teacher (played by singer Eve), who insisted on calling their group ‘show choir’ even as the girls were wiggling barely-covered bottoms and flicking their hair around like pole-dancers. I adored Aphasia (crazy name, crazy girl), who pinched Will’s wallet like a modern Artful Dodger. I very much enjoyed Brittany explaining how hairography works (‘you pretend like you’re getting tasered. It’s like cool epilepsy’); and I was rather taken with Will, up to his elbows in grease after working on his new car, saying ‘I feel like I’m in a Springsteen song’.
But really, it was all about Sue and Kurt. Sue had two great scenes. The first, when she boasted about her coaching prowess as reported in Splits, and curtly asked Will to return the magazine though he hadn’t gone near it. The second, her attempt to collude with the other schools’ teachers. To the affronted response of, ‘Who do you think I am?’, Sue said smoothly, ‘That’s a very good question because I’ve forgotten both your names.’ She’s just so deliciously true to herself.
This week’s theme was mothers. Quinn, soon to become one herself, had a telling scene with her own mama, a Barbie-doll Republican rather like Cindy ‘Loose Cannon’ McCain. Trying to zip Quinn into her gown, Mrs Fabray noticed Quinn was not as svelte as usual in the tummy department. Rather than asking some pressing questions regarding Quinn’s eligibility to be Celibacy Queen, she followed the ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ principle and merely offered to alter the dress.
Finn’s Mum was a nice contrast. When she discovered him in his bedroom singing to a sonogram image of Quinn’s foetus (don’t teenage boys masturbate any more?), she immediately deduced that he’d got his girl up the duff, and hugged him, saying in traditional motherly fashion, ‘It’ll be all right.’ She then offered a home to Quinn, who’d been thrown out by her simpering mother and plastic-faced father. Yay! Finn’s ma is best mother in show. (Mother in the biological and nurturing sense, not as in, you cheating mutha, or whatever it is young people say.)
This episode was all about trying to fit together two things that don’t really go. Officially, this meant Ken and Emma asking Will to mash up their disparate wedding song choices. Unofficially, this included every other pairing in the show: Glee Club and Football Club; Rachel and Puck; pork chow mein and Schindlers List; Sue and love; and Ken and Emma them very selves.
The most bizarre coupling was of course the tracksuited Iron Maiden being pranged by Cupid’s dart. What a sight it was: a happy, laughing Sue Sylvester. Not laughing because she’d just annihilated someone with a lacerating put-down, but laughing because she was dancing up a friendly swing storm with her arch-nemesis, Will. I blinked, to make it go away, but they were still there, cha-cha-ing like bezzie mates. What the hell had happened? A lobotomy or… no, Sue was in love: with Plastic Rod, news anchor and sweet-talking sleazeball. Sue threw herself into this short affair with vigour, setting a new standard of sexy talk: ‘You sunk my battleship, Rod. And you sunk it hard.’
A giddy, tender Sue was a thing of joy, though not as splendid as evil Sue, who resurfaced abruptly once Rod had cheated on her and, what’s worse, embarrassed her over the understated red Zoot suit she thought might work for a date.
It was a Sue-packed, Sue-licious, Sue-pendous episode. Terrifying in black shades and a matching black trackie, Coach Sylvester stalked the corridors of McKinley School like Gary Cooper in High Noon. Except not on the side of Good.
Revealing the depths of her hatred for Will’s curly hair (‘I can’t help but picture birds laying sulphurous eggs in there’), Sue set about splitting Glee Club by pretending to be the minority kids’ friend. Watching her tick them off on her fingers was a joy. ‘Wheels, gay kid, Asian, other Asian…’.
Of course, her dastardly plot failed, but not before we’d had an excellent sing-song in Hate On Me, and a rather dull one from Rachel with No Air. When Sue tried to stage a walk-out from this latter performance on the grounds of boringness, I had some sympathy.
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When my moment finally comes, and I am called to the Great Reckoner in the Sky (Desert Island Discs, I mean), my dilemma will be which songs to choose from Cabaret. So I was in showtune heaven this week, as Rachel and April went head to head on a tingly version of Maybe this Time. It wasn’t quite Liza, but it wasn’t half bad.
April, played by the versatile Kristin Chenoweth – last seen as a sensible media consultant in The West Wing – had been wheeled in by Will, partly because she was a charismatic fire-cracker of a performer who could replace Rachel, but mainly because Will had the hots for her back in the day at school. I have a secret affinity with Kristin, because we are exactly the same height (quite small – in fact the same as Judy Garland, to bring us full circle, except obviously I can’t sing and Liza lets the side down by being a bit tall at 5 foot 4).
Kristin sparkled as a boozy, tarty, tiny washed-up cougar. She had all the best lines: ‘Can I get you a drink? I just cracked open a fresh box of wine’. When accused of being ancient by the assembled Glee clubbers, she slurred, ‘Old, huh? You guys look like the world’s worst Benetton ad’, which is completely accurate. To Rachel, also complaining ageistly about her: ‘Talent doesn’t age, sweetheart’, with the naughtiest sidelong look in the history of sidelong looks.
Of course, Continue reading