Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Glee: Make Way for Brit-Brit!

Depending on your thoughts on Britney Spears, tonight's episode of Glee will be the one you've been either dying for, or will avoid at all costs. Personally, I don't feel very strongly about her either way, other than to say I think the media has been very unkind to her, that she's probably a better mom than any tabloid would like you to think, and that "Baby One More Time" and "Oops I Did It Again" are two of the catchiest pop songs of the past decade.

But let's focus on Glee. The second half of season 1, after the hiatus, was a mixed bag of goods that was largely disappointing. Until the hiatus, the show had been entirely filmed before the stars knew just how huge it would be. But then they realized Glee was the golden child of television, and in the second half of the season, in every scene it was clear they knew it. Suddenly the innocence was gone, the jokes were too self-aware, and Rachel went from delightfully annoying to unbearable.

Thankfully, the season 1 premiere last week was a wonderful return to form. Sue was at her bitter best, Brittany was loopy as ever ("People thought I went on vacation but I really spent the summer lost in the sewers"), and the show decided rather than pretend it was still TV's golden child, it would address all of the criticisms that had been lobbed against it during the summer in a very tongue-and-cheek manner. In the show's opening, our favourite Jew-fro wearin' nerd, interviewed each of the main characters for his angry blog, voicing many of the same things that the show's detractors had said about it. He asked Mr. Schue if he would stop rapping and if he was the spokesperson for Land's End. Or, in my favourite line of questioning, "How do you respond to a recent post on my blog that your song selection sounds like it comes from a drag queen's iPod?"

Kurt's response, of course, had me cheering, considering how many times I've said this myself: "Next time, instead of posting an anonymous comment on a blog why don't you just come out and say it to my face!" And then he was slushied.

The introduction of Ms. Bieste (pronounced Beast... it's French...) is a brilliant bit of casting. Throughout the episode I couldn't decide if it really was a woman in the role or if it was a man in drag. Turns out it is a woman, Dot Jones, who has a career of playing tough chicks and is a 15-time national arm-wrestling champion (??!!) Amazing. However, I was a little worried by the quick comment about Ken Tanaka leaving... is he actually gone from the show? I hope not; that's an easy way out of the Emma Pilsbury situation if so.

Ms. Bieste is the first person we've seen who REALLY unnerves Sue, just because when she leans in and hisses, "You're all coffee and no almond," all Sue can retort is a quiet, "That... makes no sense." As she leaves the room and mutters that Sue's nothing but a steer with 6 teats and no oink, Sue again just glances down and whispers, "that makes NO SENSE." I was killing myself laughing.

The episode wasn't perfect. I thought the performance of Jay-Z's New York was brilliant, but do not, for one second, believe that no one would have been watching them... seriously, the reason those impromptu choreographed dances in malls and train stations work is because when something like that happens, everyone stops and stares. There is simply no way that the rest of the school would have just sat there. Also, the auto-tuning was in full swing for the entire episode. Many songs were so auto-tuned it sounded like Cher's Believe... I think these kids have extraordinary voices, and considering it's a high school and not the top 5 of American Idol, if they're not perfect, that's pretty realistic. Let's not auto-tune them all to sound like Christina Aguilera. And I could have done without the boring Rachel number (complete with her "I'm gonna cry and I'm in pain can't you tell from my dramatic eyebrow furrow" trademark look).

But those are minor nitpicks. Sue Sylvester was probably still the highlight for me, especially when she went after Santana, who she'd just found out had had a boob job: “Oh, and Boobs McGee – you’re demoted to the bottom of the pyramid so when it collapses your exploding sandbags will protect the squad from injury. Now take your juicy, vine-ripened chest fruit and get the hell out of my office.”

But my favourite quote of the episode? After the new kid sings, Puck tells him, "Dude, your mouth is huge. How many tennis balls can you fit in there?" Sam replies, "I don't know... I've never had any balls in my mouth. Have you?"

And last week I had the pleasure of attending the book launch for "Don't Stop Believin': The Official Guide to Glee," which is a terrific guide to the first season of the show written by Suzie Gardner and Erin Balser, complete with bios of the show's stars. When I was working on the book, there seemed to be a surprise on every page; it's certainly enriched the way I watch the show. You can order it here.

And until then, happy gleeking!

6 comments:

Colleen/redeem147 said...

Not enjoying the music tonight, but I hope they play the song from Doctor Who.

I'm waiting for the day that Kurt ends up with Finn. I'm shipping them.

Andy said...

Good episode. Interesting and clever way to present the Britney songs via the dentists chair. Cool that actress who plays Glee Britney got the spotlight for her dancing gift. And the Britney character was hysterical in this episode. Well, she's always hysterical, but 10 times that in this one. Stuff with Will was a bit awkward as was Jacob's obsession but I suppose that was the point of the whole Britney themed piece. Emma's analysis when talking to Will in teacher's lounge was spot on. Rachel's Paramour song was pretty sweet.

Joan Crawford said...

I don't watch Glee but I do agree with you on how hard the media is on Britney. I remember once she tripped while holding her baby and the media was all "Out of Control! Terrible Mother Britney Threatens Baby's life!" and then she was crying afterward and they kept filming her and it was all so sordid and awful.

Fred said...

Thanks heavens for the second episode. I thought after the season premier, Glee was going to retread the old themes it had already dealt with in Season 1. But the second episode, the Brit-Brit, opened new avenues that made it once more fresh and appealing. Granted, at times it felt like more MTV than television show, but there was enough plot to satisfy.

While this episode with the novacain induced hallucinations leant a sort of magical Mystery Tour nature to the show, there seems always the threat of rerality lurking behind the scene. Like Artie on the football team? Really? And I'm liking Emma more this season. Will Shue has just got to grow up some more. He seems to be more like his students than an adult. Perhaps that's why they put him singing and dancing with the Glee members. And I have faith in Sue, she is down but not out.

Teebore said...

Haven't had a chance to catch the second ep yet, but more or less agree with your thoughts on the premiere.

Though the auto-tuning doesn't bother me as much as some people, as I generally have a terrible ear for such things.

I definitely WOULD like to see more occasions where the characters just sing a song, and it doesn't turn into an overblown production number. Like, they're just, you know rehearsing a song. And I know the auto-tune plays a role in the feel of the big production numbers, but it'd be nice if, every once in awhile, the characters just sang without finding themselves in a music video.

Coach Bieste's nonsensical comebacks almost rivaled some of Sue's lines for the funniest moments of the episode for me. My favorite Sue line, though, was definitely, "the two of you are making a very serious mistake today, the likes of which have not been seen since the Mexican Indians sold Manhattan to George Washington for an up-skirt photo of Betsy Ross."

Duke said...

I thought Britney was so funny this episode. "Finn can fly?" And her dancing was incredible.

Is it just me or is Rachel's make-up too much this season?