Glee: one week Jekyll, the next Hyde

Glee, what the hell?! One week you are crazy stupid, marrying Sue Sylvester to herself, tarnishing the legacy of Carol Burnett, trying too hard to salute Singing in the Rain, the next you are offering a coherent, spirited story about a high school glee club.
Tuesday’s episode, “Special Education,” allowed all of the young cast members to shine. Rachel (Lea Michele) was for once more sympathetic and vulnerable than annoying. Puck (Mark Salling) was given plenty to do both comedic and dramatic and carried it off. Brittany (Heather Morris) got to actually be part of the story instead of just mumble something eccentric.
Act and dance; Morris’ star turn with “Other Asian” Mike (Harry Shum, Jr.) was a genuine showstopper.
Mercifully missing from the episode: Jane Lynch. Resting her character a week yanked this show back off that campy slippery slope. Sue Sylvester has turned into a Batman villain. All that is missing is a yard long cigarette holder and a monocle.
Without her, Glee seems more real. Mr. Shue’s anger and exasperation at Rachel’s showboating shenanigans ring true.
More Naya Rivera is also a good thing. Bad Cheerio Santana gets more intriguing by the week. Showcasing her voice in a sectional sing off seems exactly right.
Even the song selection seemed to work better Tuesday night. The mix of showtunes (Don’t Cry for Me Argentina) and current Top 40 pop offered something for everyone and shook the show out of its ’70s rock opera rut.
The way the sectional performance part of the episode was shot gave it a live edge. Briskly paced and edited, with a tremendous variety of shots–zooming close ups, audience reactions, behind the singers and dancer on stage, it brought a live concert energy to the show.
Also missing Tuesday night: Kristen Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, John Stamos and any other big name guest star shoehorned into storylines. Glee is best when it is just about the glee club. That may not be how Sue ‘C’s it, but it is how I see it.

One Response to “Glee: one week Jekyll, the next Hyde”

  1. Wow, I can’t believe you didn’t get any comments on this one. Sorry I’m throwing in my 2 cents about 3 weeks too late but here goes.

    I gotta disagree with your assessment of Sue. While I might concede this particular episode managed to succeed without her, I find that a rarity with this show. Granted, the “marrying yourself” storyline was ridiculous but in general I find the Sue-less episodes to be poor.

    When Sue is written well, and that hasn’t happened often in S2, she really elevates the show to another level. You want to hate her but she isn’t entirely without sympathy. I think she best represents the notion at the heart of Glee — nothing is ever as it seems. The most effective and interesting Glee characters are those who reveal themselves to be more than they appear to be from the outside. We all want to believe that if people really knew us, they’d like us and I think that’s what Glee really taps into when it’s working.

    All that said, I can’t help but agree completely with your title as it applies to this season as a whole. The overt and often disastrous “cameos”, the elaborate and non-sensical musical/dance numbers and the seemingly endless need to make every song scream “buy this on CD in a few weeks!” has turned this from a must-see to a when-you-find-time (or worse).

    I think this is a perfect example of a show trying to appeal to everyone that will soon appeal to no one.

    Reply

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