Glee: Bullies and Substitutes

KT thought you’d never ask.

GLEE:  2.06 “Never Been Kissed”
GLEE:  2.07 “The Substitute”

Glee is rapidly turning into a show that’s fun to watch, but hard to write about.  It’s hardly worth trying to talk about the characters, because they’re only consistent in a very broad sort of way.  Is Rachel willing to be part of the team this week?  Is Will the cool teacher or the out-of-touch adult?  Is Sue trying to take down the glee club or are she and Will allies?  Any of those could be “yes” this week and “no” next week.  This really isn’t a show with story arcs, it’s a show with a premise-of-the-week — so then it’s hard to talk much about plot, either, besides recapping.

Anyway, at least things have been happening the last couple of weeks.  Happily, the competitors for Sectionals change every year, so the gimmicky schools we met last year have been exchanged for new gimmicky schools: a boys’ school with an a capella group and a night school group for adults getting their GEDs.  Not surprisingly, the boys’ school turns out to be a dating opportunity for Kurt.  Also their a capella group sounds amazing.  (Actually, it reminded me a lot of the mens’ a capella group at my college, except that the audience at their concerts always had a high percentage of women, haha.)

But most of the plots in “Never Been Kissed” had to do with bullying.  Kurt is still getting bullied by the huge football player — who turns out to be deeply in the closet.  Puck is back, but finally is forced to admit that he, the badass of McKinley High, was low man on the totem pole in juvvie.  After spending the episode being a bad influence on Artie, they strike a deal to try to invert that relationship so that Puck might pass geometry.  But they get a great duet – their voices go really well together.

There’s also a weird subplot in which some of the teens picture Coach Bieste as a way of keeping from getting too aroused — word gets around, she gets upset, apologies must be made.  That started out funny, but was a dead, dead horse by the end of the episode.  Both the boys and the girls produced some cool mash-ups, though.

This week, the amazing Gwyneth Paltrow visits McKinley High, earning my Least Likely Glee Guest Star award.  She plays the kooky substitute that all the kids love, and she earned my approval as soon as she burst out into “Conjunction Junction.”  Yay.  Her Chicago duet with Rachel seemed weirdly placed and under-choreographed (after all that talk about a good dance beat), but she rocked out on “Forget You.”

But the two numbers that make this episode worth watching (‘cause really, the plot didn’t do much for me) are the ones from Singing in the Rain.  It may only be Will’s fever dream, but Matthew Morrison and Harry Shum really bring their A game for “Make ‘Em Laugh,” and I loved that they used many of the gags that Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor perform in the movie.  And while I was initially skeptical about what they might do to modernize “Singin’ in the Rain,” that number really blew me away.  Fantastic.

You know, I think this might be one show that could actually put together a worthwhile clip show episode:  just run a bunch of their best musical numbers.

Glee: I sound like someone put tap shoes on a horse.

KT dreams for more episodes like this one.

GLEE:  1.19 “Dream On”

Now that’s more like it.  That was Glee at its best.

Much has been made of the fact that Joss Whedon was behind the camera for this episode, and I’m confident he did contribute to making this a good episode, but I think the writers deserve a big round of applause, too.  Joss got good material to work with.   He also got Neil Patrick Harris as the cynical and conflicted Brian Ryan, Will’s high school nemesis.

The episode got itself off to a good start by fully committing to a wonderful flashback to Will and Brian as teenagers.  It only lasts a minute or so, but it’s great.  Everyone looks like they walked straight out of Saved By the Bell, while NPH and Matthew Morrison are such good actors that they’re really believable as their awkward, younger selves.

Some of Glee’s usual flip-floppiness sneaks into the Brian Ryan plot.  It’s kind of like plucking flower petals and saying “He’ll cut the club.  He won’t cut the club.  He’ll cut the club…” which makes me roll my eyes a little.  Happily there was plenty of other good stuff to make up for it.  For one thing, these two can really rock a duet.

If Brian Ryan ever comes back, I hope he gets to interact more with Sue, because their scene was a hoot and a half.  And yet, they actually have a real, meaningful conversation lamenting the real world issues of underfunding in the arts and under-appreciation of physical education.  Sue even looks like a competent educator, which is nice, for a change.

Meanwhile, Artie and Tina actually got a storyline!  And although it’d be nice if Artie could get a plot that didn’t need to revolve around his disability, this one was really nice as far as tone and pacing.  The sweet, friendly relationship between Artie and Tina was charming, as was her eagerness to be helpful and supportive.  The idea of putting taps on his wheels was pretty clever, even if it didn’t work out; likewise it was sweet of her to dig up research on spinal injuries, even though those studies couldn’t directly help him any time soon.  Emma only had the one scene in this episode, but I really liked that (A) it was with someone other than Will, just for variety, and (B) that we got to see her doing her job well, which we often don’t.  Really lovely stuff.

And the dancing!  Even though it was all in Artie’s imagination, it was great to see Kevin McHale get a chance to get up and dance.  The big “Safety Dance” flash mob was a lot of fun, and I liked the way we occasionally cut to camera views that mimicked people’s cell phone cameras.  I also loved that there was tap dancing this week, and I liked it even more because who would have guessed Tina would be a tap dancer?  Awesome.

[After the jump, Rachel's diva tendencies make so much more sense.] Continue reading