Thursday, June 10, 2010

Glee: Season One

Glee: Season One.

Me: Okay, so at Molly's request from our last review, we're going to review the last season of Glee, thus ensuring that everyone knows that it is okay for someone as butch as myself to watch Glee. Anyhow, Glee was broken into two awkward halves of its freshman season. At first, Fox ordered only 13 episodes and it was well plotted out and they wrote out the story arc for going to sectionals. Fox took a bit of a risk on Glee, considering how other musical shows such as Cop Rock failed abysmally. However, after the positive hype and good ratings, they ordered more episodes to finish out the season. This is also why the latter half of the season was probably a bit more disjointed and roaming in the writing. The first half of the season really had them focused on sectionals and it was always a hard goal looming over them in the background even when the episodes weren't directly pertaining to sectionals.

The last half of this season, however, hardly mentioned regionals and seemed to be wandering around blindly with their storylines. It wasn't nearly as focused in overall arc as the first half of the season. Now, I'm not necessarily bashing the show for that, since the latter half of the season was a late order, so there was probably some rushing in it. Something similar happened to Heroes in its freshman season. Partway through the first season, they realized it was popular and ordered more episodes and we ended up with a rather succinct (if not plagiarized from X-Men) storyline whose last half of the season was so full of wandering filler where nothing got accomplished other than friggin' Hiro sitting in a diner for eight weeks pining over a waitress who would eventually die and become a high school guidance councilor on Glee.

The first half of Glee's season was really something tremendous. The storylines were tight and arced to a well planned and fitting ending at sectionals. The second half wasn't bad, but definitely lacked a lot of what the first half had.

The second half of the season also suffered a bit from some of its own popularity. The last half of this season had so many songs crammed into the episodes for really no reason other than to turn around and sell them on iTunes so that uberfans (and macho butch tough guys who have three year old daughters who love Glee) will rush out and download them all. As a friend of mine noted correctly, the second half of the season also moved more from a Glee club, where almost all of the singing was in rehearsals or on stage, to a musical, where they would just burst out into a pop song to express their feelings rather than be "really" singing it. I don't have a huge problem with this, since I do really enjoy musical theater (in a butch, manly way), but it is a departure from their original format and a bit of a sign of lazy writing in the second half of the season. There were "musical theater" moments from the first half of the season ("Bust Your Windows"), but they were fewer and farther between.

Some of my main issues with Glee comes from simple lack of planning and lazy writing. Too many times they ditched their initial idea for something else later in the season. For example, it turns out that everyone in the Chastity Club was fucking like monkeys as they later developed the other characters in it. That's fine, but once they realized that they made the other cheerleaders sluts, then they had to quietly dissolve the chastity club. Just poor planning on that one.

Quinn (unintentionally) reveals to her parents that she is pregnant and she gets kicked out of her house. That made for a nice, tense dramatic scene. So Quinn moved in with Finn to resolve it. But when Finn found out that it wasn't his baby, she moved in with Puck. It was barely mentioned, just kind of an afterthought. Were they together or not? How did Puck's mother take to him being a father? How did his mother take to the idea that his son knocked up a non-Jew? We never found out because Quinn moving in with Puck was a second-half season afterthought that they wrote themselves into. Then Quinn moved in with Mercedes. No real plot reason, just because they realized that Puck really shouldn't be going around fucking everyone with his baby momma back at home. Again, lazy writing. And finally, Quinn's mother shows up to invite her back to live with her again in what should be a touching moment. But it wasn't. It was a lazy writing way to wrap this up for next season. Plus, it just made Quinn's mom such an awful character. Her husband threw Quinn out of the house and did she protest then? No. She took it and accepted it. It wasn't until her husband cheated on her that she stood up to him and threw him out. That's just fucking selfish. It wasn't until she was affected that she stood up to him and brought her daughter back. If I were Quinn I would not be so forgiving of such a selfishly motivated act.

Also, when Finn lost his virginity to Santana, I was disappointed that they forgot one of the central bits of his character from the early season: his issues with premature ejaculation and the fact that he could only stop from finishing early by thinking about running over the mailman. I didn't think it was necessary plot-wise to have it in his scene with Santana, but it just illustrates some of the lazy writing and forgetfulness of the early season.

Also, one of the best storytelling devices they used in the first half of the season was the voice-over thoughts for the characters. This was all but forgotten in the second half of the season.

Now, with those problems listed, I still have to say, I watched and enjoyed every episode. The first half of the season definitely is stronger in plot and writing, but I still thought the last half of the season was fun and worth watching.

While the second half of the season missed story and consistency, it did give us some of the best personal moments in the show:

Artie's dream of dancing and the realization that he will not be able to fulfill it.

Kurt trying to be something he is not to win the attention of his dad and ultimately breaking down into a powerful version of "Rose's Turn" that is a more worthy successor of Ethel Merman's voice than any of the Broadway stars who has sung it since. Hands down, to me, this is the best song that was song this season on Glee.

Kurt's dad angrily yelling at Finn for his use of the word "fag" and standing up and defending his son even when his son was willing to just take it.

I just wish these moments were not singular moments, but rather a part of something over-arcing and planned better like the moments in the first half of the season.

What I find kind of interesting as well is that Kurt wasn't ever a planned character. Originally the actor came in and auditioned for Artie. They didn't give it to him, but liked the actor so much that they wrote the part of Kurt in to give him a role. The bit about him wanting to sing the female part in "Defying Gravity" that was an early season plot point was actually based on a real-life story that the actor had.

Anyhow, Glee is a really good show. One of the few I've gone out of my way to watch. The music is really surprisingly well done as well. The last half of the season was definitely weaker and I'm hoping that it was because it was a late order for them and that next season they will be able to plan for and write an entire season out and keep plots and story arcs consistent throughout. I also hope that their fame and the ability to draw in songs from a large catalogue do not hurt them in the future like it did in the second half of this season. They need to focus on story and the basics and not worry about cramming as many Madonna songs as possible in a 44 minute time frame just so that each one is another song they can sell on an album later. If they do that and remember their more humble roots, the second season of Glee will have me throughout.

Molly: (As usual, I will be transcribing as much as I can from what she says. We're at a computer and I'm typing up what we are saying as we speak, then going back afterward to format it. Her review will be in a Q&A form, due to her age. She's sitting next to me at my computer as we do this.)

Chuckie: What did you think of this season of Glee?
Molly: I liked it a lot.

Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: Everything.

Chuckie: What were your favorite things in Glee?
Molly: You mean my favorite parts?
Chuckie: Yeah.
Molly: The one where he broke the trophy.

Chuckie: You mean when Mr. Schuster broke Sue Sylvester's trophy?
Molly: Uh-huh. And she's going to keep making them and he can't break them all.

Chuckie: So, let's talk about the characters in Glee, okay?
Molly: Okay.

Chuckie: Who was your favorite character?
Molly: The girl one.

Chuckie: Which girl?
Molly: The one that was singing.
Chuckie: That doesn't really narrow it down, Pixie.
Molly: I know.

Chuckie: Let's try it this way. What did you think about Rachel?
Molly: Yeah! That one! Um, her couldn't sing.

Chuckie: Why not?
Molly: Because of her voice. (Opens her mouth and points inside of it.)
Chuckie: So, what happened to her?
Molly: She went to the doctor and got all better.

Chuckie: Who else do you like in the show?
Molly: I forget what him name is. The one that singed "Don't stand, don't stand so, don't stand so close to me."

Chuckie: That's the teacher, Mr. Schuster. What did you like about him?
Molly: I liked that he singed it.

Chuckie: What other people did you like in the show?
Molly: Um, the wheelchair one.

Chuckie: What did you like about him?
Molly: He singed "Rolling on the River" (She means the song "Proud Mary".) I liked that song.

Chuckie: What else did you like about him?
Molly: Um, that him dreamed that he can dance.
Chuckie: Can he dance for real?
Molly: No, him can't. Because him legs are broken. Um, and I like the other boy who was mad at his Dad and he sings like a girl.

Chuckie: You mean Kurt?
Molly: Yeah. I like him.

Chuckie: What do you like about him?
Molly: Um, I liked that him singed to him Dad. Um, and I don't know what team he was on. I think he was on the red team and they were playing the blue team.
Chuckie: What team are you talking about?
Molly: (Matter-of-factly.) The blue team.
Chuckie: No, no, I mean what sport were they playing?
Molly: Football. Daddy, didn't you know that? I want to talk about someone else.
Chuckie: Okay, who?
Molly: You choose, Daddy.

Chuckie: Okay, what did you think about Quinn?
Molly: Her belly hurted.

Chuckie: Why did her belly hurt?
Molly: Maybe because it was coming out hard.

Chuckie: What was?
Molly: The baby.

Chuckie: Anything else you want to say about Quinn?
Molly: Nope.

Chuckie: What did you think about Finn?
Molly: Oh, yeah, I wanted to talk about that one. Rachel liked him and he singed "Jesse's Now" (She means "Jesse's Girl", but she insists that it is "Jesse's Now".)

Chuckie: What did you think about the two cheerleaders?
Molly: You mean the yellow one and the black one. (For those unfamiliar with the show, she's referring to their hair colors and not actually making some kind of awkward childhood race labeling.)
Chuckie: Yeah.
Molly: I liked them. They did cheers.

Chuckie: What did you think about Puck?
Molly: I liked that him singed and he touched the yellow girl.
Chuckie: (Cautiously.) Touched her how?
Molly: With him hand.
Chuckie: (More cautiously.) Uh, where?
Molly: On her hair.

Chuckie: Okay, what did you think about Mercedes?
Molly: I like that her singed with her hat on. (She laughs.)

Chuckie: What did you think about Tina?
Molly: Who's that?
Chuckie: (Goes online to show her a picture of Tina from Glee.) That's her.
Molly: Oh.
Chuckie: Do you remember her?
Molly: Yeah.
Chuckie: What did she do on the show?
Molly: Um, just sit around.
Chuckie: Yeah, that's about right.

Chuckie: Do you remember Mike and Matt?
Molly: Uh-uh.
Chuckie: (Goes online and gets a picture of both of them and shows them to Molly.) Remember them?
Molly: No. How do you know all their names?

Chuckie: What do you think about Sue Sylvester?
Molly: Um, her was bad to Mr. Shue.
Chuckie: What did she do that was bad?
Molly: Called him a name.
Chuckie: What was the name?
Molly: Um her made fun of him hair.
Chuckie: Yes, she did.
Molly: That wasn't nice, Daddy.
Chuckie: No, it wasn't.
Molly: Calling people names and making fun of them hair isn't nice, Daddy. She should have a time out.

Chuckie: What did you think about Jesse?
Molly: Him throw eggs at her.
Chuckie: Yeah, that was him.
Molly: Why? Why was him mean to her now?
Chuckie: It was just a plot device.
Molly: Why?
Chuckie: Lazy writing.
Molly: Oh.

Chuckie: I know you like to listen to the Glee songs whenever we drive anywhere in my car, Sweetie. What were your favorite songs from Glee?
Molly: (She starts by telling me her version of the title, but it quickly turns into singing.)
Don't stand, don't stand so, don't stand so close to me.
Young girl, you're outta your mind
Your love for me is way outta line
Better run girl, much too young girl
Your just a baby in disguise
Get outta here before change your mind.

Chuckie: Very nice, Pixie. Any other songs?
Molly: Jesse's One. (She looks over at our cat, Dr. Theopolis, who has her paws wrapped around the leg of one of the chairs and it "kicking it" with her hind legs.) I guess Dr. Opoly is going to be Shelby Marx, Daddy, because she's wrestling the chair now. (This is a reference to the iCarly episode where she fights Shelby Marx. Since seeing that episode, in Molly's world, any exercise or reference to fighting she assumes is to ultimately confront Shelby Marx.)

Chuckie: Anything else, Pixie?
Molly: Yeah. That boy singed to his dad (Rose's Turn) and him singed Defying Grabity (She means Defying Gravity from Wicked.). But him sounded like a girl when he singed it.

Chuckie: So how would you rate this season of Glee?
Molly: Good. Daddy, now can we give out the stars and the moons and the suns?

Chuckie: Sure. How many stars?
Molly: It gets sixteen stars.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of twenty-sixty-teen. Now the moons?

Chuckie: Sure, how many moons?
Molly: Um, sixty-twelve.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: A lot, Daddy.

Chuckie: And how many suns?
Molly: All eight.
Chuckie: All eight?
Molly: Yup.

Chuckie: Do you think people would like to watch Glee?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: Who do you think would like Glee the best?
Molly: Um, Lady Gaga, because they did her song, but she wasn't there.

Chuckie: Is there anything else that you want to tell people about Glee?
Molly: Um, I think Craig would like the Lady Gaga song.
Chuckie: Really? What in the world would make you think that?
Molly: Because I think he'd get married like that.

Chuckie: What do you mean?
Molly: I think he'd get married and the song will play. He's going to marry Lindsey.

Chuckie: And you're okay with that?
Molly: Yup. I'm okay with my boyfriends doing that. Daddy, you want to know who my last boyfriend is?

Chuckie: Who?
Molly: Brice. But I didn't tell him that he's my boyfriend yet because it's a secret and he's not allowed to know. But Vyvon knows and I told him and he said, "I don't want to be your boyfriend!" and him said that he didn't want to kiss me. What's wrong with that little boy?

So, that's our review covering both halves of this season of Glee. The writing was really tight and arced into a good story in the first half, but the writing of the second half felt rushed with a bit of self-hubris and too much effort to cram songs into each episode. I like the music, but would rather there be story as well. Glee's sophomore season will ultimately determine the direction of the show. Knowing ahead of time how many episodes it will have will give them a chance to plan everything out. Hopefully it will be much more like the first half of this season rather than the second half. Not that I wouldn't watch even if it was more like the end of this season; the music is that much fun and some of the character moments are great. But I just hope that they realize where the strengths of the show really are, and that isn't in putting no less than 8 Madonna songs in a single episode.

I give the season four out of five stars. Five out of five for the first half of the season, averaged with three out of five for the latter half. The show is still great fun to watch even when the writing is less than consistent.
Molly gives it sixteen out of twenty-sixty-teen stars, sixty-twelve out of a lot of moons and all eight suns. She's definitely been a fan of both the music and show all this season and has watched it religiously and with great anticipation. She also thinks that it's okay if Craig gets married to Lindsey, but apparently their wedding song should be a Lady Gaga song.

No comments:

Post a Comment