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RIP Corey Monteith: A Tribute

I'm not usually one to be much affected by celebrity deaths.  Generally, my sadness is more of it marking the end of an era, like when it's a singer/actor you grew up with e.g., Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston).  Or a total shock and sadness because of a talent cut short, a la Amy Winehouse.  As terrible as Heath Ledger's death was, I didn't think much about it until I saw "The Dark Knight", where his performance just completely blew me away.

But the truth is, most of the young deaths of celebrities are not total surprises.  Amy Winehouse was a mess, Michael Jackson had spent his entire life trying not to be a freak.  Most of the time, my reaction was a combination of "holy crap" mixed in with some head shaking on how fame can ruin a person, and how it's so sad that they didn't get their life together beforehand.

That's not the case with Corey Monteith.

Now, of course I didn't know him personally, and public image can be carefully crafted by a good publicist.  But it seemed to me like his life had the opposite trajectory of the younger Hollywood stereotypes.  He didn't get famous and then get addicted; he readily admitted struggling with addiction, and seemed to be trying to clean up his act.  He wasn't a tabloid fixture.  Maybe because I only knew him as Finn Hudson, I associated him with that All-American boy, but certainly nothing that I've seen or read showed him as anything maliciously the opposite.

But here's why Corey's death is really affecting me:  I love Glee.  When Glee came out in 2009, I felt it was a huge breakthrough in the way that music and the arts are represented in media.  I've always admittedly been a theatre geek - I love musicals, and was in show choir back in the day - but spontaneous singing and dancing on a TV show especially were looked down upon.  Between the success of Glee and So You Think You Can Dance, I felt like my love for musicals and dance were finally vindicated in the mainstream.

Plus hey - as much as Glee fluctuates between being awesome and WTF-were-you-thinking-Ryan-Murphy - it was wildly unique, changed the face of TV, and had some amazing, memorable moments.  It doesn't always recycle the same old formula - it tests boundaries, tries different things, for better or for worse.  It is literally the only show I watch now that Fringe has signed off gracefully.

Glee is also my window in to pop culture.  I haven't listened to the radio in about 10 years.  Between the bad techno remakes of my favorite 80's songs, deluge of cookie-cutter hip hop, and I'm-depressed-angsty-emo, I just have no patience.

Truly, almost all I know about current songs are from Glee covers.  And all I download are Glee tracks.  I listen to them every day.  I have them as my ringtone and my alarm.  Needless to say, Glee is a big presence in my life.

Corey is featured in most of the songs I have and love.  A lot of times when I'm listening, I'm struck with how talented he is, how his singing and performance skills have really grown over the last 4 years.  Now I can't listen to 99% of the songs on my playlist without thinking of him and his death.  I woke up this morning to my alarm ("We Are Young"), and was suddenly reminded that he's gone.  I'm not going to be able to watch the show come September without thinking of him.  After all, Finn is such a huge part of the show.

So, in memory of him, below are my favorite Corey Monteith performances.

My heart goes out to Lea Michele and his family.  If it'll be hard for me to not watch Glee without being reminded of him, I can't imagine what it will be like to walk in to work every day, and remember that this is where she met her boyfriend of so many years, someone that was such a huge part of her success and her life.

1. Don't Stop Believin'

2. Paradise by the Dashboard Light
(Part of the entire Nationals performance)

3. Man in the Mirror

4. Hit Me with Your Best Shot

5. We Are Young

6. Somebody to Love

7. Like a Virgin

8. Just the Way You Are

9. You're the One That I Want

10. I Love New York / New York, New York

Runner Up: Run Joey Run


Glee 1.9: Wheels

Sue: "If I have a pregnant girl doing a handspring into a double layout, the judges aren't going to be admiring her impeccable form, they're going to be wondering if the centrifugal force is going to make the baby's head start crowning."

What a wonderful and unexpected return from hiatus. I was expecting Glee to come back with a bang - all bite, snark, and over the top drama. Instead, we were treated to a sweet and sincere episode that focused on some of our supporting characters: Artie, Kurt, and Tina. What a way to get, er, rolling after the 3 week break.

Artie! Tina!
Artie has always been a favorite of mine. Every time I listen to the Glee version of "Push It", I crack up when I get to his "Holla!" And he's got incredible talent - just listen to his solo on the "It's My Life/Confessions" mash up. No offense to our resident Glee stud, but Artie totally punks Finn in that number.

So I was pretty excited to have an episode centered around Artie. There were so many excellent moments in this storyline, ranging from poignant (Artie's acoustic version of "Dancing with Myself"), brilliant (Mr. Schue's plan to have everyone be in a wheelchair for 3 hours/day), to plain hysterical (when Artie told Tina how he became handicapped, concluded with, "But I want to be very clear. I still have the use of my penis."). I especially liked watching the kids roll around the halls in wheelchairs, and seeing the challenges of not being able to reach, or being at waist height. It's a good thing that Rachel's dads are apparently rich; that girl gets more food on her clothes than an episode of Double Dare.

His crush on Tina was adorable, and I totally melted (puppy love!) when she kissed him. At first, I couldn't understand why he kept bringing up her stutter, but her admission that she was faking made sense. Even though I felt his reaction was a little harsh, I can totally understand where he's coming from: she was pushing away everything that he wished he could have, and she could be normal at any point, but he was still stuck being handicapped. I hope that he'll come around and forgive her - even if he identified with her initially because of their disabilities, the connection and the friendship is based on much more than that.

But I have to admit that Artie's story felt a little lacking. It might have been because he was sharing the episode with Kurt and Puck/Quinn, but I don't feel like I got to know his character any more then I already did. Sure, we found out how he became handicapped, but we didn't really learn about his history, how it changed him, etc. It would have been interesting to see if Artie would still be the jazz/Glee geek if he hadn't gotten into the accident.

Kurt! Kurt's Dad! Whose name I don't know!
There should definitely be more diva-offs in Glee's future - the Kurt/Rachel rivalry was terrific! And there are certainly more then enough divas to make for lots and lots of Broadway duets and Mariah Carey solos. I'm glad that Kurt finally had an opportunity to showcase his singing talent. Even though the "Single Ladies" episode was centered around him and his sexuality, he danced more then he sang. I have to say, hitting that high F was pretty impressive - I talk like Minnie Mouse and I can't even get close.

Of course, the best part about Kurt's storyline tonight - wanting to have the Wicked solo, even though it was a traditionally female part - was his relationship with his father. When we first met Kurt, I figured he had a rich, neglectful daddy, since he had that sweet car and all this designer clothes. Finding out that his dad owns an autobody shop and is sort of this guy's guy that works with his hands was a nice surprise.

The relationship between Kurt and his dad is a lovely anchor, in a show where most families are completely, outrageously dysfunctional (ahem, Terri). It also seems fairly realistic. Since I'm not a gay teenager in the middle of whitebread America, I can't comment on how realistic it is. There are too many shows/stories where the focus is all about the character coming out, and whether or not their family will accept them. It was nice to watch Kurt's dad struggle with his son, the conflicting reactions he had to that phone call (both resentment at Kurt initially, then anger at the caller), and trying to support his son, even if he couldn't really understand why it was so important to him.

I'm bummed that Kurt threw the diva-off, but his reasoning made me tear up. And Kurt changing from his Alexander McQueen sweater into coveralls to work on a car with his dad spoke volumes about their relationship. I'm hoping that we'll eventually get to see all of the kids with their families - especially Quinn.

I'm going to skip the Quinn/Finn/Puck baby money storyline, and wrap up with some Becky moments. She wasn't a prominent character, but her role in the episode certainly revealed a lot about our other players.

First, Will. I'm really mixed about Will. I mean, he's an awesome guy, a teacher who really cares, and he does have the best intentions. As I said before, his wheelchair idea was brilliant. But let's be honest - sometimes, he's a dodohead. In a way, I like it - it's nice that he's far from perfect, and that he's human like the rest of us with good intentions. At the same time, he was judging Sue just as much as he accuses her of judging other people. I know he genuinely thought he was helping Becky when he chastised Sue for being so harsh, but he totally didn't get it: Becky does want to be treated like everyone else, Sue-torture or not. And let's not even talk about how he hasn't figured out that his wife has been faking a pregnancy for like 3 months!

The Sue reveal at the end was just... whoa. I don't want to say it was shocking, but I didn't see it coming at all. I totally misted up when she gave her sister the pom-pom, and the tenderness and love in her face when she read Little Red Riding Hood was probably the first genuine Sue moment we've seen. We started to see little cracks in her facade with the Sue-Will throwdown, and the Rod situation, but let's face it - the Rod/Sue storyline was cheesy and cheeky, and only showed that Sue could be vulnerable.

I do hope that the writers bring back inappropriately snarky Sue, though - we need that bite to balance the softness, and it's just not nearly as funny when she's a human being :-) And if Jane Lynch doesn't win an Emmy, I swear, I'll eat Kurt's tiara collection and puke it over the Emmy voters.

But I have to tell you, my favorite favorite moment was when Brittany bought Becky a cupcake. No analysis. It was just sweet and simple and wonderful.

The Music!
Here's this week's musical, er, score. (Sorry, I can't seem to stop punning tonight.)

+2 for Artie's acoustic version of "Dancing with Myself". It took me probably 20 seconds to even recognize it.

- 1 for replaying the original Billy Idol version while the kids were struggling with the wheelchairs. Hello, overkill? They did the same thing with "Single Ladies" - hilarious as it was, it lost it's impact by time #3

- 1 for the sluggish beginning of "Proud Mary", but +3 for when they cranked up the energy. It rocked.

-1 for the wheelchair choreography - interesting, but not exciting. I was expecting to see some wheelies. But +10 because their hands were so busy with the wheels that they couldn't reach anywhere.

+2 for giving Tina a chance to perform on "Proud Mary". She's pretty incredible. I was just thinking the other day that they need to have more females than Lea Michele singing.

+2 for the spliced in duet on "Defying Gravity", but -1 because it would have been more interesting if there was no Rachel singing at all this week.

Total: 15.

Not too bad, given the number of points they gain for excluding The Reach.

GLEEful Moments 'n Quotes:

-- No Emma, Ken, or Terri tonight (thank God), but we... got... SANDY!!! More Sandy! More Sandy!

-- Sandy (after Puck tells him a shark fractured his spinal cord): ''This is why I don't go to the aquarium."

-- Puck's good at 2 things: Lying, and crime. I have to admit, the pot cupcakes were rather ingenious, especially since Puck "[doesn't] put in enough to get you hallucinating... just enough to give you a wicked case of the munchies.

-- Baby with a mohawk! That would be so very awesome.

-- Brittany: "Most of us don’t know how to bake. I find (pause) recipes (pause) confusing."

-- Kurt: "At least you don't have to worry about me getting a girl pregnant."

-- Sue: "I’m about to projectile-express myself all over your Hush Puppies."

-- Rachel: "We didn't think you would take it personally."
Artie: ''Well, you're irritating most of the time, but don't take that personally."

This one was so good, I have to mention it again:
-- Artie: "But I want to be very clear. I still have the use of my penis."

-- Fashion of the week: What was with Quinn's outfit in the first scene? She looked like a walking US propaganda poster, all red, white and blue.

-- Kurt: "We all know I'm more popular than Rachel, and I dress better than her."

All in all, I thought it was a nice, sweet episode. I like it when Glee balances its crazy, snarky ones with some more low key episodes. I only wish that they had focused on Artie more. It did feel a little like they were trying to get all of the "miscellaneous" characters stories out so that they could move on.

2.5 out of 4 wheelchairs.


Glee 1.7: Throwdown

Will: "I will destroy you."
Sue: "I'm about to vomit down your back."

I had a hard time reviewing this episode, because I had such mixed reactions to it. It was chockful of music, including a powerful Finn/Rachel pairing on "No Air" (one of my favorite songs), and a ridiculous and over-produced version of "Hate On Me." I found the closing rendition of "Keep Holding On" to be touching, supportive, sweet, and timely... and really, really annoying, thanks to the more-egregious-than-ever Reach to Nowhere choreography.

There were some great one-liners that made me laugh out loud (Finn wanting to name the baby "Drizzle"??), sweet moments like the kids secretly jamming together, and Jacob, who I just find hysterical. But overall, "Takedown" left me confused and disturbed.

And In Sue's Corner...
I'm not sure if it was the entire episode that felt gloomy, or just the last few minutes that left a bad taste in my mouth. I honestly felt that Sue was sincere in stepping down as co-chair of Glee Club. My first reaction was, "Wow, they're finally showing the human/vulnerable side of Sue Sylvester." Perhaps Will's comment that she's a lousy teacher got to her - perhaps she really does care about teaching.

But then the stunt she pulled on Quinn - having Jacob post about her pregnancy - completely confused me. Was she sincere regarding Will, and then got the Quinn thing dropped on her? It's possible - she did seem genuinely shocked that Quinn lied to her. Did she feel betrayed because she thought she had Quinn's loyalty and respect?

Or was she only pretending with Will, because she already has Quinn's exposure in her back pocket? If yes, how does socially ruining Quinn hurt the Glee Club - the kids are already thought of as misfits and losers. Is she hoping that the Cheerios that defected to Glee, leaving her at risk of losing the Nationals, as well as her TV spot, will flock back to her now that their reigning queen has been humiliated? What's her end game? Have I been watching too much Alias?

This is one of those moments where the timing of the show really throws me off. It's been generally hard for me to guage how much time has passed during the course of an episode, something that has sort of been bothering me because Terri seems to getting uber-pregnant, while Quinn hasn't even started to show. Usually, I don't look for too much realism in my shows, especially Glee, which is so tongue in cheek. But in this case, it really makes a difference to me in terms of my perception of Sue. It's one thing to blackmail Figgins and insult the other teachers; it's quite another to destroy a 16 year old girl who worships you.

I really hope it's the former; I like to believe that people are fundamentally good, but do bad/mean things out of hurt, fear, or a selfish lack of awareness on how they are impacting others. I was also excited at the prospect of really getting to know Sue better as a human being. Regardless, either Sue Sylvester or Jane Lynch acted the hell out of last night's episode, because I can't tell the difference anymore.

Will Grows a Pair... Sort Of.
The other "big" part of this week's episode was Will manning up and finally confronting Sue and Terri. I guess I'm not as shocked or genuinely surprised, because I never found Will to be a pushover, like a lot of people have (or the writers would like us to believe). I figured that he generally didn't think confrontation was effective, and he was just a genuinely nice guy. After all, he did speak up last week when he was feeling suffocated by Terri's 24/7 presence.

The "takedown" between Will and Sue probably would have had more punch if this was the first time we saw Will stoop to Sue's level. And this is where it gets really hard to describe. I never thought any of Will's actions up until now were terribly competitive, manipulative, and selfish. Yes, he went a little too far and he was overzealous, but I really thought that he cared about the kids. But other characters have been blatantly pointing out that he was being all of the above. In which case, Will's frustration with Sue would simply be part of an escalating pattern of competitiveness, not something that was out of character. (Sorry if that's confusing, I'm having a hard time describing this.)

Finally, I've never really believed that you have to fight dirty to fight back. Although I will admit that Will failing the Cheerios was a stroke of genius, especially the one who "spelled her own name wrong and answered every question with a picture of a sombrero."

The Real Takedown
I think the true emotional climax of the show will be when Will finds out that Terri's not really pregnant. I'm still confused about how she is going to pull this off, although bonus points for (a) managing to fake a sonogram, and (b) miraculously changing your pretend baby from a boy to a girl. I wonder if that was Quinn's sonogram that they were showing Will... although, really, would anyone be able to tell the difference?


Bits 'n Pieces
-- I was touched when Terri said that she didn't want her sister's marriage, where Kendra basically just birthed a bunch of kids, "each dumber than the last." Even if she was only saying that because she's not carrying Will's child, I'd like to think that she meant it.

-- Figgins totally stepped up this week. I like tough Figgins. I like even more that he made Will and Sue hug it out.

-- No Emma or Ken this week. No Sandy for the last couple of episodes.

-- I'm starting to feel the chemistry between Rachel and Finn. Although Finn really shouldn't have told Quinn that she needs to be "more like Rachel". Bad Finn.

-- Quinn's "Keep Me Hanging On" was appropriately cheesy. I like watching the cheerleaders dance - I've been hoping for a cool routine since the show started. But I couldn't figure out who she wanted out of her life. Sue? Finn? Rachel?

-- Again, argh, Reach To Nowhere. Please, I beg you, Ryan Murphy - hire a choreographer! I hear Mia Michaels is available now.

-- Sue v. Will in slow mo was pretty excellent. I loved them arguing in their voice overs. Sue thought she looked "elegant" and "regal" with the veins busting out of her neck.

-- Puck: "Shalom."

-- I know I've already mentioned this, but the last number, "Keep Holding On", was really touching. When I saw the preview clip, I thought it was going to be another Quinn v. Rachel over Finn thing, but it turned out to be really sweet. Kurt was especially cute, the way he looked at Quinn. And it was the first time on the show that Quinn's had her hair down (I think). Symbolizing the end of her existence as a cheerleader?

-- Rachel has granny panties. Excellent.

-- I liked how they used "O Fortuna" during Will and Sue's battles - nice and epic :-)

-- Jacob: "The independent polling company in my Dockers has determined that you're the hottest girl in the school."
Rachel: "Ew."

-- Figgins: "Noooo! Not the children!"

-- Speaking of Jacob, how is it possible that Quinn's pregnancy is still a secret, considering Rachel just had a shouting matching with him down the hall?

-- Santana's idea of dancing is fluffing her ponytail.

-- The only item in this week's fashion report was Kurt's angora sweater. He looked like he was wearing a cat.

Sue's Corner:
I think pretty much all of the good lines belonged to Sue this week :-)

-- Sue: "I don't trust a man with curly hair. I can't help picturing small birds laying sulferous eggs in there, and I find it disgusting."

Ah. Finally, we understand Sue's animosity towards Will, hatred of Glee Club, and obsession with his home perm kit.

-- Sue: "I like minorities so much, I'm thinking of moving to California to become one."

So very true.

-- Sue (picking out the kids of her group): "Santana. Wheels. Gay kid. Asian. Other Asian. Aretha. And Shaft."

-- Sue (referring to Spanish): "Oh, we all know about your devotion to this dying language."

-- Sue: "I empower my Cheerios to be champions. Do they go to college? I don't know. I don't care. Should they learn Spanish? Sure, if they wanna become dishwashers and gardeners. But if they want to become lawyers and banker and captains of industry, the most important lesson they could possibly learn is how to do a round off."

-- Sue (to Will): "Don't touch me." Will pokes her.

I haven't felt ambivalent about a single episode until this one, so I'm not sure what that means. Maybe this episode is a set up for next week's, which looks really juicy. Overall, 2 out 4 granny pants.


glee 1.6: vitamin d

"Glee is about what's in your heart, not what's coursing through your veins."

Wow. I freaking loved "Vitamin D". First of all, they did an awesome Bon Jovi cover - and as a Jersey girl, I am programmed from elementary school to worship them. Both mashups were pure genius, and the episode was a riot, from Finn's drool to Sue's journal. And can I just say, Terri totally owned this episode. I know we're not supposed to like her, but damn if I don't sympathize with her.

GLEEful Moments
Where do I even begin? There were so many good ones, ranging from emotional, to sweet, to just laugh-out-loud funny. I think my favorite was Finn's inner monologue - poor Finn is so overwhelmed with football, "being the Glee stud" and Quinn's pregnancy, that even dropping homework hasn't helped. The drool was hysterical - although that might be because I once fell asleep in class, and woke up with a puddle on my desk.

Rachel made some genuine overtures to Quinn, who is obviously also struggling. She even tells her that she's "actually quite a good singer - even though you're often sharp, but that's because you don't have my years of training." Glee Club is apparently a haven for losers who didn't have friends. While I find this idea sort of insulting (I was in musical theater and no one threw smoothies at me), it is kind of sweet that real friendships are developing between the kids. And I like Quinn. She's not just some dumb cheerleader - although you do need to question any school that would give Terri a 4.0 GPA.

Oh, and Sue's journal. O. M. G. I posted it in its entirety below. It was too much - she's about to turn 30? Beef bones in the juicer? (Gross.) Will's store bought home perm?

I continue to thank the Glee gods for tighter storytelling and continued subtlety... this week's theme, competition, was so organic that I didn't even think about it until after the ep was over. It was also addressed in such an absurd way - cold medicine? - that it made its obligatory PSA without being preachy or uncharacteristically dark.

I've read some other reviews that by using decongestants, Glee didn't put enough weight into the seriousness drug use. I wanted to call this out because I've finally made peace with what this show is: ridiculous. Some of the comments from you folks made me realize that I was overanalyzing the characters and the satire; I was looking for deeper meaning in every word, gesture, punchline and song. And in doing so, lost the pure joy that I get from watching it.

So here it is: like Will said, "Glee is about having fun." When we stop having fun, it's time to stop altogether; we're missing the point. Thankfully, Glee has fun by mocking Middle America. I've heard so many people ask how any character could be so stupid not to realize blah blah blah, who would be dumb enough to get high on cold meds. To them I say, you obviously haven't seen the warning label on birth control pills: "Do not use if you are attempting to get pregnant."

Terri, Terri, Terri... *tsk*
Speaking of pregnant and dumb, Terri takes front and center after Sue tells her that if Will isn't already having an affair with Emma, they are on their way. She takes a job as the school nurse to keep an eye on them, even though she doesn't have a lick of training beyond once using a defillibrator. Along the way, she conspires with Ken, has a smackdown with Emma, and wreaks havoc by handing out OTC uppers to the Glee kids. As a result, she's fired and Will is unhappily saddled with his archnemesis as Glee's co-director.

I'm really glad Terri confronted Emma. While I say good for Emma for straight-up saying that "Will deserves much better than you", I gotta say that Terri wasn't altogether wrong. Will is her husband, they are committed to each other (and have been since high school), and Emma is such a paragon of virtue that it's self-righteous. I'm starting to see Terri as more immature/not very bright than manipulative - if you notice, she tends to follow other people's lead (e.g., Kendra and Sue), and, as Will said, doesn't understand the consequences of her actions.

Jessalyn Gilsig just knocked it out of the park this week. She managed to make a shrewish, vapid character both complex and human, sometimes using nothing but her face. In Gilsig's hands, Terri is simultaneously scheming and sympathetic; does really stupid things, but with the intention to help; vulnerable, haughty, vapid, insecure, self-centered, and scared. She was able to convey the hurt and fear a woman experiences at the thought of losing her husband, before masking it with the disdain she wears as an armor around other people - the scene in Figgins' office particularly stood out to me. Her expression after Will blurts out "every time I light a fire in my life, you find a way to make sure it burns the forest down" was downright heart-wrenching.

But I do have a bone to pick. Since when did Terri and Will start having issues? In both the Pilot and "Showmance", it showed them as a loving couple - taking bubble baths together, trying to have a baby. I know we, as viewers, saw the trouble brewing with the hysterical pregnancy and Emma, but it didn't feel like there was a whole lot of marital strain. I know they argued about his career and her Pottery Barn addiction, but couples argue. Yet, suddenly, in "Preggers" (ep. 4), she is telling her sister that Will is already one foot out the door. Really? Is this inconsistent storytelling by the writers, or did I miss something?

And I still don't understand Terri's plan. Is it supposed to be really, really stupid, or are the writers inconsistent?

Mashup: Boys v. Girls
In the end, we never got a verdict on who had the better mashup. Personally, I'm torn. As I said, I'm genetically partial to the boys because of Bon Jovi, and blending "It's My Life" with "Confessions" was a brilliant mix. Especially considering the Finn-Quinn-Puck baby deal. I'm glad that they gave Artie the lead for "Confessions", and for a change, there was no reach to nowhere in the choreography. Ironically, last week Finn's frenetic twitching drove me nuts. This week, when he was supposed to be off-the-wall-hyper, he was actually much smoother.

But I also loved the girls' "Halo/Walking on Sunshine" mix. Partially because "What America needs right now is sunshine. And angels." Mostly because the yellow dresses and head bands were just way too cute. Quinn was actually wearing a Calvin Klein sundress that I'd been eyeing for months - but didn't buy because wearing yellow makes me look like a giant banana. At the same time, I think they might have overdone it with the dancing - it was so maniacal it would have given epileptics a seizure, and there was way too much hair flipping.

So, what's your verdict: boys or girls? As for our star-crossed leads, who else was waiting for him to break into song after she told him she was marrying Ken?

Bits 'n Pieces:
-- Kurt gravitating to the girl's group, and then ratting the boys out for using drugs. "I may have been put into the boys group, but my loyalty lies with you ladies."

-- Speaking of which, did you notice that Mercedes was giving Tina a manicure, and Kurt was doing his cuticles?

-- FIGGINS! I love Figgins! His look when Terri said she once used a defilibrator was delectably lecherous.

-- The Glee kids aren't worried about competing against the school for deaf kids, even though they beat McKinley High in football.

-- I got an evil little thrill when Terri wiped Emma's cup with her finger. I thought Emma was going to have an anuerysm.

-- Some great nicknames: F-Rod, A-Rach. Sue called Emma "Ellen" this week.

-- Ken's suggestion that he and Terri have an affair was suitably horrific.

-- Sorry, but a guy like Kurt would have never suggested cornrows. He's all Miss USA Pageant, not hella ghetto.

-- Yellow everywhere! Emma wore at least one yellow thing with every outfit, the girls wore yellow dresses. Even Terri's tea set was yellow.

-- In this week's fashion news: I'm digging Mercedes with the straight hair, although I never understand how people can handle bangs in their eyes. Terri's hair was very Charlie's Angels. Rachel continues to dress like Sailor Moon, and Emma reminds me of an anime character, with her humungous eyes and pastel wardrobe. Oh - and Rachel's workout tights match her headband.

-- Kurt: "I don't understand how lightning is in competition with an above ground swimming pool."

-- Terri (to Finn): "You have really good bone structure."

-- Finn: "I'd never take steroids. It makes your junk fall off."

-- Ken: "Look at the two of us - you pregnant, me with psoriasis and a testicle that won't descend."

-- Rachel: "I'm sorry I called you contemptible and deplorable."
Finn: "That's ok, I didn't even know what those words meant."

-- Ken: "It's cubic zirconia. I know how affected you were by Black Diamond."

-- Finn: "She kind of freaks me out, in a Swimfan kind of way."

Oblique cultural connection: The guy who starred in Swimfan played Kirsten Dunst's love interest in the original Bring It On.

Terri (about Ken): "His fondue pot of nationalities is going to open up your kids to a host of genetic diseases."

Sue's Corner:
-- Sue: "Let me be frank - your husband is hiding his kielbasa in a Hickory Farm gift basket that doesn't belong to you."

-- Terri (when Sue says she's gained weight): "I'm pregnant."
Sue: "Well, that's no excuse. I've always thought that the desire to procreate shows deep, personal weakness... don't have the time, don't have the uterus."

-- Sue's Journal Entry:
Dear Journal. Feeling listless again today. It began at dawn, when I tried to make a smoothie out of beef bones, breaking my juicer. And then at Cheerios practice, disaster...

It was unmistakable. It was like spotting the first spark on the Hindenburg. A quiver! That quiver will lose us Nationals. And without a championship, I'll lose my endorsements. And without those endorsements, I won't be able to buy my hovercraft.

Glee Club. Every time I try to destroy that clutch of scab-eating mouth breathers, it only comes back stronger like some sexually ambiguous horror movie villain. Here I am, about to turn 30, and I've sacrificed everything, only to be Shanghaied by the bi-curious machinations of a cabal of doughy misshapen teens.

Am I missing something, Journal? Is it me? Of course it's not me. It's Will Schuester. What is it about him, Journal? Is it the arrogant smirk? Is it the store-bought home perm? You know, Journal, I noticed something yesterday...

Of course, it's coming clear to me now. If I can't destroy the club, I'll have to destroy the man!!!
All in all, 3.5 mashups out of 4.


glee 1.5: the rhodes not taken

Will: "Do you think we can win Regionals without Rachel?" Emma: "Remember the Jamaican bobsled team?"

In this week's episode, "The Rhodes Not Taken", newly minted Emmy winner Kristin Chenoweth guest starred as April, a former Glee Club superstar who's become a drunk has-been squatting in foreclosed homes. And let me tell you - that lady won an Emmy for a reason. Not only can she sing, she completely stole the show - a show that was probably the best episode of Glee I've seen yet.

This episode left me with so many thoughts and reactions that I'm going to try something a little different, and divide the review into sections based on my thinking. I'm also going to skip the plot recap, since I assume if you're reading this, you already know what happened :-) Let me know what you think about this format, as I am still playing with review styles.

Focus, people! Focus!
One of the best things about "The Rhodes Not Taken" was that it finally narrowed its focus into a cohesive storyline. To be honest, I've been struggling with To-Do-or-Not-To-Do a recap each week, partially because there are so many things going on, just trying to summarize it takes up like 2 pages. I don't mind having lots of things going on, and Glee has done a fairly good job of keeping them all pretty much related to the "Theme of the Night", but centering around a few key characters and plot points made a HUGE difference in my viewing experience. It definitely helped me become more invested in what was going on, as well as allowing the characters more breathing room for development. Much tighter storytelling, for sure.

Plus, I feel like having a huge cast with too many storylines is what did Heroes in, so I'm a little wary. I spent so much time trying to follow what was going on that I completely stopped caring about the characters, who basically started sucking anyway because, well, how much can you do when you've got 6 lines each episode?

Welcome Back to Earth
In addition to filtering out the noise, "Rhodes" was a far more grounded episode. Don't get me wrong - I love the show for its absurdity and cheekiness - but I was really happy to watch something that I could relate to. Until tonight, Glee was more like a edgy, sly spoof of every high school movie/show ever made - more concerned about how the story was told then the story itself. And I loved it - I love poking fun at all 3 sequels of Bring It On - but would it have been sustainable? How long can you make fun of others if you don't have your own story to tell?

Flawed, but Real, Characters
I really like flawed characters - mostly because I think that being flawed is what makes us human. I also like complex characters. The two leads of this episode - Rachel and April - proved to be both flawed and complex, while the "good" characters - Will, Emma, and Finn - gave in to manipulation to get what they wanted.

Rachel really struggled with her decision to leave Glee Club. She feels the only thing she has is her talent, and she (wrongly and selfishly) thought it was being dismissed last week. She's miserable with the play, but keeps insisting that it's the price to pay for being such a star - trying to convince herself as much as those around her. Like any teenager - heck, any human being - she wants to belong, have people who miss her.

Kristin Chenoweth brought out layers and layers of complexity in April. She used to have such bright future, but made some bad choices, and ended up quite south of where she wanted to be. But instead of being bitter or in denial, she acknowledges what's happened and is doing her best to move on. She remains pleasant and sweet, if not altogether appropriate or classy. Like Rachel, she seeks Will's approval and admiration; but rather than being defensive and snotty, she tries hard to do what he asks - raising her hand in Spanish class, trying to woo the Glee kids, with hysterical results.

And Will, Emma and Finn? All of them knew that what they were doing was wrong - Finn took advantage of Rachel's crush to get her back to Glee, Will took advantage of April's vulnerability to help New Directions win, Emma took advantage of Finn's dilemma to help Will be happy. But they really convinced themselves that the end justified the means, even when they were patently uncomfortable about it. I'm glad that they aren't paragons of virtue.

Now... the Critique
Of course, no review of Glee can ignore the musical numbers. Tonight we had some powerhouses: while I didn't especially love the song from Cabaret, I thought splicing April and Rachel's performances were cleverly done. The karaoke of "Alone"? Genius! And picking a country song? Very bold, very fun.

Yet... *sigh*. I really enjoyed "Somebody to Love", but there are holes in the performance. First of all - Finn's singing. He's the male lead - he needs to be stronger. He's always quiet when he starts off a number, and especially when he's playing off a powerhouse like Lea Michele, he sounds tiny and unsure. At first, it was endearing - it made sense plot-wise, Finny was nervous and unsure. But at this point, he needs to drop the bewildered act, and really step up his performances. Its not that he can't sing - once he gets further into the song, it becomes more confident - he just leads off poorly, which sets a poor tone for his solos.

Second, the "dancing". What dancing? Vocal Adrenaline danced. I realize that New Directions isn't going to win because of their mad choreography, but does it have to be so amateur? On last night's So You Think You Can Dance, there was this hilarious segment about what NOT to do in an audition. One of the four was what they called the "Reach to Nowhere" - basically, when a contemporary dancer reaches beseechingly into the sky. As judge Adam Shankman said, "What are you trying to get??"

There's an awful lot of reaching in New Directions' routines. It even bothered me starting with on "Don't Stop Believing", when all Rachel and Finn did was hold their hands out to each other, but I wrote it off to being their first performance. Now, its just annoying. And I don't mean to pick on Finn, but he really looks constipated or like his pants are too tight when he "dances". Again, not very becoming of a male lead.

Finally, please fix the lip synching. Study some Britney Spears if you must, but if you're going to lip synch, please do it in, er, synch.

Oh, and what's with the shameless plugs for MySpace? (Fox owns MySpace.)

Finally... the GLEEful Moments:

-- Kurt: "Oh Bambi, I cried so hard when those hunters shot your mommy."

Best line of the night, hands down. Emma really does look like a deer in the headlights sometimes, with her humongous, trusting eyes :-)

-- Puck: "I bet you thought Bert and Ernie were just roommates."

Sue only had one line of the night, but it was a doozy...
-- "When I heard Sandy wanted to write himself into a scene as Queen Cleopatra, I was aroused, then furious.

Speaking of Sandy...
-- "Let me tell you about my planned production of Equus. Have you ever hung out at a stable?"

-- Puck: "That Rachel chick makes me want to light myself on fire, but she can sing."

-- Will: "We'll get you sobered up, find you some underwear."

-- Emma: "I'm pretty sure its not a fake ID because he looks like an 11 year old milkmaid."

All in all, superb. Could this be the turning point, where Glee grows up to be a real show? I certainly hope so.

Four out of four boxes of wine.