Glee s1 ep 16

Not an easy episode of ‘Glee’ to write about, but in the end the minuses outweighed the plusses.  The themes this week were specific ones of body-image – hey, Mercedes – and sexuality – yo, Kurt – against a more general background of issues of belonging and acceptance.  April (Kristin Chenoweth) is back, mistress to a rich older man, and owner of the Rinky Dink roller-disco, which she allows New Directions to use for rehearsal purposes.  (Not that they seem to do very much performing of any sort these days, but I’ll let that pass for another week.)  She and Will share a bed, but nothing happens; wise move, writers, although it would have been wiser still to give Chenoweth more to do – only one exchange really made use of her talent for breathless, machine-gun dialogue. 

Meantime Mercedes (Amber Riley) has been bullied into a starvation diet by Sue, leading inexorably to a great big rendition of ‘Beautiful’, a song which I kind of hate.  Mercedes sings the hell out of it, of course, but it’s probably not a song which needs the hell sung out of it.  Inasmuch as I can judge what it needs, apart from a legal ban on its performance.  And since when do the Cheerios sing?  It wasn’t as bad as ‘Imagine’, but when everyone started getting up and singing along it was getting there.  On the other hand, this storyline gave Dianna Agron as Quinn Fabray a small chance to show that she can play more than shrewish, deceitful and pregnant; and she took it.

Stand-out of the week on the dramatic side was undoubtedly the romance between Kurt’s widowed father and Finn’s widowed mother.  Well played by both Mike O’Malley and Romy Rosemont, as a storyline it gave welcome depth to both Finn and Kurt, and it ended on an unexpectedly but well-judged unresolved note.  On its own it couldn’t save the episode, however, and the music didn’t help, although it was nice to see Rachel being given a week off.  The highlight for me was Will and April singing ‘Fire’, which is a fine song, and Matthew Morrison’s voice is a snug fit with Chenoweth’s.  Apart from that, though, it was death by ballad and dull showtunes.  And ‘Beautiful’.  Look, guys – get the kids on a stage and let them sing.  It isn’t difficult.  They’re in a glee club after all.

There’s no point in watching a shamelessly manipulative show like ‘Glee’ and then complaining about being manipulated, so I won’t.  But the writers really did push it; I don’t like the strings to be quite as visible as they were this week.  There were touching moments, but the show was in real danger of allowing us to lose sight of them, and the music was nowhere near good enough to rescue it.  Anyway, next week: Olivia Newton-John.

8 thoughts on “Glee s1 ep 16

  1. e May 4, 2010 / 4:41 pm

    I loved the couch/bed duet. Just loved it.

  2. CJ Cregg May 4, 2010 / 8:14 pm

    Give Chenoweth more to do? Really, Jed?!? I felt like the entire episode revolved around her. Any more and they should just have renamed the programme The Cheno Show Guest Starring Some Other People. I know it’s almost heresy round these parts, but I think I’ve had enough of April Rhodes and her showtunes. Sorry e, maybe it’s just me, but I felt like the couch/bed duet lasted my entire life.

    Anyway, I liked the first five minutes or so of the show, Fire was fine, Quinn did well, and I loved Finn and Kurt’s dad bonding. That’s about it, really. While Kurt got on my last nerve and his behaviour was completely unreasonable, the storyline was a great one and his feelings about his Dad were totally realistic. The bizarre serenading of Finn in the rehearsal room was just creepy though. And dull, so dull. I agree with you, Jed, that most of the songs were incredibly boring and I think the episode suffered immeasurably as a result.

    Incidentally, I have no problem with “Beautiful” and I thought it was quite moving, but you’re absolutely right, it’s such obvious musical shorthand for “let’s feel good about ourselves.” They could have been far cleverer about it.

  3. Jed Bartlet May 4, 2010 / 10:53 pm

    I should have been clearer about my stance on Chenoweth, but I thought the review was long enough. Yes, she was in it a lot – but, I would argue, to no great consequence. They could have made much better use of her.

    • CJ Cregg May 4, 2010 / 11:04 pm

      Ah ok, I agree with you on that. My bad.

  4. Jed Bartlet May 4, 2010 / 11:19 pm

    In fairness, I said what you thought I did. I didn’t mean what I said. My bad.

  5. CJ Cregg May 4, 2010 / 11:39 pm

    Aw well that is very fair indeed, Jed, bless you 🙂

  6. e May 4, 2010 / 11:42 pm

    I would so *totally* agree with you — but only if I wouldn’t pay to hear Cheno sing the local obituaries.

    But that’s my fault.

    And anyway, I was just enjoying the music and paying almost no attention whatsoever to the plot. What? There was a plot in there?

  7. Kay20 May 5, 2010 / 3:09 am

    I loved the interchange between the parents, and the parents and the kids. Good, good stuff, and two talented character actors who delivered a wealth of emotion. Loved it. And the speeches from Kurt’s dad made me tear up – the one to Kurt, and the one to Finn. Seriously – I love this man. And the mom’s speech to Finn about the chair and her loneliness – oh, crushing.

    I thought Chris Colfer was a little heavy handed as Kurt in this episode and didn’t quite need to hit us over the head with his upsetness this episode. He’s usually so understated, so maybe the big dose of him didn’t help me. And his song to Finn was uncomfortable – but I think in the way it was meant to be. Oh, unrequited love.

    I love me some Kristin – and she continues to have great one-liner zingers (bikini wax indeed).

    Not the best episode, but a great one for the secondary characters.

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