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Glee

Glee Review: From Past to Prologue

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Glee went back to 1977 on "Saturday Night Glee-ver," paying homage to the film that made John Travola, white suits and spinning disco balls famous.

But the episode really used the past to pen a prologue for three key seniors, as Finn, Santana and Mercedes made major decisions regarding their future. Each has a much clearer idea now of what it will bring.

Dancing in the Hall

When season three started, it appeared as if Glee would tackle the daunting challenge of senior year, of truly figuring out what one wants to do with one's life. But somewhere between tribute episodes, Christmas specials and car accidents, that theme got lost. Until tonight.

I was mostly pleased with how it was handled, with the exception of the same complaint I make every week in this space: the random nature of storylines and the lack of character development. Take Mercedes, for example.

As she delivered her inner monologue, along with a great version of "Disco Inferno," I put on my Carrie Bradshow hat and couldn't help but wonder...

What do we know about her outside the choir room? What hobbies does she possess? What class does she excel in? Were you aware her father was a dentist (what an arbitrary throw-in, too: why wouldn't a dentist support a singing career?) before that nugget was dropped?

I also thought back to how Mr. Schuester described the trio of seniors featured - Finn as talented, but lacking self-esteem; Mercedes as lacking vision; Santana as lacking focus - and thought: really? Are those descriptions truly apt? Or did the writers toss them in just to fit this episode, this motif.

I'm sorry, but Finn doesn't really possess talent, not when compared with other club members. Going to acting school is perfect for him, Rachel believes? Does anyone else believe this? How does that, in any way, jibe with what we know about Finn Hudson? Except to give the writers material for season four?

And Mercedes without vision? She seemed to lack confidence more than vision here, and even that didn't seem consistent: since when does Mercedes Jones need an ego boost?!? This is one strong young diva who has always asked for more time in the spotlight.

That video Sam made was nice and all, but it only seemed necessary because Glee chose to shape Mercedes in a certain manner, for one week only, to make this storyline work.

And Santana received a full cheerleading scholarship? I mean, did she even apply to Louisville?!? Where did that come from? And what the heck have you been doing, Emma Pillsbury? Please spend less time cleaning grapes and more time acting like an actual guidance counselor for next year's class. These kids need you more than three weeks prior to graduation!

(Or not, I suppose, when magic scholarships and acting studio acceptances appear out of nowhere. For shame, James Lipton.)

The sad truth is that most of these characters - Mercedes, Brittany, Santana, Quinn (who, ummm, I guess was taking wheelchair lessons somewhere else?), Artie, Mike, Tina, Puck - stopped being human beings ages ago. They were turned into mechanisms through which the show could sell tracks on iTunes - there was A LOT of Glee music this week - or deliver Public Service Announcements.

And that's depressing, isn't it? It's almost anger-inducing. We've sat and watched the show for nearly three seasons and, just as many students are about to graduate and we're asked to feel something about them, we're left asking: wait, who are these people?!? What can we say about them outside of the nauseating assignments Will doles out each week?

(Perform a song from Saturday Night Fever and then share your hopes for the future. He actually said that. He also said: It's not the broken dreams that break us. It's the ones we don't dare to dream. I really hope Matthew Morrison at least had trouble getting these words out.)

Yes, I know: it's a musical. What am I doing asking for less music? But that's my point: I wish the show had strived for more as a whole. I wish it had used music as a way to more fully develop well-rounded characters (or just to be fun!), not as the sole way in which we know the characters.

And not just as their sole hope for the future. I'd love to have seen Mercedes acknowledge that she loves singing, she'll always include it in her life... but you know what? She's gonna strive to be an architect! Or perhaps a nurse or an interior designer. The arts are great, but making a career out of them is next to impossible and also - as much as it would pain Glee to admit - it's perfectly okay to plan on a more realistic, attainable major or profession.

That doesn't mean you don't have dreams. It just means you're growing up.

All that said, the episode in and of itself was fine overall. But it simply served to remind me of all Glee could have been if it dedicated an entire season to the journey of these seniors, not slapped most of it together faster than Will and Sue slapped together the concept of a Saturday Night Fever tribute.

I will, however, leave you with a few of the best Glee quotes from the week, as Sue and Brittany were especially on fire. I'll also ask: What did everyone else think? Do you feel like you know these seniors well?

Sue: Her chagrin is limited only by the fact that she has a brain the size of a toddler's fist.
Brittany: I can show you the MRI. | permalink
Brittany [on a bull's testicle]: It tastes just like a chicken testicle. | permalink
Puck: Two dudes in one bed is, like, confirmed gay. | permalink
Sue: Let's be honest, William. You've been out of ideas since Madonna week. | permalink
Rachel: While we applaud your proper use of the terminology, but we told Mr. Schue: we do not support disco. | permalink

Review

Editor Rating: 3.4 / 5.0
  • 3.4 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.4 / 5.0 (195 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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I agree with this review. As much as I love Rachel/Lea Michele I so sick of her storyline. The writers really need to take a hard look at what they are writing. I miss season 1 when Rachel was annoying but you still fell in love with her. Im also not fond of Sues storyline, its not consistent and Jane Lynch deserves better. Disco inferno was amazing and Amber showed how talented she is. I wish that they would stick to a character profile rather thanb going back and forth all the time. Wade/Unique was also amazing

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DeAnn wrote: "Take away the time for commercial breaks, and you've got roughly 22 minutes to make a whole show, with musical numbers, dramatic/comedic scenes, etc. That's not a lot of time..." And that's another thing. I'm not sure if it's the writing or the network, but there are 6 or 7 commercial breaks every show, the last one occurring less than 10 minutes before the show ends. Maybe they'd have more time for character development if they didn't break up the show into bite-sized pieces.

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@tootz its not like I like all of the episodes that come on but I'm not going to point out everything that was wrong with that episode I just wait until the next one come on and that one will probably be better...and by the way I didn't say what I said on my first comment to put down anybody thoughts about the show so maybe u should rethink visiting forums if you won't let anybody state their....thoughts.

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I think they've also done way too many tributes this season- I like it better when the songs sung are in service of the plot or character.
I'm also totally and utterly over finchel. Really I just find their love annoying. Bring on samcedes!!!!!

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I agree, glee does seem to be lacking storyline and character development( well, for anyone who isn't Rachel, Finn, Kurt or Blaine that is), this season. But I don't think that that's a new development, it's just become more apparent this season. I actually think, in a weird way, that the lack of storyline and character development was made so obvious in season 3 through the writers attempts at adding "layers" to the kids of McKinley high. What made season 1 and, to a lesser extent,season 2 so fun and light hearted, was how typical and clinched these characters were. We didn't need backstory on them because we already knew them- the mean girl, the dumb cheerleader, the over zealous theatre geek, The kind-but-oafish jock, Etc., etc. I mean, how much more fun is sue sylvester when she plotting some form of diabolical revenge on the glee club? Or how much more likable Rachel is when she's really obnoxious?
I think they've also done way too many tributes this season- I like it better when the songs sung are in service of the plot or character.
I'm also totally and utterly over finchel. Really I just find their love annoying. Bring on samcedes!!!!!

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CRINGE!!!! Poor Glee. It was a great idea season 1. And now they can only do introduction monologues for new characters and dramatic moments that come out of left field. The musical numbers are cringeworth...the story telling is poor. It is sad. So sad.

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@marly:
I never said it was character development. I simply pointed out that, contrary to what Matt said about her dad never being mentioned at all, he actually was.
Also, I'm slightly curious as to why another storyline that was touched on in the episode wasn't brought up at all in this review: Wade/Unique. Personally, I enjoyed it.

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BTW, it makes perfect sense for a Midwestern dentist not to be supportive of a singing career for his daughter. My parents, (a former teacher who negotiated teacher contracts for the union and a nurse) were horrified when I changed my major from nursing school to theater and history. They felt, as many practical Midwesterners do, that jobs in the arts are tremendously difficult to come by, and therefore you should have a more practical career path and do something in the arts as a hobby. I went on to graduate school to get a master's degree in writing, and I've worked as an editor and a journalist my whole life, so I've got to say that they were right, but then, I didn't have the talent of these kids, either.

Blu

I agree with the review. Completely. The entire senior thing has been confusing for a while. I was under the impression from the beginning of this season that Puck, Rachel, Quinn, Finn, and Kurt were the seniors. Now its everyone? After seasons of focusing and sort of developing characters like Rachel, Finn, and Kurt while somehow making room for newbie Blaine they still neglected Mercedes, Tina, Mike etc. And now they'll be gone before we ever got the chance to know them. Stuff is sort of being wrapped in a pretty bow but we've been deprived of so much that its not nearly as satisfying as it should be. Samcedes action made me smile but the random character descriptions of her were off.same with Santana...just yes. I actually loved this episode but I concur with this review in its entirety.

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Was that Neil Patrick Harris for two milliseconds in the beginning? Does anyone know the inside scoop behind that oh-so-brief appearance?