June 9, 2010

TV Wrap-Up: GLEE

The first season of FOX's new hit Glee is finally wrapped up, and it was a successful showing from the freshman musical dramedy. So successful in fact that it was picked up for two additional seasons before the first one even ended. That's pretty impressive.

Season Summary
Much like Chuck, the first season of Glee can be viewed as two different seasons. The Glee 1.1 was the initial 13-episode order that focused on New Directions road to the sectionals, while Glee 1.2 was the back-9 order the followed the glee club's journey to regionals.

The first part of Season 1 was far from perfect, but it was the stronger of the two pieces. Sure, it focused too much on baby drama (Quinn lying about her baby's daddy and Terri's fake pregnancy), but most of the episodes were entertaining mostly due to over the top comedy/drama and fun musical numbers. The first part of Glee's first season did a great job at introducing the characters, and even developing some of them along the way. We also got some good high school satire mixed in with some pretty powerful messages about self-identity.

Part 2 of Season 1 was uneven compared to Part 1 because it really lacked a common storyline throughout the 9 episodes. While New Directions was moving towards Regionals, we really didn't get to see them prepare for the competition like they did for Sectionals. Instead, we got a lot of random episodes with random themes that really didn't gel into a cohesive story. Within the muddy second half of the season, we did get some good episodes about Kurt & Finn, but we also got the haphazard Rachel's Mom storyline.

I still believe that the reason why the back-9 didn't work as well as the initial 13 episodes was because the creators wanted to tell a standalone 13-episode story just in case the show wasn't a hit. That way fans would get a season with a definite beginning, middle, and end. When FOX ordered the additional 9, the showrunners had to come up with new stories to tell that really didn't mesh with the first 13. We also had some pretty drastic character changes that were a little jarring (Mr. Schuester becoming a total ass). The flow of the back-9 just wasn't there like it was with the first part of the season.

Favorite Episode of the Season
I really went back and forth when it came to which episode was my favorite. It came down between "Wheels" and "Mattress", and when it was all said and done the latter won out. "Mattress" was the penultimate episode of the first 13 episodes, and it had a lot of great things going on. Rachel needs Finn to man up and be the leader he knows he can be, Quinn stands up to Sue and fights for New Directions in order to get the club their yearbook photo, the Gleeks shoot a local commercial, Shue finally finds out about the fake baby, and he's disqualified from Sectionals because he used a mattress that was meant for the glee clubbers. "Mattress" also had one of my favorite musical numbers ("Jump") on the show.

Honorable Mentions
"Wheels" (the diva-off, Kurt's dad, and Sue's sister), "Sectionals" (New Directions finally performs at the big competition), "Vitamin D" (Boys vs. Girls), "Dream On" (NPH!), and "Theatricality" (Kurt and Finn's fight).

Least Favorite Episode of the Season
The weakest episode of the season had to "Funk" because of the lack of strong musical numbers (although the final number had some fun dancing), Jesse's abrupt departure from New Directions, Will trying to seduce Sue, and the Knocked Up Fly Girls. After watching the episode a few times, there are elements that work, but as a whole "Funk" was just a mess.

Season 2 Predictions
After "Journey", I'm fairly sure Shelby is done with show choir, which opens the door for a new coach for Vocal Adrenaline. If the part is appropriately cast, he or she could be a great antagonist for season 2. Personally, I'd love it if Bryan Ryan (Neil Patrick Harris) becomes the new VA coach so he can destroy Will once and for all. I doubt HIMYM will be generous enough to loan out their MVP yet again, but one can dream. Another kick-ass choice: Donald Faison.

On the relationship front, Finn and Rachel will be the power couple for a few weeks, but they are eventually going to split up. This will open the door for Finn to end up with Brittany, which would be the best pairing ever! Knowing this show, Rachel and Puck will have another go at it to make the shippers happy.

Am I the only one kind of excited that John Stamos is joining the cast as Emma's dentist boyfriend? I haven't been enamored with the stunt casting this season, but this move works in my opinion. Stamos has the musical roots, and the looks to put Will on his heels. The inevitable sing-off should be entertaining, and I'd love to see a Battle of the Bands involving Acafellas and the Rippers (or the Beach Boys).

Final Thoughts
Yes, season 1 of Glee was uneven, but it was still entertaining. The musical numbers, angsty melodrama, the after-school specialness, and cheese factor worked more often than not. In the end, I was entertained by Glee week in and week out, and even the bad episodes had their bright spots. Sure, I'd love it if the creators tighten up the storytelling, fully develop the characters, and get back to their kitschy roots during season 2, but I'll be happy as long as we get some fun songs/dance numbers and more Brittany one-liners.


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