August 14, 2012

Episode Review: THE GLEE PROJECT, "Glee-ality"

Season 2 of Oxygen's The Glee Project finally wrapped up, and only ONE winner was crowed. While I cannot argue with the ultimate victor, I have to admit that I was a bit surprised when the announcement was made.

Homework Assignment
The final three were talking about how they couldn't believe that they made it to the finals when Robert came in and reminded them that this week's theme was "Glee-ality," and that their last homework assignment was going to be "You Can't Stop the Beat" from Hairspray. Since the number needed more voices, he also told them that they were going to have some special back-up singers in the form of the former Season 2 contestants. Everyone hugged, laughed and jumped up and down.

As for the actual homework assignment, Ali took control of the choreography and it showed because not only did she tell everyone what to do, but she also got the majority of the lines. She, along with Blake and Aylin had to impress Mr. Glee himself, Chris Colfer. Since The Glee Project has perfected the art of the cop-out, Colfer didn't pick one winner but three. Here we go again.

Video Shoot
After weeks of being M.I.A., we got one last choreography session with Zach where he pretty much said that they cannot dance as a group, so he's given up on that. Instead, he had all of the wanna-Glees do some kind of line dance, but he emphasized that everyone should still work their butts off to make the final three look good, and how Blake, Aylin and Ali still needed to up their game.

In the booth, things were pretty short and sweet. Nikki praised all three finalists, and the only one who had a small mishap was Aylin, but she recovered fairly quickly. This season, Nikki became the taskmaster that Zach used to be, but it was fun watching her just smile and pump up the contestants.

The final video was going to revolve around a high school prom where everyone would be singing Hot Chelle Rae's "Tonight Tonight." For the most part, it was your standard TGP video shoot, and not one really messed up which was a little anti-climactic, but I did enjoy that fact that most of the time was spent on the mentors talking about the final three. The biggest twist on set was the surprise appearance of Season 1's Damian McGinty. He was one of my favorites last year, but shoehorning him into the final video was odd and a little sad. Oh well. Overall, another solid music video from Erik White.

Last Chance Performance
Since it's the finale, all three finalists had to perform in front of Ryan Murphy, the mentors, co-creator (the real creator) Ian Brennan, the writing staff, Glee cast members and the rest of the hopefuls.

Ali was up first, and she sang "Popular" from Wicked. While I never liked Ali, and she never once inspired me, I have to credit her for playing the game well because her song choice was perfect. It also didn't hurt that she nailed it and almost everyone loved her performance.

Second to perform was Blake and he picked Edwin McCain's '90s classic "I'll Be." His goal was to show a different side of himself, and while he was looser and goofier, it was a very good but not amazing number. After his song, he wasn't done and he pulled out a poem he had wrote as a last ditch effort to show Ryan that he's not the cookie-cutter, cute boy that he's been pegged as. The poem itself was a little rote, but he definitely showed some depth and a new aspect to his personality, and he had many in the audience in tears. Abraham should have been taking notes.

Lastly, there was Aylin who decided to go with Adele's "Rolling in the Deep." Now, I'm always wary when someone tries to cover Adele because her sound's so distinctive and big, but I thought that Aylin did a solid job with the song, and it was enough to impress Amber Riley. Of course, her upbringing and background was brought up since it's been her thing since day one, but she wanted to make sure that Ryan knew that she'd be up for any possible backlash that she would face for playing a non-stereotypical Muslim girl.

Deliberations were a little different this time around as Ryan wanted feedback from the cast and writers, and apparently from Charlie who couldn't help but throw his support behind Aylin. For the most part, everyone brought up good points for all three contestants, but it was going to come down to what Ryan wanted, and he had a private meeting with the mentors and Ian. Much like the rest of the episode, time was spent on slurping everyone, and it made Ryan's job that much harder.

It was finally time to name a winner, and after one last rah-rah session, Ryan declared Blake the winner of The Glee Project Season 2. And Michael rejoiced.

Final Thoughts
Like I mentioned in the intro, I cannot gripe about Blake winning because he was by far the strongest actor and the most capable to play any role on Glee. There's no denying that Aylin and Ali were the better singers, and probably had more interesting stories, but the mothership needs actors who can do whatever's asked of them, and they were ham-strung by the fact that they were so one-note. That being said, I was a little shocked by the decision because The Glee Project's all about finding a character and not necessarily the most well-rounded performer, so Blake's win was counter-intuitive based on what we know about the competition. I thought for sure Aylin was going to win it all since Ryan loved her story from the get go, but I do think that the right person won.

Ultimately, I'm glad that Ryan only picked one winner even though this should've been the year that saw more than one contestant win. While I liked most of Season 1's competitors, their cast was outdone by Season 2's, and someone like Aylin deserves a two-episode consolation prize more than Lindsay Pearce or Alex Newell. To be fair though, last year's runners-up were by far better than the winners (sorry, Damian), and I don't think that's going to be an issue this time around. But that's a whole different write-up.

So, the right person won in my opinion and I'm genuinely excited to see what Blake brings to Season 4 of Glee. Since he does have such a wide range, he could almost be any type of character, so I hope the writers don't turn him into Finn 2.0, but I can see that happening. We'll just have to wait and see.


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