When did Glee turn into an excuse for executive producer Ryan Murphy to re-make his favourite music videos of the '80s? A week after the cloying Madonna episode, Murphy hooked the auto-tune up once again to breakout comedy star Jane Lynch. In another whopper of a plot twist, Lynch's Sue Sylvester gets a call from Grease granny Olivia Newton John and the two jump and stretch through a creepy music video remake of ONJ's '80s anthem "Physical."
Now, Newton John is holding up well at 61 but Lynch's voice is pitched controlled and synthesized beyond human recognition in an effort to have her sort of sound like she can hit the right notes. The over-used gimmick casts tremendous doubt on all the singing on this show, but, worse, it also destroys Lynch's voice. Imagine if they had hooked her up to a comedy enhancer, she would lose all her distinct charm and edge. Let her talk through these songs if she can't sing.
Besides, there's no attempt to build on, spoof or advance the original Physical vid--the objective seems to be just come close enough to revive sales of ONJ's back catalogue. We wait for what surely will be the Bee Gees episode, followed by Glee does Cher.
What seemed charming and energizing about this series the first half of the season is rapidly getting old this spring semester. Another annoying new character, Brenda (played by former SNLer Molly Shannon, above with Lynch), was introduced in Tuesday's "Bad Reputation" episode. Lost entirely or reduced to one or two lines are the great characters from the beginning of the year. Coach Tanaka, unseen for weeks (Canadian Patrick Gallagher), had to walk and talk through his one line-and-a-half last night.
This week's episode was built on the shaky premise that the whole school should be outraged that the glee club had posted some sort of self serving "hot" list. Mr. Shu (Matthew Morrison) gives the kids an assignment in response to come up with a song that will give them each a bad reputation. Huh? The songs the various kids pick do not come anywhere close to doing that. Kurt's (Chris Coffer, right centre) big idea to goon the library by having his glee posse do a medley of MC Hammer's hit is too sad to be lame. Rachel's (Lea Michele) big idea to cover some crappy boy-girl song involving her three imaginary boyfriends is too lame to be sad. The reaction to all these bad ideas by everybody is crazy dramatic, over-the-top dumb.
This series has skirted the boundaries of camp since it began but has now plunged so far over that slippery slope it risks eclipsing Heroes as the 21st century series that went into the tank the fastest.
The only ones who seem to be clinging to some semblance of reality are always steady Morrison and Diana Agron as knocked up Cheerio Quinn. Both quietly give viewers a chance to buy into the notion that there might be something going on that matters underneath all the High School Musical on Ice nonsense.
The producers kept telling us in the first half of the season that they prided themselves on the notion that the music scenes would always be a natural part of the glee club premise. Now it is a contest to see how far-fetched an excuse can be found for the next song. You can practically read the titles off the backs of CDs to come as the show morphs into one big music video infomercial.
And what titles! Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby"? Are these "Worst Songs of the '80s" selections supposed to be funny? Total Eclipse of the Heart?!
More manipulative is Sue's hand holding, bedtime story scenes with her character's mentally challenged sister. All that is missing is Tiny Tim in the corner saying, "God bless us everyone." If Sue could do an "As Sue C's It" review of Glee, she'd rip the cheese right out of each new script. Please let that happen fast.