Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Glee: one week Jekyll, the next Hyde
Tuesday's episode, "Special Education," allowed all of the young cast members to shine. Rachel (Lea Michele) was for once more sympathetic and vulnerable than annoying. Puck (Mark Salling) was given plenty to do both comedic and dramatic and carried it off. Brittany (Heather Morris) got to actually be part of the story instead of just mumble something eccentric.
Act and dance; Morris' star turn with "Other Asian" Mike (Harry Shum, Jr.) was a genuine showstopper.
Mercifully missing from the episode: Jane Lynch. Resting her character a week yanked this show back off that campy slippery slope. Sue Sylvester has turned into a Batman villain. All that is missing is a yard long cigarette holder and a monocle.
Without her, Glee seems more real. Mr. Shue's anger and exasperation at Rachel's showboating shenanigans ring true.
More Naya Rivera is also a good thing. Bad Cheerio Santana gets more intriguing by the week. Showcasing her voice in a sectional sing off seems exactly right.
Even the song selection seemed to work better Tuesday night. The mix of showtunes (Don't Cry for Me Argentina) and current Top 40 pop offered something for everyone and shook the show out of its '70s rock opera rut.
The way the sectional performance part of the episode was shot gave it a live edge. Briskly paced and edited, with a tremendous variety of shots--zooming close ups, audience reactions, behind the singers and dancer on stage, it brought a live concert energy to the show.
Also missing Tuesday night: Kristen Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, John Stamos and any other big name guest star shoehorned into storylines. Glee is best when it is just about the glee club. That may not be how Sue 'C's it, but it is how I see it.