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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gleegasm: Chenowith or Without You

Posted by Dave Bow on Wed, Apr 28, 2010 at 12:43 PM

Here we are again, fellow Glee geeks (Gleeks?). Another Tuesday gone, another schizophrenic episode to pick apart. Let's have at it!

Last week I complained about Glee's whiplash-inducing tonal shifts. Those were very present in "Home," tonight's ep, but they weren't as distracting as the show's other big problem: too many characters with too many story lines. It's hard enough to keep up with what's going on in each episode, let alone the whole Glee universe - a universe ruled by a scatterbrained God who drops stories wantonly only to pick them up five episodes later. Did you also forget that Kurt had a crush on Finn or that Finn has unresolved daddy issues?

Meanwhile, Rachel and Jesse are now in the background - only slightly more present than Emma, who may well be dead. She could be out losing her virginity to Ken Tanaka for all we know! I guess all will probably be answered three or four weeks down the road. Meanwhile: Kristen Chenoworth is back!

kristin105Glee-ep_sc33_9581.jpg

Join the discussion after the jump.

Before I get to April, Kurt still has a crush on Finn, I guess. A burning white crush that causes him to weep openly in class and create elaborate schemes to become his step-brother. A good way to start off any romantic relationship is to become your crush's sibling. I don't buy Kurt's weird plan or his attraction (doesn't it seem more likely that he'd have a boner for Puck? He's more dangerous, forbidden and attractive). That whole thread feels as forced as the time the God of the Glee universe made Mercedes have a crush on Kurt. But maybe they're building Kurt up to be a basketcase or something. How else were we supposed to take that revealing shot of him standing on Finn's patio, watching him watch TV? Norman Bates might have had a lovely high register, too, you know.

Annnnyway, Kurt sets up his dad and Finn's mom and they fall in love, finally putting an end to all the will they/won't they tension between those two characters. And Finn and his mom stop carrying an urn around with them and talking to it like they have never done in the past. Boh-ring! I was pleased to see Mike O'Malley back as Kurt's dad, though (named Burt - no joke). Their man-to-man talk in the episode where Kurt joined the football team (and taught them how to dance!) was one of the nicest moments that Glee has put out there. Similarly, their talk tonight was a good example of how the show can transcend after-school special drama to something more real. Both Finn and Burt are filling a void for each other that both have had for some fifteen years and poor Kurt feels left out (though he should be happy that his incest plan is going super smooth). There was some raw emotion between those two and I thought it was handled with the complexity it deserved.

On the other end of the spectrum, nothing says "after-school special" like eating disorders. I thought the message of tonight's episode was finding a place to call home or whatever Kurt was talking about before he cry-sang in Finn's face, but it's also about being beautiful by staying just the way you are. Sue Sylvester is back in the sidelines where she thrives. She had some good quotes this time around, but - in what's becoming an annoying habit on the show's part) -she mostly existed here to set something ridiculous in motion. I liked seeing Mercedes imagine everyone as delicious food (particularly Tina the talking ice cream cone and Artie, pie on wheels), but the whole thing just felt like an elaborate reason to have Amber Riley sing "Beautiful."

It was a cornball moment and built around a sappy song that culminated in teens embracing and swaying, Ms. Riley preaching Xtina like the gospel and Sue looking on like a confused arch-villain (she was seriously like Gargamel at the end of a Smurfs episode). And that... was a good thing. Sometimes Glee transcends it's maudlin topic-of-the-week leanings, but sometimes it just blows them out. I, for one, love that sappy song in all it's incarnations (even Evan Dando's version) and I got chills when the Cheerios came in for the second verse and everything got all I'd-like-to-buy-the-world-a-Coke.

My favorite part, though, of this disjointed episode was the unexpected and superb "One Less Bell to Answer / A House is Not a Home" mash-up by Matthew Morrison and Kristen Chenowith. Chenowith is one hell of a performer and her character, April, is a delight. This was only the second episode April has ever been in, but she feels more fleshed out than many of Glee's main characters. The mix of campy, bitter humor and sadness that Chenowith brings to the role is a good example of what this show can do when it's firing on all cylinders. That sequence of Will and April finding themselves in his bed together as if possessed was a wonderful use of song. Both characters need to be next to someone but their thoughts are completely turned inward so they sing to the ceiling (to Burt Bacharach and the 5th Dimension!) You can't find that shit anywhere else on television.

Stray notes and quotes:
I hate it when a microphone feeds back in TV and movies to signal that something awkward is happening.
April uses the money she gets from her stripmall tycoon husband to run a roller-rink called Rinky Dinks and go to star in the first all-white production of The Wiz. It makes me want to marry my own geriatric billionaire.
Seriously, where's Emma? Or Terri? Or that other coach Schuester hooked up with? Is Will secretly a serial killer with a trail of lovers in his wake?
"How do you two not have a show on Bravo?"
"I have to put in a call to the Ohio Secretary of state notifying them that I will no longer be carrying photo ID. You know why? People should know who I am."
"Sorry. Them's the night terrors."
"I feel like the guy who set up Liza and David Guest."
"You're bossy, insulting, and the fact that twice you called me Rerun makes me think you're a little racist."

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