Fox // 2010 // 1000 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // October 5th, 2011
"I make my living singing girl songs." -- Kurt
Season One was smart, fun, spirited, and one of the best new shows to hit television in 2009. It was like some crazy good teen musical that John Hughes and Joss Whedon seemed to help create starring all the misfit stereotypes that finally got their due. The second year? Well, it had moments but just couldn't quite live up to the promise of that freshman year. Yep! Sophomore slump was in full effect, but when Glee worked it still worked well. Fans like me found plenty to love including new characters as well as some "can't miss" covers of favorite pop songs. The Blu-ray offers us exactly what the DVD did, but with a nice bump up in the quality of transfers and sound delivery. I'm still a Gleek, even if that is not quite as hip to admit right about now.
Spoiler Alert! I'll be discussing plot points through the end of the second season.
The second year brought most of our characters back to square one, and that was an odd way to kick things off. Rachel Barry (Lea Michele, New Year's Eve) seemed to forget all she had learned last season, and was back to being the bratty diva willing to crush anybody standing in the way of her spotlight. Her on and off boyfriend Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith, Final Destination 3) left behind the idea that it was just as cool to be in a show choir as it was to be on the football field and began to seek out popularity once again. Head cheerleader Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron, I Am Number Four) decided to not recall that the Glee club stuck by her through a trying pregnancy, and just became the icy bitch she was before she grew up with them. Head Cheer leading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch, The 40 Year Old Virgin) hardened her heart after it melted a little for the gang as they lost regionals. It seemed anybody who emerged wise from Season One had to dumb it all back down for the second year to wring out a bit more drama. Add to the mix a new female football coach (Dot Jones, The Boondock Saints), a new hunk (Chord Overstreet, The Hole), a female wrestler (Ashley Fink, All About Evil), and you had some old drama offered by new faces.
Glee continued carrying it's rainbow banner for GLBT youth with a couple "it gets better" plots to rally around. One season long arc was preoccupied with Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer, Marmaduke) being bullied for being gay to the point where he fled the school altogether. His tormentor (Max Adler, Wolf Town) turned out to be hiding a big secret too, but Kurt decided to run instead of face the demons at home. He enrolled in a private school with an a capella all-male singing group led by a hunk. He found his new love interest in lead singer Blaine (Darren Criss, Eastwick), and the show seemed to want to make some grand statement about his identity and how he could navigate the world. Meanwhile, the writers also outed Santana (Naya Rivera, The Master of Disguise) as a girl with lesbian feelings for Brittany (Heather Morris, Fired Up). Their relationship felt a bit forced, but the actors pulled it off well enough to make it at least charming.
Season Two seemed to pull focus away from the adults, such as choir director Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison, Music and Lyrics). He was finally divorced from the shrewish wife of the first year, yet somehow was denied any happiness. The guidance counselor Emma (Jayma Mays, The Smurfs) hooked up with her dentist (John Stamos, Full House), and then a commitment-phobic substitute (Gwyneth Paltrow, Iron Man) showed up to tease him. Perhaps cruelest of all, ex-flame April Rhodes (Kristin Chenoweth, Pushing Daisies) offered him a dream shot at a starring lead on Broadway. Yet he turned his back on all of it just to help his kids struggle through the year, only to ultimately not do as well as he hoped. Ah, the bitter trap of being on an ongoing series where nobody can get anything they want for fear of diluting familiar drama and having to cross into new directions.
Glee seemed to be stuck in a rut most of the season, covering ground it had already addressed quite well back in that outstanding first year. We simply got to revisit most of the same themes sometimes to lesser effect. The show popped the most when it got unexpected, such as when it dealt with religion and the possible death of Kurt's father. We did finally get to see the kids advance all the way to nationals, but the conclusion seemed all too predictable. The rest of it you could guess easily. Coach Sylvester menaced people at every turn, Brittany looked clueless, Santana said something mean, Rachel sang a great number, Finn was charming, and Kurt was in a gay panic all year. It was comforting to see everybody doing what they do best, but by year's end you wished for more rather than more of the same. Glee never quite got around to delivering anything new, and worse even seemed to forget to close up major plots. Ah well...They still had some great numbers and plenty of laughs along the way.
Glee: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray) offers fans the exact same package as what's available on DVD. There are the same bells and whistles including an option to view the songs only in a video jukebox, as well as about a dozen featurettes on behind the scenes topics. Nothing in the extras are notable, and it's frustrating to see very little of series creator and head producer Ryan Murphy explaining the second year of the show. Instead we get banal things such as a set tour, Heather Morris staying in character to go backstage as Brittany, what it's like to be guest star, shooting on location in New York, and getting to work with Stevie Nicks. There are montages of Sue, Brittany, and Sanatana's lines from year one and year two. There is also a Comic-Con panel done after the first year of the show which features cast and crew teasing what is to come in their next season. The Rocky Horror episode gets its own making-of feature and a cut song "Planet Schmanet," which doesn't add up to much.
Where this set excels are in the visuals and audio treatment. The season's twenty-two episodes are spread out over four Blu-ray discs. Colors are deeply saturated, black levels are impeccable, and there is hardly any digital noise to be found. Glee looks gorgeous in high definition. The musical numbers benefit from the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio surround treatment, and there is a robust audio field where you can discern separate voices and instruments easily. The DVDs seem smeary and soft by comparison.
Glee: The Complete Second Season is nowhere near as strong as the first year in quality, nor does it offer the wealth of extras. There are no exclusive Blu-ray supplements, and the only advantage of this over the DVDs is a spectacular transfer for those with high definition television systems. It's still a fun and entertaining show with some great messages about high school, even if it seems this year is just an echo of everything they explored already. But thanks to some great guest stars and the continuing tradition of great production numbers, the show seems to bounce along happily oblivious to any plot inconsistencies or character bobbles. The charm of Glee is its relentless ability to live up its title with a passion for music and kids.
Guilty of being a musical John Hughes film punched up by Joss Whedon and then watered down for a sequel.
Review content copyright © 2011 Brett Cullum; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 1000 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Music Jukebox
* Official Site