Fox // 2010 // 435 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Daniel Kelly (Retired) // February 28th, 2011
Join the club.
Coming off a phenomenally successful first season and several prestigious awards, Glee now embarks on the first half of its second year with this set. The show follows the Glee Club at McKinley High, headed up by Spanish teacher Will (Matthew Morrison, Music and Lyrics). As was the case last year, Glee Club is still a place for social misfits, attracting unwanted attention from the more aggressive members of the student body. This season deals with many of the same themes that dominated last year, namely love triangles and the toppling of discrimination. There are a few new faces this time around, but largely it's still the original batch of characters that dominate the show's storylines.
I can appreciate why Glee is so popular. Its musical numbers are inventive and its production design suitably lavish. The show has a lot of energy and is obviously the source of tremendous love and affection, its creators completely devoted to sating the voracious fan appetite. However, I don't count myself amongst the Glee hardcore. Musicals have never really been my bag to begin with, but more importantly I find the show's narratives and themes repetitive to the point of exhaustion. Some of the messages it construes are definitely healthy, but the plotting is often obvious and unimaginative. If the same amount of creativity evidenced during the melodic set pieces had been applied to the show's characterization and observation of High School culture then it would be substantially better. In its current incarnation, Glee is all pomp with virtually nothing under the surface.
There are two very entertaining episodes in this set, one entitled "Britney/Brittany" and the other the more celebrated "The Rocky Horror Glee Show." The former is a consistently comedic episode, with a cameo from Britney Spears herself. This is an example of Glee at its coked up best, storming through a selection of catchy tunes with added doses of visual panache and irreverent humor. If I'm honest it was easily the episode I enjoyed most. Much of that has to be attributed to Heather Morris (Fired Up), portraying the dimwitted and extraordinarily random cheerleader Brittany. Morris' delivery of her dialogue is often very amusing; it's nice to see her more involved with proceedings this year. Next to the ever wonderful Jane Lynch (still soliciting chuckles as the cheerleading coach with a vendetta against Glee Club), Morris is probably the most assured thespian the show boasts.
"The Rocky Horror Glee Show" is one of the few examples of this program actually registering a point of some depth, in this case its issues with censorship. It's only a minor facet of the episode's story but the discussions about a potentially inappropriate performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show are actually pretty interesting, plus it also involves John Stamos mounting a motorcycle, an always welcome addition.
The various relationships that dominate the show are still fairly dull, especially the one involving hunky Finn (Cory Monteith, Final Destination 3) and narcissistic but well intentioned Rachel (Lea Michele, New Year's Eve). Thankfully this dynamic has been somewhat watered down for the second season, but it still infuriates with its stagnant developments. Adding to the woe is the fact neither Michele nor Monteith can really act, they're damn fine singers, but it takes more than the ability to belt out a good tune to convince as a character. Similarly the on/off combination of Will and his OCD love interest Emma (Jayma Mays, Red Eye) just feels like a rehash of the same story from last year, albeit this time with slightly altered obstacles blocking their quest to be together.
As I've mentioned before, Glee does promote both tolerance and optimism. It deals with the concept of burgeoning homosexuality sensitively, and also addresses other social stigmas that its young fan base might one day have to face. I also applaud the brilliantly produced and kinetically performed dance/song sequences; they're always enjoyable and exude an infectious energy. However from a storytelling standpoint there isn't much here, a surprise given how fiercely some are addicted to the show. Its melodramatic subplots are formulaic, leaving little to get excited about. It's also kind of soulless in spots, a problem not aided by the uneven quality of acting the show offers. Gleeks will probably still love it, but this first volume of Season 2 is unlikely to convert doubters such as myself.
Fox has cheekily only released half a season here, although this three disc set actually has a decent roster of bonus content. Glee Music Jukebox allows viewers to access the bombastic performances without having to sift through the soggy stories, hence being probably the most valuable asset this release offers. The featurettes are just okay, one involving a waxwork of Jane Lynch being sculpted, another looking at the casts participation during Comic-Con 2010. For Gleeks it's going to be worth a look, otherwise it feels a little like filler. The same applies for a 10 minute making of that examines The Rocky Horror Glee Show (although it does feature a few funny anecdotes). There are a few other minor snippets thrown in for diehards (including a bonus song), so I suppose enthusiasts at least will feel well served by this set.
It's been a tough one for the jury to decide, but ultimately a Guilty verdict is deserved. However the sentencing promises to be far from severe.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 435 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Song
* Official Site