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Our reviews of Glee: The Complete First Season (published September 14th, 2010), Glee: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray) (published September 29th, 2010), Glee: Season Two, Volume One (published February 28th, 2011), Glee: The Complete Second Season (published September 28th, 2011), Glee: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray) (published October 5th, 2011), Glee: Encore (published April 27th, 2011), Glee: Encore (Blu-ray) (published April 28th, 2011), and Glee: The Concert Movie (published December 29th, 2011) are also available.
"Why would someone assume I';m a friend of Ellen, just because I'm mannish, highly aggressive, have short hair, only wear track suits, coach a girls' sport, married myself?"—Sue Sylvester
Glee is easily one of the most revolutionary shows on television, if only because it features a teenage cast who represent a rainbow of races and sexual orientations singing and dancing their way to glory. It suggests a world where everybody is accepted and anybody can sing and dance better than most show business professionals. It's a phenomenon on iTunes, with songs from the soundtrack selling fast and furious, and continues to be a powerhouse in the music industry. Yet hardcore fans debate the quality of the show, as it marches on season after season going further and further from its electric starting point. Can Glee ever live up to that first year when it was pitch perfect and a ray of hope to outsiders of any age?
Facts of the Case
Season Three offers familiar teen angst in and out of the choir room, as a Spanish teacher turned music director (Matthew Morrison, What to Expect When You're Expecting) tries to lead his ragtag group of misfit kids to a national championship. The main dramatic arc for this season comes as the New Directions are literally split in two, when last year's rival show choir director (Idina Menzel, Rent) comes to McKinley High School to form an all-girl Glee Club. Brittany (Heather Morris) runs for class president on a girl-power platform against Kurt (Chris Colfer). At the same time, Sue (Jane Lynch, Wreck-It Ralph) and Kurt's dad (Mike O'Malley, Yes Dear) compete for an Ohio Congressional seat. Also looming over most of the kids is their senior year, which means thoughts about the future and what to do after graduation. Kurt and Rachel (Lea Michele) set their sights on a performing arts school in NYC, but quickly realize there are stars at every high school competing with them for the same dream. New recurring characters come straight out of Oxygen's reality show The Glee Project with winners Samuel Larsen and Damian McGinty, and runner-ups Alex Newell and Lindsay Pearce appearing as new McKinley students. Relationship drama, car crashes, and even an homage to The Star Wars Holiday Special all lead to the ultimate climax featuring a dinosaur-themed prom and one last chance to nab that big shiny trophy.
Season Three is the final year Glee all of the original characters are still in high school. During this twenty-two episode run, creator Ryan Murphy struggled with how to create a new direction for his show, and there's a bittersweet theme of "this is it" that hangs over the whole season. I was baffled by the writers' choice of splitting the kids into two groups, with the advent of the all-girl Trouble Tones, but that subplot resolved itself well enough to make the effort worth the pain. They somehow managed to make this year a nice sendoff for much of the cast, recapturing the sentimental glory that was the first season of the show. In the end, Glee: The Complete Third Season has its bumps and missteps, but it all hits the right notes in the closing sequences.
That said, Glee feels stretched thin, as if the creators never expected the series to make it longer than half a season. The third year improved on some of the gimmicks that made Season Two seem tedious, but there's a continuous air of "been there, done that" to contend with. Rachel and Finn having problems again, Will and Emma struggling with OCD, and Sue just being Sue seems old hat by now. Sometimes it feels like there's a little too much focus on relative new characters like Darren Criss as Blaine, and short shrift given to longtime cast member Dianna Agron as Quinn. In effect, the series seems unbalanced and not quite the ensemble it had been known for.
The series is broadcast in HD on Fox, so Glee: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray) offers the most true way to see and hear these episodes. The 1.78:1/1080p transfers are bright and lively with excellent detail and few flaws. Shot in 35mm, these discs reveal a wash of grain and filmic qualities that make the series look unique in many ways. The only criticism is that because of the use of film stock the backgrounds often lack clarity and sometimes lose definition. That's a nitpick of the highest order though, as the show's wonderful pop art color palette springs to life in high definition. Black levels are nice, and there is an increased contrast to give the show a vibrant look that suits it well. There are two audio options to chose from, including a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track or the more traditional 5.1 Dolby Surround. Both work wonders for the show's energetic music base, and offer up nice atmospheric effects to support the drama.
There aren't a ton of extras here, and all are spread out over the set's four discs. A returning feature is the "musical jukebox" option which allows viewers to watch only the musical numbers without pause from the episodes. This is an easy way to access any performance you could want to isolate. There are also short featurettes and alternative scenes peppered throughout the episodes. Best way to let you know where is to break it down disc by disc, so here goes.
Glee: The Complete Third Season offers plenty of great performances, silly love songs, and remarkably touching moments blended with snappy one-liners to remind us of the power the show possesses. In effect, you could stop here and die a happy "Gleek," since many of the key players move out of McKinley High School at season's end. But I have to say, I'll remain a faithful fan until the very end.
Guilty of being one of the most uplifting and empowering shows to ever grace
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Scales of Justice
• Extended/Deleted Scenes
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