Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gleeless: My Dissatisfaction With The Finale

To paraphrase a wise, apparently-barren woman, "Somewhere in a stately manor in the countryside of England, Journey is crying."

Kids, you should know off the bat that this is not going to be a happy post because I was supposed to move onto 30 Rock and music. Since I'm still on Glee, it can only mean one thing: rant.

If you haven't watched last night's finale, stop reading. This is gonna be spoilery.

The episode last night, "Journey," was rushed, ignored plot, and was completely ingenuine to Glee's roots. Then agian, that shouldn't be a shock: these last nine episodes of the spring have all, in one way or another, failed to live up to the Great Glee Promise.

What is the Great Glee Promise, you ask? Flash back with me to the first thirteen episodes. Remarkably solid, all thirteen had a spirit that you would be hard-pressed to deny. Even the lowest points ("Acafellas," "Hairography") had redeeming moments ("Imagine," for example) that reminded us why we loved the show.

Ryan Murphy, the show's creator, made a promise to Gleeks everywhere that he would stay true to the spirit of the show when it took five months off. When it came back in April, it wasn't the same show we once loved.

That's not all bad: some of the episodes have been great. But on the whole, the episodes have taken a darker turn into dramatic territory, only alleviated by ditzy Brittany (Heather Morris). Even Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), the Chuck Norris-esque iconic character, has faltered into melodrama several times.

However, Glee is not bad at drama. Look at "Theatricality" and, especially, "Dream On." Those two episodes were masterpiece dramatic theater. Mike O'Malley's performance in the former as proud father to Kurt (Chris Colfer) was indescribably passionate. The duet of "I Dreamed a Dream" between mother (Idina Menzel) and daughter (Lea Michele) was inspired.

What makes it difficult, then, is when Glee fails to either live up to the Promise of funny, inspiring television OR be dramatic. Last night, the show failed spectacularly to be either.

I'm sure there are some who genuinely liked last night's episode. I ask you to recollect with me on exactly what happened last night. The competition was treated like an afterthought, with the group's Journey medley minimized. (Why wasn't the new version of "Don't Stop Believin'" given proper treatment? It sounded killer!) Not only that, but we were expected to be surprised when Vocal Adrenaline won for their cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody," which was a million times better. The plots had no resolution, with barely-there writing explaining things away. Shelby Corcoran (Menzel) got Quinn (Dianna Agron)'s baby. Rachel (Michele) and Finn (Cory Monteith) kissed and are in love. Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays) is still in love with Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison). Sue has a heart and voted for the kids, so she convinced Principal Figgins (Iqbal Theba) to give them one more year to turn things around.

It was all a reset button. A "hey, we're gonna keep doing the same thing for another year" excuse. A reason for Season 2 that could have easily not come to pass.

Glee showed at midseason that they know how to do a finale. This was a major disappointment.

Murphy and the show's writing staff needs to consider exactly where they want Glee to go next season. Do they want it to live up to the Promise? In that case, all the melodrama needs to go, and more humor needs to be injected.

Or would they prefer stick with the "Theatricality"/"Dream On" direction? If they do, then here's what they gotta do, pronto.

1. Eject Sue Sylvester. The woman is born to be in the original Glee world, not this one. If we're gonna see a darker direction for the show, she needs to get her own spin-off where she can be simply Sue.

2. Stop the stunt casting. No more Idina Menzels or Jonathan Groffs. All the characters have to be completely real and genuine. I would even dump part of the main ensemble (Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowicz, and my lovely Morris).

3. Make the songs appropriate. Crap like having a mother and daughter do "Poker Face" isn't gonna fly. Nor are episodes entirely devoted to being "funky" to get out of a "funk." Every episode must act as the first few did: drop the hokey themes and assignments and let the music tell the story.

I'm sad that Glee is going through this identity crisis, but I know that it can win its audience back quite easily. They just need to remember who they are and why the show is so great.

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