“The Quarterback” – Glee

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 12.10.11 PMAt the risk of sounding crass and callous and a little bit gauche, this was probably the best episode of Glee we’ve seen since, maybe, the second season. That’s not to say that it wasn’t without its flaws, but we were pleased to see that Cory (and Finn) got the send off he deserved.

There were two main flaws with the episode. First, that the songs did very little to bolster the emotion. Glee has, historically, used music to great effect, stretching the poignancy of a moment as required. “The Quarterback”, however, was slightly lacking in this regard. With the exception of Lea’s performance of “Make You Feel My Love” (just a little heartbreaking) and, maybe, Mark Salling’s performance of Bruce Springsteen’s “No Surrender”, the songs were emotional choices with unemotional performances. They were the rare breaks from crying in this sob-fest of an episode.

The other flaw, if you could even call it a flaw, was that the episode felt more like a farewell to Finn than a farewell to Cory, but we’re not exactly sure that’s a bad thing. It’s more that, in pursuing that angle, it felt a little less real. Again with the exception of Lea, this felt a lot like a bunch of actors playing a part rather than a group of people mourning their friend. This could have a lot to do with the fact that most of the performances were filmed in one take (obviously in an effort to minimize the suffering for the actors) – they never got the chance to fully embody that grief.

And yet, even with that, the episode was totally gut-wrenching. We probably cried out at least 90 per cent of our bodies’ moisture. There were so many moments that had us reaching for a tissue – Kurt leaving Rachel in New York, Finn’s mom talking about Continue reading

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“Tina in the Sky with Diamonds” – Glee

Screen Shot 2013-10-07 at 4.20.22 PMStraight from an episode that exhibited a potential return in quality to Glee (mostly because the surfeit of songs didn’t give the plot enough time to irritate us) to one that effectively sounds its death knell. We saw a lot of bad episodes of the FOX smash last season, so when we say that this was the worst we’d seen in some time you’ll understand the severity of our dislike.

It’s hard to pick any particular aspect that rankled more than any other. It was all bad. As Glee is, to all intents and purposes, a musical, we can start there – last week, we sang The Beatles’ praises and applauded the show’s music team for not ruining the 60s icons for scores of young adults. It seems we spoke too soon. This week’s numbers were all wrong. The vast majority suffered through terrible arrangements and poor directorial choices. Worst offender, “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, suffered from both. The vocals were all over the place, the harmonies were raucous and wince-inducing, and the outfits were purely unnecessary. (This all ignores the question we have every year. Why, in a school that really hates the Glee Club, does the Glee Club perform at prom every year to thunderous approbation?)

The songs that managed to leap these two hurdles fell at the third – these were Continue reading

“Love, Love, Love” – Glee

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 2.31.47 PMWe hate to look at this first episode of Glee’s fifth season through the RIP-Cory-Monteith veil, but we found it difficult not to. From the very outset – Rachel’s rendition of The Beatles’ “Yesterday” – it felt like a combination of things: first and foremost, a distraction for the cast (we had to wonder if each performance had been so dripping in fun before the actor’s death, or if the ramp-up in joy was a bid to cheer up the rest of the cast); as a secondary theme, it was an unofficial ode to Cory (the official ‘in memory of’ episode will air as the season’s third). That “Yesterday” opening (while ostensibly about Rachel’s loss of her theatre dreams [although they’re actually not quite lost just yet]) served as a stark reminder of Cory’s absence, from the lyrics to the photos to the almost-break in Lea Michele’s voice as she sang, “why he had to go I don’t know”.

But, as we said, we’re reluctant to view this first episode back solely from that perspective. So what about the rest of the episode, from a wider viewpoint? Well, it was one of the better episodes of recent seasons. A bit more soap opera-y than earlier seasons, and still suffering from that ‘Ryan Murphy’s lesson of the week’ issue we had major problems with last season (this week, complete with awkward speech and poorly-written mention of Russia’s stance on homosexuality), and maybe our standards have gradually lowered over the last two seasons of mediocrity, but this felt like a more centered Glee than we’ve seen recently. There were some nice moments, and some funny ones. There was even Continue reading

“All or Nothing” – Glee

best--glee--quotes-fWe pride ourselves on our honesty, and it should be obvious to all of you regular readers that we’re never ones to pull our punches when it comes to reviewing. We’re not going to start now. This week’s Glee – the FOX hit’s season finale! – completely underwhelmed. That may even be an understatement. Is there a word that goes even further to show a total lack of impact that underwhelmed? Because that’s the one we want to use.

The episode itself wasn’t terrible. The body of it moved at a fair clip, there were a few laughs, some decent numbers, a few resolved stories. It was by no means surprising or unpredictable, but we judge Glee on a new metric now and if it doesn’t make us want to throw our laptop at the wall it’s a total coup. So what was our problem with it? It wasn’t the lackluster musical numbers, or the over-reliance on old jokes (Brittany’s dumb, but successful because other people are dumb too), or even the constant preaching. It was simply that each and every big plot point was dealt with with so much meh that the entire episode made us, if possible, more apathetic about the future of Glee than we had thought humanly possibly.

Sue’s baby daddy? Revealed with so little pomp (and so little thought) that it glided by in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it vignette that we don’t care about forgetting. Michael Bolton? We should care, why? The reveal of Ryder’s catfish, so hyped and built up and yet so disappointing in execution, surprised us not one whit. Ryder’s apparent indignation was relatively impotent. We couldn’t even tell if he was pissed at Unique (retroactive Spoiler!) because he’s vaguely homophobic or because Unique felt the need to lie. All that we gleaned from this whole thing was Continue reading

“Wonder-ful” – Glee

glee87_zps50c3f9e1Oh. Our. God. An episode – a whole episode! – without a patented Ryan Murphy ‘message of the week’ (except for relatively under-the-radar allusions to gay marriage and celebrity image). We hardly knew what to do with ourselves. And, on top of that, we actually enjoyed the episode. Far more than we’ve enjoyed any for the last few months. It was funny, it was sweet and, out of the long list of artist-specific episodes that Glee has thrown our way (Gaga, Madonna, Britney), this was by far our favorite. The music of Stevie Wonder. Even the Glee kids can’t go far wrong with that.

The rest of the episode didn’t wholly suck either. Mercedes’ whole thing was kind of terrible, but Murphy hasn’t written her in a while so we’re just going to assume he was out of practice (giving him the benefit of the doubt for once). It was great having Mike back in the picture. He was always so low-key calm. It’s refreshing amid all the Glee-sanity.

The main story over at McKinley was ‘good news’ – also refreshing, after weeks and weeks of gloom and doom. We also learned that Burt is cancer free. More good news. In fact, the whole episode was (unbelievably) positive. Over in New York Continue reading

“Lights Out” – Glee

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 8.46.23 PMThis was somewhat closer to the idea of what Glee once was… It was slightly funnier, at least. It feels like, gradually, Murphy is trying to claw back some amount of what has been lost over the years. But he’s still not quite there. The series remains dark (in this episode both literally and figuratively), and he just can’t seem to relinquish that ‘message of the week’ format to which he has adhered so closely over recent months. But, even discounting those lessons, this episode is lacking.

What, you ask, is wrong with it? Well, right off the bat we have to wonder why the windows in the school don’t work. The whole premise of the episode, at least as it pertains to McKinley, is that the electricity is gone in the school so they can’t use mics or amps in Glee. That’s fine. But why does it look like the entire school fell down a mineshaft? We know there are windows. We’ve seen them before. Did they suddenly break? Like in the sense that they’re no longer windows and are, in fact, instruments to block out the sun?

Architectural continuity and knowledge of the laws of daylight aside, we were most irked by the continuing catfish saga. It’s beginning to feel far too drawn out. Although aspects of the episode felt realistic – while Kitty may not have understood, we get why Ryder would choose Katie over her – we are beginning to tire of the whole arc. It was intriguing enough to pique our interest when it started but now it’s become one of those ‘get it over with already’ type stories. Either it’s a Glee kid or it’s not. Just tell us already. It’s really not dramatic enough to warrant the constant coverage. Unless it’s actually Mr Schu. Then it would be way dramatic.

We spent a little time in New York for this episode, and the fare was Continue reading

“Sweet Dreams” – Glee

Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 7.50.21 PMThis week’s Glee was a vast improvement on last week’s horribly miscalculated disaster, but we still have to question Ryan Murphy’s wisdom and can’t help but wonder if he’s lost all sense of direction with the show.

This episode saw the show expand to encompass a third location. As if it wasn’t bad enough hopping between McKinley and New York on a regular basis, we now have to contend with the University of Lima. If it’s any consolation, we will likely have until next season to prepare ourselves for the confused and unnecessarily complex episodes that a third location will bring to the mix – with Cory Monteith out of commission for the remainder of the filming schedule (we assume), we can’t imagine Finn getting a whole lot of screentime.

Though we may be worried about a tri-location season going forward, it more or less worked for this episode. That had a lot to do with the majority of the action taking place in McKinley High, with New York and UL featuring only in short vignettes and with guests (Shelby [Idina Menzel] in New York and Puck in Lima) that made the scenes nostalgic rather than irritating. It’s nice to see that Puck may be making more of a fulltime return to the show, and that’s perhaps the best news we got from “Sweet Dreams”.

In New York, Rachel was preparing for her audition for Funny Girl. This was blessedly limited to a few short scenes, so we weren’t stuck with endless reams of Rachel Berry nerves and doubt. We were also treated to a nostalgia-filled revisitation of Gleeclassic Don’t Stop Believing, complete with original six members. Rachel did get a callback, so we can ‘look forward’ to a lot of handwringing in the future. Yay.

In McKinley High Continue reading

“Shooting Star” – Glee

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 10.04.49 PMWe’re pretty divided about this episode of Glee here at Pond Hopping Girls. We’re probably leaning slightly towards, “Oh God, why, Ryan. Why.” (And not in the ‘this was too sad’ kinda way.) It was a weak opening, the main teen drama (Ryder discovering that he’d been Catfished, and discovering that the real ‘Katie’ is someone in the Glee Club) was lacking the requisite drama, the laughs (few as they were) were relatively unfunny, and then, into the middle of all of that, came the extremely unnecessary school shooting plot.

And that’s what divided us most. The shooting. Our opinions ranged from “What the fuck was Ryan Murphy thinking?!” to “On the spectrum of terrible ‘ramming a message down our throats’ episodes that Ryan Murphy has done, this sucks least.” In one way, the Glee creator was being clever. It’s a hot button issue and, with the episode airing a week before the Senate’s vote on new gun control measures, it was a valiant effort at moving the debate. The real question, as it always is, is should Glee be weighing in on very real, very high-stakes issues like this at all.

With this one, at least, we’re coming down on the side of ‘no’. We’ve spoken recently about Murphy’s dubious ‘messages of the week’, and have not spoken favorably of them. This episode makes us even more uncomfortable with their increasing use.

One could argue in favor of the move toward more ‘grown-up’ issues as the Glee audience grows up along with the show, but Continue reading

Here’s What You Missed on Glee – “Guilty Pleasures”

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This episode was a vast improvement on last week’s. With the exception of a pair of slightly grim inserts in the final third of the show – Rachel confronting Brody was a bit of a downer, but necessary, and the Chris Brown thing was unnecessary, but apt – it was the best episode we’ve seen all week. It’s been a crappy week for TV, with one bad, depressing episode after another. But this made us feel fully better. We’re feeling Gleeful again.

This may have a lot to do with the week’s theme – the eponymous “Guilty Pleasures” – and the fact that Mr Schu was out sick (we’re really just done with Matthew Morrison). The theme brought out all of our own favorite guilty pleasures. Yes, we’re occasionally Fanilows. Yes, we love “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”. And, yes, we loooove the Spice Girls. But our favorite part by far was Sam. Oh, Sam. We love Sam. As part of his big guilty-pleasures reveal, Blaine finally admitted he had feelings for Sam, and we found out that Sam has known all along. And is fine with it, of course. And is just the best guy ever. Swoon. We get it, Blaine. We understand.

We also enjoyed the somewhat surprising tension between Artie and Kitty. Do we sense a fledgling romance here? How many Glee girls would this be?

The episode also brought an end to that ongoing ‘Brody the Gigolo’ saga. Santana finally told Rachel (to stop her even thinking of getting back together with him), leading to the aforementioned confrontation and their final, this-is-it-for-good break-up. We can’t help but wish, though, that they had chosen a different song to illustrate the moment. It being Guilty Pleasures week, a little bit of Tay-Tay wouldn’t have gone astray…

Ryan’s Lesson of the Week (we’re thinking of having that trademarked) was incredibly contentious. We found it less heavy-handed than last week’s, but mostly because we so vehemently agree on the conclusion (prepare to be preached at) – Chris Brown. Should not. Be forgiven. Ever. We’ve read articles that suggest that the only reason Chris is getting such a continued backlash about the Rihanna assault is because he’s not white. To idiocy like that we counter: it has nothing to do with the color of his skin. It is entirely because of how public the beating was. The photos, the backlash, the Oprah interviews… that all made it impossible to forget. That Breezy continues to roam the streets with no consequences, free to get into brawls with Drake and Frank Ocean, free to get that neck tattoo of a battered woman? Those are only some of the reasons that he doesn’t deserve even a small modicum of success, or anyone’s forgiveness. Yes, he’s not the only star to be guilty of domestic abuse (which is abhorrent from any perpetrator), but he’s one of the least apologetic. He doesn’t deserve to still have 12 year-old girls buying his CDs and falling in love with him in that way that 12 year-old girls do. Here at Pond Hopping Girls we’ve always proudly said that we wouldn’t even illegally download one of his CDs. We still mean that.

And Jake’s counter that Rihanna isn’t a role model because she went back to Chris, and therefore shouldn’t be supported either, is ridiculous. There’s a big difference between assaulting your girlfriend and being an idiot.

We don’t want to end on a rant, so we’ll address the one aspect of the episode that bothered us: where was Katie? We wanted to see more of Ryder and his (probable Catfish) internet girlfriend! Come on, Ryan. Bring back the intrigue and mystery! – K

Quoteworthy: “Lord Tubbington’s guilty pleasure is Scientology.” – Britt

Stand-out performances:

Honorable mention goes to Jake’s performance of Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative”. The song itself – and even the performance – were only so-so, but his dancing? We knew he was good, but this is the first time he’s really showcased it. And we loved it! We can see why he was headed to Juilliard before he got cast in Glee.

This week, for the very first time, we’re also going to give a dishonorable mention. Radiohead’s “Creep” is a song that one should be very, very careful about messing with – advice that Adam Anders should have heeded. It started out so promisingly, then Rachel Berry chimed in and it all went to hell. We’re not blaming Lea Michele here. She was just singing the arrangement she was given. But, boy, did it grate.

Now, to the songs we did enjoy:

– Blaine’s rendition of Phil Collins’ “Against all Odds” was emotional and heartfelt, though we did have to wonder why he always gets so angry when he sits down to a piano.

– Marley, Kitty, Unique, Tina and Britt doing “Wannabe”? Made our hearts happy. Viva forever!

“Feud” – Glee

       

Is it just us, or has Glee taken a drastic nose-dive in quality lately? This episode, well… it just didn’t excite. It didn’t make us laugh (much). It didn’t make us sad, or happy, or anything, really, other than slightly bored. It’s become a shadow of its former self and, when we’re watching it, mostly all we’re thinking about is how much we miss the way it used to be, back in the early days. We miss when it was just a great comedy. We miss when Ryan Murphy wasn’t trying to shove a message down our throat every single week. We miss when those messages, infrequent as they were, were delivered subtly and with a strong sense of ‘believe what you want to believe’.

This week was one of the biggest offenders – as Murphy addressed the issues confronting a transgender teen (apologies to anyone we might offend if we’re not using the politically correct term du jour) in high school, it was less subtle than it was ‘getting hit in the face with the hammer of tolerance’. Don’t get us wrong. We firmly agree with the message here. Unique should be able to be whatever she wants to be. If Wade identifies as a woman, he should be able to be a woman without the fear of being bullied. But the way this lesson was delivered to Glee’s captive audience was enough to have us cringing away from the screen. Ryan? Less is more.

As for the theme of the week – feuds – we could have done without it. Yes, Finn and Schu needed to work out their issues (which they didn’t), but the manufacturing of feuds for the other cast members, seemingly out of nowhere, was awkward at best.

There were a few things, however, that gave us hope for weeks to come. First among them, Marley suggesting to Finn that he become a teacher and study to get a teaching degree. This is so perfect for him we’re surprised we didn’t think of it ourselves.

Ryder’s online relationship with the mysterious ‘Katie’ kept us guessing throughout the episode. What we can all agree on here is that there’s no such person. For a time, we wondered if it was Jake, building Ryder up to fall in love with this girl only to pull the rug out from under him Manti Te’o style. But, after Ryder apologizes to Jake, we would’ve expected it to stop. New theory? It’s Marley. She’s struggling with her feelings for Ryder and this is the only way she can experience them without losing Jake. We sense another heavy-handed lesson coming our way. But it could be an interesting storyline nonetheless.

Blaine and Sam’s plan to take down Sue Sylvester through the power of cheer came from way out of left field, but should provide some much needed humor in the coming weeks. Though we can’t help but feel that it’s going to backfire horribly and result in expulsion, or worse. The Glee kids have never been great at restraint, and this is a situation tailor-made for going too far.

Finally, the epic smackdown between Brody and Finn. This whole arc is so at odds with Glee’s usual saccharine sweetness that it’s quite jarring. But we did get a little thrill when Santana, after being kicked out of Kurt and Rachel’s loft, refuses to stop investigating Brody and uncovers his life as a gigolo. That would have been exciting enough, but she also called Finn in to deal with this man trampling on Rachel’s heart. While we don’t condone violence, we were glad to see Brody getting what was coming to him. And Finn’s insistence that he ‘stay away from my future wife’ was touching and enough to land us squarely on Team Finn. Whether or not Brody heeds his ‘advice’, this all spells a dramatic few weeks ahead. We kind of can’t wait. – B+K


Quoteworthy: “The real world is nothing like Glee Club, where you can join and rejoin, quit and re-quit, whenever you’re not crying or throwing confetti at each other.” – Sue


Stand-out performances:

Sue’s rendition of “Super Bass” (Nicki Minaj) was just fantastic. The fact that Jane Lynch couldn’t sing to save her life was trumped by the attitude-filled performance.

We were fangirling all over the place for Finn and Schu’s mash-up of Backstreet’s “I Want It That Way” and NSync’s “Bye Bye Bye”. Too much boyband magic for any one stage.