Friday, February 11, 2011

GLEE: "Silly Love Songs"

Please excuse the lateness of these reflections (though considering how late most of the others went up, this is downright early). With Top Shot now on Tuesday nights, I wasn't able to post these right after the show. It's proving a lot harder to be consistent with this than it was with Lost. And yes, I do still try to watch as much TV "live" as I can. It's just not the same otherwise.

Why is the series so inconsistent about its use of character POV voice-over? I like when the do it. They did it in the pilot. It's a good way to make internal monologue jokes. But it seems they now only do it once in a blue moon. This episode had three separate character voice-overs. I wish they'd make them more regular. Otherwise, it feels like an odd break of format.

It's Valentine's Day approaching, and Finn is feeling guilty about kissing Quinn last episode. (Did I not mention that? Finn kissed Quinn last episode.) Now that he is the captain of a winning football team, the girls are back on his side and throwing themselves at him (at least, that's how he sees it). But he can't get Quinn to kiss him again. So he devises a plan: a kissing booth. All proceeds go to glee club. The club is not enthused and sees it — correctly — as a shameless attempt to get all the girls in school to kiss him.

Finn also mentions that when he was with Rachel he was thinking of Quinn. This is curious since the whole time he was with Quinn, he was thinking about Rachel. I guess the heart wants what it wants. How long will this Betty/Veronica thing go on?

I am really missing the ponytail on Quinn. Diana's a lovely girl, and her hair looks great all the time, but I just don't understand why once she drops the Cheerios uniform she can't put her hair up once in awhile.

The show has a wonderful self-referential moment in this episode. I love when things that seem like potential annoyances get addressed on the show. This time around, it's Santana and her mean wisecracking. The club calls her out for being nothing but a voice of meanness. Santana responds that everyone loves her because "I keep it real and I'm hilarious." The scene then cuts to Santana sobbing and saying that she's just being honest. I found it really funny, and even though it was VERY cartoonish, it helped remind us that Santana has feelings other than jealousy.

In this episode, the show starts moving closer to real queer romance. Kurt and Blaine find they are growing closer and flirty. Blaine asks Kurt to help him make a big gesture to his crush on Valentine's Day. Like so many in scripted romances before him, Kurt assumes Blaine means him. But he doesn't. Blaine's into a guy at the Gap. Kurt feels so stupid for making it all up in his head.

Kurt shares all this with Rachel and Mercedes at a slumber party. ...I'm sorry, why is Kurt invited to girl sleepovers? No matter how much they want to treat him like "an honorary girl" there comes a point when this is just weird. Though I suppose I should be grateful that they FINALLY took him outside of Dalton.

The "leaving Dalton" thing becomes a theme of the episode when Blaine with Kurt's help convinces the Warblers to perform off-campus. He wants to use them to serenade his boy crush at the Gap. And they do. But once again I feel like it's a weird song choice. They do "When I Get You Alone." At least this time there's a story reason for Blaine to be singing lead, but why does he get EVERY solo? Furthermore, he's singing to a guy, but they keep the lyric like he's singing to a girl. Is this just for discretion? There doesn't seem to be anything discreet about Blaine's actions. The way the number is staged though is pretty good. It got me thinking though that if anyone tried this in real life, boy or girl, they would be seriously accused of harassment.

...And thankfully the show doesn't shy away from some of this reality. There's no harassment allegation, but the Gap guy tells Blaine off, saying that the little stunt almost got him fired. He also says that he's not "out" at work, and can't be Blaine's boyfriend because Blaine is too young. Blaine is devastated, realizing it was mostly in his head. Though I do sort of wish the Gap guy HADN'T been gay. This mythical "gaydar" thing is annoying after awhile. Kurt even makes a crack that the guy's orientation was obvious from his haircut. This sort of stereotyping is dangerous after awhile.

Meanwhile, Puck is wrestling with amorous feelings for the new wrestler girl in Glee (sorry, I have trouble remembering her name). Mr. Shuster has assigned the group to take turns singing what they think is the best love song. To woo his lady fair, Puck chooses Queen's "Fat-Bottomed Girls". I like the song, and this version was very nice. The humor of reaction shots played just right during the performance. It was story-relevant and a rocking tune; great choice. Santana is terribly jealous now, and the new girl was somewhat offended by the song.

Throughout the episode, there's this clumsy and charming courtship stuff as Puck tries to earn the girl's respect and love. I thought it was very nicely written. Some of it reminded me of things on Popular. He offers her a Ring Pop and asks her to a pre-Valentine's date. She accepts, but then stands him up. There's also a laugh-out-loud catfight when Santana tries to take her on for stealing Puck. As you can imagine, Santana gets tossed around like a ragdoll, but keeps coming, never letting herself be beaten.

Mike Change and Artie team up, congratulating themselves on being football players with the hot girlfriends. Nothing conceited about that thinking, right? Their choice of song is Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T." And it doesn't work at all. All the Mike Chang dancing in the world can't save it. It was wrong when Justin Guarini sang it on American Idol (and that image kept blasting through my mind during the episode), and it's wrong here. It's in no way one of the best love songs ever (seriously, "Fat Bottomed Girls" is better). It's one of the weaker tracks on Thriller. It's a decent dance track, but they just did Michael last episode and so much more effectively. I hope this doesn't mean we'll get Michael songs peppered through every episode. Lay off him for awhile. (Though if they do any more songs from Thriller, I vote for "Human Nature".)

Finn has set up his Charlie Brown-looking kissing booth. He has a line running down the hall of girls to kiss him. At one point, Rachel comes for a kiss claiming to be over him, but she's really not. Finn gives her a Christmas gift he had bought her before they broke up: it's a necklace with a gold star. That is just the sweetest thing ever. Knowing Rachel's affinity for gold stars (which unfortunately gets more and more left behind), it's the best thing he could give her. This doesn't help her feelings subside at all.

Quinn refuses to visit the kissing booth for fear it will make Sam jealous and stir up new feelings. But ultimately she buckles. Sam sees them in proximity (but doesn't see any kissing) and does indeed get jealous. Finn and Quinn begin meeting secretly. Santana knows this and decides to get some justice. She contracts mono from a boy in the nurses' office for the express purpose of giving it to Finn via his kissing booth. Finn then passes it on to Quinn. Apparently, Santana has has mononucleosis so many times she's built up some sort of immunity.

This is just one more television series to continue the "kissing disease" thing about mono. I've never known anybody who ever contracted the disease this way, though I'm sure it happens.

It's Tina's turn to perform the best love song. Her choice is "My Funny Valentine". I suppose no Valentine's Day is complete without this obvious choice. But can I just say that I hate this song? I don't get its appeal at all. And I'm big into classic 1940s-era love ballads and show tunes but this song does NOTHING for me. So I was glad to see that it got a somewhat comical treatment in that Tina is so overcome with love for Mike Chang that she starts sobbing harder and harder until she can't finish the song. It's funny and leaves the song as a cast-off. Unfortunately, it also does Tina a great disservice because she almost never gets to sing solos on this show.

Kurt finally comes out and tells Blaine that he thought the Valentine's crush was him. With this out in the open, the two move one-step up in their relationship. They sort of acknowledge that they will be "friends" but keep it on the down low. It's left with a sort of ambiguity, but it's more than the audience going "wait, are they an item?" every week.

Rachel performs "Firework" as her choice. Why? That's not really a love song! And anyway, she's got better taste than that. Really, it's because Finn says when he kissed Quinn there were fireworks. But why should that mean we are subjected to yet ANOTHER Katy Perry song?? Of all the great love songs in the world, you give us THIS? That's three Katy Perry songs just this year! Despite the fact that I hate the song, and it's bizarre "plastic bag" lyric ripped right out of American Beauty, I was glad to see the show get back into the style of the first season. The song is done with cuts and sort of fantasy elements that they've started getting back to this year, but not enough I think. Not that every episode needs to feel like a music video, but I like that element. It also made this song a bit more digestible.

In the end, the couples and the singles all go to Breadsticks, where the special entertainment is the Warblers performing Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Songs". Now this is more like it. Admittedly, it's not a fantastic song, it's sort of silly. But that's kind of the point. Paul KNOWS it's silly. He admits its silly, but says there's a place for silly love songs. And it's a song I like. The best thing about the song is the overlap of lyrics and the arrangement for the Warblers hit this bit perfectly. I also love that they vocalize the "ba da da da da" when the brass usually comes in.

The Valentine's Day episode was definitely the best of the three holiday shows this year. While not quite as good as the Super Bowl episode, it maintained many of the stronger elements of the show and continued to be funny. Surprisingly, Sue Sylvester was completely absent from the show and I didn't miss her. The love pentangle of Sam, Rachel, Quinn, Finn, Puck, etc. continued to develop new permutations. The audience got to feel that Kurt and Blaine were headed somewhere. And there was some decent music. In case you were wondering, I started thinking about what I might consider one of the greatest love songs ever to sing in glee club. I came up with Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love", John Lennon's "Love" and "Woman", and "The Origin of Love" from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. There are so many, and I hope they do more shows where they can explore a variety of songs. How about when Mr. Shue gives an assignment, they actually do it for once instead of singing about whatever they think is relevant (you hear me, Rachel? Do you really think "Firework" is the best love song of all time??).

Songs in tonight's episode:
Tell Him (actually this was just playing at the sleepover, but I like the song and the fact that it was an LP. Yea LPs!)
Fat-Bottomed Girls
P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
When I Get You Alone
My Funny Valentine
Silly Love Songs

Next Week's episode: Sue Sylvester is in a funk after losing, and the only thing to cheer her up is... joining glee club. I hope this comes off better than it sounds.

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