Tuesday, May 3, 2011

GLEE: "Night of Neglect"

The glee club needs money badly for their trip to New York. Well, of course they do. Maybe if they hadn't spent all that money on the Rocky Horror show that never happened... And wasn't Nationals the plan from the beginning? Why hasn't the group done more to raise money throughout the year? At least Finn did that kissing booth thing.

Not only that, but the academic team, the Brainiacs (consisting of Artie, Mike Chang, Tina and ...Brittany) won their match and can't go to finals because there's no money. Mike is ticked off that nobody in the group even cares about the Brainiacs. So Mr. Shue decides they will be raising money to help the Brainiacs TOO. How does he suggest raising money? Selling salt water taffy. Sure, try that. Why don't they sell marijuana-laced cupcakes like last year?

Holly Holiday tells Mr. Shue that the candy idea is stupid. She suggests a fundraising night of singing. And because the clubs are so neglected, she suggests a theme of neglected artists. A "night of neglect". I was intrigued by this idea because focusing on neglected artists is a great thing for this show.

Sunshine finally returns. I was wrong about how many episodes it would take, but she finally reappeared. She wants to sing at the benefit because she considers herself a neglected artist, since she's tiny and Asian. New Directions is worried about her being a spy (sure, but Blaine you all trust implicitly...), but recognize her Twitter fan base will get butts in the seats and bring in more money.

Meanwhile Sue Sylvester has had it with the group and decides to bring them down. So she forms her own league of supervillains. First, the drama coach who was fired last year. Second, the coach of Vocal Adrenaline. Third, Shue's ex-wife, Terri! I'm so glad Terri's back! Sue gives herself the code name General Zod. Amusing enough. I was hoping she'd say "Kneel before Zod" at some point, but never did.

Mercedes knows just which neglected artist she wants to use: Aretha Franklin. Hold it, Aretha neglected? The first one they pick? She's called on it, saying the Queen of Soul is not neglected, but Mercedes counters that she is by the glee club. Great, so by that logic just about anyone from before 1990 is a neglected artist. By that logic, can we PLEASE get some Dylan up in this joint?

Sunshine auditions for the group with a performance of "All By Myself". It's fine. It's so weird how she loses her accent when she sings. But now I'm really confused; is this a focus on neglected ARTISTS, or songs about being neglected?

Emma has regressed to her OCD ways because Carl left her. Well, of course he did. The show doesn't want them together, that was just a complication. I liked Stamos on the show though.

Sue sends the Vocal Adrenaline guy to seduce Holly Holiday, thus rattling Mr. Shue. It doesn't work. Meanwhile, the gay ex-coach forms a heckling club at Sue's behest. Several students are called in (tricked into thinking they are getting homework help) to be hecklers at the event. These include a football player, Jacob Ben Israel and Becky. Really? Becky? Isn't that warped?

The Vocal Adrenaline guy pulls Sunshine from performing at the Night of Neglect. This means all her Twitter people won't show up. Everyone is worried.

During all of this Mercedes has been playing diva and acting insane. She wants the final solo spot, but it goes to Rachel. Lauren suggests that for Mercedes to get her way, she has to act like a selfish pop star, demanding impossible things. So she demands humidifiers and a puppy to dry her hands on. She demands green M&Ms. The club thinks it's nuts.

Finally, the big night has arrived and can I just say it looks like nobody came. Did they even advertise this thing? At first I thought I was watching a dress rehearsal because the only people there were the hecklers and Kurt. Seriously, nobody else showed up? Figgis couldn't attend a school event? No other faculty or family members? I call shenanigans on that. That is RIDICULOUS. They had a good turn out last year with the night with Kristen Chenoweth. So there's no reason to have under 10 people in attendance. Why even HAVE the thing at that point? They were just banking on Sunshine, who pulled out at the last minute? Puck rightly suggests calling it off, but Finn reminds them, "What's that saying? The show's gotta go all over the place."

The only folks who did show up are Kurt and Blaine. Of course, they have to drag Kurt back into this show. I was enjoying an episode without Warbler interruption for once (note they didn't bring any of their Warbler friends). In the hallway, Santana, Kurt and Blaine run into Karofsky. First of all, what time of day is this? Is it just before the event or are they just hanging around all afternoon? Is Karofsky going? Was he staying late after school?? Anyway, Santana stands up to Karofsky on Kurt's behalf, and it's sort of implicit that her new-found lesbianism is behind some of that. Funny how nobody is cowering when there are three of them. I found this scene aggravating because first of all Karofsky is just there for this scene for no reason. Secondly, it's like subtextually he's defeated by a queer army.

So the performance is upon us. Mercedes is hiding in her car, refusing to do anything until her demands are met. Tina is the first person to sing. She comes out to do her solo and is heckled badly, till she cries. I like when Tina gets to sing on the show, and I hate that it's always interrupted. So she's crying backstage from all the booing and such. Seriously, why is NOBODY else in attendance?

Mr. Shue tries to quiet the hecklers with taffy. Next up is Mike Chang dancing. He's performing to a Jack Johnson song. This entire sequence is so totally perfect. I love that of all the group, Mike Chang always totally seems to "get it" when everyone else doesn't. Jack Johnson is a perfect neglected artist choice. Just last week for a display at work I suggested Jack Johnson and the person said, "Who?" Mike's routine is a lot of fun. It shows a high Gene Kelly influence, to the point where he's dancing with a mop. Contemporizing Gene Kelly? Loved it.

So intermission comes quickly (since Mercedes refuses to perform), and Holly has a chat with the student hecklers. The whole scene becomes a didactic speech about how easy it is to insult someone's work in this culture of anonymous internet heckling. That's right, she plays the internet card. Apparently, the show wants us to believe that posting how much last night's episode of "Hellcats" was awful is the same as shouting boos at people during live performance. While I guess there's a tiny correlation, the scene was terribly preachy. It felt less truly motivated by drama and more like Ryan Murphy felt he hadn't covered cyber-bullying in all his previous "bullying is bad" hours of this show (am I bullying you right now, Mr. Murphy? How about what you had to say about the Kings of Leon??).

Rachel goes out to talk to Mercedes. She tells Mercedes about the kind of woman Aretha Franklin was and how she got the name Queen of Soul. She praises her singing ability and says acting like a diva doesn't make you one, basically. Mercedes gives up on the act, which she never really wanted to pull anyway, and agrees to come back. Rachel is going to let her sing the final number.

But first, the next singer up is... Miss Holly Holiday. That's right, she gets to sing too. And at this point there is pretty much nobody in the audience since some of the heckler kids have gone home and Sue is talking to her heckling coach. It's basically just Will, which makes the scene less subtle (I'm sure Blaine and Kurt are there too). She's essentially singing the song direct to Will. It's all about how she's not the kind of person to stay tied down and stuff. I am so over her, but I'm glad this seems to indicate she'll be leaving. I also didn't think much of this performance. Paltrow sounded kind of nasally to me, and I didn't like they way she said "turning tables".

Any subtlety of the scene with her singing right to Will about how she can't stay was quashed when she outright says so later. She is leaving and they break up (hooray!). But then she has to say, "Didn't you hear my song?" Argh!! I hate when the show feels like it has to connect the dots for us! Trust your audience!

Finally, we get to see Mercedes perform her Aretha song. She is dressed a lot like Aretha. Love the dress on her, and the flower in her hair. But wait... suddenly there's a gospel choir singing back-up for her! Why is New Directions not singing the back-up? Because they have to watch her sing. But what a shoddy event this was! They never planned a group number, or back-up vocals at all? They do not deserve to call themselves an award-winning glee club. Mercedes' performance is very good. I just don't understand where all these people came from. We never saw them waiting in the wings. Did they pay to attend? Wouldn't it have been civil for these 25 singers to have been sitting in the audience cheering? WHAT THAT HECK?? That's just bad writing, staging something solely for effect that has no logic behind it.

As expected, they raised no money. But luckily, the Aretha song moved Pink Dagger, our heckling friend, and so he decided to give them the money they need. It's drug money, of course. Isn't it always him and his drugs that bails them out in situations like this? But at least the event had that one positive to it; they got the money after all.

Sue is of course terribly angry with her team, and turns to the one member she hasn't used yet: Terri, who she calls Honey Badger. I was really disappointed to be teased with her appearance, only to have her disappear for the rest of the episode. I hope that her next appearance is worth it.

What a waste of an episode. A benefit concert that is nothing of the sort. Terri's appearance, but no real Terri appearance. More stinking Holly Holiday (though at least she's gone now). And to top it off, a theme of neglected artists that mostly wasn't. How hard is it to come up with neglected artists? What about Donovan, The Corrs, They Might Be Giants, Don McLean, Evanescence, Bree Sharp, I don't know. The list goes on. When we consider artists neglected by this show, it gets even longer. On that front, I was pretty disappointed. Though I give them credit for Tina doing a song by Lykke Li.

Songs in tonight's episode:
All By Myself
I Follow Rivers
Bubble Toes
Turning Tables
Ain't No Way

Favorite line: "It's drug money, but it's actually a fantastic way to launder it."

Next episode: Good, 90 minutes. Bad, more Lady Gaga.

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