Monday, November 14, 2011

GLEE: "The Purple Piano Project"

Time to finally catch up with these reviews. So... here's what I've missed on Glee!

Just like last year's premiere, Jacob Ben Israel's show opens the episode. It's a fun way to catch everyone up on what happened over the summer. It's also a way to address internet confusions. In this episode, it is clarified which kids are juniors and which are seniors. Mention is also made of Mercedes having dated Sam. Unfortunately, at the start of the season Sam is off the show. So his relationship with Mercedes is over. The in-show explanation is that his dad got a job out of state. Isn't that how he ended up on the show in the first place? I hope they aren't still homeless. Mercedes is now dating a big black football player. This was the direction they started going in last year, until the writers were more concerned with Kurt and almost entirely excluded Mercedes from story lines. In many ways watching season three begin feels like wiping away a lot of what was wrong with season 2, and bringing focus back to some of the elements of the first year.

Mr. Schuster is now seeing Emma. The season opens with them in bed together. Has she gotten over her frigid thing? I like the cute little element of them packing each other's lunches in cartoon lunchboxes.

Mr. Schue plans to push the club harder this year because he let them down last year. Yes, he did, but it's NOT because he wanted to be in April Rhodes' musical. He still could have done that over the summer, and I don't understand why he didn't. But just like last year, his big plan is to recruit new members with some stupid idea. This year, it's the Purple Piano Project. He's placing donated purple pianos around the school and whenever glee members see one, they have to sing a song. It's really a terrible idea, but even the episode doesn't take it seriously. Despite the fact that it's the name of the episode, it's once again and assignment on this show that gets dropped halfway through the episode.

Kurt and Rachel are planning to go to Juliard, probably because they've seen Fame a few too many times. But Emma informs them that Juliard has no musical theater department. She suggests Kent State, saying it has a musical theater department and a "macabre backstory" which can put things in perspective if they don't get the lead. I found that pretty funny. I know it's sick, but I always laugh at Kent State jokes. So now the plan is for them to go to NYADA: New York Academy of the Dramatic Arts.

I'm glad they've continued the story about Sue running for congress. Unfortunately, she thinks the best way to get ahead is to trash the arts. It feels artificial to me, just as a way to get Sue back on the mean side. Oh, and her purple track suit seems too obviously tied in to the theme of the show.

Strike one for the Purple Piano Project: Mike and Tina come on a piano, but don't sing. They play "Chopsticks".

By far my favorite element of the new season in this episode is burnout Quinn. She's become so jaded and cynical she feels the need to totally reinvent herself. She now has pink hair, a nose ring, and hangs out with other burnout girls called the Skanks. This tranformation makes perfect sense to me. After losing yet again and no longer having her cool or her power, swinging the other way seems understandable. And the embarrassment she suffered during the prom queen campaign surely didn't help. Here's a girl who tried so hard to reinvent herself; Quinn the cheerleader was an affectation to a point. So a new affectation is exactly what she would do, and why not embrace a philosophy of total indifference? People like that are often more accepting of other "different" people. The Skanks hang out and smoke under the bleachers. This reminded me a lot of Freaks and Geeks, and was a part of the high school experience this show was missing. I'm surprised the network let them show lead characters smoking on television. It's a shame that some of the Skanks look a little too pretty to really be these kinds of people. Like, Mack seems too made-up to me.

Rachel says she should have spoken up last year when Quinn cut off all her hair and thought it would solve all her problems. Thank you, Rachel! Didn't I say this last year?

Mr. Schuster says that he's thinking of starting a family with Emma. That's not fair to Terri! Remember when she had that hysterical pregnancy?? I hate the way the show treated Terri. She deserved better. I dislike television that breaks up marriages.

Sue decides to make Santana and Becky co-captains of the Cheerios. Both of them hate this idea. I like that this is getting back to treating Becky like a regular person, and not exploiting her for comedy.

For some reason, the glee kids have rehearsed a number to sing for recruitment in the event of a purple piano being around. This seems to defeat the purpose of the piano in the first place, doesn't it? I mean, this is really just what they did with "Empire State of Mind" last year. So that's strike two for the Purple Piano Project. The band is there and everything!!

The choice of song is The Go-Go's "We Got the Beat", which is a great choice of song. I hope they keep doing older songs. There was way too much contemporary garbage last year. However, this whole scene is utterly ridiculous. They are dancing around in the cafeteria on tables and everything and people barely react! They get through the entire song before a food fight breaks out. And take it from me, you can't just burst into song in a school cafeteria without faculty yelling at you or something. Again, the song was a good choice and sounded pretty good, but why the band? I want something like this to actually feel spontaneous for once! Wouldn't it have been interesting to NOT have it be an overproduced album track, but just be the kids getting up and singing, getting others into it? That's what the piano thing would have been good for. Instead, it was just an excuse to do an entire routine in the cafeteria and was hard once again for me to suspend my disbelief.

And in comes a new character who I hate. Her name is Sugar Motta, the daughter of the guy who donated the pianos. She auditions for glee club thinking that she's better than everyone. She also claims to have self-diagnosed Asperger's, giving her free reign to say anything insulting she wants. Anyway, she's a TERRIBLE singer, and just a bad human being. Mr. Schue is stuck wondering whether it's worth letting her into the group. She doesn't realize how bad she is; she's delusional. And I frankly hate the Asperger's thing being thrown around. It's insulting to Aspies, I think.

Strike three for the Purple Piano Project: it was supposed to be that you sang when you came upon one randomly. Kurt purposely puts one in the auditorium so he and Rachel can sing together. And the whole band is there waiting for them. Is anyone going to actually do the assignment?? The point was to get other kids interested in singing, not to just sing by yourself for fun. Anyway, Rachel and Kurt do a truly ABYSMAL big band version of "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" for no good reason. They think THIS nonsense is going get them into NYATA? It ruins the song, making it sound even sillier than it does normally. Can they please leave Oz alone now?

Mr. Schuster somehow thinks that sinking to Sue's level is a good idea, so he crashes her Cheerios tryouts and covers her in glitter while Emma films it all. He puts it on YouTube, but it only helps Sue's cause. Duh, you moron. It makes you look like the bad guy.

Blaine has decided to go to McKinley and join New Directions. Well of course he did. Come on, you think that wasn't gonna happen? But can I just ask why he's always wearing bow ties? He's wearing one with a polo shirt today. That's not gay, that's just ridiculous.

Blaine also does his own little song in the courtyard. There's a purple piano there, but I'm not sure it's the reason for the song. Again, the whole band is there. And for some crazy reason, the cheerleaders are dancing with him. Ultimately it seems it was a trick, because then they coat the piano in lighter fluid. But until then I could not understand why the cheerleaders were performing with him. I mean, I do miss some of the first season choreography that had cheerleaders in it, but there needs to be a reason for it. Quinn flicks her cigarette and it ignites the piano. Luckily there was no one sitting at the piano at the time.

Kurt and Rachel go to a meet-and-greet of other potential NYATA kids. And these kids are insane. Like Kurt and Rachel turned up to eleven. And of course they are totally better than Kurt and Rachel. They do a performance of "Anything Goes" mashed up with "Anything You Can Do". Certainly that lyric is appropriate for the scene, and it's nice to finally see some tap on this show. Now, I'm not certain the two songs really go together besides the word "anything", but it was surely better than their ridiculous Oz thing.

I love when Rachel suggests its time to resign themselves to a miserable life of community theater and rattles off three shows, Nunsense, Love Letters and The Vagina Monologues. It's funny because that's so true.

Mr. Schuster kicks Santana out of glee club because of the piano fire that the cheerleaders were responsible for. Harsh, but understandable. I guess that they want to make the cheerleaders bad guys again.

Kurt and Rachel decide they need more extracurriculars, so Kurt is running for class president. Meanwhile Rachel suggests they do West Side Story for the school musical. It does seem like this school never gets a musical done, which is odd. Though school musicals are usually in the spring, unless the school does two. Also, they've had a very bad track record on this show of confusing the movie with the stage show, so I go into this West Side Story thing with much trepidation.

The purple piano ultimately didn't work. They tried to make the pianos a metaphor for the kids at the end, but it all feels weird and forced. The episode ends with with a big performance of "You Can't Stop the Beat", which at least continues the "beat" theme from the Go-Gos number. And everyone is in purple. Why? Because this episode has a purple theme for no apparent reason. It was good to see the show trying to fix the problems of last year, but this episode was something of a lackluster premiere. Ultimately, last year's premiere was stronger. They have yet to fix the underlying problem with the series when they try to do to many things at once and the supposed "theme assignment" of the week takes a back seat. Still, I'm liking grungy Quinn, and I hope this season is good.

Song's in tonight's episode:
We Got the Beat -- the Go-Gos
Big Spender -- from Sweet Charity
Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead -- from The Wizard of Oz
It's Not Unusual -- Tom Jones
Anything Goes/Anything You Can Do -- from Anything Goes and Annie Get Your Gun
You Can't Stop the Beat -- from Hairspray

Favorite line:
Brittany: "I have pepperoni in my bra."
Santana: "Those are your nipples."

Next episode: Brittany is Kurt's campaign manager. That should be interesting.

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