Sep 15, 2011

[TV] Glee: Season 2

Glee: Season 2There's a fairly thin line between an amazing new concept and a cheap novelty. It's easy for one to become the other, but of course it's pain to see the transition of the former into the latter.

As harsh as it sounds, this is my perception when it comes to the television series Glee. At first it seemed like quite the novel idea for a series - following the adventures of a group of misfits and outcasts who end up in the school glee club and try to make their way to the national choir competition. Who cares if most of them are already past college age, right? The important thing here is how much fun the show was and how the musical sequences were definitely something to be enjoyed.

However the show started to meander as guest stars would come and go with their own irrelevant story arcs that vanished into limbo. They had a large cast of characters that they couldn't effectively manage continued development of. And the show remained confused as to whether it wanted to push the surreal and fantastical elements involved or make things more real. And in the end it felt like a big mess.

And yet for one reason or another I watched the second season in the hopes that it would somehow redeem itself and figure out where it needed to apply focus. Instead we got this.

For the unaware, Glee is the hit Fox musical/comedy/drama series created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan. This second season won the Golden Globe for Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy and Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch won for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress.

At the end of the first season, the New Directions had not managed to win at Regionals and thus they were back at the bottom trying to succeed against all odds once more. After all, it was a new school year, and that had to mean new opportunities, right? - Glee Premiere Party - Sa...Image via WikipediaBut despite their modest success and last-minute support from Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) at the last Regionals competition, the glee club remain just as ostracized as ever by the rest of the school. To make matters worse, the season begins with their budget getting slashed and redirected to the football team along with the new coach, Shannon Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones). That leaves Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) working with Sue in an odd alliance to get both their budges back for their respective groups.

The season also introduced a new musical rival for Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) in the form of foreign-exchange student Sunshine Corazon (Charice Pempengco). Finn (Cory Monteith) also gets a rival on the football team with Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet). Quinn (Dianna Agron) is back as head cheerleader instead of Santana (Naya Rivera) and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) is now dating Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.) The season is filled with a bunch of other plot twists like this that really have no lean-in or foreshadowing since they were clearly thought-up at the last minute and then thrown into the mix of stories as needed.

The season did have a few new story arcs of potential focus (and maybe interest) would probably be the whole bullying sub-plot between Kurt (Chris Cofler) and football bully Dave Karofsky (Max Adler). Admittedly this arc had a lot of potential had the writers taken sufficient time to allow the story to develop and for them to come up with a better resolution. Instead, we ended up with Kurt running away from his problem with his transfer to the uber gay-friendly Dalton Academy with Karofsky being this weird closeted character who ultimately lacks any true dimension.

And don't get me started on Will's mixed-up romantic life given he has finally left his wife Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig) only to get rejected by OCD-stricken student counselor Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays), who instead starts dating local dentist Carl Howell (John Stamos)? Yeah, I think we've seen soap opera plots worse than this.

The season just went on to mix and max New Directions members with new romantic entanglements, turned Sue back into an irrational cartoon-style villain forever trying to bring down the glee club and pretty much lost all character development from the first season. I mean come on, just look at the extremely minimal wallflowery role that Mercedes (Amber Riley) was reduced to.

And the music for this season made less and less sense since every episode felt like they had no logical reason to bring in new songs so the plot had to adjust to fit things. The "theme" per episode had to be blatantly stated and beat into our heads with a mallet as if this were a Filipino movie title. And the increasing reliance on mash-ups just resulted in poor numbers that did little to advance the plot. Instead we just end up with whatever songs they could secure the rights to and thus any reasoning for having them in the show plot-wise gets thrown out the window in favor of potential iTunes sales.

Awards aside, I still feel the show's writing continues to decline as they fail to properly manage and develop the plot lines of the various characters they have on the show. And while I appreciate how gay-friendly this show has become (and thus I wonder why they insist on calling Kurt a support character when he's so obviously the lead!) at times it feels the show is just paying lip service to its "issue of the week" and the writing needs to mature to provide more realistic impact to the story in the longer term.

Like the masochist that I am, I know I'm bound to stick around for the next season to see how things progress. But Glee is definitely not my pick for the best comedy series on air these days but maybe it'll earn this distinction in time, For now this season gets 3 ridiculous excuses for Chord Overstreet to take his shirt off (but clearly wasn't enough to keep him on the show) out of 5.

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