Friday, 23 September 2011

Glee 3.1 'The Purple Piano Project'

“They have credits… In utero credits!” – Rachel

In between looking like a camper version of REM’s Michael Stipe (if that’s possible), writing new show American Horror Story and making weekly appearances at the end of each episode to crush another precocious kid’s dreams on The Glee Project, it would seem that Ryan Murphy also took the time to listen to the myriad criticisms that were hurled at season two of this unrelenting phenomenon of a show.

Because although the season three premiere was by no means perfect, it was a marked improvement on almost everything that preceded it in Glee’s sophomore year.

Wisely the show seems to have ditched a lot of the unnecessary distractions on the periphery and got back to focussing on the core group of students that everyone actually cares about.

Gone are club members such as Sam and Lauren, whose recurring roles last year helped see the cast bloat up to True Blood style volumes, and very sensibly, if poorly executed, Kurt’s boyfriend Blaine has transferred to McKinley High and is now part of the glee club, meaning we won’t have to take a detour off to another school each week now to get a taste of his brand of male vocal harmony.

Plot-wise the theme of the episode, which may be a precursor to the direction of the season, was deciding what you want to do with your life, and for the most part all of the major arcs in the episode played in to this idea and the songs, for once, actually seemed to compliment the writing rather than the other way round. The performance of the Hairspray song ‘You Can’t Stop the Beat’ that concluded the episode was a nice way of saying that although there will be obstacles in their way in life the Glee characters will still always have the music. Saccharine – yes, but a nice sentiment nonetheless.

Kurt and Rachel, now best friends it would seem somewhat inexplicably, faced an unexpected roadblock in their dream to go to college in New York as they discovered that even in their own little town they aren’t unique. This was largely thanks to the first appearance by a Glee Project kid, as Lindsay made her debut as Rachel-esque singer Harmony. I found Lindsay quite irritating on The Glee Project but she was actually very good in her role here, it will be interesting to see how the other contenders from that show fit in to their roles as this season progresses.

Santana also had a decision to make as she was forced to decide whether she was loyal to glee or the cheerleaders, ultimately plumping for the latter it would seem. Quinn meanwhile, who has inexplicably gone from chairing the abstinence club to becoming a “skank” with pink hair, an “ironic Ryan Seacrest tattoo” and a cigarette in permanently in her mouth, was faced with the decision of whether she wanted to return to glee or continue her new found route in life as a rebel. And Sue got back to what she does best: attempting to destroy the glee club, this time by deciding to run for congress on a platform of anti-arts in schools, which of course drew Schuester’s ire.

That’s the basic gist of the premiere, which was padded out by some fluff involving some of the lesser characters, some mediocre (by the usually lofty standards) Brittany one-liners and far too much Lea Michele singing.

‘The Purple Piano Project’ might not have broken any new ground for Glee but if the show is going to continue to be as incredibly popular as it no doubt will be, at least it would seem that the writing is starting to get back on track to at least make the show feel worthy of such fanfare.

A Hail of Bullets:

- It never ceases to amaze me how much ease these kids change schools with, and the logic they use to do so. Last year Kurt flip-flopped between McKinley and Dalton Academy like they were social clubs and now we have Blaine leaving the, if I remember correctly very expensive, private school Dalton to come to public school McKinley just to be close to his boyfriend.

Okay, it makes sense from a show perspective to have him at McKinley, but could we not have at least had a scene of him convincing his parents it was a good move. Surely if his parents had invested so much in private school they wouldn’t be thrilled at the thought of him moving to public school for his senior year at least when it was done for such a frivolous reason.

But that’s Glee: after school clubs first, education a distant second... What subject does Mr. Schuester teach again?

- I know that Lima, Ohio is supposed to be some sleepy backwoods town but do they not at least have internet access? How ridiculous was it that Emma had to break the news to Kurt and Rachel that there was no musical theatre department at Juilliard!?

If those two were really so sold on the New York fantasy, surely their entire summer would have been spent looking in to this dream school they were so enamoured with.

- It’s only early days in the season but Brittany could have a rival for most ridiculous non-sequiturs in Sheila from Quinn’s skanks group, who made quite an impression with her “I once ate cat poo” line and her preference for The Bangles over The GoGo’s.

- Even if they made Rachel the lead singer on every performance on Glee I could deal with it, as long as the trade off was Heather Morris’s Brittany dancing for every performance.

Glee continues Thursday @ 9pm on Sky1 in the UK and Tuesday @ 8pm on Fox in the US


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