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Every Heart Sings A Song: An Advance Review of Two Upcoming Episodes of FOX's "Glee"

"If I'm going to sing like someone else, then I don't need to sing at all." - Billie Holiday

Confession: I wasn't crazy about the pilot episode of FOX's Glee, which the network aired in May as a teaser for a full series launch, kicking off this fall on September 16th.

But I'm an open-minded guy. So when FOX invited me to screen two episodes of Glee that will air this fall--the season opener ("Showmance") and the series' third episode ("Preggers")--I happily accepted the invitation in order to see if the series had fallen more in line with my own expectations of what it should be like.

I'm happy to say that it has.

These two episodes of Glee, each written and directed respectively by series creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, have a better balance of darkness and light, humor and pathos, and an abundance of dry wit that I found a better fit than the pilot episode. (Hell, it's rather hysterically raunchy at times.)

Which isn't to say that Glee strays into the bleakness of Nip/Tuck territory because it doesn't. Tonally, these two installments display a better balance of cheerfulness and angst than displayed in the pilot episode and it's a balance that better suits my own cynical vantage point.

Assisting in this delicate tightrope walk is the supremely talented Jane Lynch, who embodies the sinister Sue Sylvester with a, well, gleeful abandon. I felt that Sue was too shallowly drawn in the pilot and was bordering on cartoonish, but I take that back completely after seeing Lynch's bravura performance in these episodes. Her Sue Sylvester is a seething morass of complex emotions, bitter vendettas, imagined slights, and raw ambition.

Sue moves more towards the forefront of the series, becoming an even bigger celebrity in their small town (look for a local news spot on the benefits of caning) as she makes bare her own motivations for wanting so terribly to succeed. I won't give any specific plot points away but I will say that Sue complicates things not only for Matthew Morrison's Will Schuester but for the Glee Club as a whole and her path to their destruction takes an intriguing and Machiavellian route that brings back a face from the pilot in a rather unexpected way.

That is, if the Glee Club doesn't implode from within first. There are some new tensions within the group that threaten to derail the work that the kids and Will have attempted to achieve in such a short time and Sue masterfully preys on everyone's weaknesses with cunning precision. The effect not only reveals their shortcomings and fears but also further deepens the characters.

As for the kids, they have their own issues to work out, including some rivalries that begin to rear their ugly heads among several members of the group, even as they attempt to lure in some new members by using sex as a recruitment tool, culminating with the painfully hilarious use of Salt 'n Pepa's "Push It." (Yes, folks, this must be seen to be believed.)

Elsewhere, look for Chris Colfer's Kurt Hummel to steal the series in a major way and make it impossible for you to stop singing Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" round the clock. I'm told that each episode of Glee will focus on a different character and I think that's a very good thing when you have as diverse an ensemble cast as this one. The third episode puts the emphasis squarely on Kurt and the result is a sweet, funny, and surprising installment involving unitards, football, and dance routines.

And Will has enough on his plate including a romantic rivalry with Ken Tanaka (Patrick Gallagher) over adorable OCD-prone counselor Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mayes), a second job, his manic (and maniacal) wife Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig), and dissension in the ranks of New Directions.

Will, er, Will keep it together? Will New Directions fail to move forward? Will Sue's plots come to fruition? Is Terri nuttier than a fruitcake? That would be telling but suffice it to say that there are some rather unexpected twists to come, including some major shockers that will have people very surprised by what's still to come.

All in all, if these two upcoming installments are any indication, Glee has found its footing among some fancy footwork, imaginative obstacles, and a winning juxtaposition of dark comedy, teen angst, and a technicolored heightened reality where anything would seem to be possible. It's made a grinning Glee convert of me and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Glee returns to FOX this fall on September 16th.

Comments

Bella Spruce said…
I'm very happy to hear that Glee improves. I really wasn't crazy about the pilot and didn't understand what all the fuss was about. But I did want to like it (I'm a Ryan Murphy fan) and, hopefully, I'll enjoy the new episodes as much as you did!
Veronica said…
I love Ryan Murphy's odd sense of humor and the darkly comedic characters he creates and am looking forward to seeing more of that in the next few episodes of Glee.
Anonymous said…
I'm glad I'm not the only one who wasn't thrilled with the pilot. After all the rave reviews and all the hype, I was really confused. I wasn't loving it at all. But I'm willing to give it a chance. I'll watch the first few episodes and see how it goes.
G1000 said…
I enjoyed the pilot of "Glee" (though it did have its flaws) immensely. If it gets better (as you say it has), this show could very well be the best new show of the season. The days until September just got longer!

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