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Glee 1.19 – Dream On


Grade: C+

Hmmm.

There are parts of last night’s episode, titled Dream On, that worked extremely well. And then there are parts that just plain didn’t. Glee’s been on quite a roll with the last two episodes, echoing past episodes that have defined the show while also moving forward. Dream On is not one of those episodes. It’s a different beast, one that could have been the best episode of the series but unfortunately trips over itself multiple times throughout the night.

Let’s start with the good: If you didn’t know, Joss Whedon directed the episode and it’s beautiful. And for those of you who don’t know who Joss Whedon is, shame on you. There are a few stylistic choices that scream Joss and are extremely well done. For instance, take Tina and Artie kissing in front of the bus. Depending on the angle of the camera, the sun can come out from behind the bus and light up the shot. Whedon does this while they’re kissing, and then raises the camera slightly just when the sun could become annoying to the viewer. It’s subtle and very well done. Another example would be in Artie’s flash mob at the mall. Besides just having a normal camera record the action, the show cuts to bystander’s phone cameras that are recording the dances. It’s very fun and keeps the action interesting.

Oh yeah, and there’s NPH. Mr. Harris starred in Joss’s wonderfully delicious Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog which I recommend that you all see. Without missing a beat, NPH enters as “Bryan Ryan”, an old Glee superstar that is now out for New Directions. His Glee Survivors Club is classic Glee: ridiculous, funny, and very satirical. Not only is NPH the man and one of the most versatile actors on television right now, he’s also a great singer. His Dream On duet with Will was both crazy hilarious and well done. It’s currently playing on my iTunes as I type this.

NPH also shared a fantastically ridiculous scene with everyone’s favorite, Sue Sylvester.

Bryan: “Sue, you’re an impressive woman. I can’t tell you how much you turn me on right now. You ever heard the term anger sex?”
Sue: “The only kind I know, Bryan.”
Bryan: “I should tell you I’m married.”
Sue: “Not a problem for me.”
Bryan: “And I’m still cutting half your budget.”
Sue: “Well, you win some, you lose some.”
Bryan: “Should I lock the door?”
Sue: “No. Got a secret room upstairs. Like Letterman.”

The pure brilliance of this dialog cannot be comprehended by reading and might be some of the funniest dialog that Glee has done. Bravo to the writers for using NPH’s talent and his impecable delivery. This scene is also fairly timely; a Newsweek reporter (who is openly gay) recently wrote a stunningly strange piece where he asserted that gay people cannot play straight characters believably. I’d like it to be known that NPH is the ultimate bro and I was fully convinced that his raging hormones commanded him to do Sue Sylvester.

Some of the music was also incredible. Lea Michele and Idina Menzel’s stunning I Dream A Dream was the best song that Glee has done. Beautifully sung and beautifully shot, as was the oddly appropriate Safety Dance.

Now… the bad. And there’s a lot of it.

First, I’m a bit perplexed at how I should feel about Artie’s story. I completely sympathize with his struggles and it’s wonderful that he and Tina get more screentime. At the same time, I want the little screen time that they do get to be meaningful and really drive the characters forward. I have a hard time swallowing the story.

Part of me is angry that Artie is portrayed as such a victim. It’s the same with Kurt; everyone seems to be ok with his sexuality except for him. Artie has struggled with his wheelchair before and most likely will again later on in the series but there was something last night that felt off. In one instance, he falls to the ground after attempting to walk and barks at Tina to leave him there. It could be an extremely powerful image, but instead it makes Artie look rather helpless. He doesn’t try to move, he doesn’t try to get back to his chair, he gives up. Adam Wright wrote a wonderful piece on this. I obviously cannot even attempt to emulate his experiences but I do share his concerns. The last scene almost sent me over the edge; instead of trying to reclaim Tina and his glory, he sits there and cries while he sings that song that he should star in. He’s an extremely strong character who is extremely resilient to adversity. Why then portray him so pathetically? It’s not doing any services to Artie or people who are physically disabled and isn’t necessarily true to his character. Artie has been dealing with his disability his entire life and while it does impede him in certain ways, he’s also shown that he can overcome those obstacles in the past (see: Wheels). Why would tonight be any different?

And that brings us to another issue: the characters aren’t characters are at all, but instead are just archetypes. Does that work? I’m not sure. It would be ok if there weren’t shades of development that creep into every episode and then are discarded by the next week. It’s frustrating and frankly insulting to the viewers. If Lost has shown network television anything, it’s that viewers can keep up with multiple storylines and plots and don’t have to necessarily be spoon fed every week. So why does Glee keep pressing the restart button every week? I know it’s a lighthearted show, but give us some credit.

And I’m not quite sold on how quickly NPH went back on forth in his opinions on New Directions. It’s almost comical as it works as a microcosm of Glee itself. Schizophrenic and without any real rhyme or reason. The same conversation happens over and over again, whether it’s between Kurt and his dad, Finn and Rachel, Artie or Tina, and now even NPH and Will. There’s no excuse; it’s sloppy writing that the audience is supposed to conveniently overlook.

Also grating was the pacing of the episode: too much drama in the first half as well as little music. Instead, we had two musical numbers crammed into the last 5 minutes with the last song being completely overshadowed by the one before it. And Brittany didn’t speak. That’s like some sort of Glee faux pas.

While Dream On seems amazing on paper, it doesn’t come together nearly as well as it should. Instead of leaving the audience inspired, it falls into many of the same trappings that have plagued Glee episodes of the past: a lack of even the simplest logic and absurd redundancy. I love Glee and think that it has the ability to be one of the most enjoyable shows on network television. I just wished it would live up to the potential that it has shown.

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3 Responses

  1. I could not agree more on Glee developing the characters only as archetypes. It’s making the show so pathetically predictable.
    My other complaints with the show stem from the songs correlating to the plot. It seems now that the show has been picking the songs and forcing the writers to make them work. It’s allowing for a rather disconnected plot from week to week.
    If you ask me, Glee is falling apart quickly.

  2. right on. One more issue I had with this weeks episode – idina is rachel’s mom? what??? it is a little cliche to say the least. Also, it doesn’t really make sense how jesse links into all of this. Rachel is the one who brought up that she dreamt of her mom while jesse’s plan all along had been to bring idina in touch with rachel, while seducing rachel while spying on new directions while really being part of vocal adrenaline. It’s simply mind boggling and not in a good way. At least idina and lea got to sing! that was AMAZING!!!!

  3. Totally agree with your review. I was really excited to see NPH but a bit disappointed with the whole episode in the end.

    I also agree with Julia, I was a bit wtf-ed by the revelation that Idina is Rachel’s mom. First we haven’t even seen Rachel dads yet, and second wtf is this complicated story?
    I hope they develop it in a good way and not do something half-assed and in the end ridiculous and unbelievable.

    I’m wondering if Glee hasn’t lost it’s freshness and if that’s why I’ve not been liking the second half of this season as much. We don’t feel like they’re working towards winning regionals anymore, it feels like a pointless series of episodes without a real final aim like it should be.

    Let’s hope the next episodes will be better.

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