I haven't written about "Glee" since the season premiere, but Fox has sent out enough episodes on review screeners - and I've had enough cleaning of my desk and/or inbox to do - that I've seen a decent amount of this season. And tonight's episode represented a show I... well, that I at least didn't dislike as much as I've disliked some past outings. Some quick thoughts on why coming up just as soon as I hit a high F...
From the episodes I've seen, and the reviews I've read elsewhere of the episodes I haven't from people like Myles McNutt, I get the sense that "Glee" is a show with a serious identity crisis. At times it's as broad and in-your-face and self-congratulatory as every other Ryan Murphy show that I eventually stop watching out of frustration, and at other times it can be relatively human-scale - and, to my mind, much more interesting.
"Wheels" - written, ironically, by Murphy himself - was one of the latter group of episodes. No stupid fake pregnancy subplot (though it did have the slightly less stupid fake baby daddy subplot), nor any of Jessalyn Gilsig, period. Sue Sylvester still said outrageous things, but didn't seem like a cartoon (and that was even before the payoff to the Down syndrome story, which Jane Lynch nailed). Rachel still took a lunch tray to the face, but overall the number of opportunities to laugh at the characters' misfortunes was way down from some earlier episodes.
In keeping with that last part, the episode did a nice job of putting the viewers inside the heads of Artie, and Kurt, and even Kurt's dad(*). It took their problems seriously, and wrapped two very good musical performances (particularly the re-arranged "Dancing with Myself") around them.
(*) I would say, "Who knew Mike O'Malley could be a good dramatic actor?" if there wasn't so much abundant evidence that it's much easier for comedians to play serious than for serious actors to play funny. You can discuss amongst yourselves how funny you find O'Malley.
Murphy recently told the LA Times that "Wheels" typifies where he wants to see the show going forward, tonally. I hope he can stick to that. I'm still not 100 percent in the show's target audience - the showtunes don't inherently make me happy the way they do some of my friends - but at least with this episode, I could see the outlines of the show that the "Glee" fans are so obsessed with.
Not sure when/if I'll be writing about it again, but what did everybody else think of this one?