Thursday, December 10, 2009

Glee, "Sectionals": I saw her today at the reception

I wasn't a fan of "Glee" when it started, and despite seeing some improvement in later episodes this fall, it's still mainly background viewing for me while I do other things.

Last night's fall finale (the long hiatus comes in part because Ryan Murphy's busy directing a movie) brought a bunch of storylines to a head. In typical "Glee" fashion, it might have brought too many of them to a head at once, not allowing all to have as much impact as they might have had the big developments been spaced out, but the performances - both acting and, especially, singing - were uniformly strong. Myles McNutt, as usual, has a much more elaborate review of "Sectionals," as well as a list of questions the show needs to answer before it returns.

So, for the more passionate Gleeks, how satisfied were you with last night's show? And do you feel the show is creatively heading in the right direction? Or are there still things that can be improved between now and April 13?


Phil said...

Give me good music and honestly, the plot doesn't matter a ton to me. It's almost just a framework to hang the songs around.

George said...

I agree with Phil the best and probably only reasons I watch this show is the music and Jane Lynch as Sue.

'Sectionals' made me happy it was pretty sketchy and hardly plausible in parts but the songs brought a smile to my face, and that's a good enough reason to stick with the show as any. I can overlook its numerous flaws for the happiness I get from watching them singing.

I think Murphy and co. hamstrung themselves with the Fake Baby subplot and the Emma/Ken marriage and with those two stories tied up I think we can look forward to a more consistent and realistic set of stories in the Spring. Although I do hope they get a bit lighter on plot and show some more rehearsals and more tunes.

Sam Martin said...

The ridiculous amount of auto-tuning came to a head with "You Can't Always Get What You Want." The choral beginning actually sounded like it was just computer-generated. I understand that only a couple of the cast can actually sing, but they need to cool it with the T-Pain effects.

Kelly said...

I love this show and enjoyed last night's fall finale; especially the fact that they wrapped up both the fake baby storyline and the who is the father storyline. I didn't enjoy either of them and was relieved to see them come to an end.

I was however, distracted by the fact that these kids could learn a new song so quickly with a routine etc.; the whole time they were singing I kept thinking "there's now way they could have pulled this off" and having one of the judges mention that it didn't seem very rehearsed didn't really do much to make it "more believable" in my opinion. Other than that - I truly enjoyed the episode and especially liked the ending.

Alan, I know you're not super fond of this show and as such tend not to post a review of it but is it possible that you could do a "discuss amongst yourselves" post for this show? I would love to chat with others about this but have no interest in discussing it on the TWOP forum. This is the only place that I enjoy discussing shows I like and I'm always bummed that I can't talk with others here about Glee.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm not the intended audience, but who thought that Sue Sylvester would be a good spokesperson for Xbox 360? I actually like her better in the commercials than I do on Glee, surprisingly.

Anonymous said...


They only had to learn one new song and it was an easy song to learn the lyrics to and they had an hour so I think it was plausible. Rachel had been rehearsing her song since she was four and they all knew they other song so I think it actually made sense if you think about it.

I really enjoyed the show. I think some people are over-thinking it. Just watch it and be entertained. ANd for however crazy it gets (in regards to a fake baby....and there's only one. people keep saying fake babies) weirder things happen in real life!!! People always say such and such story is so unrealistic. Try watching the news, way crazier stuff happens everyday.

PS. Rachel/Lea KILLED her ballad.

mp said...

Alan, I have question that has been bugging me about Glee. You've written before about the diffiulty that paying song royalties in DVD releases becomes (to the point where they alter the music actually included in the show's dvd release). How can Glee's inevitable DVD release overcome that? Do they just have to pony up for the rights to all the songs sung on the show?

Anonymous said...

This show's target demo remains "People who lack the self-awareness to realize when something is embarrassing." The cheesy musical numbers and the acting of the non-Lynch cast make everyone else cringe.

James said...

I absolutely loved the finale in that I just didn't care at all about the things I sometimes cringe at while watching the show (the believability of the kid actors actually being kids, auto-tuning, silly storylines like fake pregnancies). Mercedes and Rachel just killed their solos and I don't really care about how auto-tuned any of the cast sound anymore as Glee is just one of those shows to just jump on board or head off once it's about to head off the rails (I suspect it will on the back 9 or next season). As long as Sue is as evil as usual, I'll probably still enjoy the show though.

Alan Sepinwall said...

MP, the song royalties are much, much more expensive when you're talking about original recordings. It's why, for instance, you'll often hear covers of Beatles or Sinatra songs in movies, but rarely the real thing. All they're paying for here are royalties for the published song itself, and everything else they produce themselves.

And in this day and age, they've clearly locked up all the ancillary rights (be it iTunes, CD or DVD) to their versions of these songs.

Kelly said...

Anonymous, it was really only the one song that bugged me. I had no problem with Rachel's song (like you said, she'd been practicing it since she was 4 and I would have expected her to be able to knock it out of the park on a moment's notice) but I guess being a part of a choir and knowing how difficult it is to learn a new song with a group of people (even with an hour to rehearse)lends a certain amount of disbelief to the scene. However, I do want to emphasize that I really love the show and am not one to overanalyze shows (I'm easily entertained! Hee!) but the fake baby thing did start to wear on me over time.

Overall, I think the show did very well last night and I laughed out loud at certain parts. Most notably Brittany and her "yeah, that would mean Santana and I are in love" line. The actress playing Brittany really nails the part and I find her random comments funnier and funnier each show.

And I also thought the actor playing Finn did a fantastic job of portraying Finn's anger and then grief at being lied to. The scene with him beating Puck and raging at everyone in the choir room as well as his scene with Will later felt very realistic to me.

mp said...

Thanks, Alan. That makes a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

Jane Lynch really elevates the Sue Sylvester character. While not as funny as the writers probably thought it was, I still liked the exchange between Sue and Figgins over William McKinley, and how it was able to provide some interesting insights into both characters. That whole scene was better than it deserved to be, for which Iqbal Theba also deserves some credit.

I've accepted that there will never be an episode of the show that I don't have issues with, but the good qualities are just enough to keep me watching.

Rose said...

The characters, the quips, and the songs are what I like about Glee so I really don't mind if the ongoing plots strain credibility. I see the show as campy fun.

Razzle Dazzle said...

What I love about this show is how it shows what performing means to a group of outcasts.

A lot of performers who have horrible personal lives say that they feel incredible when they are on stage. And when you see Rachel perform, you can see all her emotional problems just melt away for that performance.

Sectionals was meaningless in the grand scheme of things -a vice comptroller had to judge because the real comptroller went to a Nascar race - but you could see that the competition meant a lot to glee.

I'll keep watching as long as they continue to show that dynamic between being a star on stage for a brief moment and a loser in high school the rest of the time.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't my favorite episode (in part because they were honestly some of my least favorite song choices they've done), but I'm still a big fan of the show.

I think the writing -- the kids' lines, especially -- keeps getting sharper. I loved the walk and talk, with the split screen early on.

I'd love to see you take Kelly's idea and post a "what do you think" for each ep. TWOP's a bit too much for me to take, so this is where I talk TV now.

Kelly said...

This show's target demo remains "People who lack the self-awareness to realize when something is embarrassing." The cheesy musical numbers and the acting of the non-Lynch cast make everyone else cringe.

Eh, I would disagree with this statement. I'm highly self-aware and know when something is embarrassing. The reason I love this show is because of the music and as someone else mentioned, the overall campy fun of it. I don't believe it's a show that's meant to be taken seriously and often times is really just about the music. And there isn't anything wrong with that.

And while I'll agree that Lynch is probably the strongest actor they have on their right now I'd say that the actress who plays Emma is a strong second and most of the kids do a great job at portraying the awkwardness and drama of being a teenager in high school. Is it Oscar worthy material? Nah. Are they our next generation of Oscar winners? Maybe not... but they do well in their roles and occasionally blow us away (I'm looking at you Artie) with their ability to draw you in to their character.

I look at Glee like I look at Castle. It's good, harmeless fun with a strong cast who genuinely seem to be enjoying themselves. Not every show has to be "The Wire" or "Breaking Bad" you know? Sometimes you just want to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Nicole said...

They don't get into detail about how much musical training each student has, but if they are able to read music and carry a tune, they could probably pick up the song fairly quickly.
I was a good sight reader by high school having taken piano lessons since I was 7 and the types of kids who would be into a glee club would probably have some kind of training or aptitude to learn things quickly.

And it's not like they sang a completely obscure song. I didn't notice very much harmonizing and I think that's where it would be difficult to have a song sound coherent in about an hour.

Susan said...

Big Jane Lynch fan here. She is the reason I started watching it. But I got hooked very quickly. I am almost embarrassed how much I wanted Emma and Will to get together. Those two adorable dorks just seem made for each other. I found last night's episode very satisfying. "Glee" is not among the best shows on TV right now. But it is a lot of fun.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I guess I see your point. And I agree about the fake pregnancy part. That was definitley my least favorite part of the show too but thankfully they ended it.

Anyway, thanks for not attacking me for not agreeing with you (that seems to happen a lot on some of these things) lol.

Anonymous said...

I feel like this would have made a good series finale. I am worried about what kinds of stories they will come up with next.

I am kind of sick of hearing and seeing Rachel sing--apologies to the actress.

Did we know before now that Sue is a lesbian?

Alf said...

I heard that the actor who plays Puck is sick of his mohawk, so for his sake, I hope they allow him to have a full head of hair (or whatever hairstyle he'd like) when he returns. It could even be a story!

Audrey's Mom said...

I started this show late in the game, probably half way through the season. I'm glad I decided to - not because of the plot. In fact, it's so Sta-Puf marshmallow that I don't care a bit about logic or holes. Pretty much the show for me

Craig Ranapia said...
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Craig Ranapia said...

I think the show has the same basic problem as every other Ryan Murphy show I've seen: Creative ADHD.

Are they trying for Heathers or Hairspray? The tone, characterisation and plotting is so "throw everything and the kitchen sink at the wall and see what sticks" random, I'll be damned if I can figure it out. And to be honest, I don't really care -- basically, I just want someone to develop a kick-ass show around Jane Lynch and have Sue Sylvester die of pom-pom related injuries.

Maureen said...

This show is just pure entertainment to me. I love it, and I got chills when Rachel and Mercedes belted out their ballads last night. I agree with Phil when he said that the music is everything.

I am also a huge Jane Lynch fan, and will watch her in anything.

I enjoy analyzing TV shows as much as the next person, but some shows are just meant to be enjoyed, and I think this is one of them.

Tom Galloway said...

Finn's still very far up a creek. Consider that 1) Football season is over. While it's possible that he might also be the star of the basketball team, otherwise he's completely lost any jock status.

2) Puck's been described as his best friend. No more.

3) Ditto for Quinn, who for all we know is still living in his house.

4) He'd become invested in being a father (I'm forgetting it Quinn ever told him that she planned to give up the baby), and that's gone.

5) Now, admittedly, Rachel and possibly Kurt will be all over him, but still, he's alienated from a fair part of New Directions, no longer has a jock posse, best friend, or girlfriend.

wjm said...

"This show's target demo remains 'People who lack the self-awareness to realize when something is embarrassing.' The cheesy musical numbers and the acting of the non-Lynch cast make everyone else cringe."

I agree that the kids are a bit wooden a lot of the time. But the adults are a different story. Jayma and Jessalyn have both been stellar all along, and while Matthew may be a bit one-note in his cheerleading/happy leader-teacher scenes, he is a killer with the drama. Last week, he ripped my heart out and stomped on it, then this week he did it some more. I'm a mess.

My quibble with this ep is how on frickin' earth does no one know whether or not they won until Monday? How????????????

Kate said...

I'm shaking my head a bit at the comments that the kids couldn't have pulled together a musical number like that in the time they had. This is TV; those of us who work in medicine or law or psychology know that the way TV shows portray these professions bear no resemblance to how they really work. This is par for the course.

I look at Glee like I look at Castle. It's good, harmeless fun with a strong cast who genuinely seem to be enjoying themselves. Not every show has to be "The Wire" or "Breaking Bad" you know? Sometimes you just want to sit back and enjoy the ride.


And I love the music. I think Lea Michele, Amber and the crowd did a great job on the songs. Matthew Morrison was very good on all the emotions, from leaving his wife, pushing for the kids to do well, his pride in when they did

I also really liked how Shue encouraged Finn to become the leader the kids needed and Finn stepping up to it in spite of his feelings. Sometimes you need to see something positive on TV rather than all the insults and back-biting.

Henry said...

I liked the fall finale, but I'm with you: There were too many resolutions. And the storyline with Will and Terri was left out in the cold. Considering that most fans of the show don't like Terri or the fake prego storyline in general, I wonder if Murphy and staff can/will phase out that in time.

I thought the final song, "My Life Will Suck Without You," doesn't have the same impact as "Don't Stop Beliving" in the pilot. And, of course, with one hour to prepare, New Directions is completely flawless in the final performance. Did we really expect any different?

Henry said...

Oh, and Sue Sylvester is evil and MUST BE TAKEN DOWN. I found myself saying that over and over again during the episode.

And I loved Cory Monteith's performance throughout.

LoopyChew said...

Lea Michele's "Don't Rain on My Parade" was probably the single most outstanding performance thus far, outshining even my personal favorite--Dianna Agron's "You Keep Me Hanging On" (Diana Ross & Cheerleaders--how could that possible go wrong?). Not surprisingly, it's a performance in which I don't recall hearing any Autotune.

Quite honestly, even if the kids are having problems singing, I'd rather their natural voices being used.

Also, the chorus needed more harmony when singing "You Can't Always Get What You Want." The guys "aaaah"ing in the background didn't cut it. Also, the choreography would've been more convincing, at least, if they actually wrote it so that the jocks/Cheerios were leading everyone else (as Finn suggested).

Who the hell am I fooling? I still ate it all up like a guilt-free-but-awesome-tasting chocolate sundae, as I have every other episode to date. I don't mind that they wrapped up a few of the subplots, as the fake pregnancy and "Finn's not the baby daddy" storylines were getting old really quick, and I'm curious to see how they'll deal with the fallout. Terri's character has finally been given a storyline that'll make her seem less of a seaward, and the love quadrangle that is Rachel-Finn-Quinn-Puck is now kinda broken up, this'll allow for the Jacob-Rachel pairing everybody's rooting for.

This show is absolutely shameless, but a happy kind of shameless. And yet it still has its moments of kickass, and hilarious dialogue, and I kinda watch it because it brings me to a happy place.

Also agreed on the weekly "what do you think" post. This has become my first place to come to after finishing an episode of the shows you DO post about, and it'd be nice to add to that repertoire for me. But hey, I haven't been a NJ native in a long time, and you've no obligation towards me. :-)

Matt said...

Remember that these 13 episodes were all done and in the can before episode 2 aired. They didn't know if they were going to get picked up for a back nine, and (understandably) wanted to give the viewers closure in the event they didn't, and I think the episode managed to do that while still leaving enough plot machinations open for a back nine (and subsequent seasons).

hipo said...
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hipo said...

Ryan Murphy clearly doesn't understand subtlety, but he does understand guilty pleasures. I love almost every minute of every episode. The ones I don't are usually very cringe-worthy or involve Jesslyn. But all is forgiven when the next song begins, or there is a great one-liner from Jane Lynch or one of the glee kids. And I admittedly cheered when Will kissed Emma. Yes, it is campy, but it is also pure joy. I can't wait until April 13th, and would love a "what did you think" when that day arrives.

Pamela Jaye said...

The plots are weird and the "hero" is having an emotional affair with a co-worker (while his wife is a nutcase). And I guess we are supposed to root for him.

We have educators calling the students "kids" - which wouldn't fly in my High School back in 74.

I've never been annoyed by Jessalyn Gilsig before, this time - yup.

The wedding gown was pretty.

I love to sing (but that doesn't mean I can sight read - I can only tell if a note is higher than a previous note. it would take me two translations to see a B and sing on.) Still I love to sing. I miss Fame. (the series. I never got to see it after it fell off NBC. it was hard to find. A couple of years ago it reran in Canada and now I have a pile of tapes I haven't watched - but I did finally get to see the one where Bruno's father died.
Which I wanted to. I had a co-worker who reminded me of Coco.

Back to Glee:
What is auto-tuning?

And why is Rain on My Parade a ballad?
No one said I knew anything about singing. I did think I knew what a ballad was, though. Endless Love (#1 for 11 weeks I think, please don't ask me what year). The Twelfth of Never, at the moment nothing springs to mind of course. The term Power Ballad from Buffy comes to mind... Wikipedia here i come.

Craig Ranapia said...

I look at Glee like I look at Castle. It's good, harmeless fun with a strong cast who genuinely seem to be enjoying themselves. Not every show has to be "The Wire" or "Breaking Bad" you know? Sometimes you just want to sit back and enjoy the ride.

Sure, but Burn Notice and Chuck are pure brain candy too, but they're not so RANDOM (and more consistently enjoyable) than Glee.

Kimmy said...

Lea Michele surprises me week after week with her talent. Wednesday is my feel good, tears welled up, I love true talent moment. I don't care if all my Sopranos/Wire/Shield/Dexter/Sons of Anarchy fellow fans know it!