Thursday, October 28, 2010

Glee: "The Rocky Horror Glee Show"

Glee has been a difficult show to classify. Yes, it's a comedy, but it's heavy dramatic elements in some episodes have made detractors say it's not funny enough to earn that mantle. Yet it's not dramatic enough to be called a drama, either, and the term "dramedy" is not well accepted. Above all, though, the show has prided itself as a musical, and it's "let's put on a show" energy has kept it buoyed through it's comedic and dramatic moments. Up until this week, though, there was never much literal theatricality to the show (the "Lady Gaga episode" doesn't count, sorry), despite the show's most obvious audience being the theatre crowd.
"The Rocky Horror Glee Show" was a flawed but worthy entry into the Glee canon, and for the first time the more theatrical aspects of the show come to the forefront. Specifically, Will decides to stage a school production of The Rocky Horror Show (yes, the original musical form, not the movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. There is a difference.) to try to win Emma back from John Stamos, I mean, Carl the dentist. For the most part, the episode focuses on this love triangle, giving Matthew Morrison the most he's had to do in a very long time. In the subplots, Sue agrees to do a televised expose on the production in order to win a local Emmy, and Finn
obsesses over his appearance.
In comparison to last week, the kids aren't given much to do other than put on the show. And that's probably the best part of this episode. Their energy is no doubt infectious, and the songs are strong renditions. But it's the staging of everything, from the play-within-the-film to the opening credits that paid tribute to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. All of the kids' performances are wonderfully exaggerated, capturing the true spirit of the musical (more on that later). Credit director Adam Shankman, who directed the excellent 2007 stage-to-screen
musical Hairspray (yes, I thoroughly enjoyed Hairspray; what's it to you?) and the upcoming screen adaptation of Broadway's Rock of Ages (ehhhh....). His musical experience shows here, and he captures all the energy and excitement of the theatre in his choreography and staging. Hopefully he'll come back to direct more in the future.
The weak points of the episode came from the main story. It's nice to see Will finally get something to do again, and he handled this material well. But it also wasn't terribly interesting; this is the sort of stuff that other shows have done better, and it doesn't help that there's no real chemistry between Morrison and Jayma Mays, nor is there any real chemistry between Mays and Stamos. It's hard to buy all of these things, especially since Carl is supposedly changing Emma, even though she flip flops between Old Emma and New Emma throughout the episode. It just wasn't terribly interesting. It was, however, better than the last episode Ryan Murphy penned.
The choice of Rocky Horror as the show's first big tribute to a musical rather than an artist could not be more fitting. What's made Rocky Horror so enduring over the years as a cult classic, complete with midnight screenings with people in costume and audience participation, is that it's a pure camp delight: everything is so over-the-top that it proves irresistible. It's not out to be taken seriously, or provide any life lessons or glimpses into the human psyche; it's just unadulterated, delightful fun. And in it's own way, at it's heart, that's what Glee is too: the spirit of people getting together and having fun through music. It's in the show itself, in the groups of people who gather weekly to watch it together, in the kids who inspired by the show to try out
for shows and perform; at the end of the day it doesn't matter whether it's a comedy or a drama. It's about fun, and this episode encapsulated that perfectly.
- Thank God Mike Chang's parents didn't want him to play a transvestite. You're singing in "Duets" was not a revelation, kid.
- Out of curiosity, how many Unitarian monkey weddings have you been to in your lifetime?
- Lea Michele makes the funniest crazy faces.

- Kurt: "What are you going to be for Halloween?" Brittany: "I'm going as a peanut allergy." I love her lines.
- John Stamos sings! And it's not half bad.
- Emma sings! And Autotune doesn't really help.
- I'm glad the show took some time out to point out that men, just as much as women, have body issues, even though nobody else seems to notice. I'm with Artie; blame Internet porn.
- I love the cameos by Rocky Horror stars Barry Bostwick (Brad Majors) and Meat Loaf (Eddie) as network execs. "Mexican terrorist ants!"
- Wit 'n' Wisdom of Sue Sylvester: "Halloween is fast approaching, the day parents encourage little boys to dress like little girls, and little girls to dress like whores."


Simon said...

This episode, sorry, is kind of the reason I hate this show sometimes. They bring back Will's voiceover back from season one for five minutes, they completely miss the point of the 'Transvestite' song by having a girl sing it, they butchered the Time Warp so autotuned-terrible I had to Youtube the original to keep from throwing something at the TV. And that last speech, about how it was about a bunch of misfits, blah, whatever, was just awful. And why must they keep giving Blonde Cheerleader (not Brittney) the best parts?

Sorry. I just really hated this episode.

Jason H. said...

I've actually heard that a lot about this one. I didn't think it was too bad, but yeah, it certainly could have been better. I know I'm probably on my own with that one.