Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In which I worry about 'Glee'

I think Glee is in trouble.

Not to offend all you Gleeks out there, because I consider myself a major fan of the series, but something is about the first two episodes back. I cannot put my finger on it. Is it the long lay-off between the first 13 episodes and the back nine? Is it the overwhelming sense that the series has been overhyped during that period? Not really, because I expected that.

It’s just that these first two episodes haven’t been very good. That or I am now suddenly aware of all the problems that have existed with Glee since the beginning. One of those two.

And I hate to be one of those people who fully aligns with this beautiful backlash time crafted by New York magazine’s Vulture Blog, but sometimes the truth is the truth. Because the biggest, most glaring issue with “Hello-O” and “The Power of Madonna” is the excess and use of music. The plan for the back nine was to include more and more music than the opening 13, and so far they’ve definitely succeeded with that plan.

I totally understand that the music is the primary reason the series is so popular; I love it too. I can also completely understand why FOX wants to pump up the music output. More songs equals more iTunes sales and compilation releases -- like the “Power of Madonna” EP that hit this week -- which obviously means more cash.

But when the series has proven that they can take the music and make it fit thematically, any time they do not is just severely disappointing. These first two episodes have fallen in to that category.

Even though I was shocked to get any explanation for why an entire episode was being dedicated to the Material Girl at all, the “you guys are being mean to girls, let them be powerful” line didn’t quite cut it. And frankly, “Hell-O” was even worse in that department.

Thus, when the music doesn’t fit thematically, I’ve begun to notice more of the problems that I was seemingly blind to earlier in the season because I hoped it would improve. You know, like the lack of continuity in character from episode to episode, the ridiculously too-fast pacing and the repetitive nature of the stories.

If the writers are trying to avoid dulling interest in the will-they-or-won’t-they will Finn and Rachel by having them go through eight episodes of drama just in “Hello-O,” consider me uninterested. And I know the whole “we have to place at [enter competition here] or glee club is canceled” thing worked magically in the first 13, but c’mon, again?

It was mostly obvious that the disease of more was going to infect this series on its way to becoming a cultural phenomenon, but I’m a bit surprised it has happened so soon. I can take the spew of public appearances, commercials, supplemental content -- all of it really -- if it doesn’t murder the content within the program. And that might not even be the case here, but it’s hard to not draw a connection.

Glee is giving people what the want, but in the end, it won’t be what’s best for the series -- or the fans. “The Power of Madonna” is a pivot point for the series, where now we can expect more of everything. You might enjoy it now, but rarely do series come back from things like this.

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