Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dissecting Glee: "Journey to Regionals"

One of my secret ambitions is to be a theatre critic (I came really close once, but the gig didn't work out). While I probably need to be made of sterner stuff to be a critic, I still get a kick out of reviewing musical numbers. Therefore, I'm dissecting parts of the season finale of Glee. Just to clarify, this isn't a recap (I seriously considered calling it a Gleecap, but that was just too annoying) as much as it is a review of the sections that I found noteworthy. Let's get started with the songs...

"Faithfully/Touchin', Lovin', Squeezing/Anyway You Want It/Don't Stop Believin'":
I love a good '80s power ballad, and this mash-up/medley fit the bill nicely. Besides tying in very nicely to the pilot, the songs really fit the performers' voices. While Cory Monteith (Finn) sometimes gets flack on the TWOP forums for not having the greatest voice (and for the producers' prodigious use of Auto-Tune to correct it), I thought that "Faithfully" (as well as "Jesse's Girl" earlier this season) was perfect for him. Also, considering that the group is mix of people with different dancing abilities, the number's staging made sense. No, it wasn't nearly as ambitious (or insane) as Vocal Adrenaline's "Bohemian Rhapsody" choreography, but New Directions' staging looked like something that would be feasible for an actual high school show choir.

On a more shallow note, I should be making fun of the girls' use of Bumpits, but given that the entire look had a 1960s vibe (which is a little strange, since the music was solidly planted in the 1980s), the look worked. I also am digging the boys' black outfits with gold ties and the girls' gold dresses. The costumer for this show deserves serious props for finding a single dress that looks good on a bunch of different body types.

Questions, Observations, and Minor Nitpicks:
  • Did anyone else think that Rachel was channeling Celine Dion during the beginning of "Faithfully"?
  • I love Brad (the piano player for New Directions); he always looks so happy and into it when the kids are singing, regardless of who is singing and what the song is. His face during the middle part of the medley was priceless.
  • During a reaction shot of the judges during the number, I could see Quinn's mom sitting behind them, even though she didn't come in until later in the number. However, consistency/logic has never been Glee's strong suit.
  • Did we really need a key change in "Don't Stop Believin'"?
"Bohemian Rhapsody" and The Birth of Beth/Drizzle
While I can accept that New Directions lost to VA (I didn't think that ND would win going into Regionals), I refuse to accept that "Bohemian Rhapsody" would win over the Journey medley. VA has done some impressive numbers, including the incredible version of "Rehab" from one of the first episodes of the season. However, "Bohemian Rhapsody" left me cold for a number of reasons. Besides the fact that it was pretty much a showcase for Jonathan Groff, who did most of the heavy lifting in terms of the vocals, the choreography was just too over the top for me. I could accept the polish of "Rehab," but "BH" was just too much. Also, I am still PISSED at Jesse and VA for egging Rachel, so there was no way I was going to be able to enjoy "BH" without some sort of serious comeuppance. Seriously, VA needs to cure cancer or something before I can appreciate a number the group does on its own terms.

On the other hand, "Bohemian Rhapsody" worked well as a parallel for the birth of Beth/Drizzle. The cuts were sharp and well-chosen, so hat's off to the choreographer, director, and editor. I am still highly amused by the juxtaposition of Quinn's screams with the song and with the doctor saying "The baby's crowning" with VA surrounding Jesse and him popping out of the center of the crowd. In fact, the editing/birth of the baby was the one thing that kept me from flipping channels during "BH."

"To Sir, with Love":
I don't like the song "To Sir, with Love," and I didn't really expect to like this number because of the maudlin nature of the song (I always think of this scene from Boy Meets World when I think of the song). That said, this number was surprisingly moving. The lead-up to the song, with each of the club members telling Will how they have changed over the course of the year, was genuinely sad (even though Mercedes's line "Glee club will never end, Mr. Schue, 'cause you are glee club. You're in all of us now" did make me roll my eyes).

The arrangement worked well and parts of it had a definite 1960s, girl-group flavor. Also, the very minimal staging really made the viewer focus on the song, the kids, and Will, who was appropriately choked up during the proceedings. The fact that the kids also looked completely stricken during the song made me forget about my cynicism about the song and get lost in the moment.

While it might seem out of character for some of the characters, such as Santana, to get so emotional about the thought of the end of glee club (it is very likely that the cast was so emotional about it being the end of the season), I thought that, given the capricious and emotional nature of teenagers, it worked. I also liked the shot of Sue watching from the back of the auditorium. Again, her softening up might seem OOC, but she was definitely in a more vulnerable place after that crazy confrontation in the judges' room.

"Over the Rainbow":
I have surprisingly little to say about this song. Matthew Morrison and Mark Salling did a beautiful job harmonizing, and the kids' reactions were very sweet. However, while it is nice to know that New Directions would live to see another day (not that there was much doubt for the audience - the show's been picked up for a second and third season), I can't help but think that "To Sir, with Love" would have made a more powerful ending to the season. However, since I like resolution, I'd probably be bitching if things were left up in the air.

Overall, "Journey to Regionals" reminded me of what I loved about the show. Despite the breakneck pace of the first season and the multitude of unresolved plotlines (Jesse, what the hell happened?), I plan on tuning in for the show's second season.

Please feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section. Also, I'm toying with the idea of making this Glee dissection a semi-regular part of the blog. Any takers?