Now don’t get me wrong, I am still a huge gleek! However, something has happened this year, Glee has just lost something for me. For the first time ever in two and a half seasons, I had an episode and waited a couple of days before viewing it. OK, so it ended up being a really good one – the latest, Heart that finally introduced Rachel’s two dads. The point is, I could have stayed up the night before to see it, but I wasn’t motivated to.
So what isn’t working. Well for one thing we seem to have lost a lot of the humour. I’m trying to remember the last Brittany-ism. New swim coach NeNe Leakes (who is from some reality show) has been about the best new characters with a couple, of hilarious rants at Sue but the witty one-liners seem to be thinner on the ground in favour of drama. Sorry but Glee doesn’t work as a serious show.
There have been fewer huge mess episodes, like last year’s Night of Neglect, but even that one had decent songs like Gwyneth Paltrow doing Adele’s Turning Tables. (OK, so not quite as powerful as Adele, but I still love the tonal quality of Gwyneth’s voice.) Whereas this year we have had episodes that have been not disasters, but just…well, dull! Spanish Teacher might have had Ricky Martin, but the story was pants and the songs totally forgettable.
A huge problem has been the lack of really good music. Apart from a totally amazing Adele mashup of Rumour has it/Someone Like You that is right up there with some of the best stuff they have ever done, there have been few real classics. Too often the arrangements have been uninspiring exact copies of originals. The Michael Jackson episode was a particular disappointment for this, although it did include the season’s second best track – a cello version of Smooth Criminal.
One of the real problems for me has been the Rachel/Finn relationship that has ludicrously got them engaged to be married, with a worrying promo for next week with them at the altar. As idiotic as Teri’s fake pregnancy in S1, it is just stupid that ambitious Rachel Berry would marry nice but dim Finn. Part of the problem is that it has been confirmed Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer will still be around next year. All logic says Rachel and Kurt would be out of Lima and heading for NYC. Goodness knows how they are going to keep them around, but I will be very very annoyed if it is teen bride and groom Rachel and Finn. VERY annoyed!
Another big minus is Damian McGinty as Irish exchange student Rory. As we saw on the Glee Project, he can’t act and is an average singer. Have hated all his songs and pretty much every time he is onscreen this year. The latest episode saw the introduction of Samuel Larsson, the other Glee Project winner. He has a better voice and a more unique look, but has yet to prove himself. Still, he can’t be worse than Damian!
The undoubted star of the season so far is Naya Rivera as Santana. Similar to the focus on Kurt last year, we have followed her coming out and her relationship with Brittany. It has been done very well and Rivera’s voice is great. I think she’s had more songs than Lea Michele so far. And therein lies my real problem…
I’ll admit it, I worship at the altar of Rachel Berry! The pushy, tactless, slightly insane but super talented Rachel was the character who hooked me and she has been.. what is the female equivalent of emasculated? She’s become a dewey-eyed, rather drippy character this year. Yes I liked her relationship with Kurt, but that’s died down. At this stage of the series, she should, be all about auditions and making plans. Just yuk to how it’s all snogs and sappy looks. There are usually endless Rachel songs by this stage of a season. Well racking my brains, the highlight for me was her version of Joni Mitchell’s River. My love of Joni Mitchell rivals that of pretty much any one else. Ever. Lea Michele’s version was lovely, but to be honest, a note for note, breath for breath, identical piano remake. I’d have liked just a little of Lea’s personality in there.
What other great Rachel songs have there been? Well something different was her ‘I Have a Love’ from the West Side Story episode, showing Lea Michele’s operatic stylings – not something we’ve heard before. There was one of the leads in ‘We Are Young’, probably one of the best group numbers. She did a nice job on ‘Without You’ a classic power ballad, and channeled Julie Andrews in a fun Christmas ‘My Favorite Things’, but I don’t think it is a coincidence that featuring her less prominently as the lead has seen a drop in chart success for the Glee label.
I like my Glee Rachel-centred. I am rather worried how it is going to turn out this year and into next. Frankly, since establishing the character, they have always struggled to make best use of her beyond Lea Michele’s amazing voice. Fingers crossed that things pick up.