During their second season, a good number of shows tend to suffer a dramatic decline in their quality of storytelling, or at the very least a perceived decline in their quality of storytelling. It’s a little hard to know exactly why this occurs, but I always wonder if some of the problem is that writers use up a great number of their best storylines in order to help ensure a second season and then have trouble coming up with something equally good when said second season rolls around. I have no scientific evidence to back up this rumination, but I definitely like the sound of it. Then again, it really could just be that people expect bigger and better for the second season and then when they get more of the same in season two they’re disappointed.
Reasons aside, the decline or appearance thereof, occurs rather regularly and this year can be seen with Glee. The fall portion of the season seemed rather lackluster even if some of the songs and dances were great. Two nights ago, following the Super Bowl, Glee returned in highly publicized form and certainly put out great songs… I just had trouble telling if it was a great episode due to the number of commercials that went with it (seriously, it felt like every two seconds there was another break). Either way, hope springs eternal that the episode is going to usher in a resurgent second half of the season for Glee (even if that resurgence is, just like the decline, only in our minds).
Now, right on the heels of the post-Super Bowl episode, Glee is doing a Valentine’s Day, love-themed, one and the fit seems perfect. The number of love songs that exist in this world is tremendous, the amount of time that high schoolers spend focusing on love is ridiculous, and romantic entanglements—potential and otherwise—on the show is stupendous.
Having seen the episode, I will say that I think it’s a strong one for the show, although it still doesn’t really live up to the first season. Without spoiling anything, one of the reasons the episode doesn’t work for me is because it gives off a feel that they’re resetting some of the characters and situations, returning them to where we saw them either last year or earlier in the season. I understand that high school is a great place for backsliding, but I’d rather the show didn’t participate in it. Rather than many of the current stories existing because the show wants the stories to go somewhere, I feel like they’re there so that characters can later actually be where the writers want them.
The songs that are featured on tonight’s episode are, mostly, excellent selections, particularly Puck’s rendition of the Queen classic “Fat Bottomed Girls.” If you ask me (and, as I often say, clearly you do because you’re reading this), that’s the exact sort of curveball that the show should—and often does—regularly throw into the mix in with more traditional choices like Paul McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs” (which pretty much had to appear in the episode as it’s entitled “Silly Love Songs”).
As I’ve said before, for me Glee still lives and dies by the songs sung on the show (be they sung by New Directions or someone else) and so when the set list is good, I tend to be happy. When the set list is lackluster, I’m disappointed. I actually think that the fact that my feelings haven’t changed about this for more than a season now is something of a problem for the show; that is, it’s a problem if I’m not the only who feels this way. There are an incredible number of songs in the universe, so Glee doesn’t have to worry about running out of good selections, but if they never craft characters that we really care about, simply tuning in to watch the cast sing is going to get old much more quickly.
So, I say forget the sophomore slump stuff, the character problem has bothered me since the first season and is much more serious. The show needs to do more than live and die by the music being sung, they need to convince us that we want to see these people sing, and until they do that on a regular basis rather than in an episode here and there the series will never hit its full potential.
Maybe they’ll work on that in season three.