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TV Review: Glee – “Acafellas”

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This summer, I’ll be going back to review the season one episodes of FOX’s Glee. These are fresh reviews, not reposts, and I hope you will enjoy reliving the first season with me.

FOX’s Glee‘s third episode is “Acafellas.” In it, Rachel (Lea Michele) insults Will’s (Matthew Morrison) choreography skills, so he turns his attentions to forming a boy band called Acafellas. The New Directions set out to hire a new dance teacher, except Finn (Cory Monteith), who understands that Will just has bruised feelings, and they should fix things with him. Mercedes (Amber Riley) is depressed about being single, and is encouraged to seek out Kurt (Chris Colfer) as a potential boyfriend. Needless to say, this does not end well. At the same time, Sue (Jane Lynch) has her Cheerio spies pulling the strings to divide the glee club, and their actions are related to the unfortunate events above.

The main theme of this episode is confidence. Those that have it will achieve their dreams and be happy. Those that do not will fail. Many of the characters face various dilemmas of confidence.

Quinn (Dianna Agron) perhaps figures it out best, telling Sue that the cheerleading coach teaches her a valuable lesson. If one is confident, they do not need to bring other people down. Does this mean Sue is deeply not at peace with herself? There’s not much to indicate that that’s true, however Quinn has an excellent point. It’s why the Cheerios will soon stop trying to destroy the New Directions. It may also be why Sue will not be happy anytime soon. Luckily, things in the late season two episode “Funeral” hint at another path for Sue to find fulfillment.

Finn is confident that the New Directions can succeed, while Rachel is not. This leads Rachel, and the others, to seek out legendary choreographer Dakota Stanley (Whit Hertford). But despite all the effort it takes to land Dakota, Rachel eventually realizes Finn is right, after all, and Dakota just wants to change the club. He is an angry, little man, not at all happy. Whereas the New Directions are better off without him trying to change them. Thankfully, Rachel comes to her senses, and fires Dakota, finally listening to Finn.

Kurt is facing a serious lack of confidence, in that he can’t bring himself to come out of the closet. The fact that he has no trouble airing his flamboyant tastes and wearing “fashionable” clothes, but can’t bring himself to tell people that he’s gay, should help the straight viewers understand just how big a deal it is to admit one is homosexual. Or so I imagine, finding myself in the straight viewer category. This is a boy who shows tremendous courage every day in being himself, but has one big “secret” he cannot find the strength to admit. There’s hope, as he does come out to one person, Mercedes, in an incredibly sweet scene. The first of many for breakout star Colfer.

Mercedes is still struggling with being confident in herself two years later. She is just finding her first boyfriend as season two ends. This is sad, because she is extremely talented, compassionate, and has a lot of offer. She proves her brass with the only solo performance in the episode, “Bust Your Windows,” a fantastic demonstration of her sassy attitude. She is confident in her voice, but not with her body. Sadly, this is not an unusual problem. Having confidence in something about yourself does not automatically cover everything else.

“Acafellas” is brimming with wonderful guest stars. Among the top talent are Victor Garber (Eli Stone, Alias) and Debra Monk (Damages, Grey’s Anatomy) as Will’s parents. Both of these two are fabulous singers, yet neither get the chance to croon on Glee. They just show up as supportive parents. While they are great in those roles, it’s a little sad they never showcase their singing abilities. Will’s father’s decision to return to night school to become a lawyer is a decent explanation for why they have never returned, since that would keep him very busy. Yet they are now overdue for a comeback, with a song this time.

Also appearing is Josh Groban as himself, which he later does again in this first season of Glee. The conceit to get him there in “Acafellas,” with him showing up to watch the Acafellas because Sandy (Stephen Tobolowsky) invites him, but he really comes to deliver a restraining order, is thin, at best. Surely, restraining orders are not usually delivered personally. And on that errand, the victim doesn’t stick around to watch a musical group perform for the PTA. It’s gratuitous. But one hilarious line he utters, “Josh Groban loves a blousy alcoholic,” makes it worth it, even though it adds nothing to the plot.

Musically, this episode doesn’t give anything to the New Directions, which is pretty unusual. Mercedes gets the aforementioned number, which strangely enough, she does with Cheerio backing, even though her fellow glee club members are nearby. Granted, the entire thing is in her head, but still… Why would she choose the popular kids that don’t like her rather than her supportive friends?

Vocal Adrenaline also returns with “Mercy,” apparently a piece just meant to show that Dakota is a ruthless dictator with his choreography. It looks impressive, but without any characters to care about in the group, that’s all it is.

The rest of the numbers are performed by Acafellas, which originally consists of Will, Ken (Patrick Gallagher), Howard (Kent Avenido), and Henri (Tony Award Winning Broadway star John Lloyd Young). Strangely, and regrettably, Henri is only in this one episode, and does not get to be featured heavily singing. Another missed opportunity, like Garber and Monk. This first group sings “This Is How We Do It” and “Poison,” as well as “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” with Sandy.

Then Howard and Henri quit, and Finn and Puck (Mark Salling) join, as does Sandy, and the group does “I Wanna Sex You Up.” All the Acafellas songs sound great, but they are only there to let Will taste a bit of his dream, not for any larger plot point. As such, the music in this episode, while well done, is less moving than in most episodes. After all, none of these pieces even make the Volume One soundtrack, save Mercedes’s number.

In what has become a regular part of these season one reviews, random continuity notes:

Brittany (Heather Morris) is sometimes shown hanging out with Quinn and Santana (Naya Rivera), but mostly is left out, and it even missing from at least one New Directions group scene. Funnily enough, Morris is paired with Rivera in the opening credits. At least Brittany is featured dancing in “Bust Your Windows.”

Windshields do not bust in the manner in which Kurt’s does. They are comprised of two sheets of glass with an adhesive bit in the middle. It takes a lot to put a hole in it, and it would develop long cracks, too. It appears to be tempered glass, which is generally used in the side windows. I actually found usefull, applicable knowledge from my sixteen months of handling auto insurance glass claims!

Also, how does Kurt’s father afford that vehicle? He is a mechanic, and is never shown as rich. It seems extravagant for effect, not realism.

A school car wash made $8,000? Seriously? Has any school car wash ever made that much? That’s a heck of a lot of clean cars. They should just do another one in season two when they need to raise money to get to New York City.

Emma (Jayma Mays) slams John Stamos (Full House, ER) by saying “It takes more certainity than talent to be a star; look at John Stamos.” A joke? Stamos will later play Emma’s husband Carl in season two. Surely the people behind the series don’t think badly of him, or he would never have been cast.

This is the first episode Will is seen longing for a performing career. He gives it up because he finds teaching is his true calling. Watching this episode, his decision in the season two finale, “New York,” should be predictable.

Dakota Stanley calls Finn “Frankenteen.” This will not be the last time Finn is called that. Actor Cory Monteith must enjoy it, because it’s his twitter name.

Puck says he has a thing for moms. While his attraction is about maturity, it could possibly have something to do with having kids, or Puck wanting to have kids. Perhaps this is foreshadowing, as once Quinn reveals she is pregnant with his baby, he tries to get with her.

I welcome all of your musings and insights in the comments section below. Join me next week as I review the fourth episode of Glee season one, and also the fifth, if I have time.

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About JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome writes TV reviews for BlogCritics.org and Seat42F.com, as well as fiction. He is a frequent guest on two podcasts, Let's Talk TV with Barbara Barnett and The Good, the Bad, & the Geeky. All of his work can be found on his website, jeromewetzel.com