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TV Review: Glee – “Glease”

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“Glease” is the word this week on FOX’s Glee. Which is funny because it isn’t actually a word. Nor does it deserve to be. In an entire episode that serves as a mashup between Glee and Grease, the music from the musical remains as classic as ever, but some of the performances are an inferior echo of the original, not because of lack of talent, but because it’s such a blatant copy. It’s a good thing that there’s some actual Glee character development plot included, too.

“Glease” works best when the cast isn’t trying to recreate scenes from the movie. Sure, Finn (Cory Monteith) taking the guys to a mechanic shop to practice “Greased Lightin’” and Kitty’s (Becca Tobin) girls’ sleepover “Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee” bit may enact scenes that look just like the John Travolta / Olivia Newton John film, but they stretch the plot a little too much towards the cheesy side. Similarly, the set design in McKinley’s production is way too advanced for a high school budget, though it makes “Beauty School Dropout” and “You’re the One That I Want,” the former a favorite moment from this episode, look nearly identical to the inspiration.

This continues a trend in season four of things that seem like a good idea on the surface, but don’t quite work right when they are played out. I am referring to the way that alumni keep returning to McKinley and acting like they are adults, while still socializing with their younger student pals. Most high schoolers can’t wait to move on after graduation, and those that don’t are not generally regarded so highly as the ones on Glee. Letting Finn serve as Will’s (Matthew Morrison) temporary glee club replacement actually does all right by the character, but Mercedes (Amber Riley), Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.), and Santana (Naya Rivera) really need to find some new friends and activities to get involved in.

That’s what Rachel (Lea Michelle) and Kurt (Chris Colfer) are doing. They do come back to watch their friends do the musical, but they are also beginning to break ties and look towards their futures. Things have changed, their chums have moved on, and the duo feel it. It’s hard to imagine them flying home again for the next minor event. And that’s a good thing. Whether Glee opts to shift even more into a post-high school focus next season, or drop a large number of original cast members, this balancing act often feels forced, and cannot continue indefinitely.

The continued presence of the older crowd also steals focus from the newbies. Marley (Melissa Benoist) and Ryder (Blake Jenner) barely open “You’re the One That I Want” before being replaced by Rachel and Finn, and soon Kurt and the others are imagined into the scene, too. Yes, it’s nice to see some more resolution will all of the recently dissolved couples, but not at the expense of some characters that are just beginning to grow on us.

Unique (Alex Newell) gets the biggest shaft in “Glease.” His parents (including Chuck‘s Mark Christopher Lawrence) pull him from the show because they are worried about bullying, since he has a female part, even though they do accept their son for who he is. This seems a step backwards from the Kurt days, with Unique having to re-fight some of the same battles. It also means that s/he only gets a few lines of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do,” a crying shame, no matter how good Rivera can handle the number.

Also, I don’t care how dumb Brittany (Heather Morris) is, we cannot honestly be expected to believe that she thinks Mercedes and Unique are the same person.

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
  • Maskay

    I had an issue with Marley’s storyline. Is the girl that stupide that she thinks she’s gaining weight because her costume is getting tighter, but the clothes she wears everyday aren’t? With an overweight mother, her character would be very in tune with her body on a daily basis.

    And Tina couldn’t tell someone else has re-sewn the clothing? Very weak.

    Agree with the graduates coming back–they’ve been gone six months, they aren’t adults, makes no sense.

  • http://jeromewetzel.com Jerome Wetzel

    Maskay – Excellent point! I didn’t even think about her other clothes!

    I’m not surprised Tina couldn’t tell, though. I don’t care for her anyway. :)

  • Lori

    Are you seriously saying that Alex Newell is a good actor? Better than Blake Jenner? You’ve got to be kidding? Alex way overacts – if you can call it acting. He’s terrible and so is Samuel Larson. Blake acts circles around them.

  • Charlotte

    Really? All this review does is bag out glee. There are some things I agree with such as Santana and Mercedes and stuff coming back especially Mercedes never ever liked her. But eating disorders are serious and they can start with simple things like that. Girl’s are sensitive about weight and even the smallest things can make you think you’re fat. It’s an issue of the mind not really of your outside. Most girls with eating disorders start off small. I know because I have one. And Unique needs to go. The character is too over the top and not believable. He was very annoying on the glee project and doesn’t deserve to be on a show such as glee. Blake is a great actor and has jumped into the role very quickly and very well All Sam does is mope around and look deep in thought no that hard. I like the story lines and think Glee is going down the right path.