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TV Review: Glee – “The Rocky Horror Glee Show”

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If you’re like me, you love FOX’s Glee, adore the movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and were frequently uncomfortable when the two combined.  My first thought on hearing that Glee was staging such a production was, “You can’t do that with high school kids!” This controversy was acknowledged repeatedly by characters, but still Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) pushed on with his plans to bring the risque, campy pop culture icon onto a drama stage.

The people trying to stop him did not go far enough. Principal Figgins (Iqbal Theba) was worse than incompetent, telling Will he could go through with his plans, but any responsibility that came of it would fall on Will and his club. That isn’t the slightest bit realistic. Sure, a teacher who went through with it would be fired, at the very least. But the principal would take a lot of the blame as well.  You can’t stage a musical at a high school without the office’s approval.

Only Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) saw what was really going on, and she still enabled it. Sure, she actually debated logically, and created a very sane, reasonable news piece against it. But while wanting it to forward for her own personal gains (so she could win the local Emmy for her news bit), she participated in the show.  What she told Will about getting involved in the show for personal reasons, not to benefit the kids, applies to her as well.

Body issues are a big worry on many high schoolers’ minds. Usually this is thought of as a female problem, but Glee went in the other direction.  Finn (Cory Monteith), a popular football player, was extremely self-conscious about parading around in his underwear. Though, I admit, he made a wonderful Brad. New guy Sam (Chord Overstreet) was even more toned than Finn, with finely developed abs, but he worried about a bit of flab spilling over his Creature costume (if you can call a small piece of gold fabric a costume), and later commented that a slightly pinch of skin was due to eating Doritos.  This is a serious issue, as many teenagers have easting disorders.  I’d like to see Glee pursue this plot with Sam, instead of dismissing it so trivially.

I was uncomfortable with many of the performances and costumes, because although Glee does address sexuality, it should be done sparingly in a school setting. A teacher by profession, that may lend to my prudeness on the subject. I was, though, disappointed at how several of the songs were cut short, as I do love the music from Rocky Horror.

My complaints aside, there was a lot to compliment as well. I wasn’t overly impressed with the soundtrack I bought last week. However, when staged, Glee really rocked the songs it chose, and it chose the best songs from the show. In particular, I was very impressed with Mercedes (Amber Riley) belting out “Sweet Transvestite”, though she changed “transexual” to “sensational”, which was kind of an obvious tone-down ploy. The show left many potentially offense parts intact, but changed a word in a signature song? Still, kudos to her.

A close second favorite was “Touch A Touch A Touch A Touch Me”, done by Will and Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays). I have been thinking that she better fits with Carl (John Stamos, who rocked “Whatever Happened to Saturday Night?” in his own right). Her scandalous song and dance with Will was hot, and opened the door for the Glee Club Director and her again. It was definitely taken to another level by the voyeuristic exploits of Santana (Naya Rivera) and Brittany (Heather Morris), mirroring the spying antics of Columbia and Magenta in the movie.

Santana also did a fair job on “Science Fiction Double Feauture”, though I miss the less polished voice from the movie. I’m not sure it should have sounded so good. Although barely featured in any songs, I also have to mention that Kurt (Chris Colfer) made a divine Riff Raff. He had the motions and facial expressions down perfectly, and looked the part.

Lastly, it was a thrill to see two of the original Rocky Horror movie cast members do a scene. Barry Bostwick (Spin City), who played Brad, and Meat Loaf, who was Eddie, were two cable news executives who asked Sue to do her expose. It was a nice little homage to the movie this episode was based on, and always a pleasure to see those two again. I just wish there had been more Rocky actors involved.

Even though Glee took last week off, this was just a special Halloween episode, and the show will also take a break next week.  Then I assume it will be back all through November sweeps; a Christmas episode is also in the works.  Glee airs on FOX Tuesdays at 8pm.

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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
  • http://notesfromnancy.blogspot.com NancyGail

    In fairness, Dammmit Janet IS the title. The change Mercedes sang was done by writers long ago. That really is risque even for performance.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    though she changed “transexual” to “sensational”, which was kind of an obvious tone-down ploy.

    Why transvestite would be okay and not transsexual is beyond me, especially when she changes the gender in the lyrics so she’s not playing a transvestite. The changes in “Toucha” were a tad awkward.

    Eddie’s song is “Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul”.

    Nancy, what are you referring to in relation to “Dammit Janet”?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    Nancy – I’m confused. I don’t see where I wrote about Dammmit Janet. Unless you just were commenting on the language.

    Bicho – I thought that was the Eddie song, too, but the title listed on the official Glee soundtrack was what I used.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Several lines were ‘sanitized,’ notably in “Touch-A Touch-A” [“heavy petting” became “heavy sweating,” “seat wetting” became “bad fretting”].

    I enjoyed the show, but I thought the conceit about the material not being appropriate for high schoolers was unconvincing and not well thought out. Glee has had plenty of suggestiveness and ‘naughty’ lines all along; to suddenly pretend it’s G-rated makes no sense. And doing the final performance without an audience was just dumb.

  • davidk

    The latest in a series of highconcept, lowcontent episodes. Glee is beginning to disappoint just a wee bit.

  • isolde

    The Rocky Horror Show is one of the most inventive musicals produced in its time – and with Glee giving it a sort of mediocre treatment (performance- and production-wise) is a bit insulting and annoying. It’s about time Glee stop paying “homage” to notable productions and artists and come up with something more original and intelligent episodes. Its first few ones have interesting story lines but when it hit popularity, the episodes went downhill with no substance and unfounded teenage characters in a supposedly high school setting. Teenagers are far more intelligent and street wise than these characters.

  • George Austin

    Touch A Touch A Touch A Touch Me was one of the sexiest TV scenes I’ve seen in a long time. What a way to weave in the tension between our main characters in the context of one of the greatest musicals of all time this side of Sound of Music. It made me ask my wife how many times she went to Rocky Horror in High School, and that’s when I found out she’s never seen the whole movie. Midnight movies are a little late for us at this stage in our lives but I think I’m gonna slip a little extra chocolate in her dessert one night and surprise her with a midnight movie.

    My wife watched Glee regularly and once in a while I sit in. When I saw the teaser that Rocky I had to sit in and we well-rewarded. How incredible to get high quality musical performances on a weekly basis!