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TV Review: Glee – “Wonder-ful”

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Regionals are fast approaching, so in this week’s installment of FOX’s Glee, titled “Wonder-ful,” Will (Matthew Morrison), still inexplicably sans Finn (Cory Monteith), has the New Directions sing the music of Stevie Wonder. Which also carries over to characters not at McKinley, for some reason, and no one gripes about it, even though a frequent concern among the students is that the music Will likes is too old.

“Wonder-ful” provides a lot to complain about. From giant plot holes, to confusing character developments, to a pretty boring soundtrack, there is little about this episode I liked. “Wonder-ful” is great in small doses, but the further into the hour we go, the less interesting the songs, which include “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” “I Wish,” “Higher Ground,” and “For Once in My Life,” become. Also, theme weeks worked when the character were all together, but now that series has multiple settings, it’s time to stop them.

Also, I know Finn’s absence is out of the control of the show’s creators, Monteith having been in rehab, but can’t we get a line of dialogue that establishes why he’s no longer around? It doesn’t make sense for the story that he’s just gone.

That’s not the only thing that doesn’t add up in “Wonder-ful.” Kitty (Becca Tobin) suddenly takes an interest in Artie (Kevin McHale), getting Artie’s mother (Katey Sagal, Sons of Anarchy) involved in helping him choose a college. Why is Kitty doing this? Isn’t she with Puck (Mark Salling)? And there is no chemistry between her and Artie, so it’s hard to believe that she might be interested in him.

Artie has been accepted into a film school in Brooklyn, which all but guarantees he’ll be joining the New York crew next year. This is very disappointing because Artie is one of those characters who I am anxious to see depart the series. It was bad enough he seemed to do senior year twice, now he’s sticking around after high school? He has never had an interesting story, and he tends to drag down the episodes that focus on him. Glee would be better served letting him wheel off into the sunset, rarely, if ever, to be seen again.

Speaking of those who should move on, Mercedes (Amber Riley) comes back to Ohio to film a music video, intending to use Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.) and Jake (Jacob Artist) as her back-up dancers. As much as I miss and love Mercedes, are we really supposed to believe she already has a record deal, and enough influence to move production of said album to a small town in Ohio, as well as pick her dancers? She must be the most sought-after artist of her generation!

Except she’s not, as we quickly find out, when she loses her deal because she refuses to act sexy in the album’s cover shoot. I understand holding onto one’s morals, and it’s a good message for Glee to promote, but it’s not realistic. It’s not like Mercedes is asked to go nude. What’s wrong with showing off a little shoulder or cleavage to get a career off the ground? She makes a big mistake walking away over something so minor. If they aren’t going to be used properly, it’s time for Mercedes, and Mike, to move on.

The one good thing Mercedes does during her visit is to encourage Marley (Melissa Benoist) to find her inner diva, as we see happen when they perform “Superstition” together. I hope this is something that sticks because Marley has slowly been coming out of her shell, and she’s very good. I’d like to see her take over as leader of the group next year. She can handle it. Combined with Jake’s dancing, they are our new power couple.

Kurt (Chris Colfer) also returns to Ohio, but he has a valid reason to visit, as his dad, Burt (Mike O’Malley), has an appointment to learn if his cancer treatment has been working. It has, thankfully, and Burt’s disease is in remission.

I love Kurt / Burt stuff, but as far as father / son moments go, Kurt singing “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” just fails to deliver. It’s not the right forum to be sweet; most of the group isn’t involved, so it doesn’t feel right in the choir room in front of everyone, and Burt’s enthusiasm for it is just a little too over the top.

Also, why does Kurt exhibit bad OCD when he is worried, but this is almost immediately dropped, without Blaine (Darren Criss) even getting a chance to bring it up? Blaine clearly notices the odd behavior at the coffee shop. Why doesn’t this go anywhere? It doesn’t seem like the type of thing that will be addressed next week in the season finale, and with so little time left this year, it likely will not be mentioned again.

Something that may or may not make it into the finale is Blaine’s desire to propose to Kurt. Blaine has a terrific scene with Burt, asking for Burt’s blessing. Burt shoots him down, but not unkindly, basically telling Blaine that the boys are too young. Blaine later chickens out asking Kurt, but that doesn’t mean he won’t screw up the courage later.

I applaud Glee for allowing Burt to view Blaine’s request merely as an age issue, rather than a legal one, with Burt establishing he vocally supports gay marriage. This is the mindset we need to have, as a society, in order for equality to take root.

But Burt’s right, Blaine and Kurt are too young. Not to mention, they haven’t been dating since early fall. Going from barely being in each other’s lives to getting married, skipping the romance steps in between, is a horrible idea.

In New York, Rachel (Lea Michele) must ask Cassandra July (Kate Hudson) to move a midterm for her so that she can attend a 2nd callback for Funny Girl on Broadway. To her surprise, Cassandra not only agrees, but leads the class in singing and dancing “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” with Rachel, telling the student that she will succeed.

I’m sorry, but I don’t buy Cassandra’s about-face. It comes out of nowhere, and is in stark contrast to the way she has treated Rachel all year. There has never been a hint that Cassandra’s sternness might be covering up a soft heart, as the film trope goes, and Cassandra has been downright petty. She has to be up to something, hoping to sabotage Rachel. If not, this is a pretty poor turn of events.

Other complaints about this episode include Will’s sudden re-engagement to Emma (Jayma Mays), with no explanation or reconciliation shown, and the continued absence of Joe (Samuel Larsen) and Sugar (Vanessa Lengies). At least where Brittany (Heather Morris) is this week is explained, but the other two are just gone, and have been for far too long.

So what can we expect from next week’s season finale? There’s a lot to get through! Sue (Jane Lynch) must be re-instated and Becky’s (Lauren Potter) story resolved, the New Directions have to go to Regionals, Will will marry Emma, and Rachel has her audition. If we’re lucky, Glee will have time to jump forward and show the graduation of the seniors, but that seems to be stretching things at this point, especially as I haven’t heard anything about a two-hour finale, which feels necessary. Maybe they could wrap up this school year next fall? Doubtful, but it seems like they sort of need to.

Glee, which has already been renewed for two more reasons, concludes its fourth year next Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

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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