14 September 2012

‘Glee’-nalysis: Here’s What I Missed on ‘Glee’

Glee launched its fourth season last night on FOX-TV, and I missed it. And I didn’t DVR it, because, really, that’s asking a lot of a middle-aged English-lit major, don’t you think? Because of Fox’s mingy policies, I won’t be able to see the season premiere until next Friday — unless of course some friend managed to record it and invites me over to watch.

But in a very real sense, missing the Glee season premiere doesn’t matter. Because over the previous seasons, I have come to understand something very important: Glee is a state of mind. The show on your TV screen almost never matches the show in your head. So why not kick off the new season with an episode that I made up entirely?

Graduation for the Class of 2012:
Don’t think you’re getting out of here yet.

We open with a scene of Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), on the telephone. Why is he on the telephone, you may ask? Because — in my imaginary show — stuff that happened in previous episodes actually has an impact on stuff that happens in current episodes! (I know it sounds crazy. But it’s my mind.)

So the point is that, an eternity ago, Mr. Schue was the campaign manager for a congressional candidate — who won election! Burt Hummel is now a United States Representative for Lima, Ohio. This means a couple of things. First, Burt wears a jacket and tie much, much more often now. Second, he is up for reelection in November. And finally, even if Burt did the pragmatic, realistic thing and hired a new campaign manager who, oh, you know, actually has a background in politics and isn’t trying to hold down a primary job as a high-school teacher — even if — then Mr. Schue is still an influential political player in a hotly contested swing state in a close national election!

Incredible though it may seem, this man
once starred on a popular TV show.

So Mr. Schue spends this entire episode manning a phone bank and trying to get out the vote for President Obama. We don’t see him again for the rest of this episode. Maybe not until the November sweeps. Nobody notices his absence, however, and we’re free to continue with this exciting season premiere.

Next, we go to the choir room, where Artie (Kevin McHale) takes advantage of Mr. Schue’s absence to indulge his growing desire for power. He declares himself the King of All Glee, and tells all the new kids who just arrived from Glee Project that they have to sit in the back of the room and keep quiet, because he’s waited too long for his spotlight and he’s not about to let them upstage him, the way Rachel and Kurt always did. In fact, King Artie decides that he’s not even going to let them have names, just assigned serial numbers, and the new boys will have to wear bags over their heads.

Upstaged no more?
Kevin McHale (Artie) and Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina).

Just then, Blaine walks in, and since he is still played by Darren Criss, everybody immediately forgets about Artie, and Blaine sings a song that will hit #1 on iTunes by 4:30 this afternoon.

In the background of Blaine’s song, Brittany (Heather Morris) dances like crazy, and in my imaginary Glee, the camera actually lets us see her moves. And Sam (Chord Overstreet) keeps his shirt on because — have you noticed? — he’s lost a lot of ab definition since he made his debut on the show. Don’t tell me I’m imagining that.

Meanwhile Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) sighs and says, “I wish Mike (Harry Shum, Jr.) were still here. He really knew how to flex a number.”

Darren Criss as Blaine: And now for a musical interlude.

Meanwhile, back in New York City, Rachel (Lea Michele) has developed the strange habit of prefacing all her speeches with the words “Meanwhile, back in New York City.” This is deeply confusing to the people around her, although it’s at least reassuring that she hasn’t sustained a major head injury.

Happily enrolled at NYADA, although she’s forgotten what NYADA stands for, Rachel is taking a dance class with Kate Hudson, which we know because Kate Hudson is a huge, huge Hollywood star and Fox sent out clips and pictures weeks ago, so that all Kate Hudson fans would be sure to tune in.

Because, really, when you think of New York icons,
you think of Kate Hudson.
Granted, it’s probably Kate Hepburn and the Hudson River,
but close enough.

In a poignant scene, Kate reminds Rachel that she once had a promising movie career, but that even though no one comes to her movies any more, people still like her because her mother is a beloved star who could giggle while wearing a bikini at the same time.

Really. This is true. You can ask your grandparents. They’ll tell you.

Also, Kate says, wouldn’t it be great if they did a remake of The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes?

Meanwhile, back at McKinley High, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) has had her baby! And she’s named her after her late sister, Jean. We’re all so happy for her. However, because Glee is basically a soap opera with dancing, Baby Jean will mature at a soap-opera rate. Look! There — she’s seven years old already! By the end of this episode, Baby Jean will be a sophomore at McKinley and, much to Sue’s consternation, she will join New Directions.

What Ever Happened to Baby Jean?
Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester

Naturally, obsessive-compulsive guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury (the sublime Jayma Mays) is the only one who notices Baby Jean’s rapid growth. “Don’t you think you’re pushing her a little hard?” she asks Sue.

“You think that’s hard? Try putting on a weekly musical comedy in which most of the so-called ‘high-school students’ are in their mid-20s and depend on AutoTune the way most people need oxygen! That’s hard!”

“This is a musical?” Emma gasps. “I had no idea!” She promptly sings seven entire songs in a row, to make up for lost time.

Jayma Mays as Emma.
I love her. There. I said it.

“Meanwhile, back in New York,” Rachel murmurs softly as she wanders the cold and empty streets, which are really a backlot in Los Angeles. Rachel is lonely, lonely, lonely, without her friends from home. But we know in our hearts that she’ll make new friends, each of whom will make this show even more confusing to watch. She sings the classic New York number, “Another Hundred People Just Got Off of the Bus,” as another hundred people join the cast.

One of these people getting off of the bus is, of course, Quinn (Dianna Agron), who in her latest radical changes of character, is now majoring in Feminist Theory at Yale and carrying on a torrid affair with her professor (special guest star Anne Heche).

Dianna Agron as Quinn: Extreme Behavioral Swings As a Response to the Male Hegemony in Contemporary American Society.

But what of Glee’s defining star, Kurt (Chris Colfer)? When we last saw him, Kurt had inexplicably not been admitted to NYADA, despite the fact that he gave the world’s greatest audition, which was supposed to teach us enduring lessons about life and art. When he was rejected by NYADA, he didn’t even get a reaction shot, much less a single line to express himself — and we’ve waited and wondered about him all summer long.

Well, over the summer, Kurt made a movie and wrote a children’s book. (Chris Colfer really did!) Now he’s living in Washington, DC, with his Congressman dad, where he’s starring in a gender-bending revival of One Touch of Venus* at the Kennedy Center.

Kurt’s NYADA audition taught us to be true to ourselves and to embrace risk. Until it didn’t teach us that.
It also taught us the importance of carrying a spare pair of tight gold trousers at all times in case of emergencies.

The president of NYADA (very special guest star Kevin Kline) comes to Kurt’s dressing room to beg for forgiveness. Kurt is magnanimous, but he belongs to his public now, and he can’t possibly accept the offer to come to NYADA on a full scholarship and a guarantee of a full Broadway contract. Dejected, the president of NYADA leaves, while Kurt looks wistfully at a picture of Blaine and sings “That’s Him.”

So that’s what I missed last night on Glee. But what of all the other beloved cast members? Aren’t you dying to know what’s happened to Santana (combustible Naya Rivera), Mercedes (volcanic Amber Riley), Finn (Cory Monteith), Coach Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones), and bad-boy Puck (Mark Salling)? There are so many stories to explore!

Will Artie succeed in his fiendish quest for World Domination? Will he and Tina start dating again, or will he simply clone her? Will Jenna Ushkowitz have more to do if she’s playing two Tinas instead of one? Will Rory (Damian McGinty) develop a personality? Or will he just keep standing there like an idiot? In what fresh and exciting ways will Principal Figgins’ (Iqbal Theba) hands be tied this season?

We’ll have to watch to find out — or else make it up for ourselves!

*NOTE: They thought about changing the title to something more masculine, but Kurt declared that it was a big part already and they didn’t need to fiddle with it.

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