8
Oct
2009
Glee: Season 1, Episode 6
Vitamin D
Jordan
I wasn't aware this was possible, but this week, Glee put both its best and worst feet forward. There are two camps of fans, both polarized and entrenched in their position. On the one hand are people who think the show can do no wrong, and get up in arms when anyone criticizes it. On the other there are those who believe the show is a poorly put together waste of time that isn't worth the price of admission (which, since it's on TV, is free). I belong to the hidden third camp that is striking out a position between the other two. I think that Glee is a very funny show with strong potential to become a great hour of "can't miss" TV. I also think that very often the plotting on the show is a train wreck and that they are continually making some pretty large mistakes on a semi-weekly basis. I think there have been some home run episodes, but I also think that the show has some serious problems. To put it simply, I'm torn.

Let's start with the bad stuff. In our first review of Glee which was for its second episode (the pilot aired last spring before Review To Be Named was really up and running) I discussed my hatred of the character of Terri, Will's wife. She was written as a heartless, evil, shrew of a woman that we are supposed to believe the kind, caring, witty Mr. Shue loves dearly and has married. Since then the show has occasionally tried to color her as more of an unbelievable ditz. Neither of these characters is particularly realistic, but at least in the case of the latter she can be funny and more unassuming. Tonight, unfortunately, she was mostly the former. Her attempts to cut Emma out of Will's life could have easily been justified with a little bit of effort, but instead she becomes monstrous, trying to destroy Emma and potentially hurting Ken irreparably as well.

Her character clearly exists as a roadblock between Will and Emma, but does it have to be such a gratingly obvious one? Given thirty seconds I could devise a sympathetic wife who makes Will happy, and I would still want Will to be with the love of his life over her. Glee is too afraid to have its characters do anything we might find unlikable (or even anything really beyond "quirky" it seems), but at the same time it wants us to root for the main character to commit adultery. The sad fact is, during her confrontation with Emma, Terri had a valid point. Emma is attempting to engage in an affair with a married man who has a pregnant (not really, but as far as she knows) wife. The fact that Terri is evil makes that easier for us to handle, but I wish the show would take a chance and not make its romantic potentials foregone conclusions by pairing them off with characters who are either profoundly unlikable (Terri, Quinn in her worst moments) or profoundly unsuited to make the characters happy (Ken, Quinn in her better moments). A little gray area won't kill you, Glee, it will make you stronger.

The other issue I take with "Vitamin D" is the storyline of the episode, which is pretty much a train wreck. For one thing, I understand that the show likes to lapse into the absurd, and I often love it for that, but in no version of reality would Terri ever be able to get a job as the school nurse. Beyond that, I also know that Sue has dirt on the Principal, but I find it very hard to believe that he thinks of her as a responsible individual who can help nourish the Glee Club participants. For God's sake, she is heartless, abusive, and advocated caning on local news like two episodes ago! All of those things contribute to making her the funniest character on a very funny show (more on that later) but none of it makes her a fit guardian or the logical choice to keep an eye on Will. Even logically, Emma or Ken would make much better secondary coaches and those are just the first two other teachers to pop into my head (Sandy would probably be about as bad as Sue).

Additionally, the show continually has a bad habit of creating problems for the primary cast that seem to pop out of thin air. Finn's fatigue is less of a leap than previous character turns (Will wants to be a star so much he leaves Glee, Rachel wants to be a star so much she leaves Glee or Mercedes discovering her love for Kurt are all fine examples of the trend), but a little build up would still be nice. If we saw the pressures of Finn's life mounting, it would be much easier to relate with his decision to start dropping uppers. Also, the apathy of the entire group this week comes from nowhere. Most of these kids are usually pretty motivated to win, so to watch them decide coasting is fine after they were willing to bring in a middle aged ringer to win just one episode ago is a large logical leap. Character development consists of more than just "something happens," these characters need to grow toward the changes they make, otherwise they are just creations of the wackiest, sing-songiest procedural the world has ever seen.

Now to the good stuff. Despite all of the ranting I have done in this review so far, the episode made me laugh consistently, and often pretty hard. My angry side wanted to give the episode a flat C, but I laughed so much throughout that I knew it couldn't go below a B-. Sue's journal (quoted extensively in the notes section) stands out as one of the funniest scenes the show has done so far, and both of the mash ups were flat out incredible (especially considering I dislike both of the songs the boys mashed up and hate "Halo" more every time my mother plays it when I visit home). I can bluster and rage at the show's flaws, I can even see where its most violent detractors are coming from, but I can't keep myself from finding it pretty consistently hilarious, and at its best, heartwarming. I just hope that it figures out how to fix its flaws before it becomes devoured by them.

Grade: B-

Notes:

-I like that their competition at Sectionals is a school for the deaf and a halfway house.

-"Ellen, that blouse is just insane." I love that Sue doesn't even know Emma's name.

-"Every one of these people of elements was a champion in their own right." "I don't understand how lightning is in competition with an above ground swimming pool." Also included on Will's chart: A bear, a shark, and Bill Clinton.

-"We're planning on smacking them down like the hand of God."

-"But you're not a nurse. You don't have any training!" "Oh please will. It's a public school."

-Excerpts from Sue's journal monologue: "Dear journal. Feeling listless again today. It began at dawn when I tried to make a smoothie out of beef bones, breaking my juicer.["¦] Without a championship I'll lose my endorsements. And without those endorsements, I won't be able to buy my hovercraft. ["¦] Every time I try to destroy that club it only comes back stronger like some sexually ambiguous whore movie villain. ["¦] bi-curious machinations of a cabal of doughy, misshapen teens."

- "I see them together all the time"¦laughing, talking. All the things she never does with me!"

-Which reminds me, Ken's proposal was very sad and sweet, but the idea that Emma would actually say yes is another thing that stretches into ridiculous territory. The show has been on for 6 episodes and its attempts to keep characters apart are already incredibly contrived.

-"All my costuming decisions have been derided as too costly because they involve several varieities of exotic bird feathers."

-"A lot of ants on the sidewalk today." "Pretty late in the season for that."

-"I need to talk to you. Its about the baby." "Are you having it right now?" "What? No! Arent you a nurse?"
Tags: Glee
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