GLEE: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON
MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Matthew Morrison as WILL SCHUESTER
Jane Lynch as SUE SYLVESTER
Jayma Mays as EMMA PILLSBURY
Lea Michele as RACHEL BERRY
Cory Monteith as FINN HUDSON
Chris Colfer as KURT HUMMEL
Mark Salling as NOAH “PUCK” PUCKERMAN
Dianna Argon as QUINN FABRAY
Studio: 20th Century Fox
BY KEVIN CARR
I’ve had a bit of a rough history with “Glee.” I didn’t watch the first season on broadcast television, but when I got the first season on Blu-ray to review, I found that I quite liked it. It started out quite edgy, and it wasn’t sanitized for younger audiences. You had a pervy music teacher who was fired, and you had one of the characters selling pot brownies to keep the glee club in business.
It was created by Ryan Murphy, who was behind the punchy and clever high school dramedy “Popular.” “Glee” had a similar hyper-realistic feel to it, and it was very fun. Plus, the writers really made an effort to work the songs into the show so it actually furthered the story, and I appreciated that.
I enjoyed the series enough to set my DVR to record it in its second season. But then the seconds season started to air, and I sensed a change. Gone were the overly edgy references. It was replaced with self-help fluff and social engineering.
It was clear that “Glee” had become self-aware. Once it reached “hit” status, the show changed. It wasn’t just some scrappy television show that was out to have fun. It realized that the viewers were impressionable high school kids, and messages were slathered into the scripts. And for as backwardly progressive as the show was to present issues of sexual identity (because I ask you, what’s all that progressive about having a high-tenor, effeminate fashionista as the gay kid in school or the aggressive street kid from the wrong side of the tracks being a lesbian?), it shied away from anything edgy.
This was no more apparent than when they did their “Rocky Horror Glee Show” episode. Lyrics were changed, characters were miscast and sexual references were fiercely toned down in the name of family entertainment. More over, the music had become just a random series of covers that were designed to sell iTunes downloads rather than to tell a story.
So I quit watching.
But I thought I’d give the show one more chance in the third season, so here I am, reviewing it for the Blu-ray release of “Glee: The Complete Third Season.”
My ire against the show has settled a bit. However, I don’t know if I’m more accepting because my standards have been greatly lowered or because it’s actually gotten better. The best thing I can say is that I no longer hate the series. (Though I do still fast-forward through many of the now irrelevant musical numbers.)
This season sees the senior year of many of the glee club members. This helps direct some character development for them. Rather than aimlessly circling the high school hallways, we actually have some direction for Finn and Rachel, as well as Kurt. The day-to-day soap operas of their lives are still there, but at least they aren’t aimlessly moving about.
The music is still random and pointless at times. With so many themed episodes, including tributes to Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, the numbers become more about reshooting music videos than actually being relevant. The highest song-per-episode ratio comes in the competition runs, when multiple glee clubs are performing. These aren’t highly relevant, but they at least make sense in the scheme of things.
Since several of the seniors are leaving, the writers are struggling to mold a “Glee” for the fourth season. To do this, they’ve brought on new cast members and expanded others. Unfortunately, these new cast members aren’t nearly as interesting as the original crew, and several of them are winners of “The Glee Project.” That means they can sing, but their on-screen charisma, personality and acting ability isn’t quite there.
The show continues to be socially and politically aggressive, trying to balance issues like homosexuality, spousal abuse, bullying and even Christianity. This bores me because I didn’t start watching “Glee” for social engineering. I started watching it because it was an interesting.
Still, in the end, this season is far better than the second one. As things wrapped up, and we say (sort of) good-bye to some of the characters, it’s quite bittersweet. The final episode of the season has some great call-backs, and it’s got plenty of tender moments. Fans will love it, and even grumpy old cynics like me will find some things to enjoy about it.
The Blu-ray still has some decent special features, though it’s expectedly a bit slim since it’s the third season. There’s a “Glee Music Jukebox” on all discs so you can just listen to the songs. There’s also quite a few deleted scenes on multiple episodes. Additional featurettes include “Glee Under the Stars,” “Glee Give a Note,” “Glee Swap: Behind the Scenes of ‘Props,’” “Meet the Newbies,” “Saying Good-bye,” “Ask Sue: World Domination Blog” and my person favorite, “Return of Sue’s Quips.”