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"Glee," "Rocky Horror" -- and Very Mixed Feelings

By admin Published: October 27, 2010

I mentioned on Twitter last night that I wasn't entirely won over by "Glee's" "Rocky Horror" episode. Let me elaborate ...

This season of "Glee," in fact, has been up and down for me, and "Rocky Horror" was more of a downer. This is not to say that some of it wasn't fun. Especially liked Emma getting into Rocky mode, although I have some reservations about that as well, and some of the musical numbers were well done. The cameos by Barry Bostwick and Meat Loaf made me smile. And just hearing a snippet of "Time Warp" will, even after 35 years, perk me up for a moment.

But the episode also continued an unfortunate habit this year of the show grabbing a musical concept and trying to make a narrative to fit with it, instead of establishing stories which, in the past at least, have been strong and then finding the songs to go with it. The Britney Spears episode comes to mind, as well as "Rocky Horror." These might seem great for network promos, and sell a lot of songs in iTunes, but they don't make for great dramatic (or comedic) TV.

So much of last night's show just did not make sense. Why on earth would Sue, having been sent out to do a fire-breathing expose, suddenly speak reasonably on the air? Wouldn't her bosses (the guesting Bostwick and Meat Loaf) have had issues with the commentary as recorded? Could we reasonably expect, even in "Glee's" fantasy world, that the reaction of adults and other students to "Rocky Horror" preparation would be for the most part so tepid? Even if Emma is "improving," and loves "Rocky Horror," would her performance have really gone that far -- and wouldn't Santana and Brittany have done more with that information?

I know, it's a musical comedy. But it is also a show that, at its best, respected its characters and told strong stories. Now it's just putting on a nshow -- and even there, it's not always on game. Much as I like Amber Riley as Mercedes, casting Mercedes as Frank-N-Furter was a poor move. (Made me want to go watch Tim Curry again.) In fact, the show overall felt as if what was going on with "Rocky Horror" -- the increasing realization that it just did not work as a high-school musical -- was also happening with "Glee" -- that as production went along, it became ever clearer that "Rocky Horror" was a bad idea. Of course, the show went ahead with it. And this, as I have said, is not the only time the show has yielded to a musical impulse that proved a mistake. I hope the show will right itself, but I'm not optimistic. Right now, it reminds me of reality-show theme weeks, shoehorning ideas into a concept that does not need them.

See also Matthew Gilbert's take on "Glee," written before last night's show.

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