Around the Water Cooler: “Glee” – “The Quarterback” and The End

THE SPECS:

Who: “Glee” currently airs on network TV, specifically on FOX, Thursdays at 9:00 PM.

What: “Glee,” a musical comedy about a high school show choir or “glee club,” the show choir members’ quest for acceptance of themselves and each other, their reflections on their place in the world and in their maturation, and their attempts to survive the minefield that is high school (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/glee/summary.html).

When: The Season 5 premiere aired on Thursday, September 26, 2013, on FOX at 9:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in fictional McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio, though it also travels to New York City to follow some of the characters who have graduated high school since the series began.

Why: As a theatrical person, and traditionally an eccentric in my own right, Glee initially appealed to me on many levels.  The bigger question is: why am I still watching it?  This question is addressed below.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

Glee has been on hiatus for a month, with its fourth episode of the season returning this Thursday.   This is presumably to provide bereavement time for the cast as well as time to map a “new direction” (ahem) for the writers, which should come as no surprise to anyone.  This viewer just finished watching episode 3 of the season: “The Quarterback.”  It was a heart-wrenching episode, mourning the death of a character and the actor who played him with all of the necessary catharsis and tears that one would hope for and expect of such an untimely and unforeseen tragedy as the death of Cory Monteith, aka Finn Hudson, the high school quarterback turned Glee Club captain, who also meets an untimely end on the show to parallel his real world persona’s fatefully lost battle with drug addiction.

The episode begins three weeks following the funeral of Finn, causes of which are never fully discussed. As step-brother Kurt (Chris Colfer) notes in his numb introductory voice-over, it doesn’t matter how someone died; it’s better to remember how they lived.  This hour of the usually over-the-top, overly crazy, and overly attention-deficit prone program is generally subtle and simple, streamlined to remember the stricken and how he affected everyone.  The side plots of stolen trees and letter-men jackets are pure nonsense, but the music, and the characters’ visceral reactions to the passing of their friend, which seemed much more real than the typical auto-tuned acting found on this show, are what drive the hour home.

The A. V. Club wrote up a nice article providing point/counterpoint reactions to this episode, which was refreshing compared to the usual cynicism and snark that accompanies most of that rag’s reviews. Taken for what it was, “The Quarterback” was one of the best episodes to come along since season 1, which is irony in and of itself.  As discussed in the previous post, the heart of the show was Finn Hudson; stereotypical “dumb jock” though the character may have initially been, he helped buoy so many of the other characters, including the incredibly off-putting Rachel (Lea Michele), as human and fallible as he was.  This character saw good in everyone, including members of Sue Sylvester’s (Jane Lynch) Cheerios and the Grinch of McKinley High herself, and this theme permeated the episode, in addition to meditations on how grief affects people, and the different shades and hues grief can adopt. The characters, of course, also sang songs, including the saddest rendition of “Make You Feel My Love” ever from Monteith’s real life girlfriend Lea Michele, possibly one of her best performances on the show.

To level with you: this show has been declining in quality, and this viewer stands by that position.  Even this hour of pure, unadulterated grief contained ridiculous distractions, like Santana’s (Naya Rivera) all-out assault of Sue and overly drawn-out rage-anger stage of loss over a guy who had more meaningful relationships with other characters.  Yet, Glee, in this episode, also accomplished what it does best: it boiled down the complex of everyday life into simple observations to which anyone can relate.  Case in point: the scene in Finn’s erstwhile bedroom between Kurt and Burt Hummel and Finn’s mother, Carol.

Monteith’s death will be felt for as long as Glee remains on the air, which brings to mind the next topic for consideration.  According to TV Guide , and other reputable entertainment magazines, Executive Producer and Creator Ryan Murphy has indicated that season 6 will be the show’s last.  This elongated run will presumably fulfill the contract extended by Fox at the beginning of the season, ordering two more full seasons of the show.

In this viewer’s opinion, Glee should end as soon as possible, at the end of this season if not sooner. Does anyone care about the new class?  Even Artie, Tina, and Blaine are somewhat flat, and Rachel, Kurt, and Santana can’t really carry the whole show on the quality of writing available.  Without Finn to anchor and balance the over-the-top archetypes of the other characters – and to give Mr. Schu (Matthew Morrison) a reason for being other than as a perennial punching bag for Sue or a mere babysitter for the new class – Glee‘s decline into mediocrity may mimic a plummet more than a gradual and quiet fade into the proverbial black.

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Here are some of the previous questions and considerations for this season:

1) How will the show deal with Finn, in lieu of Monteith’s death?

Oh.  So that’s how.

2) Is Kurt really going to marry Blaine, or were the doubts he expressed to his dad going to interfere?

If they didn’t, it would just be piling on at this point, yes?

3) Who is that actor that Rachel was reading with in her audition?  He looks familiar.

Still haven’t figured out her male co-star is in Funny Girl.  

4) Will Glee really last for two more seasons, per the last negotiation with FOX?  Personally, I think the fifth season should be the last, now that many of the original characters have left.

^^Yes, it will last two more seasons, but, with regard to ending this season, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

 

PARTING SHOTS

Though “The Quarterback” was a diamond in the ever-present rough of this once-original, formerly fresh, and creatively campy show, Glee has almost attained “jump the shark” status because it’s become so uneven, so by rote over the top, and so formulaic, in that it keeps following the same formula that it created in season one, with less success, over and over and over again.  Without Finn Hudson, much of the heart of the show will be lost.  I will continue watching but probably out of sheer morbid curiosity and nothing more. There really is very little left to enjoy from the show, aside from the occasional funny exchange or forgotten song, rearranged in splendiferous auto-tune.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Glee is slated to end in Spring 2014, after the conclusion of Season 6.  Hopefully, the network, show executives, and cast will come to their senses and call it a day long before then.

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