Sunday, April 10, 2016

TV | Glee - Season 4

The Season of Too Many Characters. Seriously. This isn't even all the main characters.
As silly as it may sound, I owe Glee a lot. This blog was started in part because of my obsession with the first three seasons of the show. If you look back to some of my earlier posts, they are incoherent ravings about Glee.  There was a period where I watched all three seasons from start to finish, three times in a row.  There are pop songs for which I have only heard the Glee version (I don't listen to the radio much anymore).  I LOVE this show.  Or I did. Or I do. I don't know.

It had been roughly  four years since I had watched an episode of the show and a lot had happened. There were three new seasons, one of the main characters/actors died, the show was cancelled and the actors and actresses had moved on. If I'm honest I was wary of watching season 4.  Shows based in a High School rarely transition well once characters graduate but I thought that perhaps Glee with all it's melodramatic, campy glory could make it work.  It had music and dancing after all and that makes everything better.  I finally got motivated to give it a shot but first re-watched...again...the first three seasons and I want to say a few words about that first.

Seasons 1-3 were once again spectacular and totally made me fall in love with the show all over again but there were some key differences this go round.
  1. Finn Hudson/Cory Monteith:   His untimely death hovered over everything and it also made me take a closer look at that character which I had never really cared too much about.  I found I developed a new appreciation for him and there were so many scenes that made me so sad.  Monteith did a very good job portraying/crafting this rather typical goofy teen boy and maturing him through graduation. 
  2. I also engaged much more with Finchel (Finn and Rachel) and was really rooting for them (which has dire repercussions for my feelings about season 4).  That pairing eclipsed my earlier fandom of Klaine (Kurt and Blaine) though I still really like Kurt and Blaine's story a lot.  
  3. Rachel is still my favorite character and I maybe even grew to love her more which also impacted my season 4 feelings.  
  4. Who's the best singer/performer?:  I thought about this a LOT this time around.  Mercedes/Amber Riley really does get the shaft in many ways and most of what I looked up online regarding this question put her at the top as "best singer".  The thing is I agree with the world of the show and could listen to Rachel/Lea Michele sing all day long and not get tired of it.  I think what it comes down to is preferences.  I am a total fangirl of Broadway and musical theater which is the aesthetic Rachel represents.  She's a performer.  It's also why I love watching Blaine/Darren Criss perform despite the fact that his voice is only so-so.  

Now on to season 4.  

I think the above is a good litmus test of how much tolerance you will have for season 4 of Glee.  Does the picture above make you want to punch her in her sweet smiling face or want to be her best friend?  If you went for friendship you may do well with season 4.  Unfortunately Marley, who is pictured above and who became the fresh new lead for the New Directions inspired only violence in my heart.  The show tried to sell her as Rachel's successor and I'm not sure how they could even do that with any kind of seriousness.  She doesn't compare with Rachel in singing/performance ability and her milk toast, sweet, goody two shoes personality could literally not have been more boring.  And that's the problem. All of the new actors/characters they brought in were terribly uninteresting and the show spent a lot of increasingly precious show time focused on them, trying to convince the audience to like them.  I liked Jake okay, eventually, and that's mostly because I read online that the actor is a classically trained, pro dancer.   That's about it for my appreciation of the new cast members.

And what do I mean by increasingly precious show time?  Glee creators were faced with a challenge. They had to "graduate" some of their biggest stars while the rest of the cast stayed in high school along with the adult characters of the show.  They didn't want to leave McKinley High but they didn't want to lose Rachel, Kurt, Finn, Mercedes, and Santana.  What to do? Have a split narrative, following Rachel and Kurt in New York and have all the other former stars show up more frequently than is healthy at McKinley while also trying to sell a whole new cast of boring characters as the main attraction.  It's a valiant try but in my mind it did not work.  There were too many characters and too much story to shove in.  In the end none of it really worked and I just ended up being resentful at each Marley solo we got in place of a Rachel or Santana or Kurt or Finn or anyone but her.

The adult story lines also really suffered and took a back seat with some of the actors completely disappearing for episodes at a time.  As a result all the adults do become a bit insufferable.  Not everyone would agree but I really liked the adult characters and their story lines in the first three seasons.  I really enjoyed rooting for Emma and Will and snorfling (snort/laughing) at all of Sue's antics.  It had started to become a little tired in season 3 but it completely implodes in season 4.  

The solution to all of this is to have done what they did in season 4 - have each season represent only half a year at McKinley instead of a full year.  Unfortunately, TV doesn't let you lay out such long-term plans.  Even had they done this, other problems may have arisen in trying to keep the show fresh. 

I had other issues as well that were not related to the bigger changes that took place, the biggest one being that the music was horrendous.  Glee had apparently run through all the good show tunes and older songs that they could get permission for, on top of contemporary music going down the crap hole or something?  They did Gangnam Style for sectionals for goodness sake.  A good 90% of the songs featured in season 4, I either didn't know and/or found them bland as plain oatmeal.  

There were some bright spots of course though they were pretty few and far between.  Will and Emma's disastrous wedding episode had some great stuff in it, all old cast focused, mind you. Rachel and Kurt's performances at NYADA's winter showcase were stunning as were Rachel's audition performances for Funny Girl.  I liked where they were headed with Finn's arc but sadly real life issues took over (Monteith disappears in the last few episodes because he went into rehab and then he died a month or two later).  

Overall, this season was painful for me to watch.  I decided half way in that I will not even continue with seasons five and six, especially with the loss of Finn.  I may at some point get up the emotional fortitude to watch the Finn/Cory Monteith tribute episode (The Quarterback) that took place early in season five, but as far as I'm concerned, in my world Glee only has three seasons.  And that's okay because it was a brilliant three seasons.  A show that celebrated diversity, quirky humor, melodrama and great music. 

And as far as a tribute to Cory Monteith and his character Finn, I don't know that I need to watch anything more than this:

Are you a fan of Glee?  What most attracts you about the show?  Did you make it to season 4 and if so what did you think?  I'd love to hear others thoughts especially if they are more positive then mine!

No comments:

Post a Comment