Glee returned to television earlier this month after a four-month hiatus, finally offering some answers to the questions that have been on fans' minds since December.
To help make sense of it all, we have a panel of musical theater buffs—Meghan Brown, Patrick Burns, and Jessica Reiner-Harris—to provide their takes on how realistic the show feels, how well the romances develop, and of course, how good the musical numbers are.
This week, they weigh in on the episode's big number—and they don't all agree on whether it hit the right note:
Patrick Burns (writer, composer, and star of the original one-man-musical, From Foster Care to Fabulous): Sue Sylvester keeps the "Vogue" dream alive by delivering another delightful music video. Her collaboration with Olivia Newton-John was fun, flirty, and wildly entertaining. But this week Sue isn't the only girl with a video.
Rachel presents her "film project" to the glee club and it feels forced. Glee is a musical show, and Rachel is a musical character. If she wants to sing about her reputation she should just let it rip and sing. It's perfect for Sue to appear in music videos because she is a non-musical character. If she were to burst into song mid-episode it would be inappropriate. On the other hand, Rachel is a musical character, a member of a glee club and doesn't need to channel her song through a separate device.
"Ice, Ice Baby" should never be sung again. Thankfully they made up for it with the fantastic MC Hammer number.
Jessica Reiner-Harris (member of the touring improv comedy troupe The Striking Viking Story Pirates): Never have I been happier watching Glee than I was this week, when Emma finally stood up for herself and declared Mr. Schuester a slut in front of the entire faculty. His dalliance with Idina Menzel infuriated me on Emma's behalf, and he big fat had it coming.
So, now that that is out of the way, we can discuss the most entertaining musical number in tonight's episode: "Run, Joey, Run". The link between songs and people with bad reputations was interesting, though some of the resulting songs and plot points seemed random. Why would Jesse, Puck, and Finn be SO scandalized by Rachel's non-sexual use of each of them in the video response to the assignment?
Irritation would be warranted. A storm-out-and-break-up, no. The song and video did, however, give us insight into Rachel's character, illustrating that her need for acceptance, even at the expense of her scruples and friends, is her overriding focus. Also, even if I lift my eyebrows at the reactions of Finn, Puck and Jesse, the song did further the plot significantly—which is the most important job of a successful song in a musical. The whole presentation was perfectly musical theatre, since it was a "story song," as Rachel so accurately put it. "Run, Joey, Run" was all that Glee is: over-the-top, ridiculous, musical, and impossible to stop watching.
Meghan Brown (co-founder of the Giraffe Hunt Theater in Los Angeles): "Run Joey Run" was the best musical number of the second half of the season so far. In addition to actually, oh, I don't know, MOVING THE STORY FORWARD, it was fresh, innovative, and a heck of a lot of fun. Seeing Rachel preening and mugging (even as students walked through her shot on their way to class—actually, especially as students walked through her shot on their way to class) was completely in line with her character. And seeing her multiple paramours get increasingly upset in the "real world" as they performed winningly in an imaginary one gave us a musical theater experience that would have been impossible in any other medium. I love Glee the most when the wickedness of the humor is juxtaposed with true earnestness, and this week's episode did a near-perfect job of walking the line between pain (and what pain could be worse than the pain of the teenager not even included on the hot list?) and parody.
Past Glee panels: