'Glee': The Saddest Thing on Television?



Glee returned to television last 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.

They weigh in on this week's emotionally charged numbers and unexpected plot twists:

Meghan Brown (co-founder of the Giraffe Hunt Theater in Los Angeles): Emily Dickinson once described hope as "the thing with feathers." On this week's episode of Glee, it was more like the thing with sharp, jagged claws. As the characters built themselves up only to be torn down, Glee reminded us that when it's not busy being a frothy dessert of a show, it's the saddest thing on television.

Guest star Neil Patrick Harris was beyond perfect as Bryan Ryan, a man who's allowed his own disappointments destroy his dreams. His redemptive bar sing-a-long to "Piano Man" was a fantastic counter to the screamy theatrics of his battle-of-the-blondes duet "Dream On," and both served to make an interesting point: sometimes talent doesn't get the audience it deserves. As Ryan and Mr. Schu caught their breath to an empty auditorium (the director they were auditioning for had to get back to his dry cleaning business), there was a brief moment of real disenchantment. All that passion, that craft and that heart...and who's it all for?

Luckily Glee knows the answer. It's got to be for you. 91 percent of our dreams might fall flat, but without them we lose 82 percent of our humanity.

I just made up that statistic. But it seems about right, doesn't it?

Patrick Burns (writer, composer, and star of the original one-man-musical, From Foster Care to Fabulous): The people behind tonight's Glee are striving to answer the age-old question: How many AMDA students can we make hyperventilate?

Neil Patrick Harris and Matthew Morrison screaming out a rock song on a half-built Les Mis barricade. This number was exciting with flashing lights and powerhouse vocals; or to explain in mathematical terms:

Doogie Howser+Link Larkin+Aerosmith=Sexytime.

If that wasn't enough, hold on to your hat because Idina Menzel is Lea Michele's mom. Let's have them sing "I Dreamed a Dream" together. This is just good television. The singing is fantastic, the drama is built in and the resemblance between these two songstresses has had us all begging for such a plot twist for a long time. I'm relieved Jonathan Groff is just helping Idina connect with her daughter...I expected far worse trickery from his character and I didn't want to see Rachel Berry get hurt too badly.

Jessica Reiner-Harris (member of the touring improv comedy troupe The Striking Viking Story Pirates): Neil Patrick Harris is a lightning bolt of joy and musical theater. Another bolt of joy? The revelation that Jesse is not trying to undermine New Directions, but is in fact helping the head of Vocal Adrenaline connect to her daughter, one Miss Rachel Barry. The twist was unexpected, at least to me, and justified my initial fleeting thought that Lea Michele and Idina Menzel resemble each other. I'm sure every other Glee watcher had that same feeling of validation. "I Dreamed a Dream" made me sob wholeheartedly. Musical theater is still the best way to reach an audience. There is only so much emotion a pop song can portray. "Rose's Turn" and "I Dreamed A Dream" overpowered every other musical number these last couple of weeks. Take a hint, Glee...musical theater is the definition of emotions through song.

Past Glee panels:

'Glee': From Mellencamp to Ethel Merman

'Glee': 'Run, Joey, Run' Moves Things Forward

'Glee': Two Great Songs and One Ridiculous Plot Twist

'Glee': How Much Madonna is Too Much Madonna?

'Glee': 3 Expert Takes on the Show's Return