'Glee': Hitting a High Note, or a Sophomore Slump?



The second season of Glee premiered last month, catching up with New Directions after their loss at Regionals.

To help make sense of it all, we have a panel of musical theater and pop culture buffs—Meghan Brown, Patrick Burns, and Kevin Fallon—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 show, in which the members of New Directions pair up to practice for a duet assignment.

Patrick Burns (writer, composer, and star of the original one-man-musical, From Foster Care to Fabulous): Whenever Glee starts with Will Schuester setting out the guidelines for a competition, you can bet on a good episode. This means the gang will be guided by healthy competition and teen angst for an hour, and that is exactly what should drive a high school glee club.

Each song fit exactly where it was meant to. Santana & Mercedes sound incredible together. Kurt plays a jazzy gender-bender all the time anyway, so the idea of a number from Victor, Victoria is perfect (and of course, he pulled it off flawlessly)! But the most impressive number of the evening was Quinn and Sam singing "Lucky." It was sweet and romantic. Their sounds blend beautifully and we can't help but watch them. Rachel and Finn's bad song could have been more extreme and blatant as a deliberately bad song. I wanted to laugh at them and didn't get the chance.

Kevin Fallon (writer and producer for The Atlantic's Culture channel): Duet week finally spiced Glee up with new pairings (Mercedes and Santana's rousing "River Deep, Mountain High;" Sam and Quinn's would-be-nauseating-if-not-so-infectious charm in "Lucky"), and added some flavor to a coupling that was in danger of going stale (cough Rachel and Finn).

But the most important duet that Glee finally pulled off was the tonal balance of comedy and drama, something that was in total discord during last week's heavy handed after-school special on religion. Kurt's frustration over the stigma that accompanies his crushes; Quinn's struggle to rebuild her image; Artie and Brittany's heartbreaking fling: each plot point was more natural than in last week's subtlety—and comedy—deficient episode. The dialogue was more believable and the actors seemed more at ease, making their delivery more poignant, and, when needed, hilarious. Kurt's triumphant "Le Jazz Hot," a simultaneous celebration and lament of his individuality, was far more moving and rousing than any of last week's manipulative numbers.

That's not even to mention Kurt and Rachel's brilliant vocal pas de deux that ended the episode, a highlight of not just this week, but the series. After "Grilled Cheesus" I thought I was over Glee, but just like Brittany and the Clintons, I might be back on board. If the show can continue this comedic and dramatic harmony, happy days certainly are here again.

Meghan Brown (co-founder of the Giraffe Hunt Theater in Los Angeles): Who is writing this show? (I mean... I know who's writing this show. But still. WHO'S WRITING THIS SHOW?!)

This week was just lazy. After weeks of being selfish and unlikable, Rachel pulls a personality 180... and still manages to be unlikeable? There is some sort of crazy duet competition where everyone performs on a different day? Brittany and Santana make out? Brittany and Artie make out? Brittany stares brokenheartedly into the distance after Artie dumps her EVEN THOUGH THE SHOW HAD IMPLIED SHE WAS ONLY DATING HIM TO MAKE SANTANA JEALOUS, WHICH ALSO MAKES NO SENSE? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?

Look. I've been easy on Glee these past few weeks. I'll admit that. But as a fan, my INFINITE WELL OF PATIENCE is starting to dry up. What are we building up to this season? Who are we rooting for? If Glee doesn't start answering these questions (and soon), they're looking at a serious sophomore slump.

Past Glee panels:

'Glee' Gets Religion, With Mixed Results

'Glee': Britney Spears Meets Britney S. Pierce

'Glee' Season Premiere: The More Things Change...