I can sing any note higher than you

I put this theory out on Twitter this morning, and I’ll mention it again here, because I enjoy writing about Glee for some reason. Anyway, it struck me as I was watching last night’s episode, “Duets,” that continuity on Glee is kind of like the DC universe just after “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” By that, I mean that it’s intermittent, sometimes functional, and dependent on who’s writing at any given moment.

“Duets” is one of the good-continuity Glee episodes, in that characters remember things that have happened and behave in ways that indicate they learned something from those experiences. That’s a good thing, because Glee is rarely more frustrating than when it ignores character continuity for a passing joke or punchy scene. But, as I’ve mentioned before, Ryan Murphy’s attention span is a fleeting thing. (The celebrity-centric episodes like “Britney/Brittany” are sort of like line-wide crossovers where every character [or comic] gets wedged into a storyline or tone that doesn’t necessarily make sense for them.) So we really should just enjoy the good bits of episodes like “Duets” and tolerate the rest.

Some more specific thoughts after the jump:

Tina was right when she called Artie a horrible boyfriend. But he’s a horrible boyfriend in ways that sort of make sense for him or at least are consistent.

Rachel didn’t make me deeply uncomfortable last night, and it’s because she behaved in ways that reflect the things she’s been through during the past year’s episodes. I remembered why I liked her, and I thought she and Finn were kind of cute together, which isn’t normally my reaction.

Quinn owned the episode for me, and I thought Dianna Agron was perfectly lovely throughout. Again, the writers allowed her behavior and choices to reflect a year’s worth of experiences, and she reminded me why I find her the most interesting character on the show. I thought she and Sam had nice chemistry and sang well together, and I hope the characters can still be friends… y’know… after.

I adore Kurt, but I’m glad Finn called him on his stalk-y nonsense. I’m annoyed that Finn encouraged other characters to closet up so they could make it through life, but I was with him earlier in the episode. I didn’t think that number from Victor/Victoria really expressed any duality, but maybe “The Ballad of Lucy and Jessie” from Follies was too long and difficult to edit due to those marvelously Sondheim-ian lyrics.

Aside from the extremely awkwardly staged make-out scene with Brittany, I loved Santana a lot, and I thought her duet with Mercedes was the musical highlight of the episode. There’s really no way they wouldn’t have won that gift certificate in a fair contest, which Mr. Schue is incapable of staging.

I thought I would miss Sue Sylvester more, but there was a lot going on and some nicely divided focus on several characters, so her absence was tolerable. Puck better be back in the next episode, or I will cut someone.

9 Responses to I can sing any note higher than you

  1. TWWK says:

    I thought last nice was…alright. You’re right in that it’s one of the episodes that actually focused on the characters as they should be, with their volume of experiences informing who they are now. I also think Quinn is a terrific character, and I hope the writers explore her personality further (though I doubt they will). As for the music…I was pretty much disappointed with almost all the singing last night…blah.

  2. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    It was prob the best episode this season, which makes me think Ian Brennan has a better grasp on the show than Murphy–he did the premier this season as well. The humour is less mean spirited and out there, characters actually have growth and remember what they did in past weeks. I know he apparently came up with the original (reportedly “much darker”) concept for the show before Murphyw as brought in to re-jigger it and become show runner, but at this point I’d be happy with him replacing Murphy (I have a bad feeling I may regret those words, but whatever, they’re out there). He even managed to keep Brittany funny (though I agree about that odd make out scene), yet also make her seem *human*, something Murphy has never done IMHO.

    I did feel like all of the mentions about how Finn calling Kurt a f– weren’t all Finn’s fault were complete damage control because of all the response about that last season–maybe that’s cynical of me but there’s no doubt it was written after they’d gotten some of the reaction (that episode, like the Britney one this season, was a Murphy scripted one, incidentally…)

    You’re right that the Victor/Victoria song was an odd choice–the musical of course is all about dual identity (though doesn’t exactly think it’s a good thing) but Le Jazz Hot, while the best song from a fairly weak score, doesn’t express that at all. I didn’t think of Lucy and Jesse but that would have been a brilliant choice and he still could have had the chorus boys and girls (Hell, ANY of the songs Sondheim has written for that spot in Follies woulda worked–Uptown/Downtown, or the more recent written for Diana Rigg Ah But Underneath as well, though Kurt doing a striptease may have been a bit much). They’ve had several Sondheim references, but I’m disappointed they haven’t managed to shoe horn any actual songs yet (Sondheim has said he’d be up for it). But that’s just my Sondheim-otaku speaking out.

    I actually sorta expected him to sing the famous Charles Aznavour song What Makes a Man, but maybe that was seen as a bit too serious for the moment.

    Anyway, agreed with pretty much everything you’ve said–and nice to see them use another Chorus Line song (which caught me by surprise) even if they didn’t have Mike sing the “Men are cumming in their pants” line…

    (Oh, minus a point for the stupid excuse not to have my fave crush, Puck, on in favour of big mouth guy. I hope it was due to the actor recording his album or something, and not just arbitrary).

    It says something when an episode is solid and doesn’t rely on a guest star or even Sue. (But both me and my friend I watched it with coulda sworn they did a Duets episode before…)

    • davidpwelsh says:

      I agree that the Finn/Kurt scenes were damage control, but I thought they were well-written, nicely acted and necessary damage control. And it doesn’t surprise me that Murphy wrote the first episode. He doesn’t seem to grasp that messages from this kind of show are more effective if you take its internal logic and details seriously. It doesn’t mean there can’t be satire or extreme behavior, just that you needn’t sacrifice individual characters or ignore their arcs for a stunt or a point. (I know you aren’t making that argument, but it frustrates me that the show could be so great if it just displayed some internal rigor instead of chasing every sparkly piece of ribbon that someone drags across the carpet.)

      • Eric Henwood-Greer says:

        They *were* well written. Agreed completely on your main point, in one way of course it’s simply that Glee is a victim of its own success and it doesn’t seem like Murphy (and probably others) have really sat down and evaluated what made it so popular–so any celeb who wants to be on it, or whatever, is eagerly taken on even though it’s often to the overall show’s detriment (maybe they should just have cheezy 70s Brady Bunch style variety speical episodes with no pretense of even having a plot or keeping it in context with the other episodes 😛 ).

        But success aside, this is a common problem with all of Murphy’s shows (and something that got progressively worse, particularly on Nip/Yuck, unfortunately).

      • Eric Henwood-Greer says:

        And Nip/Yuck is a Freudian slip/type oh that’s just too good to correct.

  3. Anon says:

    My girlfriend watched this earlier and showed me a post on Change.org that says the episode “blames the victim for [homophobic] slurs and bullying” (you can read the article here: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/why_is_igleei_blaming_homophobia_on_victims). The way my girlfriend explained it to me, it seemed unfortunate that the show didn’t imply that it’s not Kurt who is at fault for the bullying the new kid would have received had they sung a duet.

    I haven’t actually watched Glee, though I plan to, so most of this post doesn’t really make sense to me yet. I’m curious to know if you thought the episode sent an anti-gay message though.

    • davidpwelsh says:

      It’s not so much that it blamed the victim as it abandoned an opportunity to change the culture in which the victims live. It was more a case of “the world isn’t ready for that, and you’ll get more abuse than you will change minds.” Which is an awful argument in its own way, and it would take a much smarter show than Glee to explore it fully, but…

      It’s strange, but Kurt’s friends were basically making the White House argument… they’re all on his side, and they know where he’s coming from, but they think he should work within the existing (oppressive, depending on your opinion) system instead of making bold statements.

      • Eric Henwood-Greer says:

        I do wish that they had emphasised at least that they were talking about a high school context. I don’t remember the quote, but I think Finn said something about how the rest of the world was the problem and wouldn’t be able to accept it. It’s a small thing, I guess, but I would have been more comfortable with it being pointed out that this was high school (where, frankly they prob have a point I guess). At any rate, I agree that it’s way too complex an issue for Glee to tackle.

        That said, why would the other students even find out? They have zero interest in the Glee club (except, oddly during that Britney episode–another reason the episode seemed so out of place), and the duets were being performed IN CLASS, not publicly whatsoever. Where’s the issue?

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