A Rocky Horror Fan on Glee's Take

Trust me when I say that I am a devoted Rocky Horror fan. Though I was never an on-stage performer on Saturday nights at the local movie theater that reenacted the show, I was definitely an audience regular. I had memorized the film and soundtrack long before I was allowed to go with my older brother to the live version. The whole experience wound up becoming a weekend ritual, as it did for young outcasts looking for a way to be subversive, as well as to see and be seen by people in their sexiest underwear. I'm also a pretty devoted Gleek (and musical theatre junkie).

I half-heartedly anticipated Glee’s take on the ultimate cult classic, because for obvious reasons, I knew last night's "Rocky Horror Glee Show" would be a watered-down spin on the original. Mind you, the songs of Rocky Horror are in my blood. I could quote the entire movie, every scale change, every glance, slap, grab, and outfit change. Here are my very subjective observations:

... Santana’s (Naya Rivera) mouth singing "Science Fiction/Double Feature" was far too sexy and not creepy enough. Why didn’t Kurt sing it, as Riff Raff did in the original?

... Rachel (Lea Michele) singing "Over at the Frankenstein Place" was perfect. And her playing Janet was also perfect, as Rachel is both naive and blissfully confident in her own skin.

... I got a small chuckle out of the fact that Barry Bostwick and Meatloaf appeared at the beginning of the episode. But their roles as the cable executives trying to create controversy felt like yet another contrived Glee plotline. The whole "Sue Sylvester’s going to try bring down the Glee club" routine is getting tired.

... Sam (Chord Overstreet) as Rocky in those gold shorts was perfect.

- Carl (John Stamos) singing "Hot Patootie - Bless My Soul" as his audition song was totally rockin'. I had no doubt that Stamos could shake and sing at the same time. In 2000, he was fantastic in his run as the androgonously oversexed emcee in Cabaret on Broadway.

... Emma (Jayma Mays) and Will’s (Matthew Morrison) version of "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me" was totally hot and kept with the spirit of the original. But really, they couldn't say “heavy petting or bed wetting?” (Which then got me thinking, have Emma and Carl officially done the deed?) Also, I loved seeing on-and-off girlfriends Britney (Heather Morris) and Santana singing backup.

... Mercedes (Amber Riley) is slowly but surely becoming my favorite character on the show because, damn, that girl can wail. Her performance as Frank-N-Furter was inspired, though I was disappointed to watch her performance of "Sweet Transvestite." Glee touts itself as progressive and unafraid of confronting the norm, especially by paying homage to a musical about freedom, yet Fox censored the word “transsexual” and replaced it with “sensational”? Really? Weak. And while her actual explanation of why she wanted to play Frank-N-Furter was stilted, I was glad the show at least referred to one of the less recognizable numbers from Rocky Horror, “Fanfare/Don’t Dream It." To me that's one of the more beautiful and sobering songs from the musical, with a message about being yourself no matter what.

... I really dug the storyline of Brad, er, Finn (Cory Monteith) and his insecurities about his body. It’s important for kids watching to know that guys and girls ALL have body image issues. And since Rocky Horror has become the poster child for the importance of being comfortable in your own skin, it was one of the better appropriations of a theme I’ve seen on Glee. So, bravo.

... Kurt (Chris Colfer) as Riff Raff was neither here nor there. I felt he was a less creepy shell of the original. Or maybe he just didn’t get enough air time.

... While I would have gladly watched Brittany do the whole Columbia tap solo in "Time Warp," it was great to see Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) as Columbia, too. It was totally reminiscent of Rocky Horror's live theatre audience participation.

The episode did get me thinking about how the creators of Glee are becoming our modern day boundary-pushers on TV, because they often question taboo topics and hope to expand the minds of their viewers. If after the airing of this episode, they got one more person to question the censorship of the word "transsexual" or to listen to “Don’t Dream It, Be It”, then they’ve wielded their power in a positive way.

What did you think of Tuesday's episode?
Comments (22)
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I was expecting more... Liked the episode very much, but I wanted to love it. Loved "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me" and am also starting to get sick and tired of Sue just wanting to bring down the Glee club!
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While I don't mind Mercedes, I was not too thrilled with her rendition of "Sweet Transvestite." As I spent many, many, MANY weekend nights at RHPS, there is just something amazing about Tim Curry and his performance of that song. Mercedes' vocal stylings just didn't sit well with me with that song. Yes, she can sing, but maybe a different song.

And I never did like the whole "female playing Frank" thing. Frank's a man. That's the whole point. (And yes, that includes "casts" at the movie, too. I always hated going to a place that had a cast acting out the movie.)
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I've never seen the movie but I thought time warp was great, sweet transvestite was great, Shue is just plain annoying...can't stand him, and where was Sue's famous one-liners?
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i loved this episode. probably the best. Kurt was great. Time Warp was my favourite song
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I Loved it all but wanted more Rachel
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It was awesome :D
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My only real complaint with the episode is when Will says Eddie's entrance is during the dinner party scene... You know, when Eddie's already dead and they're eating his flesh. Wait, they are eating his flesh, right? I just always assumed.
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@Iheartfrosty : So very true, my very, very bad :-D
As for the reason why they didn't do it (the Santana's lips with Kurt's voice), I guess it's because the show had to remain mainstream, only true fans would have caught the allusion. To someone who has never seen the original movie it would have felt weird to see a girl's lips synching to a male's voice.

That was all the difficulty of the episode : remain true to a cult movie and not disappoint millions of fans who know it by heart (try to mess around with Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings) and fit it into the Glee mould. IMHO they quite pulled it off, it was a nice hommage, and if this episode can make virgins come aboard, so be it.

Sorry, for the mistakes, english isn't my first language.
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@EmmaBernabel, true it was Patricia Quinn's lips at the beginning of the film but it was Richard O'Brien's voice. I think that's what Ilana was referring to.
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If this is what passes for "pushing the envelope" then I weep for the future. Why are the Glee producers just recreating someone else's attempt to be daring. couldn't they have done more with Britney for example? All they did was re-enact her videos one after the other.

Agree with comments below about being tired of the whole Sue S trying to bring down the Glee club. We're on Season 2. Time for some new themes.
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Umm....in the movie, the red luscious lips singing "Science Fiction, Double Feature" are Magenta's and not Riff Raff's...

*ducks and runs*

otherwise, as a RHPS fan of 30 years I must say I enjoyed the show.
However, I must say that the biggot un-necessary censorship made me cringe. I saw my first RHPS when I was 15, sometimes reenacted the live show on saturdays and - despite that - I am today a young, normal , healthy kid... ;-D
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It was such fun and much better than most people expected.
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Loved the episode especially those Gold shorts.
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I thought it was one of the best episodes. and i think Kurt singing Science Fiction/Double Feature would've been horrible. also, Brittany and Santana have never been girlfriends, they just sleep with everybody
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I was kind of glad Mercedes was Frank-N-Furter, mostly because it allowed her to have a big number. And while Glee failed to "push the envelope" by having a girl play the part, I always love to hear her sing. Sam and Rachel were perfect for their roles; and Finn was great too. His voice is getting a lot stronger and he sounded great! Oh and can't wait for Puck to come back :D
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he is supposedly in prison (or juvi) for some lame crime
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It was an okay episode I've expected it to be much better but sadly it wasn't . Kurt was the best and he didn't get enough screen time ,such a waste !! I miss the Miwok guy , he should've played major role in this episode since he likes rock themed songs ,why is he absent in this episode !!.. I'm disappointed .
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Does anyone else remember when Fox used to push the envelope. Now they are worried about using the term transsexual in a song but they use transvestite despite the fact that when a woman is singing it in the costume she is not techically a transvestite. Apparently, Stamos was going to do that part but Fox refused despite that Stamos was willing to do it in full costume. There were bright spots, I thought Kurt did great as Riff Raff and if you hear the whole version of Over At the Frankenstein Place you will hear his range. Emma finally got a big number for herself though they changed lyrics again. Then there was the Time Warp. The dancing was horrible but at least the singing was decent despite the need for some of Kurts lines to go to Finn.
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They missed a golden opportunity to have Meatloaf and Barry sing....c'mon that should have been a given...
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i've never seen the musical or movie or anything ,so i thought it was gonna be boring ,but i actually really enjoyed the episode though, still singing the emma-will song
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Is it bad that the entire episode i was wishing Stamos would do 'Denist!' from Little Shop of Horrors? I know this was a Rocky Horror Tribute, and I love Rocky Horror - a lot more then Shop of Horrors - just Carl's a dentist...
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I agree with most of this. I do wish we got to see more of Santana as Magenta though. I wish that barry and meatloaf had had a better storyline too And touchatoucha was perfect.
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