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The Ups and Downs of Glee

Tuesday unofficially became "Squee Across America" day as Glee—the show with the singin' and the dancin' and the hippin' and the hoppin'—returned from its long hiatus. And truthfully, my TV dance card has felt empty without it; there's nothing else like it on television, and more often than not, the show leaves a huge, stupid grin on my face. When it works, it works, but after screening the next few go-rounds, I've come to realize that the opposite is also oh-so-true, and the hiatus did little to smooth over Glee's rough edges. For your consideration, here are a few bones to pick about Glee's return and upcoming episodes, and a few new things bringing a hell of a lot more fun to the show.

Sour Note #1: Songs are still post-produced to death
Obviously, shows sometimes have to shill for products and/or services, so it's not surprising that Glee's biggest asset, its songs, are its hottest commodity. Thus, tunes appear in the iTunes Music Store almost as soon as they play on the show. Okay, I get it, they've gotta be ready to go from the start. But why did Glee cast all those amazing musical theater performers in key roles, only to suck all the life out of their performances with computer software? Perhaps it's just my imagination, but it seems that, as Glee's gotten more popular, its songs have become more robotic and soulless. When Mercedes' wonderful goose bumps-inducing voice is muddled to the point of Justin Bieber-dom, it's time to ease up.

High Note #1: Sharing the spotlight
The cast of Glee is pretty big at this point, but luckily the show hasn't lost track of anybody. Artie and Quinn didn't have a ton to do in the first episode back, but they'll return shortly. Even Kurt's dad will make an appearance. But pay special attention to Brittany and Santana, two underutilized placeholders—until now. They fire out the best lines with the sweetest naivete, making their jokes hit all the harder.

Sour Note #2: Glee hasn't figured out how to integrate its musical numbers
When the kids on Glee sing, are they giving a real performance as part of the story? Are they expressing their innermost turmoil in a fantasy world for just the audience to see, as is the style of musical theater? Are they simply in the mood for a not-in-real-time montage? Glee uses all three approaches, and deciding on one of them could save the show from a ton of set-up, which is arguably its weakest element by far. At one point in an upcoming episode, a character literally says, "Well, why don't you sing about it?"

High Note #2: The close-knit drama gets even closer
I wasn't sure Glee had anywhere to go after it wrapped up a fake pregnancy, a real pregnancy, baby daddy drama, dealing with disabilities, backstabbing, and one sham marriage that almost was—all in about a seven-minute span. But the show came back in a big way, throwing wrenches almost immediately into the breezy drama. Good TV writing does unexpected things in ways that seem effortless, like they've been happening all along. And there's some damn good TV writing coming up.

High Note #3: Sue Sylvester, Sue Sylvester, Sue Sylvester
No more sour notes here: Only endless praise for the best character on television, played by one of the funniest people alive. Just wait until next week's Madonna episode.

Comments (17)
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This episode was one of the worst episodes of the show so far, but can't wait for the Madonna episode!
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Isamu is an idiot! The last 30 years has been filled with nothing but provocative and our edgy musicals! Musicals at heart are meant to move story and emotion through song. So as the times and topics have changed so have the musicals. Of course slower than movies and plays cause there were many less. Seeing a real musical on bway with professionals is an incredible experience, music can bring more emotion and excitement than anything else. Just do your research before u say something so ridiculous. And by definition glee can't really be called a musical because they don't sing there emotions. They sing in a, were supposed to sing cause were in glee club setting. Or in a short daydream. While glee is great it's not really and truly a musical and from the beginning they wanted it that way.
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Boy, am I glad that I am apparently not the one troubled by the over computer-rendered music that completely breaks the musical style.
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I just wanted to point out that there are many musicals which feature controversial themes as were listed below. Rent features Aids, Spring Awakening features Rape, South Pacific, Miss Saigon, Martin Guerre, and Les Miserables are just a few which center around War, Chicago and Carousel both feature Domestic Violence. Not all musicals are meant to be silly and poke fun at our basic human conditions. I think that's the great thing about music, and singing, is that no matter what you're going through, music is a release and a creative outlet for us to utilize during our many different life situations.
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it's about time! i've been saying this for months: Glee is one of the most overrated shows in recent memory. the only problem with Mr. Heisler's article is he didn't go far enuff. the sour notes far outweigh the high...
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this show sucks, its like watch a bad bollywood movie every week, but then again people bought Milli Vanilli cd's so I guess its no surprise
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I love that picture.
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Personally I enjoy getting the music off of itunes after the show, because it allows me to take them with me, so I don't really think that's a sour note.
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I don't really agree on the sour notes, but do agree with the high ones
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this week's episode was by far the worst of this season! the acting and the writing was terrible! they should realize that there are actually a lot of adult viewers also, not only 12y/olds. plus, the songs were BAD, really bad :(
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I want a larger version of that picture. Where's the wallpaper size?
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Sour Note #3 : not putting in affort into chhosing songs that actually match.

Too many times, characters were singing songs that only matched by their title or most recognizable line, while the actual lyrics of the songs had nothing to do with it. Examples? Smile (why sing a song about a bad breakup when you are trying to make someone lighten up?), Hanging On (Poor Quinn, being forced to stay in a relationship by someone who actually loves someone else - only it is the other way around!) Dancing With Myself (no need for explanation, right?)
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Brittany and Sue stole the show. The rest of it was just ehh. The plot itself has always been a hot mess but the singing makes up for the bad writing. They also need to use the diverse part of the cast. The show isn't very intriguing when it's just Will, Sue, Finn, & Rachel, although I'd watch a show with just Jane Lynch. They're supposed to be an ensemble so use the whole cast.
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Musicals are chaotic since the break all the rules of logical thinking and, above all, behaviour.

The reason why there are no musicals on AIDS, rapes, wars, drug trafficking, minor abuse, domestic violence and such is due to the fact that musicals are a joke in themselves, a mockery to the nicest and silliest human conditions.
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Brittany is definitely my second favorite character on the show now, right after Sue. Did you know dolphins are just gay sharks? Best line ever.
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You know who I kinda want to have more of the spotlight? Bobby (I think that's his name) and Mike. They are just THERE. Just like Santana and Brittany, they have no purpose in the Glee Club than just being placeholders and they need to get some depth beyond just Mike's a good dancer and Bobby is the other black person in the group who is also on the football team. Other than that, though, I love Glee and I am so stoked for the rest of this season.
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sue sylvester is the most amazing character on tv
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