Glee Episode 5 The Rhodes Not Taken: Music, music, music

NOTE TO GLEE FANS FINDING MY BLOG VIA THIS POSTING: I write regularly on Glee, including reviews of each week’s episodes. Here’s a link to my piece on Episode 8: Mash-up. Enjoy–and thanks for visiting!

Bruce Westbrook (Farsider)

Now THAT’S what I’m talking about! Glee Episode 5 The Rhodes Not Taken is the most complete show since the series’ pilot/premiere: lively plotting, strong characterization, lots of fun and–best of all–nearly wall to wall music.

As in any good musical, the music advances characters and plot. But in Glee’s case, I can savor it on its own just as well. And the show-stopping –well, show-ending — Somebody to Love was as good as it gets, as the enlarged glee club started easing into Vocal Adrenaline territory with a full-bodied, full-throated song-and-dance rendition of the most stirring Glee song since the series-defining Don’t Stop Believin’.

Plotwise, it felt good to see the focus on the glee club, not irrelevant pregnancies or older guys’ “boy” bands. And that even includes briefly adding a new member in April Rhodes (Kristin Chenoweth), the former glee star who’s now a washed up alcoholic yet still lively bad girl — and can still belt with the best.

Yes, Chenoweth hogged the glory in this show, but hey, it’s one episode, and that’s what her character was supposed to do. Besides, her showmanship prodded the plot, particularly Rachel’s “will she go or will she stay?” dilemma, as well as Finn’s acknowledged sense of commitment — to pregnant Quinn and to New Directions as his means of escaping Lima with a music scholarship. (BTW, Lima doesn’t seem like such a bad town, and the high school has above-average facilities and is no dump, but I guess the grass is always greener.)

Not only did Ep. 5 have lots of music (including ’80s background chestnuts by Huey Lewis & the News, Hall & Oates, etc.), but the songs could go long, getting room to breathe and play out. Maybe This Time seemed to be performed in its entirety on screen, and the deft edit weaving Rachel’s rehearsal to April’s audition-style bombast really worked. April’s bowling alley duet with Will for Alone also went long, as did her lead in the club’s Last Name honky tonker for a packed school auditorium.

But the real showcase did not involve her, which was fitting. This series is about high school kids (well, played by 20-something actors), and the real Gleeks rallied rousingly for Queen’s Somebody to Love, the big number I’d been waiting for — and for which I was richly rewarded. While the rest of us watch avidly in our fanboy Glee T-shirts, I can imagine non-believers stumbling across that song when tuning in for the next hour’s shows and  saying, “What is this?” I mean, when do you see and hear music of this quality on network prime time? It’s something Glee’s got that no other show has, and that’s why I was so stoked to see music take center stage in this episode. Ryan Murphy, you could do this every week and I’d be happy, but I understand that sometimes you need to slow down, skip past or zip through songs and simply tell a story, as with last week’s Preggers.

So there you have it. Glee is clearly capable of hitting its pilot episode stride yet again, and may even do so another time next week, when girls-vs.-boys mashups will burst forth in all their glory. We’re talking Halo/Walking on Sunshine from the girls and It’s My Life/Confessions from the guys. Having heard bootlegs — er, “imports” — all I can say is: Beyonce and Bon Jovi, eat your hearts out.

Until then, let’s savor the best Glee since Episode 1. I told you not to stop believin’.

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2 Responses to “Glee Episode 5 The Rhodes Not Taken: Music, music, music”

  1. Glee Episode 4 ‘Preggers’: Not pregnant with music « Tripping the Light Says:

    […] DVD reviews: ‘Observe and Report,’ ‘Ghosts of Girlfriends Past’ Glee Episode 5 The Rhodes Not Taken: Music, music, music […]

  2. ‘Glee’ pilot, preview, T-shirt for $5? I’ll buy that « Tripping the Light Says:

    […] actors who get to sing, dance and play musical instruments — who get to lose themselves in the spirit of a song, as they do with Don’t Stop Believin,’ a beautifully performed, shot and edited piece. […]

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