Glee blog review: Episode 15 ‘The Power of Madonna’

With Glee we may all agree: Episode 15, The Power of Madonna, was as good as it gets — or has gotten. Not only did the Madonna-only song score deliver dynamically, and not only were the performances outta-the-park smashes, but the story, unlike last week’s rehash and reintro, moved like a locomotive.

Three couples explore losing virginity issues? Kurt and Mercedes join the Cheerios? Jesse St. James enrolls at McKinley and joins New Directions? Will is getting a divorce?

Whoa–that’s just the start of a whole heap of goin’ on which was goin’ on here, including some worthy messages about female empowerment. In fact, in plot and theme, as well as in execution, this Glee episode begs for repeat viewings that are lingering and fully appraising. It packs more punch into 45 minutes than most fights do in 15 rounds.

Of course, that will be a hard act even for Glee itself to follow, but why not raise the bar and set new standards for network TV? That’s what Glee has done since day one.

Random observations:

Burning Up, the energized bonus track on The Power of Madonna EP, seems to be only the third song in Glee history (and there have been dozens of songs already) which was recorded in a full-bore, full-length studio version but never featured on the show.

Do you recall the first two? One was Last Christmas, the cast’s irresistible remake of Wham’s Yule hit. The other was Don’t Make Me Over, Amber Riley/Mercedes’ traditional yet incredible performance of a ’60s Dionne Warwick hit. On screen, it was used only as  momentary instrumental background music. In the studio, Amber offers one of her best vocals ever — and yes, she’s even better than Warwick.

And this just in: Now there’s another full studio version of a song which was a no-show on the series: Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love. It’s a duet by Lea and Jonathan (Rachel and Jesse) from the Broadway smash A Chorus Line, apparently recorded for the Hell-o episode but not filmed. Anyway, I’m glad to have it.

Hey, the more the merrier, as far as I’m concerned. Keep ’em comin’.

Back to Episode 15: Sue let her guard down — to the audience — for only the second time, and to the world of McKinley only the first, when she revealed (albeit with customary exaggerations) to Kurt and Mercedes her world of hurt as a kid regarding her appearance, a hurt which has informed and fueled her steely determination as an adult pushing 30. (Hah! Speaking of exaggerations.)

Also, having Kurt and Mercedes split time between New Directions and the Cheerios is cheer genius. This gives them the kind of showcase they got in Episode 15 with  Four Minutes — my favorite performance of the show — and opens the way for even more musical magic. Or is that “madge-ic”?

Finn losing his virginity to Santana (how’d he manage to last that long?) pretty much seals the deal that he and Rachel won’t wind up together, though she sure won’t be lingering in love with Jesse, either. No way he’s not playing her. Case closed.

Loved the Tusk-style marching band bent for Four Minutes, the night’s best number. Like a Prayer was close, but the song felt like it was just warming up and kicking into high gear when it abruptly ended. (It runs three minutes longer in the studio version.) Still, these were two sensational big production numbers. Right on, Ryan.

I’m also into the groove (ahem) with fantasy musical numbers, which at first I’d resisted when Glee began more modestly and each song emerged naturally as a choral group performance, audition, etc. ( That’s why Bust Your Windows seemed odd at first, till I bought the dreamy artifice of it.)

Look, this is a fanciful entertainment and TV’s first true weekly musical, and musicals, by their nature, are fantasies. So Glee’s creators can do what they want. Besides, Like a Virgin — another fantasy/dream/what-if projection — was as well edited of a musical number as I’ve ever seen, building to — dare I say it? — an explosive climax.

BTW, this episode had no incessant secret word or mantra a la last week’s “introduction” or last fall’s “confidence,” but it often screamed “climax” between the lines, so whenever you discern that, scream real loud!

And for those still wondering about Mark Salling’s ethnicity, keep wondering. (That’s an SEO in-joke, BTW.)

I could go on — the episode merits it — but let’s just say I haven’t seen a more entertaining TV show since the Reagan administration, back when Madonna was ruling MTV, and it still showed music videos.

Speaking of which, it’s time to vogue again. Even as a straight guy, my inner Madonna is begging to burst out.  Besides, the Material Girl has more cajones than most of the males on this show. We could all learn a lesson from that.

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One Response to “Glee blog review: Episode 15 ‘The Power of Madonna’”

  1. MazThe Moo Says:

    cannot cannot cannot wait for this Madonna Glee to be shown on UK TV!!!! I’m gonna burst!

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