Glee Season 3 Episode 1 Review/Recap ‘The Purple Piano Project’: The beat won’t stop

As a card-carrying Gleek, I feel as satiated as a pig given too long at the trough. I’m overflowing with glee over Glee’s Season 3 return, in a premiere episode that’s one of the best ever for this best ever series (if you, like me, are a hopeless musical romantic).

How much can we absorb and process in an hour? And where do I start?

Glee’s 45th episode, The Purple Piano Project (why purple?), had to be one of its most eventful hours ever — and that’s saying something for a show which tries to pack a lot in. It also was one of the most richly entertaining.

Eventfulness? Sam, and to some degree Lauren, are written out with ease. Sue runs for Congress with a kill-arts-education platform. Blaine transfers to McKinley! (And joins New Directions, natch.) Will and Emma move in together, though Will hasn’t quite — er, moved in. Santana reverts to Satanic Cheerio and is booted from ND.  Artie and Tina are revealed as juniors — and available for  Season 4. (Any others? Can Brittany graduate on time?) The school musical will be the awesomely artful West Side Story, not the same era’s and same director’s The Sound of Music (my wild guess), with Rachel likely as Maria. (Blaine as Tony? Santana as Anita?) And finally, an embattled Will rededicates ND to winning a national title.

But best of all, Kurt and Rachel make their own private dedication: One or both will reach the Promised Land next year with a rare collegiate spot in an NYC school for musical theater. Whether on Glee or on a spinoff show, the course appears clear for Rachel and Kurt, or for Lea Michele and Chris Colfer. Seniors, schmeniors. These two have more gleeful doings ahead.

But beyond such a huge plot point lay the sweetness and delicacy of Rachel and Kurt’s affection. Their rare, supportive, in fact loving friendship is growing so well on the club’s most talented yet tender souls.

I loved the wakeup call of their fierce competition prompting a tearful, rainy day confessional in Rachel’s car (so All By Myself), followed by their resounding resolve. Glee started setting this stage with their breakfast at Tiffany’s in Season 2’s finale. Now, that stage is fully set, dressed and ready for a Season 3 journey toward Rachel and Kurt’s hopes and dreams.

Hey, somebody’s got to make it.

And the music — you thought I’d forget?

For those who skipped The Glee Project (bad move), Lindsay Pearce showed the kind of vocal chops I adored on that show, though her physical performance was lacking. But for sheer belting glory, I’ll take her mashup of Broadway chestnuts Anything Goes and Anything You Can Do, which included an unusually sustained dance-only segment from her fellow Great White Way wannabes.

And for those who love Darren Criss’ dazzling showmanship, his debut as a Titan with ’60s Tom Jones hit It’s Not Unusual was a vivacious, vibrant lift. Such a joyful song — and irresistible.

Season 3’s first tune, the Go-Go’s We Got the Beat, also delivered with infectious high spirits, though it somehow became a cafeteria calamity catalyst, sparking an uncalled-for food fight from surly lunching students. But its bookend number at show’s end, Hairspray’s You Can’t Stop the Beat, had ND in their element — in full-bore rehearsal for an empty arena — and going freaking crazy. Did that performance make you leap off the couch and dance? (Though I also loved Rachel’s slow, soulful intro.)

Then there’s the night’s biggest oddity: Ding Dong the Witch is Dead. Though not from a stage show but a movie musical, The Wizard of Oz, it dovetails with the previous episode’s pilgrimage to Wicked’s stage. Other than that — what the?

Even with Rachel and Kurt, it missed the Munchkins. But lacking them didn’t mean this reworking of the offbeat ditty didn’t work. Heck, this dingy, tra-la-la song even has been done by a rock group: ’60s band the Fifth Estate. So maybe it wasn’t so weird — maybe.

It strikes me that each song was a monster dance number. Granted, no ballads here, but still.

Glee clearly adds a new strategy this year: Dancing helps sell the songs, and dancing’s what we’ll get. Just wait till West Side Story. In fact, I hope Glee can live up to it.

At any rate, things are happening, happening fast, and I’m stoked to see and hear it. Next week Shelby Corcoran (Idina Menzel) returns, and things could really pick up. Methinks we’ll see much of the mama who bore Rachel and who adopted Quinn’s child. (Love the ’80s Madonna look as a good girl gone bad, Dianna. And the “ironic Ryan Seacrest tattoo” — priceless!)

So thanks Ryan Murphy, director Eric Stoltz and the cast and crew of Glee. You’ll never win an Emmy as best half-hour sitcom with a laugh track, but you will thrive in a category all your own — and one you’ll still own after monkey-see Smash and other come-latelies arrive.

Here’s the deal: Glee is the first true TV musical comedy — with drama — and we are damn lucky to have it. The Monkees was a sitcom with a couple of songs, and others have similarly dabbled. But Glee is the real deal — a bold trailblazer. Murphy says he expected it to get canceled after five episodes, and I believe him. But look where we are now?

Now, there’s so much new Glee to enjoy — and anticipate. So please, no more carping about a supposed Season 2 meltdown. (You hated the Warblers? New York did nothing for you? Prom night was prim? Your cup, your cup didn’t runneth over with Gwyneth Paltrow’s Emmy-winning turn?) For me, Glee has always been special, and flaws and all, it’s never gone anywhere — except to my heart.

I know I never stopped believing. Now this grand Season 3 launch shows that I was right.

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3 Responses to “Glee Season 3 Episode 1 Review/Recap ‘The Purple Piano Project’: The beat won’t stop”

  1. Lina Says:

    I agree with it getting a bit of umph back into it, but I thought the fact that Blaine transferred was a bit weird. And Emma and Will’s relationship is a little weird. But I did enjoy it and agree with you

  2. farsider Says:

    Emma’s always been weird, though that’s Glee. And Blaine’s transferring was an act of love. But glad you enjoyed the show, Lina

  3. Gman Says:

    I’m looking forward to a bigger, badder, meaner Coach Sylvester; but who do we have here: a new competitor for crazy mean? Algebra is the perfect subject though for a crazy mean person since nothing good comes from Algebra if you ask me. The news bit was funny too. I missed most of the first season which I need to go back and watch. That first season was about the baby between Quinn and Puck, but now that story is back in the picture. I’m glad that I can get the episodes on DVD from Blockbuster with my Movie Pass because it’s so convenient to have them sent to my home. I also love that the Movie Pass is free for new customers but I get it with my employee account for only $10 a month on the same bill.

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