Dear Ryan Murphy: Please close Glee’s choir room door!

choir room door

I covered movies, home video and TV for 30 years for major daily newspapers, so I notice things — little things — that don’t ring true. These things on screen can make me scream, since so often they’re so easily corrected, but they aren’t.

Take driving. The average person on TV or in a movie, while driving a car, spends most of their time needlessly looking directly at their passenger while talking to him or her. It takes about two seconds to veer into another lane and cause an accident, but this almost never happens, because the actor isn’t really driving. They’re “acting,” and quite badly — otherwise, they’d have acted the driving part too.

I know, it’s a little thing. But it drives me crazy — pun intended.

Other times, the distracting little things that take me out of a scene involve needless attempts to make things, in fact, more realistic.

For instance, extras will be paraded across your field of vision, blocking out the protagonist you want to see, to remind us that THIS IS REAL. Of course, it’s not real, and sometimes the protagonist is obscured so much and for so long that you wonder why they even bothered with the shot, but the simplistic idea is that extras milling about lends valuable veracity. Uh, no.

This wrong-headed conclusion itself has led to one of those little things that bug me when it comes to my favorite show, Glee.

Ever notice how, when Rachel or Puck or perhaps the entire New Directions glee club is belting out a rousing number at the top of their voices, the choir room door is open? Not only that, but students are continually walking by the door. And never — ever — does a single student flinch, pause, look back or stop. Even if they hate the glee club, they’d hear the music, and it would cause  some kind of reaction. But not on Glee, because Glee is so busy being “realistic” with the ol’ “extras milling about” technique.

Students not reacting is just one way in which this botched “realism” makes scenes feel even less real. For another, doesn’t Glee itself continually use the sound of the school bell as one of its aural elements? It does. You hear the bell, and it’s a signal that scenes change — and so do classes. That’s what happens in school. After the bell, classes begin and the bell falls silent — as the hallways empty.

So why is it that, during choir rehearsal (which must count as a class), other students are continually wandering up and down the halls past the choir room door? Why aren’t they in class too? Didn’t they hear the bell?

The other thing is, the door would NOT be open. Show choir is a loud if not disruptive enterprise. In School of Rock, they tried buffering the class to seal off the noise, and even that was a stretch. In Glee, with the door open, the noise would spill into the hall and perhaps into other classes. So needlessly leaving the door open wouldn’t be done, or be accepted.

So now you see why it’s damn distracting when you’re awash in the wonder of another great Glee song to see nameless, aimless students trudging past the open door and paying no heed whatsoever. Who are they? Why aren’t they in class? Are they deaf? What’s going on? And why am I thinking about all this when I should be focused on the music?

Because Glee botches such “realism” by forcing it upon us.

Here’s the true realism: The choir door room would be closed. That’s what you do when you have class — especially a loud one. And if for some reason it was left open, students wouldn’t be roaming freely up and down halls during classes. And if they were doing so for some reason, they’d react to the sounds inside.

But none of that happens. Instead, this little thing — so easily corrected — is allowed on Glee.

Look, Glee demands enough suspension of disbelief as it is. We know people don’t burst into song and perform elaborate, fully choreographed musical numbers at any time or place and on the spur of the moment. It happens on Glee because the show is TV’s equivalent of a movie musical fantasy, and that’s fine. I get it. I allow for it. I buy it.  And why? Because the payoff in music makes it all worthwhile — and because musicals are a legitimate art form in themselves.

But why undercut that fantasy in any way when you don’t have to — especially when it goes against the realism in which you frame your fantasy?

So close the damn choir room door, please, Mr. Ryan Murphy. I know, I know — it’s a little thing. But trust me, little things count too, and this one little thing, if fixed, would make Glee that much better.

— Bruce Westbrook

'Glee' - 'Comebacks'


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