Review/Recap Glee Season 3 Episode 16 ‘Saturday Night Glee-ver’: Fever Dream

I know the ’70s was a drug-drenched decade, but did Glee have to spin merrily into disco delirium as if it had sipped too much of Kool and the Gang’s Kool-Aid to satisfy its  Fever dream theme for Saturday Night Glee-ver?

I mean, this was one odd episode, from the bizarre ditching of so many New Directions members (Rory, Sugar, Quinn, Artie and Joe collectively were on screen mere moments–some not at all) to the strange notion that 1977’s Saturday Night Fever was about John Travolta’s Tony Manero inspiring us by seizing his dreams, when all he really wanted was to do was strut his narcissistic stuff on a dance floor and bang chicks.

Nor did Glee-ver’s alleged plot move more than an inch or so. Oh yes — Finn is going to Gotham with Rachel. But wasn’t that where they were headed all along until recently? And Vocal Adrenaline will face New Directions in Nationals (having won a separate Regionals though the schools are nearby neighbors). But isn’t that what also happened last year?

As for the music, while I adore the Bee Gees and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack they propelled to landmark status, Glee’s performances of eight Fever songs (some not by the Bee Gees) were carbon copies, with nothing new to offer dance-wise or music-wise.

They sounded good. They looked good. They were fun. They entertained. But after so many meaty episodes of late, these songs weren’t the least bit inspiring, even though inspiration and dream-chasing is what Will’s sermonizing challenge was all about.

That said, I enjoyed the show — hey, it was Glee doing highly nostalgic Fever songs, and I’m almost as much a fan of that music as I am of Glee. But it wasn’t Glee elevating relatively obscure music to new heights (as with We Are Young) or pushing any envelopes.  And it didn’t take the characters I love any farther than just another frolic on a stage or a dance floor.

But there was one exception. At last, Alex Newell of The Glee Project got his moment, as a member of Vocal Adrenaline who just wanted to be himself — by performing at Regionals in drag. That, of course, brought the house down, despite coach Jesse St. James’  horror, and why wouldn’t it?

Alex may not be much of an actor, but he’s an incredible singer, and he does drag as well as anyone. It suits him. So be it. Do it, and have fun with it. I may be straight, but I respect his verve and his nerve, and I thought his Boogie Shoes was one of the best moments of the show.

Beyond that lay lots of disco and not a lot of plot, so I’m still waiting for the start of what should be a big graduation-year finish with the eclectic and electric musicality Glee does so well.

With just six hours of Glee remaining, it’s time to doff those boogie shoes and start trucking toward big-time plot resolutions and satisfying character send-offs. I’m not sure how much next week’s Whitney Houston tribute will do in that regard, but I’m confident Glee will find its way beyond the din of thin disco songs to grab our hearts with meaningful music and strong stories.

We didn’t embark on this journey 60 episodes ago to worship white polyester suits. We did it to celebrate the human heart in the only successful movie musical-style series in the history of television. Such status brings an obligation, Glee. Now live up to it.

— Bruce Westbrook


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