Blu-ray/DVD Review Glee: The Complete Third Season

If you love Glee as I do, you record episodes as they air and quickly watch them again, so having them on Blu-ray or DVD is an archival kind of thing. One day, I plan to watch the entire series again in sequence — or “From the top!”, as Will said in the pilot. But until then, the things that grab me the most about having Glee on discs is the extras. And Glee: The Complete Third Season, new from Fox on Blu-ray and DVD, has plenty of them.

Unfortunately, Season Three on disc doesn’t have all of them, which is even more glaring given the fact that Twitter newbie Ryan Murphy has recently unveiled several deleted scenes from Glee’s third season, NONE of which, that I can see, appears on the new Blu-ray (and, I’m assuming, the new DVD).

Such scenes include the Warblers performing I Want You Back at Dalton; Mike Chang’s family having a warm hallway scene at McKinley; Blaine giving Kurt a sweet Christmas gift in a box; a bridesmaids scene at a wedding dress shop; Santana coming out to the Cheerios; and Rachel showing Kurt her tender yearbook message to him.

That doesn’t mean the new discs lack deleted scenes — they just don’t have those. And why not? There’s room on the discs. Whatev.

But let’s get down to what they do have, and it’s a lot, starting with (while we’re on the topic of deleted scenes) Santana’s Santa Baby, performed in a jewelry store, running almost four minutes and complete with dialogue at the start and finish which I hadn’t seen before. (The music clip was briefly on YouTube months ago.) It’s a nice evocation of Marilyn Monroe, 2011 Yule style.

Even better is a 2 1/2-minute  “Sue Flashback,” not used in the Mash Off episode last fall,  in which she and Will talk in her office and she reflects on playing Laurey Williams in a high school production of Oklahoma! in 1976. Colby Minifie, who plays young Sue, has a hair style more like Carol Brady and wears a wretched red gingham dress with ruffles, but she doesn’t sing that badly — yet gets a scathing review from the school paper’s heartless critic.

The scene is a means for Sue to impress upon Will that he’s “fostering unrealistic show business dreams” and, in fact, runs “a broken dream factory.” A sad message, but it’s good to see a young Sue — and see the buried-memory source of  her antagonism toward Will’s glee club.

There’s also an extended scene of Emma’s “Ginger Supremacists” parents (Donny Most and Valerie Mahaffey), running four minutes. I find these folks insufferable, not funny, so enough of that.

Beyond deleted scenes lie some fine featurettes, though one is badly dated. It’s the 8-minute Glee Under the Stars, when Jane Lynch, Chris Colfer and others hosted an outdoor sing-along at Santa Monica High. Most of what’s shown is questions from fans, and answers from the cast, who speculate about Season 3, which had yet to premiere, and who hype their now year-old Emmy nominations.

Better is an 8-minute report on Glee Give A Note, the campaign whereby Fox and Glee donated $1 million to help fund music education at 73 schools winning a competition for the funds. We focus on Culver City Middle School, where the real-world gleeks are suitably pimply, braces-wearing and not anywhere close to the full-bore 20-something adults who portray such kids on Glee. It’s touching to see their enthusiasm when Jayma Mays and Dot-Marie Jones present a $10K check to the school.

This first round of Glee Give A Note drew 407 video entries. There’ll be another one this year, with a goal of $10 million for music education. This is the real glee, and it’s moving to see it in action.

Disc 4 of the Blu-ray is the most extras-laden, starting with a nearly 6-minute behind-the-scenes look at the Props episode in which the actors delight in donning the costumes and personas of each others’ characters.

Lots of on-set interviews include Naya Rivera especially enjoying her nerdy Artie-wear and Matthew Morrison leaning on today’s most overused and misused hype word when he says of Sue Sylvester (whom he portrays) “This character is so iconic.” Look it up in the dictionary, and you’ll see that it makes no sense. “Iconic” means symbolic of a greater whole, or venerated, among other things, and I don’t think that’s what he meant. It’s simply become a widely flung word signifying “real good” or “amazing.” Oh well.

You’ll rarely see the Glee cast have so much fun, though Darren Criss gets into the more serious (actually, menacing) character of Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle than he does Puck. (Well, both had mohawks.)

Also fun is the 13-minute Meet the Newbies, spreading the love to Season 3 cast newcomers Damian McGinty, Samuel Larsen, Lindsay Pearce, Alex Newell, Vanessa Lengies and NeNe Leakes. As Alex informs us, “I’m pretty good at walking in heels,” while Vanessa allows that “in real life I can sing.”

It’s also clear the Larsen had an inside track to winning the first season of The Glee Project, since he’d auditioned for the part of Sam, and came oh so close to getting it before Chord Overstreet was cast. But why does director Adam Shankman have to hype McGinty as a “rock star”? Anything but. And if he were, why is he being ditched for Season 4? Heck, he’s not even “iconic.”

The 15-minute Saying Goodbye is the flipside to these features, with a tearful look at shooting Season’s 3 finale, using Season 1 clips as touchstones. Lots of crying here, but it’s good tears, with on-set footage in the choir room, where they fittingly shoot the season’s final scene. Everyone talks about a feeling of family, and it appears to be more than just talk.

Back to the fun stuff is Ask Sue: World Domination Blog, a superb made-for-disc 6-minute feature in which Lynch’s Sue sits at her desk answering written questions from fans worldwide with her special brand of acerbic and caustic wit. Some great questions, too. A sample: Does your track suit change color based on your mood? You’ll have to watch to find out.

Finally, there’s Return of Sue’s Quips, with another withering montage of Sue’s most cutting one-liners, edited tightly into a three-minute montage of menace. Don’t miss this one.

All discs also have the Glee Music Jukebox, which is to say, a menu allowing you to see and hear songs only, isolated from the episodes. It’s nothing new, really — a reissue of The Sound of Music had such a songs-only feature several years earlier. But it’s been a welcome addition to Glee’s home video releases since the latter half of Season 1. I know I watch discs this way.

That’s it — but that’s a lot, I’d say.

I still wish they’d include ALL of the deleted scenes for us, though I suppose that’s why God invented YouTube. But when you’re as big of a fan of Glee as me, you’ll take whatever you can get and be thankful — and I am.

From the top!

–Bruce Westbrook

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