Glee Recap-Review Episode 14 ‘New New York’: Start Spreading the News


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Just as Glee’s Episode 14 New New York ended, it hit me.

No McKinley. Not any.

And did I miss it? Not any.

This is where Glee belongs — and has belonged ever since the ensemble’s two top characters, Rachel and Kurt, moved to New York in Season 4. Now it’s where the core cast congregates even more, with Blaine, Sam, Artie and Mercedes all drawn to the Big Apple to live out their big dreams.

And it’s where Glee will stay through this season’s end — and should stay through series’ end next year.

It helped, of course, having lavish location footage, which Glee can’t deliver each week. It is, after all, anchored at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, where interior New York sets remain. But it was enlivening to see “the gang’s all here” scenes in subways, on sidewalks and in Times Square, where Glee squarely belongs now that its high school concerns have played out.

Storywise, a lot happened even beyond move-ins, which felt new but were loosely alluded to as “months” ago. (Considering how cold it looked, the suggestion is that it’s October or November after last week’s graduation episode at the start of summer.)

Artie quickly learned he must guard his possessions; Sam finally learned he must be pro-active as a male model (sans crappy hippie hair); Mercedes realized she needs her friends more than La La; and Blaine sadly concluded he and bickering Kurt need “space” and he’ll move out of the Brooklyn loft just about everyone else has shared. (Yes, Glee is a fantasy, but NY apartments don’t come cheaply or easily. You don’t just decide these things like you’re choosing a restaurant.)

Their semi-split played out with the most false notes to me. They didn’t need space. Blaine needed to quit imposing himself on that space and lighten up. Taking himself out of the game doesn’t win it. Learning to change and adapt would. So it felt forced. And Kurt acceded too easily, especially since he’d have been guilt-tripped by feeling he forced Blaine out with his complaints.

But some rocky roads can be expected in the huge transition between homebody high schoolers and on-their-own young adults in a city as challenging as Gotham. So OK. I forgive this.

I also do so because, yet again, I was enthralled by a vibrant array of songs, including two romantic, rousing Petula Clark tunes from the ’60s which fit NY and this story so well: Downtown and Don’t Sleep in the Subway. Pet should be proud.

But nostalgia only goes so far, and I was heartened as well by two new pop songs: the bouncy Best Day of My Life by American Authors and the charming Rockstar, the infectious lead track on A Great Big World’s debut album, a disc which got a leg up toward creation when Glee showcased This Is The New Year last season. (Rockstar reminds me: Thank you, Glee, for keeping Adam Lambert around so much this season. He’s a huge addition to the show. But a caveat: Chris Colfer pales when singing next to him.)

Mixed in were two standards: the old-fashioned charm of 1946’s You Make Me Feel So Young, popularized by Frank Sinatra (it made up, in part, for lacking a Blaine-Kurt holiday duet this season), and the song I’ve been waiting to hear Lea Michele’s Rachel sing since Season 1, Funny Girl show-stopper People.

Look, I covered show business for 30 years, so I have some perspective. And I’ve long said, Lea Michele isn’t just as good of a singer-actress as Barbra Streisand. She’s better. Not even close. She’s proven that over and over to me, especially when singing numbers for which Babs herself is known and comparisons are apt.

But People, while beautifully sung by Lea, wasn’t the knock-out vocal showcase of  her Don’t Rain on My Parade or my personal favorite, My Man.

People was sweet. It was tender while mixing in belting crescendos. And it well served a montage of close friends reuniting. (I could have done without “Where’s Waldo?” sidewalk shots of Rachel so lost in the crowd that she was, indeed, lost. Red beret anyone?) But People wasn’t that song — the one that clearly separates the great (Streisand) from the greater (Michele).

I haven’t changed my assessment. I still think Lea beats Babs’ butt — and I respect Streisand. I just think Lea is better. At the least, she held her own with People, a song which Streisand herself sang impeccably.

But for me, My Man is still the one — the one where Kurt cried he was so moved at the end, and the one where I said to myself, “That’s the song. It doesn’t get any better. Awesome.”

I’m still awed by that talent, and I’m still in love with Glee, while others moan and whine about the show losing something or getting stale. Well, take a nap or watch something else. You’re missing the bigger picture — the fact that shifting to New York has galvanized this show more than any development this side of Blaine emerging from the Warblers or New Directions winning Nationals.

Most series stay the same as they wind down. Glee is reinventing itself while still, in essence, remaining Glee.

Big Apple? Oh yes. Count me in, too.

Now what’s the address of that Bushwick loft? I hear they’ve still got some space.

— Bruce Westbrook

 

 

 

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