Glee Season 5 DVD Review: Milestone Moments

Glee S5 DVD set

As we near Glee’s end, it’s comforting to know that the show’s six seasons will remain alive in TV syndication, via downloads and on DVD. The last format now includes Glee: The Complete Fifth Season, new this month from Fox. (Unlike Seasons 1-4, Season 5 is not available domestically on Blu-ray.)

The six-disc set features all 20 episodes, along with three special features: The customary and ever-helpful Glee Music Jukebox where you can access song-only scenes; Glee In the City; and GLEEful: Celebrating 100 Episodes of Glee.

The last is a 13-1/2 minute look at Glee’s Season 5 episodes set and sometimes shot in New York. The featurette oddly disregards the fact that much of Season 4 was set and shot in the Big Apple,, too.

It’s also odd to see this all-new element when the previous Season 4 box set had two featurettes of its own on the glories of shooting in New York. But hey — it still provides new Glee behind-the-scenes material, so I’ll take it — gladly.

Narrated in interview clips by the cast and co-creator Ian Brennan, Glee In the City alludes to the fact that the show has a “fake New York” (standing interior sets on soundstages, such as Kurt and Rachel’s apartment) along with the real one  (exteriors showing off expansive Manhattan locations). You can assume any New York interiors were shot in LA, with the exception of subway scenes actually filmed on an out-of-use platform, as we see here.

Kevin McHale says the work in NYC always “feels like guerilla shooting,” since it involves pushing logistical limits, such as shooting in Times Square. “It’s a fun field trip,” he says. And given the storylines of aspiring show-biz stars launching new lives and careers, New York’s “new directions” certainly feel organic to the show, and I’ve always welcomed that refocus.

The NY featurette also rehashes Season 5’s Gotham storylines, including Rachel’s Broadway debut in Funny Girl, which Brennan rightly says “made fictional sense” since the musical hasn’t yet been revived in reality. (Ryan Murphy reportedly owns the rights though.)

As for Celebrating 100 Episodes of Glee, that 8-1/2-minute featurette assesses the 100th episode more than it looks back at the big picture, with returnee Kristin Chenoweth joining Matthew Morrison and others to note their mixed emotions.

On the one hand, as Jane Lynch says, it’s not just bittersweet but a sad episode as the rest of the original McKinley gang graduates and an era ends. On the other hand, as Morrison says, 100 episodes is “a milestone in this business,” especially for a bold little show where “all you want is your pilot to get picked up” and didn’t expect it to last that long.

Hey, I apply that same logical appreciation as Glee nears its series’ end. Let’s be grateful for its six-year longevity, not bemoan its inevitable mortality.

One bit of great trivia arises in the featurette: Kevin McHale was the only cast member to appear in all of the first 100 episodes. There’s also footage from an on-set cast party marking the big event with cake and cheers.

I  love ending this featurette with different versions of one of Glee’s best original songs, Loser Like Me. Don’t Stop Believin’ may be its signature song from the start, but among the hundreds of songs since then, this, too, is one of the best, and its acoustic reworking for Episode 100 is fittingly soulful.

That’s it for special features, which are a little lean on these discs compare to Season 4’s lavish array of extras. But Glee is still Glee, which is to say special. And this box set is special too — the last we’ll have before it’s all over, and Season 6’s DVDs will be posthumous.

Then again, with DVD and other formats to carry on, Glee will never be over. Don’t forget that — and don’t stop believing.

— Bruce Westbrook





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