Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Glee: Showchoir Fever Dreams

Last season of "Glee," I started formulating a theory that "Glee" is actually an elaborate fever dream by a showtunes-loving crazy person.

After watching the season premiere, I realized: It so is. There is no other way to explain the crazy, goofy fabulousness of this show. The inconsistencies! The crazy characters! The things that could never, ever, ever, ever happen!

And I love it.

The show started out like it did last season, with the school gossip journalist, Jacob Ben-Israel, asking the "Glee" kids about their plans for the year. Finn is lost. We find out that Tina and Artie are only juniors. "I thought you were a senior," Jacob tells Artie. "Optical illusion. The chair adds a year," he says. Great nod to the silly online controversy about who is a junior and who is a senior. Rachel and Kurt have very elaborate, very specific plans to be in show-biz in New York. Mercedes isn't dating Sam anymore. ("That is so June!" she says.) Now she's dating a big football player guy. So long, Trouty-Mouth ... we hardly knew ye. Santana is the Cheerios' top ho. When Jacob asks Brittany about her future, she asks him, "Are you working on a time machine too?"

In Schuester land ... he's living with Emma now, and they're sickeningly cute. Also, pretty boring and chaste.

When they get to the choir room (do they have any other classes?), Schue has left out their trophies, including their tiny 12th place Nationals trophy. "I was sure our nationals trophy would grow over the summer," Brittany says. Schue apologizes for letting them down but says that they are going to do better this year. The club agrees, since they're the laughingstock of the showchoir world, "and that's saying something," Artie says. Especially troublesome was "The kiss that missed," Finn and Rachel's makeout session on stage during their nationals performance. Apparently, it has lots of hits on YouTube, and a lot of comments, including, Kurt tells us, "Why is that T-Rex eating a Jew?" *snort* We also find out that Lauren Zices has quit the Glee Club - since they didn't do well at nationals, it's not in her cool factor. Nooooo! Lauren! I'll miss you! I hope she comes back.

Anyway, then we get to the crux of the episode ... the club has three pianos, painted purple, that Schue will be moving around the school. When the kids see them, they're supposed to break into song to try to encourage other students to join the glee club.

Kurt and Rachel's plot this season is going to have to do with getting into the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts so they can go live together in New York. When they go to Emma for guidance, she tries to convince them to go to Kent State, which has a great musical theater program, "and a macabre backstory, so if you don't get the lead in a musical, you can think, 'It could be worse.'" However, she also tells them there's a mixer for other musical theater-types who want to get into the New York school at a local hotel. (Emma also gives Kurt a pamphlet called "Me and My Hag.")

Sue, meanwhile, is running for Congress. At the beginning of the episode, she's behind "undecided, that rapist who's running from prison and 'I don't care, don't call me during dinner.'" Her pro-deportation stance didn't work, so now she's decided that voters want a candidate who's against something. Just as she's plotting, she hears Tina and Mike playing "Chopsticks" on one of the purple piano. She storms out and destroys it. "Oh, I just realized that song might be the national anthem from whatever country you're from," she says. After Mike and Tina scamper off, a geography teacher thanks Sue, because she's tired of artists thinking that rules don't apply to them. And thus, an idea is born.

Over at the local coffee house (The Lima Bean), Kurt and Blaine are looking fashionable and drinking coffee. (Oh, those fabulous gays.) "You're quiet," Blaine says. "No, I'm being passive-aggressive." Turns out Kurt doesn't want Blaine to stay at Dalton, but instead to come to McKinley High so that they won't compete against each other, and so they can see each other all the time.

OK, so the one Glee kid we haven't seen yet is Quinn, but soon we see her looking all punky, with pink hair, black clothes and a tramp stamp of Ryan Seacrest. She actually looks pretty cute, but she's all emo. Santana and Brittany try to get Quinn back in the Cheerios and glee club. "We all joined Cheerios together, we all joined the glee club together, we all slept with Puckerman the same year. We're like besties for life," Santana says. "We were like the Three Musketeers," Brittany adds. "Now Santana is like an Almond Joy and you're like a Jolly Rancher that fell in an ashtray." But Quinn doesn't need her old friends, she has The Skanks, a group of girls who smoke under the bleachers and don't bathe. My favorite is the slightly dippy Mac, called that "because I like to make out with truckers at the truck stop. It's like a double meaning." Rachel also comes to try to convince Quinn to rejoin the glee club ("Your friend stinks of soap, Quinn," one of the Skanks says), but to no avail.

Over on Sue's Corner, she's done standing for something. "Unless it's a day she's being screened for hepititis, this gal ain't positive," she says. Instead, she is officially campaigning against the arts, saying that it's too expensive and they can't afford it. She pledges to suspend all arts programs until very student reads at or above grade level. This sparks Schue and Sue to fight in front of Principal Figgans. He starts out talking about how kids in the arts have lower incidents of substance abuse ("Tell that to Janice Joplin," Sue says), but soon Schue is babbling about how he needs job security because he's in a relationship and he wants to start a family. Yeah, nobody really cares, Schue. But people apparently like Sue's platform, because she jumped in the polls and is now neck-in-neck with the rapist running from prison.

Sue then gets Becky and Santana in her office, telling them, "I've put plastic on your chair for this announcement, so please feel free to wet yourself with excitement." They're co-captains of the Cheerios, which they both hate - they want to be in charge themselves - but Sue gives them their first task, to destroy the purple pianos. Sue also asks Santana which side she's on - Cheerios or glee club. "Team Sue," Santana says.

It's lunchtime then, and there's a purple piano in the lunch room. They contemplate not singing and dancing so they can survive lunch, but decide to launch into "We Got the Beat" instead. It sparks a food fight, and peoples' reactions are hilarious - Kurt shields himself with a tray, Rachel stands there sobbing, Brittany twirls around on the food.

They run to the choir room to lick their wounds. "I have pepperoni in my bra," Brittany says. "Those are your nipples," Santana answers. Just then ... a new character appears! Sugar, whose dad donated the purple pianos, wants to be part of the club. She has self-diagnosed Asperger's, "so I can say whatever I want." She tells them that she saw them in the cafeteria, and that she's better than all of them. "Sorry, Asperger's," she says. She launches into a terrible (and hilarious" rendition of "Big Spender" from "Sweet Charity," and suddenly Schue has a decision - keep letting everyone in the glee club, or actually cut someone. My favorite thing Sugar did, though - rubbed the piano player's head on her way out of the choir room! Schue goes to Coach Beiste and asks for her opinion, and she says that coaches need to crush people's hopes and dreams, "like pigs in a blanket." Emma walks in and reports that, in the polls, Sue has passed "undecided" and "anyone white." Schue declares war on Sue and marches out of the room to plot. "So this is what being turned-on feels like," Emma breathes.

Kurt and Rachel sing "Ding Dong, The Witch is Dead," and it's cute. It's the song they're going to use to intimidate kids at the mixer. I love it when they perform and sing showtunes!

Sue holds Cheerios tryouts, but has no intention of bringing anyone new in. "I just want to see people cry," she says. Schue comes in and, with Emma taping it, glitterbombs Sue for her hatred of the arts, saying that each piece of glitter represents a kid whose dreams won't come true if the arts are taken out of schools.

Blaine shows up (wearing a bow-tie, aww!) and says that he is going to McKinley now, "because I can't stand to be apart from the person I love." I realize they're going for cute, but that kind of thing is creepy to me. Don't be so clingy! To declare that he's at McKinley, he sings "It's Not Unusual" with the Cheerios, who pour gasoline or something on the purple piano. Quinn flicks her cigarette onto the piano and it goes up in flames. Santana smirks.

At the mixer, the hyper weird arts kids greet Kurt and Rachel. Turns out they've been meeting forever and they've actually been in shows and on TV. The leader girl (who looks like Rachel) says she was the Gerber baby. "I've been acting since I was a fetus, literally! An ultrasound of me was featured on 'Murder, She Wrote!'" They're so perky, though - one stylish guy tells them, "As my future husband, Robert Pattinson, says, it's always refreshing to have new blood!" They then perform a showtunes medley with "Anything Goes" and "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better," complete with tap dancing! Cue the shattering of Rachel and Kurt's illusions. They bawl in the car, with Rachel deciding that they're going to have to move, change their names and live out the sad life of performing in community theater. But after a lovely little chat, they decide that they're going to keep chasing their dreams. "You make me want to be your boyfriend," Rachel tells Kurt. Then they do the gay high-five - hook pinkies, then do jazz hands. Love it!

Emma convinces Will to do what he needs to do, even though it means killing a kid's dream, so he tells Sugar that she isn't in the glee club. "Your ears must be busted because I worked that song like a hooker pole," she says. She rants at him, ending it with, "Not! Aspergers!" and storms off. I can't wait to see her again! Then Sue tells Schue that his "pixie-dust hate crime" was actually "high-octane Sue fuel," because she went up in the polls.

Schue goes back to the choir room, where Blaine joins and Schue kicks Santana out because she and the Cheerios set fire to the piano. Santana says she was just following Sue's orders, but Schue points out that Brittany didn't help. "Yeah, I was going to help, but I don't know, I'm a water sign, so ..." she says. Schue says that the club is coming together and being united. Then, Rachel suggests that the club do "West Side Story" for a musical this year ("Is that the one with cats?" Brittany asks), setting up a diva-off between herself and Mercedes for the role of Maria. Oh, and Kurt is running for student council. And then, just for good measure, the club joins together and sings "You Can't Stop The Beat" to end the episode, with Quinn watching in the wings.

Overall, it was a pretty good first episode, although there weren't enough songs. However, they had a lot of plot to introduce, including Will & Emma's slightly awkward relationship, Blaine and Kurt's uber-clinginess, Quinn's emo streak, Kurt and Rachel's New York dreams and Sue's congressional run. I'm hoping that doing "West Side Story" means there will be lots of showtunes in the next few episodes, because I love me some showtunes! The plots keep getting more ridiculous, so if they're going to go in a super silly, slightly fever-dream direction, they need to completely commit so that people aren't confused about whether "Glee" is supposed to be realistic or not. Make it completely over-the-top!!

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