With the success of shows like American Idol and Dancing With the Stars, some very smart people realized that people would flock to see television that showcased singing and dancing. Add a real story to that equation and you'd have a hit, right? Right. As in its first season, the second season of Glee attracts viewers with its diversified cast and quick dialogue with appealing storylines, something that's difficult to do well with such a large cast. But, such is the plight of Glee, which tells the stories of Ohio's McKinley High School glee club New Directions.
Spanish teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison, Dan in Real Life) directs and "educates" this gang of individualists, including the cheerleaders Quinn (Dianna Agron, I Am Number Four), Brittany (Heather Morris), and Santana (Naya Rivera, The Bernie Mac Show), the only openly gay student at school Kurt (Chris Colfer), the high-school quarterback Finn (Cory Monteith, Kyle XY), the selfish but talented Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), sweet and wheelchair-bound Artie (Kevin McHale, True Blood), the big-voiced diva Mercedes (Amber Riley), bad boy Puck (Mark Salling), and the ones usually in the background Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) and awesome dancer Mike (Harry Shum Jr.). If you'll excuse me, my fingers are a little parched.
I should note that this doesn't count cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch, Julie & Julia) who looks for any reason to stick it to Will and his glee club, Emma (Jayma Mays, Ugly Betty), Will's love interest with OCD, and a few new additions to Season Two, including the somewhat more masculine football coach Shannon Beiste (Dot Jones) and the golden voiced Sam (Chord Overstreet).
Season Two finds Will looking for new faces for the club, but unfortunately and unsurprisingly, glee club is just not cool enough to attract interest. Finally, Finn convinces Sam, a fellow football player, to try out, and the adorable blonde with the irresistible voice and the Beiber haircut is a hit. Sam even defends Kurt, who continues to be harassed by football player Dave Karofsky for being gay. This is perhaps one of the lengthiest storylines this season, as we finally see the Karofsky issue come to a shocking end.
Along with his Karofsky concerns, Kurt seems to take center stage this season as Kurt plans the wedding of Finn's mother to Kurt's father. Other episodes explore Kurt's new environment at school, which, as Kurt learns, has very different ways of deciding song choice in its glee club, the Warblers. Brittany also gets some "alone" time the season, quickly becoming the season's funniest character, a title bolstered by her performance in the Britney Spears episode "Britney/Brittany." In fact, the Christmas episode also gives her a chance to shine as the sweetly naïve girl who still believes in Santa.
Of course, you can't forget Finn and Rachel, who took up a lot of Season One story time. They're still here, but not as much in the front and center positions, unless you count their performance in as Brad and Janet, lead roles in Glee's Halloween episode, "the Rocky Horror Glee Show." Personally, I like it this way, as I don't think the Finn and Rachel character's are really "favorites" anymore.
Some of my favorite moments occur in four episodes of this 10-episode volume include
"Britney/Brittany," which has dentist Carl (John Stamos, Farce of the Penguins) treating the glee club's bad teeth. Each student that spends time in his dentist chair has a Britney Spears drug-induced fantasy. Brittany's (who for most of her life didn't like Britney Spears since her name is technically Brittany S. Pierce) fantasy involves her singing and dancing to "I'm a Slave 4 U." Since Heather Morris has a dancer's background, you can really see her experience here. Makes you want to learn how to dance. So, come for the dancing, stay for Britney's random well-delivered lines, like "is this real life?" after coming out of the anesthesia. Also, did anyone else think that maybe this line was a sneaky reference to the popular YouTube video of the kid who was videotaped on his ride home after visiting the dentist?
"Grilled Cheesus" helps me understand why Chris Colfer won a Golden Globe. That is all. His emotional performance of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" is, well, emotional. "Furt" just makes me smile. Here's why. This is the episode where Finn and Kurt's parents get married and Finn recognizes what being a brother really means. I think I liked this episode so much because everyone was so happy. It reminds me of the sing-song line from Elf, where Buddy says, "the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear." Maybe it wasn't Christmas, but the singing here definitely brought cheer. Related to this, "A Very Glee Christmas," meanwhile was one of my favorites for its scenes reminiscent of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." I think while watching it, I yelled happily and pointed at the TV several times.
All in all, Glee does maintain a certain sense of optimism and suspension disbelief that makes you want to go along for the ride. I'll be the first to admit that some of the songs aren't for everyone, but their interpretations are very good and you may find yourself tapping your foot to them long after they end. If that's the intent of the show, then mission accomplished.
All ten episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, consistent with their original broadcast format. I'd been watching the show in high-definition, but the show looks fine in standard def, flesh tones are accurate, I didn't spot too much edge enhancement that distracted from the shows, and the source material is as clean as can be (the last episode was only two months ago for pete's sake). All in all nice viewing.
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround for all of the episodes. All of the songs sound well-balanced through the soundstage and clear as a bell, and there's a hint of low-end involvement from time to time. In the non-music sequences the dialogue is clear and there is some channel panning, and for such a musically-inclined show, the discs provide for a pleasant listening experience.
Not too many bonus features for such a widely loved show. Disc One contains a feature that's available for each of the three discs, called "Glee Music Jukebox." This is simply a kind of index of all of the scenes with the music performances broken down by episode. It's perfect for you folks who only tune in for the performances. Disc Two includes "The Making of the Rocky Horror Glee Show" and is about seven minutes long. It's not all that informative, but it's fun to watch as different members of the cast and crew talk about their Rocky Horror characters. For example, Amber Riley, as Frankfurter, got stuck in the set elevator for about 20 minutes. Also, Jayma Mays talks to the camera about how she sang "Toucha Toucha Touch me," for her Glee audition (which is included). You will also have access on Disc Two to the "DVD World Premiere: Exclusive Bonus Song," "Planet, Schmanet, Janet," which I didn't care for as a song, to be honest, but I'm not a Rocky Horror fan.
Disc Three features "Getting Waxed With Jane Lynch," which I was a little worried to watch based on its title. No worries here though, as Sue Sylvester gets recreated in wax through Madame Tussaud's wax museum. This was quite cool, as you were shown the highlights of how a person's replica is made into wax. Not that it should be surprising, but the wax version of Sue was incredibly authentic. Meanwhile, "The Wit of Brittany" is a two-minute compilation of her dangerously random lines, including "I think my cat is reading my diary," and "People thought I went on vacation, but actually I spent the summer lost in the sewers." Lastly, "Glee at Comic-Con 2010" is a recording of their panel at last year's Comic-Con. It's about 15 minutes long and only includes about half the cast with one of the show's creators and writers. They answered questions from fans and we find out that at one point, Amber videotaped Chris on the treadmill and then put it on Twitter. This is just okay.
Glee itself is a kind of happy drug. I think a lot of people see each episode as a mini-musical, but it's a little broader than that, particularly when the Glee kids do songs outside of their practice room. It reminds me of a flash mob in a way, and really, how can you not smile while watching a group of people sing together? I often have a vision that in some of the hardest times of year, maybe during the holidays, I'm standing in line for hours, and someone breaks out in song. If that happened, I'd completely forget about my worries. And that's what I think Glee does for a lot of people on a weekly basis. So how could that be bad?
Oh, and don't blame Glee itself for the fact that greedy Fox decided to put together a DVD for only half the season, as they did the same thing last season. If you want to show your distaste for this practice, don't buy this "volume." Instead, wait for the complete season to come out.