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Glee: Season 2, Volume 1 – Review

Glee: Season 2, Volume 1

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

SPECIAL FEATURES: Glee jukebox; Getting waxed with Jane Lynch; The Wit of Brittany; Glee at Comic Con 2010.

THE first half of the second season of Glee continued to entertain but also showed signs of wear and tear.

When it was hot, it rocked and the dance sequences and songs were still as inspiring as ever. But sometimes the show seemed to be trying too hard, while its treatment of various regulars sometimes felt non-beneficial to the show’s longevity.

Picking up in the wake of school budget cuts and the setback at Regionals (when they lost out to their rivals) the various members of New Directions seemed to be as energized as ever.

But as fresh romances develop and old ones are tested, the bond between them is quickly tested – while for the teachers there were also changes afoot.

So, what worked and what didn’t? Stand-alone episodes such as the Britney Spears homage and the Rocky Horror Glee episode did and proved immense fun, particularly as in the former’s case it provided a welcome showcase for Heather Morris’s brilliantly ditzy Brittany.

But specialist episodes such as Grilled Cheesus, which placed a heavy emphasis on religion, didn’t. It was brave, yes, but ultimately a little mis-guided and overdone.

The decision to focus a lot of the show’s attention on Chris Colfer’s Kurt also came at the expense of other characters, when season one seemed to balance its ensemble responsibilities much better.

Colfer is undeniably talented but with so much of the first half of the season devoted to the ongoing turmoil posed by his homosexuality, the show (and especially its creator, Ryan Murphy) seemed to be wearing his personal sensibilities on his sleeve a little too blatantly.

By the end of the first half of Season 2, Kurt had made the painful decision to move to another school, where new romantic possibilities were found within.
But while certainly well acted, the extended Kurt time came at the expense of characters such as Mark Salling’s Puck… the bad boy of the Glee team, whose antics often provide the most mischief and a nice tension between himself, Finn (Cory Monteith) and Quinn (Dianna Agron), or even Amber Riley’s Mercedes (who certainly has taken a back seat).

The use of Jane Lynch’s Sue Sylvester is also in danger of being mis-handled given recent efforts to make her even more eccentric and wacky. An episode in which she decided to marry herself while contending with her mother just feel too odd and didn’t really work – it was more cringe-inducing than funny.

While even her desire to use Brittany as a human cannon during The Sue Sylvester Shuffle felt like a stretch – Sue is best employed as a put-down queen whose vitriolic observations stay just the right side of realistic. Trying to make her an even bigger and more outrageous character places an unnecessary strain on the show’s credibility and almost feels like she is parodying herself!

That said, it’s still worth hanging out with as when Glee gets it right, there’s arguably no finer ‘feel-good’ programme on at the minute.

And as bad as some elements of The Sue Sylvester Shuffle were, the football sequences were great… as was the sectionals face-off episode, Special Education.

Of the numerous guest appearances, John Stamos has proved a welcome addition as a dentist with the hots for Jayma Mays’ Emma (thereby posing romantic problems for Will) and Gwyneth Paltrow rocked her guest appearance in The Substitute.

Most of the songs continued to work, too, meaning that whenever the show broke into musical segments it came alive.

But overall, season two has failed to match the high standards set by its award-winning predecessor.

View photos from Season 2

Certificate: 12
Running time: 8hrs 47mins
UK DVD Release: April 4, 2011