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Glee: Mash Up

Puck: "It was a message from God - Rachel was a hot Jew and the good lord wanted me to get into her pants."

Welcome back, Fun. I missed you last week.

I really enjoyed this week's episode. It had the best opening ever (Slushee stalker + Mercedes screeching, "My weave!"), the best ending ever (Mr. Shue covered in grape), and a ton of laugh out loud moments in between. I still crack up when I think about Ken and his athlete's foot issue.

"Mash Up" also highlighted exactly what I *didn't* like about last week's. I know a lot of you enjoyed it, and I probably would have more, if the ending didn't feel so malicious and disconcerting. Thankfully, we are back to good, old fashioned silliness, over-exaggerated high school angst, and lots of singing and dancing that fit seamlessly with the plot.

I was originally kind of annoyed/confused that they titled this ep "Mash Up", especially since I thought it would have been a better title for "Vitamin D", and we had not a single mash-up this week (to my profound disappointment). As the story went on, though, I finally got it - it was more about trying to blend 2 seemingly incongruous elements into a harmonious blend: Sue and romance, Emma and Ken, Glee Club and football. Unfortunately, the one mash-up that was explicitly requested - "The Thong Song" and "I Could Have Danced All Night" for Ken and Emma's wedding song - failed miserably.

The Rain of (Slushee) Terror

Every kid's high school experience involved popularity to some extent. Either you were popular, you weren't popular, or you were thankfully excluded from having to deal with it altogether. For McKinley kids, being unpopular is far more treacherous... in addition to the potential long-term impact to a teenager's tenuous self-confidence, you just might get a Slushee in your face.

Jeez - no wonder Figgins needed an extra janitor. It's not because of the budget cuts, it's because the regular one spends all his/her time cleaning up Slushee in the hallway. Slushee Terror reached an all-time high this week, after Finn and Quinn's downfall from the popularity pedestal ("I've wanted to do that since the 5th grade, when you made fun of me for having pubes") made it open season. The Glee kids were wearing raincoats, and I'm betting everyone started stashing an extra set of clothes in their locker. Either that, or the whole school smelled like grape.

(Speaking of which - grape slushee? Ewwwww. At least have cola flavored or something.)

And so the war began: Slushee or Be Slusheed. There were casualties everywhere: Puck took one in the face for Rachel, Quinn and Finn resorted to wearing really ugly sunglasses to regain their popularity, Finn ditched the Glee Club for like 5 minutes, and Kurt committed slushee-cide in a truly spectacular transparent military raincoat. Besides delivering some awesome lines ("I really don't want to do it - I know how picky you are about what you use on your face"), the popularity war officially made "slushee" a verb.

Pucker Up, Puckerman / ごめんなさい, Tanaka-san

Now that the show has finally found its footing, it's been doing a really good job of running parallel storylines between the adult world and the kids. Each of the main characters have an adult-kid counterpart: Terri and Quinn, Emma and Rachel, Will and Finn. This week, it was Puck and Tanaka - both stuck playing second fiddle to Finn and Will, respectively.

Puck failed to steal Quinn, so instead, he decides to start dating Rachel - thanks to a bizarre combination of resentment and religious conviction. That entire Puck voice-over sequence was great - from watching Schindler's List and eating pork with his mom and his sister, to believing that it was his Jewish duty to date Rachel. I really liked how the writers took a tiny, throwaway moment from last week and just totally ran with it. Especially since I actually really like Rachel and Puck together.

Ken's struggle was far more heartbreaking, serious and real. He's not making out with a chick in high school, he's getting married to a woman that he knows doesn't love him. How bad did you feel when he was telling Will that he loves Emma so much that he's willing to marry her anyway? How many of you totally sympathized when he scheduled football against Glee rehearsals? Ken knew he was the consolation prize for Emma - he wanted to regain his pride by at least having the cool kids pick him.

If you'd asked me after the pilot if I would have thought Ken would turn out to be a good man, I probably would have said no. But Patrick Gallagher - who also plays Chang on True Blood - has done a stand up job of giving the overweight, brutish gym teacher both depth and sensitivity.

I continue to be impressed with how Glee has taken supporting players that could have easily remained a one-dimensional caricature, and invested them with humanity. In addition, I like how they've been able to focus on a couple of different supporting characters each week, while keeping the main cast and plot relevant.

Emma and Her Dresses

The two wedding dresses that Emma wore this week really spoke volumes about her character. The Princess Di dress was so Emma and so not - holding on to the fairy tale, one that she already knows ends in tragedy, and living in a time where little girls still believed that true love reigned and never thought about settling.

Her real dress was much more appropriate - very Audrey Hepburn, My Fair Lady, elegant. She looked stunning, and for a minute there, she got to live out her fantasy of dancing with Will in a wedding dress.

The only nitpick I had was that Emma would have never put on the first dress and worn it at school. No one who mourned Versace's death would be caught dead in poofy sleeves, and even I was thinking about all the dirt and slushee stickiness the train was picking up as she walked down the hallway.

And Finally, The Music...

Again, I'm disappointed that we didn't get any mash ups this week - what a tease! But we had some fun music this week: Will busted a move, Emma sang (!), Puck serenaded Rachel with "Sweet Caroline". I, however, cannot and will not condone any performance of "The Thong Song", because (a) that is definitely one song I never needed to know the words to, and (b) it has been stuck in my head ever since last night. Kill me now!

Matt Morrison was the musical star of this episode, and yes, the man can dance. He's a heckuva lot better at breaking the The Other Asian, who I'm pretty sure doesn't have a name. I'm not really sure why they keep making him rap when he has such an amazing singing voice - every time I hear his part on "Alone", I fall in love with him a little more. But he's having so much fun with it that I can't complain.

On a side note, I'm going to start rating the music separate from the overall episode. My criteria:
  1. How smoothly and naturally the singing and dancing occur. For example, I didn't like "Hate on Me" last week because it was this huge song and dance number that supposedly was the first time they performed it - totally unrealistic, and jarring.
  2. Whether or not the remake added anything to the original song. I love, love, love "No Air", I really didn't feel like Rachel and Finn's version was different / better / more interesting than the original. As opposed to "Don't Stop Believin", "Gold Digger", any of the "Acafellas" songs, and my now favorite - "Somebody to Love". All of which are worth spending $1.29 because they are so unique.
  3. How relevant the song is to the plot. "Keep Holding On", where the Glee kids show Quinn their support, is a prime example.
And of course, I will penalize for egregious use of the Reach to Nowhere.

Music Tally:
  • +1 for "Bust a Move" since it was loads of fun, and the ep was about Puck busting a move on Rachel
  • +1 each for an awesome performance by Mark Salling and Jayma Mays
  • -5 for "The Thong Song". Ken, I know you need to shake your money maker, but do it with something else
  • +2 for the Will-Sue swing dance
Total: 0, but I'm giving it another +10 for the complete lack of arm reaching this week, so we come out ahead.

Phew! That's a lot, but there was so much good stuff in this episode, I wanted to get all my thoughts out. As opposed to last week, where I was at a complete loss for words.

GLEEful Moments & Quotes:

-- Ken: "I had a monster case of athlete's foot a couple of years ago and got all my toenails removed. So if she steps on my feet during the dance, I might pass out."

I'm laughing just typing it. Will's reaction was priceless - just about to eat a cookie, and then putting it down.

-- Emma: "Ken's convinced me that we should be in the same room when the marriage is certified."
Ken: "What can I say? I'm a traditionalist."

-- Finn: "I don’t think any one decision makes your life. Unless you accidentally invent some kind of zombie virus or something.”

-- In this week's fashion report: It's the end of an era, as Quinn wears civilian clothes and takes her hair out of a ponytail.

-- Kurt: "Someone get me to a day spa - stat!"

-- Kurt is the best character! But there have been some inconsistencies. For example, he got down with the "Single Ladies", but can't bounce a little during "Bust a Move"?

-- Puck: "I feel like I can burst into tears at any moment. Damn, I feel like a bad Jew."

Sue's Corner:

Ohhhh... Sue's romance with Rod was a doozy. Can Rod be any cheesier? The hair was so fake, and he was such a perv. I loved it!

-- Sue, practically purring: "You sunk my battleship, Rod, and you sunk it hard."

-- Rod: "I can’t be caged in, Sue. That's why I got my tiger tattoo.”

-- Sue: “Why can’t people marry dogs? I’m certainly not advocating intimacy with your pets.” LOL.

-- Sue: “I for one think intimacy has no place in a marriage. Walked in on my parents once, and it was like seeing two walruses wrestling.”

-- Have you ever noticed that Sue refers to herself in 3rd person, the way professional athletes do?

I wouldn't say this was a power episode, but it was fun, fun, fun! A solid 3 out of 4 slushees.

4 comments:

  1. I enjoyed this one a lot, too. I agree that they seem to have found their groove. Or maybe I'm just enjoying it more these days. I'm certainly not having the love-hate relationship I used to have with it. It has actually become one of the highlights of my TV week. And I had a terrible, terrible day on Wednesday, so getting to smile and laugh through Glee was just the pick me up I needed.

    I, too, was really disappointed there were no actual mash-ups with the songs this week. What a tease!

    Emma looked stunning in her Audrey Hepburn wedding dress. A perfect fit for that character.

    The fact that Puck was eating pork during the Schindler's List dinner completely passed me by while watching. Hilarious!

    When the Sue-Will dancing scene came on, I actually said WTF?! out loud. And I used the actual words. That scene blew my mind. Fun and completely crazy. Kind of nice to get a different look at Sue this week. Apparently she is human. Or was for a short period of time. :)

    I think my two favorite moments this week (other than the assorted music) were the Will-Ken confrontation and Kurt "taking one for the team." What a fantastic gesture.

    Great review, as always, Serena.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glee not only makes me laugh several times an episode, it makes me explode with laughter.

    The highlights for me were (1) Matthew Morrison's exceptional dancing; (2) Will and Sue actually dancing together; (3) Sue showing such vulnerability, and (4) Puck. I finally like him.

    And Emma and her wedding dresses. And Ken's goodness and vulnerability. And the whole concept of a slushie war. Kurt taking the slushie for Finn. Puck's Schindler's List dinner.

    Okay, pretty much the entire episode.

    Thank you so much for joining the team and reviewing this marvelous show for us, Serena. You're doing a great job.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great review of a great episode. I sit down and watch this show every week with a big smile on my face. It requires nothing of you but your time, and always rewards with humour you could cut an apple with, and great music that has you tapping your feet, and even singing along.

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  4. Matthew Morrison can 'bust a move' anytime. And that dance with Emma? Sigh...

    I have such a crush on the man! Real men CAN dance. :-)

    ReplyDelete

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