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Glee: The Rocky Horror Glee Show

“How did a production of Rocky Horror turn into... my horror?”

Glee got its freak on this week with the perfect episode for Halloween, the Rocky Horror Glee Show. We got some interesting and original themes such as the use and abuse of shock value in the arts and the guys’ body issues, and some tired plots such as Will’s desperation to impress Emma, leading to an inappropriately sexual performance for which he then apologises – sound familiar?

I hate to start off with a moan, but I found it hard to get past Glee’s overly self-aware method of dealing with Fox’s censorship – turn it into one of the central plot points of the episode. Whilst it was understandable that Mr Shue might have to edit the Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) in order to make it palatable to parents and conservative minds, some of the censorship very obviously came from Fox itself. For example John Stamos was originally planned to play Frank’N’Furter. The Glee writers certainly did the best they could, working in discussions about the whether the arts should be allowed to show risqué material as part of the freedom of creative expression, or whether pushing boundaries is only ok when there is a genuine message behind it. Strangely enough, Sue was the voice of reason, her undercover exposé coming off as strangely level-headed and moderate especially when juxtaposed against Will’s crazy macho desire to ‘win’ Emma to make her better himself. I hadn’t noticed the writers assassinating his character until now, but this just isn’t the same guy we saw in Season 1. Please make Will normal again writers! Leave the crazy schemes to Rachel, who does it better.

I thought most of the characters were well cast in their RHPS roles. It was a no-brainer that Rachel and Finn would be Janet and Brad, and it looked like Rachel at least was having a lot of fun! Santana and Brittany were also a great couple as Magenta and Columbia, and for me their gleeful cavorting in the hall during Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me was a highlight of the episode. I thought it was believable that Kurt might refuse to play Frank’N’Furter (though really, he didn’t have a leg to stand on considering his Gaga outfit) but his bald leering as Riff Raff was royally creepy. Mercedes was a bit lacking in edge as Frank’N’Furter, but I think that wasn’t the writers’ first choice. Poor Artie, he was completely pre-cast by his chair. Sam looked quite similar to the original Rocky, I’m glad they got him down to the ridiculous gold hotpants at least briefly! It’s a shame Puck wasn’t in this episode, it’s pretty funny to imagine him and Sam clashing over who would get to be the male eye-candy in their production. If you’re wondering when Puck will return, don’t worry, you won’t have to wait long.

It was fascinating watching our Glee men deal with their body issues. I had always wondered why Finn wore such shapeless t-shirts and it makes perfect sense that he’d have mild body dysmorphia. It’s original to have a quarterback on an American show who doesn’t have rippling muscles and isn’t confident with his body. Even though his sudden desire to strut down the hall in his boxers was ridiculous and came out of nowhere, he made an interesting contrast to Sam I Am, whose confidence is dependent on his body, even though he does look amazing, it’s likely that Finn has a healthier outlook, despite his issues. Artie’s take on why male bodies get more scrutiny these days was hilarious but I think he’s wrong that women are starting to think more like men. I think it’s only natural that in today’s image obsessed society, women should be able to demand that men take just as much care of themselves as they do.

Bits and Pieces:

- Nice cameo from Barry Bostwick and Meatloaf who were in the RHPS film.

- Hurrah cheerleader Becky is involved in the main plot this episode.

- I want to dress as Sue for Halloween too!

- ‘Pain is Temporary’ sign, awesome. Nice one Coach Bieste!

- Sue would have made a great Criminologist dancing on the table in The Time Warp. Oh well.

- The question of funding for travel to Nationals came up. I’m sure that’ll be pursued again in the near future.

- Sue has mad pumpkin carving skillz.

- I loved the shout-outs to fans that go to the stage show (although I’ve never been), like Sue getting confused about the toast throwing and Will and Emma heckling with “....Pation!” during Sweet Transvestite.

Glee Against the Music:

Science Fiction/Double Feature: What a wonderful song. This was my favourite song from the film and I was worried they wouldn’t include it in Glee, but instead we got Santana’s luscious lips over the opening credits in a straight homage which started the episode perfectly and made me wonder whether the whole episode would be scenes from the film.

Over at the Frankenstein Place: Decent song to set the scene and continue the illusion that the whole episode was going to be done as a Glee version of the film.

Dammit Janet: Well done Glee for having a leading man and lady who fit Brad and Janet so well that they crushed the song without looking like they were even trying. I loved the klutzy choreography.

Hot Patootie: A lot of fun! I didn’t like the film version that much, I was stuck wondering why Meatloaf was interrupting a perfectly charming evening – but John Stamos nailed the song and I was won over along with the Glee kids. Still, i’d rather have seen him in lipstick and fishnets.

Sweet Transvestite: I can’t fault Amber Riley’s performance, but no one can compare to Tim Curry in the film. Anyone who enjoyed this song but hasn’t seen The RHPS film NEEDS to go and watch it, now. It is a strange and sad day when “Transsexual Transylvania” must be changed to “sensational Transylvania” on a show that is all about celebrating who you are.

Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me: Wow Matthew Morrison and Jayma Mays really set fire to the screen with this one. The inception of a Glee RHPS episode came when Jayma performed this in her audition, so it is unsurprising that she did it brilliantly. Grrrg, argh, again with the unnecessary changing of lyrics! What on earth do “heavy sweating” and “bad fretting” mean? Aren’t “heavy petting” and “seat-wetting” fairly tame lyrics?

The Time Warp: Mucho fun! How very Glee that the kids performed the last number just for themselves.

Quotes for Gleeks:

Kurt: “So what are you going to be for Halloween this year?”
Brittany: “I’m going as a peanut allergy.”

Will: Internal monologue. “The sandwich. The theatre. He’s actually making her better. He’s winning!”

Will: “This week’s musical lesson isn’t really a lesson. It’s a musical.”
Rachel: “PleasebePhantompleasebePhantompleasebe...”

Finn: “I have no idea what’s going on in this script and it’s not in a cool Inception kind of way.”

Andrea: “....making it the zoo’s first Unitarian chimp wedding in over six years!”

Sue: “Halloween is fast approaching. The day when parents encourage little boys to dress like little girls, and little girls to dress like whores.”

Sue: “We’ve lost the true meaning of Halloween. Fear! Halloween is that magical day of the year when a child is told their grandmother’s a demon who’s been feeding them rat casserole with a crunchy garnish of their own scabs.”

Tim (Barry Bostwick): “Mexican terrorist ants!”

Santana: “Earlier today Artie asked if he could make a giant omelette when I’m done with the ostrich eggs I’m smuggling in my bra.”

Sam: “Ain’t no carpool lane to sexy.”

Emma: “Yes it’s a dream come true! I mean the costume designing is a dream come true not the spending a lot of time – not that spending a lot of time wouldn’t - because of Carl, I’ve got the Carl!”

Mike: “I really wanna do it but they’re just not cool with me dressing up like a tranny.”

Sue: “People who dress like librarians – all sex addicts.”

Finn: “I don’t have to hide behind my muscles like you do.”
Sam: “Awesome! I think. Are you insulting me?”

But the quote of the night surprisingly goes to Becky: "Give me some chocolate or I will cut you."

All in all they did a pretty decent job integrating the bizarre and wonderfully awful RHPS into a cohesive Glee episode with great songs, a decent plot and some interesting issues explored.

Three out of four peanut allergy costumes.


  1. Terrific review, Harry. I totally agree with everything you said. For me, the highlights were definitely Emma doing "Toucha toucha" with Brittany and Santana as Columbia and Magenta -- I played it twice -- and the finale with their version of "Time Warp." Mercedes as Frank was disappointing and so was the heavy-handed censorship. I would have enjoyed seeing John Stamos doing Frank; his Eddie was great.

  2. Great review. One thing I was wondering during the show (and again when I watched it later during a different time zone)... Why didn't they let Kurt sing the entire "Time Warp" song? This is a Riff Raff song... not a Brad song. And Kurt hadn't had much screen time all episode.

  3. What a weird episode. But it's 'cause I haven't watched Rocky Horror rather than it being done weirdly. And it was pretty entertaining,

    Nice review. Absolutely agree about how they're killing Will's character. What happened to the nice guy we knew? We see bits of him now and again (like when he was defending Finn) but mostly he's just doing really stupid things to win Emma over. I wished they'd just get that over with.

    On the plus side, Rachel's making pretty good progress in becoming a nicer person.

  4. Oh and where the heck did Will get the financial back-up for a full-length school musical??

  5. Nice review, Harry! Becky's quote was my favourite too. And thank you for mentioning whose lips we were watching at the beginning. I really couldn't tell, and it was bugging me!

    Like Nick, the inexplicably high production values made me laugh. However, while I agree with everyone that Will is proving detestable, I'm not sure the writers have changed his character that much. After all, this is the guy who, in the pilot, threatened a struggling boy's chances at college by framing him for drug use just to indulge his own pathetic Glee ambitions. From the beginning, his behavior has been nothing short of criminal and, well, monstrous really.

  6. I didn't like this episode. I'm not familiar with the source material, and the musical numbers really didn't do anything for me. But what really killed it for me was Will. When he's so over-the-top inappropriate and detestable, all in a sad attempt to woo Emma, it tends to completely ruin an episode for me.

    I also thought it was rather odd that, as the voice of reason, Sue made the explicit point that artists who push the boundaries just for the sake of shock tend to make bad art. Is that supposed to be some sort of ironic commentary on Murphy's shock tendencies, or does it reflect a complete lack of awareness about his own "art"?

    I was mildly entertained by Finn's struggle with body issues, but overall this one didn't work for me.

  7. Because there has to be a voice of dissent...

    I loved Mercedes as Frank-N-Furter. Of course, no one could do it better than Tim, but I thought she nailed it. And 'Toucha' was great. I love it when Emma comes out of her shell.

    My disappointment was in the use of Barry Bostwick and Meatloaf. Yes, it was great to have two of the originals, but it felt very forced to me. Would have preferred to see them as angry parents -- ah, the irony would have been delightful.

    Dimitri's comment made me stop and think. I've always liked Will, but then I have a crush on MM. I think the point is a valid one. Will does seem to be engaging in some pretty awful behaviour, and it will be interesting to see how (or if) the writers redeem him.


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