Season Finale: The Glee Project Season 1

NOTE: Not sure why this didn’t post yesterday when it was supposed to, but it didn’t.

I’m not a Glee fan. If you were to do a search on this blog for the word, you’d come up with several different posts about the first season followed by random ones here and there. Essentially, I think the show uses its characters like I used to use my action figures as a kid, to fit whatever role I needed them to at that moment. Consistency’s not the name of the game and it’s the kind of thing I can’t stand. So, when my wife, who is a fan, watches, I usually head to the bedroom and do a little reading. It works out well for everyone.

So, what am I doing watching The Glee Project? Well, my wife was interested, I’m a sucker for a good competition show and there wasn’t anything else on in a particular Sunday time slot, so there you have it. We’d seen a few episodes here and there and wound up watching the missing episodes today thanks to a marathon. If you’re unfamiliar, a dozen kids (well adults really, ranging from 18-22, I believe) were chosen to compete in a series of challenges intended to test their acting, dancing and singing abilities, the prize being a seven episode guest spot on the next season of Glee. In theory, I liked the straightforward nature of the contest. There’s a clear thing you’re competing for as well as somewhat clear parameters the judges were using (the person has to fit on the show, not be redundant and of, course, be able to perform). It’s a lot like Next Foodnetwork Star in that respect.

It wound up being something a little weirder though. I’m no Hollywood expert, but it seemed to me like show co-creator Ryan Murphy (who’s resemblance to John Malkovich is scary) was judging the finalists on their personalities and how those could be turned into characters on the show. I guess I get that, but aren’t they supposed to be actors who, you know, act? I mean, I hope that Lea Michele isn’t the awful annoyance she portrays on TV. My point is that the kids probably should have been judged more on a pure talent base than whether the writers could write for the actual person and not the character. Maybe I’m wrong on this, but it seemed a bit strange.

If you haven’t seen the finale or don’t want the winners spoiled, stop here. A few episodes before the finale there was a moment where Ryan Murphy or one of the other guys mentions that they’ve been kicking around the idea of doing a “different kind of Christian” and that Samuel has Jesus tattoos, so that made sense. I knew right there that he was going to win because he easily fit in with what they had planned for the show. That makes sense to me. However, it’s not like you need to get a Christian actor to fill it. Actors act. Of course, that wasn’t the end of the episode though and I actually liked what Murphy did after that by also offering Damian his own seven episode arc as well as two episodes to Alex (the kid whose idea of drag comes from the Big Mommas House collection) and Lindsay (the girl with the crazy eyes that no one likes).

I don’t keep up on everything Glee, but I’ve heard rumblings here and there. First there was talk that some of the leads were leaving the show, then it was mentioned that they were going to have their own spin-off, then that got scrapped and the characters were going to be leaving high school but staying on the show. There’s nothing worse than a 28 year old high school student, so I think moving them through is a great idea and so is having this reality show around as a way to really test talent. I’d imagine that after being with a group of performers for 12 weeks, you get a really solid idea of what they can do and how well resulting in the kind if finale they had this year with four of the finalists getting spots on the series. Why not? It might not make for the most riveting reality competition programming, but after spending time with the potentials we as viewers start to like them and that gets Glee viewers excited to see how, when and why these folks will pop up on the show. Who woulda thought that I’d dig a show based on a show that I do not like?

What We’re Watching: Monday & Tuesday

I find myself with a strange feeling this TV season: a lack of interest. Sure, I’ve got favorite shows I like tuning in to, but it feels like I’ve got a lot less of them to look forward to, possibly because Lost is gone. There wasn’t another show in the history of my television watching career that engrossed me as much as that one and got me so excited about an hour of TV. Maybe it’s because most of the new shows aren’t so good. Here’s the break down for the first section of the week as far as regular viewings go.

For all the years I’ve been in New York, I’ve been looking around for a good syndicated block of reruns between 6 and 8 that would stay consistent and, for the most part, I’ve been unsuccessful. That is until recently. VH1 scored Saturday Night Live reruns from the 90s which have been a lot of fun to watch, even when I’m reminded that that was an era when skits tended to run WAY too long. It’s still fun to see a lot of today’s big stars and musical acts on the show both in the cast and as hosts. It’s even more fun to see long forgotten folks like Finese Mitchel and Sysqo perform. That takes care of the 6 to 7 block and then we bounce over to a local station called My9 which runs How I Met Your Mother. The only problem I foresee is that, with only a few season under its belt, I’ll be rewatching these episodes over and over again.

MONDAY

8:00pm – HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS)
I’ve already gone on record with the potential problems I see with HIMYM, but I still enjoy this show better than most of the others I watch on a weekly basis. I’ve grown to really enjoy these characters, but I still think there needs to start being some resolution to the overhanging “mysteries” or else this one could start feeling a little tedious. Like I said though, great cast and still one of my favorite, most looked-forward-to shows.

8:30pm – RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (CBS)
Rules of Engagement is a show we only started watching because it was on right after HIMYM and nothing else was on, but I’ve actually come to enjoy it. Sure, it’s a jokier type of sitcom with lots of jokes being tossed around that aren’t hilarious, but funny enough to get a laugh. I like seeing Patrick Warburton and David Spade doing their things, plus I find the dumb neighbor/friend guy oddly charming. I’m in it with this series, though if something more interesting came on I think we’d jump ship in favor of that. 

9:00pm – THE EVENT (NBC)
AS regular readers might remember, I wasn’t really all that into The Event when it premiered. I’m even less so now and barely still pay attention while the missus watches. I think she’s getting pretty sick of it too. I spent way too many episodes wanting to slap Jason Ritter for saying “My girlfriend!” so much that I don’t think we can ever be okay again (at least not on this show). I appreciate that they’re trying to move things along at a faster clip, but I just do not care about any of these people or what’s going on. I have the vaguest interest in what’s happening with these supposed aliens (though my money’s on dimensional or time travelers), but I could really just look it up in Wiki at some future date and feel satisfied. Probably moreso because I wouldn’t be wasting my time watching a lackluster Lost wannabe. 

10:00pm – CASTLE (ABC)
I almost feel bad for not liking Castle more. I really like the cast and the dynamics of the characters, but it just feels so hacky lately. From the wacky set-ups for crimes this season (steampunk AND time travel in one episode?!) to the increasingly formulaic plot, I’m getting worn down. How many times can they run across a suspect who lies so well that they completely buy his story and move on only to come back to him or her later in the episode to realize he or she is really the killer? It’s boring and, personally, I expect more from a show with Nathan Fillion on it. Hopefully this one will pick up because the missus still LOVES it, while I just keep thinking about how much better Bones is and wishing Netflix would send the first disc of last season already so we can start the long road to catching up.

TUESDAY

8:00pm – GLEE (Fox)
This one’s completely because the missus likes the show. She’s a big fan of musicals and show tunes and whatnot, so this is right up her alley, which is unfortunate, because I find it to be one of the most wildly inconsistent, sloppy and increasingly gross shows around. Anyone else see the Rocky Horror episode tonight where the teacher actually considered and planned on dressing up in gold shorts and performing a sexually charged number with one of his students? Sure he practiced with the hot red head teacher, but he was actually planning on jumping in and doing that. He’s just one of the many headache-inducing characters on a show filled with them. I’ve heard the argument made that you’re not supposed to expect anything from Glee but high school drama and musical numbers, but I call bullshit on that. The very basis of ongoing fiction of any kind is based in consistent characterization and this show lacks it for the most part. However, I do love Brittany’s throwaway lines. Those are just solid and sound like they’re being written by someone from 30 Rock.

9:00pm – RAISING HOPE (Fox)
I can’t remember the last time I watched this much Fox programming on a single night, but I find myself really liking Raising Hope. It’s clear the show was created by the brains behind My Name Is Earl as both showcase small town folks without much money doing what they can to get by. Hope revolves around a guy discovering his one night stand turned out to not only be a serial killer on death row, but also pregnant with his child. Now he’s raising the kid with his parents who had him at a really young age (his dad looks about the same age as him at times) and his mom’s grandma played by Cloris Leachman. Hope can be a little too weird and a little too jokey at times, but I think it’s starting to hit its stride. Plus, the Halloween episode featured homemade Batman and Robin costumes, so bonus points for that.

9:3opm – RUNNING WILDE (Fox)
Running Wilde, on the other hand, is not a show I’m enjoying much and I’m starting to get the feeling I’m not the only one as Fox decided to run two episodes of Raising Hope tonight instead of one of each, like usual. I am a huge Arrested Development fan, so I should like this show with its use of Will Arnett, David Cross and that fact that it was co-created by Mitchell Hurwitz, but Wilde suffers from two afflictions. First off, it’s not very easy to jump into. We missed the first episode and had trouble figuring out what the relationship between Arnett and the still-hot Keri Russell was. That’s not a good thing for a new show and something that AD suffered from (I still have trouble describing it to friends who missed out the first time around). The other problem is that it just feels like a rehash of old material. Arnett’s playing GOB from AD, Russell feels like Felicity though I never watched that show, plus the premise is a more exaggerated version of Dharma & Greg without the love. I’ll be curious to see what Fox replaces this show with if it does get the axe.

10:00pm – PARENTHOOD (NBC)
Parenthood continues to be one of the best written, most solid shows on television. I’d honestly put it up there with Mad Men. There’s a lot more in Mad Men considering it’s a period piece, but like that show, the Parenthood creators do an amazing job of juggling a small army of fast talking characters, giving each their moments to shine and great lines. Great writing mixed with a great cast makes for great TV, but for some reason I don’t find myself looking forward to this show on a regular basis. I’m happy when it’s on, but never excited for it. I wonder if that’s because it’s a drama and not an action show. I’ll have to think about that. I’ll be back on Thursday with more shows I’m watching. What are you viewing on Monday and Tuesday?

A Crummy TV Week

Blarg. After not having new episodes of How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory on Monday, I was pretty bummed to find out that Lost was a rerun tonight. What’s the deal? Then the missus watched tonight’s Glee which I kind of sort of hated. It seems like the writers haven’t gotten over their flare for ridiculous storylines. I can’t be the only one who got completely freaked out by Kurt’s attempt to put his dad and Finn’s mom together on the off chance that they move in together which would put him in the same house and potentially room as Finn? I’m sure some folks will tell me that I’m reading into the show too much, which may be, but I like my fiction to make logical sense. Go figure.

It was a big night tonight for Mike O’Malley who appeared on Glee as Kurt’s dad and Parenthood. I haven’t talked much about Parenthood, but I’ve been really digging that show, even though it wasn’t nearly as much of a comedy as I figured it would be considering it was by the guys who put one of my all time favorite shows together Arrested Development. Tonight’s episode was another good one that once again gave me the willies when it comes to my potential future as a parent.

Anyway, I’m watching the 9 by Design episode that first ran at 10:00 tonight. I’ve been digging that show a lot so far. Plus, Fresh Meat II and the Thursday comedies look to be new this week, so that will help, but I’m still bummed out by the lack of new Big Bang Theory episodes over the past month. We’ve had, what, one maybe two new episodes on all of April? Unacceptable!

Glee Kinda Sorta Season Finale (At Least For This Year)

They hyped tonight’s episode of Glee as the fall/winter/2009 finale. The commercial that’s on right now tells me that it will be back this spring, but I’ll use any excuse to talk about Glee apparently. After my last rant about Glee I’m glad that a few things were figured out like Schue’s wife’s fake pregnancy. Fynn also found out that Quinn wasn’t really having his baby. All that’s aces in my book. The one thing that has bothered me the past three episodes though was that it seemed like the tone of the show has been shaken up. After all the support the club showed to Quinn being preggo, I figured they were kind of like a tiny happy family. Then, we get those episodes (and this one) where it seems like the whole club hates Rachel. That didn’t seem consistent to me. Also, in last week’s episode when Schue confronted his wife about not really being pregnant, it seemed like the show switched directors with NYPD Blue or something (Ben said CSI, but I didn’t want to completely steel his joke). It got super intense. Tonight’s scene coming back from the commercial break with Fynn wailing on Puck was somewhat similar, but not quite as intense.

I did think it was funny that the kids were freaking out about what songs to do. They’ve done like two dozen this year. Sure some of those were in their heads, but whatever. I dug the ones they chose to do and also how Sue got in trouble. I figured this might have been a way to get Jane Lynch off the show to film more movies, but it looks like she’ll be back in the spring. I did kind of want someone to punch her though.

Oh, also, even though Glee is nowhere near as good as the original Office, I still has the same reaction that I had SPOILER when Tim finally kissed Dawn as when Schue kissed Emma, which is both arms up in the air. I’m just a big softy that way. Let’s hope the next half-season will be even better now that a lot of the nonsense is out of the way.

A Few Thoughts On Glee

I’ve talked about Glee a few times, after the very first episode and then after the next first episode. I’m happy to say that many of my concerns have been taken care of for the most part: the songs sound more “live” than they used to and the non-glee club students don’t seem as assholeish (but that’s just because they’re not featured as prominently, they’re still assholes, we just don’t see it as much). But, I do still have a few problems with the show. I only even mention these problems because I really like the show and want it to be better.

See, I feel like the writers relied on sensational plots and characters early on and are now stuck with them. Mr. Schue’s wife is just awful. The whole fake pregnancy thing just feels like a huge weight around the neck of the whole show. That’s the kind of plot device you throw in, thinking that you need to hook viewers with out-there plot points and now you get stuck with them. Both Em and I hate the wife and want her out of the picture. And that’s not just because we want her to hook up with the ridiculously cute Emma. She’s just a terrible character. One that could only be redeemed by television trickery and nothing that would take place in real life. The sooner the truth comes out about her the better.

Before tonight’s episode, I was feeling the same way about Quinn’s pregnancy, but I feel like it’s more of a real point of drama and conflict now as opposed to something they threw against the wall to see what stuck. I like the drama it’s causing with Quinn, Fynn and Puck, but I still feel like the “I told Fynn it was semen in the hot tub, but Puck’s really the father because we boned, but I’m going to keep lying about it” plot on Quinn’s end is a bit much. The sooner that’s dealt with the better.

Here’s my long term problem with the show, though. Aside from the fact that I feel like Quinn’s baby will be written off with the greatest of ease (please prove me wrong writers), it seems like the show as a whole has a ticking clock hovering above it. And it’s all because these kids are relatively old. In high school terms. I’m guessing most of them are juniors, if not seniors. Now, having been a member of the musicals since my sophomore year in high school I know all too well that you’ve always got an outgoing class and an incoming one, which is a path that Glee could logically take in the coming seasons. Sure it would be hard to get rid of leads, but it would be more realistic (what are the odds that everyone in a particular club is in the same grade?)). Now, they could take the That 70s Show road in which each season consisted of half an actual year (so the eight seasons only spanned four in “real time”). I could buy that. This is more of a “future problem,” though, something that may or may not be a problem. But it’s something I think about because I do really like the show.

I do appreciate how the show is expanding its world. Sue Sylvester has shown a bit of humanity with last week’s episode, though I worry she will be a one trick pony for 99% of the show, we shall see. I also liked seeing Kurt’s dad last episode, Fynn’s mom on tonight’s and Quinn’s even though they were total jerkwads.

And, of course, the music is great. I even called that Fynn would sing “Having My Baby” to Quinn’s parents. Go me. And I was thinking they’d sing “Lean On Me” to Quinn and Fynn at the end, but I called it some other ridiculous name that I can’t quite recall right now. Anyway, the point is that Glee has a lot going for it, a huge following and the support of the music industry right now, so I hope the writers can get themselves out of the corners they’ve painted themselves into in order to make the story as good as the songs and choreography.

Season Premiere: Glee

So, the real premiere for Glee happened today, though, the episode they showed months ago that I talked about here still counts as the first episode. A lot of my previous problems with the show still stand, especially the fact that nearly every single person who’s not in the glee club or associated with it is hate-able. You don’t just not like them, they’re actually such reprehensible human beings that you want to see terrible things happen to them. And, hey, that kind of writing works for horror movies because you KNOW those people are going to get their just deserts, but what’s going to happen here? They’re going to learn the error of their ways? Sorry, that’s not going to cut it, especially with the main dude’s crazy wife who is straight-up lying to her husband.

Another problem I had with the show is that when anyone starts singing, it automatically sounds like a soundtrack from another show or movie. I have no idea if any of the actual people in the show can sing because it turns into this weird other thing when they start. I know they can’t necessarily record these people singing live on set, but some kind of compromise would be nice to my ears.

All that being said, it’s still a pretty good show. There were a few moments where I laughed out loud HARD. I do this really loud HA laugh when something comes out of nowhere and really surprises me and there were definitely a few of those. The wife hates it cause I usually drown out the following line. I also really liked the musical numbers even considering me earlier complaints. It’s fun to hear songs done this way, in the same way it’s fun to hear Richard Cheese lounge-out pop songs.

So, for now, I’m still in, but we’ll see what the competition is like once that season really gets up and running.

Season Premier: Glee (kinda)

So, now that just about everything we watch has season finaled, Em and I were pretty excited to see an ad for a new show called Glee on Fox that premiered after American Idol last night. Well, we tuned in, but it turns out it wasn’t really a season premiere.

Well, I guess technically it was because it’s the first episode of a season, but the actual weekly show doesn’t start until the fall. I can understand wanting to get as many of those American Idol viewers as you can, but is it wise to show this thing and then wait for three months? Will people even remember it? I dunno.

I liked a good deal of the show. The premise is this teacher who used to be in the glee club starts it back up or takes it over or something, getting a rag tag group of outcasts together who sing like champs (even though they look different!). He’s also married to a character I hated by her second scene and has Charlie the Waitress from Heroes (hey, I used to like the show before I hated it) who is super cute and obviously a better choice for him as a mate.

Here’s the problem with the show. I’m bored with the above premise of the cool guy being with a crappy girl while there’s a much cooler girl right there. It’s one thing if it’s in a movie where you know things will get better (or not) within an hour or two, but here you have no idea how long it’ll last. Will it be a Niles and Daphne situation? A Ross and Rachel? I’m good on that, thanks.

I also wasn’t very impressed with the background characters, especially the d-bag football players. There’s one dude on the team who’s also in the glee club and, of COURSE, his teammates (who also pick on the other geeks in the glee club) give him a hard time about it. The thing is, these guys just come off as one dimensional, overly-threatening menaces. I’m not sure what it was, but these guys felt like actual bad dudes because they never did anything okay.

Now, I know it’s maybe not fair to judge an entire show based on one hour of television, but that’s what they want us to do right? That’s the whole point of this early, early viewing. That’s another problem, the show should be (and hopefully will be) just a half hour.

All that being said, it did have it’s good parts. I liked all of the main cast, including the glee club weirdos, Jane Lynch and Stephen Tobolowsky. And, of course, the song numbers were pretty sick. I liked the rival team’s rendition of “Rehab” and then, of course, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” at the end was rad. It was good enough to get me to come back in the fall (if I remember AND it’s not opposite something we regularly watch).

Haha, oh, that reminds me of one other thing that left me scratching my head. They did a “next time on Glee” kind of thing the previews the season or whatever where they completely SPOILED what seems like a major plot point. SPOILER. One of the problems in the pilot is that the main guy’s wife (who, remember, I hate as a character) is pregnant. Well, she’s a shady lady so I figured something was up. Well, if you saw the “next time” thing, you know that she’s not really pregnant, but having a Hysterical pregnancy. I kind of think they threw it in to be like “Hey, he might not be with her forever!” Eh.

OH! It also takes place in Ohio, so it gets points for that. I can’t quite place where they are, though they say that Arkon is south and they’re near Carmel. I think that’s near Cleveland? I dunno, until proven otherwise, I’m gonna say it’s Toledo. Yeah Toledo!