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Glee Review: From Past to Prologue

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Glee went back to 1977 on "Saturday Night Glee-ver," paying homage to the film that made John Travola, white suits and spinning disco balls famous.

But the episode really used the past to pen a prologue for three key seniors, as Finn, Santana and Mercedes made major decisions regarding their future. Each has a much clearer idea now of what it will bring.

Dancing in the Hall

When season three started, it appeared as if Glee would tackle the daunting challenge of senior year, of truly figuring out what one wants to do with one's life. But somewhere between tribute episodes, Christmas specials and car accidents, that theme got lost. Until tonight.

I was mostly pleased with how it was handled, with the exception of the same complaint I make every week in this space: the random nature of storylines and the lack of character development. Take Mercedes, for example.

As she delivered her inner monologue, along with a great version of "Disco Inferno," I put on my Carrie Bradshow hat and couldn't help but wonder...

What do we know about her outside the choir room? What hobbies does she possess? What class does she excel in? Were you aware her father was a dentist (what an arbitrary throw-in, too: why wouldn't a dentist support a singing career?) before that nugget was dropped?

I also thought back to how Mr. Schuester described the trio of seniors featured - Finn as talented, but lacking self-esteem; Mercedes as lacking vision; Santana as lacking focus - and thought: really? Are those descriptions truly apt? Or did the writers toss them in just to fit this episode, this motif.

I'm sorry, but Finn doesn't really possess talent, not when compared with other club members. Going to acting school is perfect for him, Rachel believes? Does anyone else believe this? How does that, in any way, jibe with what we know about Finn Hudson? Except to give the writers material for season four?

And Mercedes without vision? She seemed to lack confidence more than vision here, and even that didn't seem consistent: since when does Mercedes Jones need an ego boost?!? This is one strong young diva who has always asked for more time in the spotlight.

That video Sam made was nice and all, but it only seemed necessary because Glee chose to shape Mercedes in a certain manner, for one week only, to make this storyline work.

And Santana received a full cheerleading scholarship? I mean, did she even apply to Louisville?!? Where did that come from? And what the heck have you been doing, Emma Pillsbury? Please spend less time cleaning grapes and more time acting like an actual guidance counselor for next year's class. These kids need you more than three weeks prior to graduation!

(Or not, I suppose, when magic scholarships and acting studio acceptances appear out of nowhere. For shame, James Lipton.)

The sad truth is that most of these characters - Mercedes, Brittany, Santana, Quinn (who, ummm, I guess was taking wheelchair lessons somewhere else?), Artie, Mike, Tina, Puck - stopped being human beings ages ago. They were turned into mechanisms through which the show could sell tracks on iTunes - there was A LOT of Glee music this week - or deliver Public Service Announcements.

And that's depressing, isn't it? It's almost anger-inducing. We've sat and watched the show for nearly three seasons and, just as many students are about to graduate and we're asked to feel something about them, we're left asking: wait, who are these people?!? What can we say about them outside of the nauseating assignments Will doles out each week?

(Perform a song from Saturday Night Fever and then share your hopes for the future. He actually said that. He also said: It's not the broken dreams that break us. It's the ones we don't dare to dream. I really hope Matthew Morrison at least had trouble getting these words out.)

Yes, I know: it's a musical. What am I doing asking for less music? But that's my point: I wish the show had strived for more as a whole. I wish it had used music as a way to more fully develop well-rounded characters (or just to be fun!), not as the sole way in which we know the characters.

And not just as their sole hope for the future. I'd love to have seen Mercedes acknowledge that she loves singing, she'll always include it in her life... but you know what? She's gonna strive to be an architect! Or perhaps a nurse or an interior designer. The arts are great, but making a career out of them is next to impossible and also - as much as it would pain Glee to admit - it's perfectly okay to plan on a more realistic, attainable major or profession.

That doesn't mean you don't have dreams. It just means you're growing up.

All that said, the episode in and of itself was fine overall. But it simply served to remind me of all Glee could have been if it dedicated an entire season to the journey of these seniors, not slapped most of it together faster than Will and Sue slapped together the concept of a Saturday Night Fever tribute.

I will, however, leave you with a few of the best Glee quotes from the week, as Sue and Brittany were especially on fire. I'll also ask: What did everyone else think? Do you feel like you know these seniors well?

Sue: Her chagrin is limited only by the fact that she has a brain the size of a toddler's fist.
Brittany: I can show you the MRI. | permalink
Brittany [on a bull's testicle]: It tastes just like a chicken testicle. | permalink
Puck: Two dudes in one bed is, like, confirmed gay. | permalink
Sue: Let's be honest, William. You've been out of ideas since Madonna week. | permalink
Rachel: While we applaud your proper use of the terminology, but we told Mr. Schue: we do not support disco. | permalink

Review

Editor Rating: 3.4 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.4 / 5.0 (196 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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First thing, did the kid from Ireland just disappear?? And Sugar too? Also, Quinn didn't even have a single line in this episode. I actually thought I had missed an episode because the writers just completely ignored everything from last week's episode.
Why didn't this review mention Alex (from the glee project) dressed as a woman? I'm extremely disappointed with the way they have treated all the winners from that show. They got 7 episodes my ass. And in that show, they concentrated so much on singing as well, they completely disregarded any acting skills the competitors they may or may not have had. Every one of the winners that have been on the show have all been the same in my eyes: it's as if I can see the script they are reading off, it is not fluid at all or in the least bit convincing. HOWEVER, Alex's singing in this episode was unbelievably good, I sure hated him on the Glee Project but he can really sing, and he is quite a beautiful lady as well.
This show frustrates me all the time, it just keeps becoming more and more of a joke. I don't know how much longer I can go on. Where did Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuck go wrong?? Oh wait, I know, going from an amazing show like nip/tuck to a high school glee club, then to american horror story. Its quite clear where they're weakness is..... make more obscene gruesome shows not about high school.

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I know a lot of commentors think that the author is being harsh. But I couldn't agree more. Glee has so many aspects to make it an amazing show and comes just short of it for me. 1. Glee has amazing characters - but you never really get to know them that well. And some characters get ignored for episodes on end. Tina? Sugar? Mike? 2. Glee has phenomenal songs - but they sometimes make the plot disjointed, don't fit in, or they happen so frequently that the plot is sidelined. 3. Glee has meaningful social messages - but they are brought up abruptly and lost just as quickly. What ever happened to Karofsky? One week he attempts to commit suicide, the next he's not even mentioned? Don't get me wrong. I still enjoy the show, I still love the songs, and Brittany's one-liners get me every time. But there's a huge need for improvement if they want me to care about the characters or be invested in the show at all.

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Reply to your question: does anyone knew mercedes' dad was a dentist?... actually... yeah!! they mention that in season 1... so, even when glee is not normally strong on continuity, on mercedes' dad been a dentist, they actually got it right...

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It was a Quinn resigned to the background (she WAS there, she just did nowt).

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it's a no-quinn episode -.-

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I wonder when people write these reviews whether they actually watch the show. The reason I say this is because Mercedes has said in the past that her father is a dentist so that was the continuity that was supposedly missing. Also, I know from experience what it is like to be from a family of high achievers who look down on the arts and favour university education. And I have to say that the fact that Mercedes talks about wanting the spotlight doesn't necessarily mean she has confidence. Often those that shout the loudest are the least confident. Rachel doesn’t need to shout, she has the spotlight. Being pushed into the background as she has been on several occasions despite her talent is bound to make her question her ability. Anyway, that's just my opinion. It seems popular to knock this show nowadays but I think people need to relax. Glee is a musical comedy about accepting difference and following your dreams and it certainly delivers on that aspect. It makes me feel hopeful!!

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I LOVE glee, I didn't get into watching it until mid-second season because, thought it would be another High School Musical..( blecch!!) But, it turned out to be different so I rented all of season one and half of season two to educate myself about the show. I've watched it ever since. I do wish that they would've delved into Mercedes storyline a little more earlier on because, I think the only reason their focusing on her now is because, it's her senior year and, they want her to shine. Why couldn't they let her shine in the first two seasons a little bit more?.. I TOTALLY love ' Samcedes ' but, why put them together now when in fact, Sam isn't even a senior?.. they do this to Mercedes so much, they give her one storyline that has the potential to delve into something bigger but, it doesn't or, they give her something to be happy about until, it gets taken away. But hey, there's 5 episodes left and the next episode is focusing on them anyways so, I hope that it improves.. :))

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Quinn was there in the beginning of the episode (in the background) but seemed to disappear at the end (wasn't in the last song), maybe Dianna isn't used to dancing in the chair yet (they could have filmed it out of sequence) so they just didn't feature her?

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Where was Quinn?

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I would take that as a compliment but lately it's not been that hard *lol* ;) Freedom of speech/expression to all be it positive OR negative (my sentiment throughout)!!

Glee Season 3 Episode 16 Quotes

Santana: Blaine's handsome brother said it best: college is a waste of time. I just wanna be famous, plain and simple.

Let's be honest, William. You've been out of ideas since Madonna week.

Sue

Glee Season 3 Episode 16 Music

  Song Artist
Glee-cast-if-i-cant-have-you If I Can't Have You Glee Cast iTunes
Glee-cast-more-than-a-woman More Than a Woman Glee Cast iTunes
Glee-cast-you-should-be-dancing You Should Be Dancing Glee Cast iTunes
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