Blu-Review: Glee: The Complete Second Season

Created By Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan
Starring Corey Monteith, Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch

After starting out as an underdog show that nobody had heard of, teen musical dramedy Glee quickly grew into a TV phenomenon, raking in millions of viewers, clocking up a bajillion iTunes sales and making their cover of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ so popular, replayable and imitable that the subsequent airplay meant that you’ll now want to bludgeon apart any radio that plays it. And while Glee is, in essence, little more than Karaoke: The TV Show, too often fumbling its attempts at character and drama, it does exactly what any musical should, inspiring the kind of infectious, feel-good entertainment that few series can capture and showcasing a spectacular selection of musical performances in the process.

Season Two picks up with McKinley High’s glee club after their loss at regionals, with the gang closer than ever, but still outcasts at school. Will Shuester’s competitive side creeps out when Emma (Jayma Mays) reveals she’s now dating a handsome dentist (John Stamos). Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) is back to her old self, quickly depriving the club of new member Sunshine Corazone (Charice) before sabotaging her relationship with Finn. Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) is struggling to reconcile his lingering feelings for ex-girlfriend Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) when newcomer Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet) joins the glee club and moves into her life. Meanwhile, Kurt Hummell (Chris Colfer) is struggling to take care of his dad following a heart attack, while a malicious, homophobic bully is making his life at school a nightmare until he meets private school boy Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss), who brings promise of a new friend, mentor, potential love interest and safe haven at bully-free rival school Dalton Academy.

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Where Glee falters is in its character work, which too often feels like a lazy, inconsistent afterthought between show-stopping songs. In the absence of any real drama for most of its characters, the show’s writers simply throw in a revolving door of sometimes repetitive, often random romantic link-ups, with so many of the cast hooking up and breaking up it’s near impossible to keep track and even tougher to care. Chord Overstreet joins the cast as a newcomer, but aside from a surprisingly gigglesome Justin Bieber episode, the writers have seemingly no idea what to do with his character and the resulting hook-ups and left field drama never hit their target (not helped by Overstreet being arguably the worst dramatic actor on the series).

Inconsistent character work and lack of development rears its head far too often as well, and most of Season One’s growth is almost entirely forgotten. Sue Sylvester gets all the best lines, but just as the school’s hatred of the Glee kids seems to awkwardly vanish and reappear when it suits the episode, so too does Sylvester’s, who veers from sympathetic and snarky to OTT cartoon supervillain with each new episode. Finn shifts from noble, but naive leader to arrogant, hypocritical cheat, Mr. Shuester flips from saintly caricature to scheming borderline stalker and Rachel flits between likeable, self-aware lead to diva-ish nutjob depending on the writer.

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The ‘artist of the week’ and ‘very special episode’ formula tends to derail character even more, awkwardly writing plot around pre-decided singers and songs or shoehorning music in to fit a drink or religion-themed episode, all at the expense of wider plot consistency. It’s rare that the show’s soap melodrama is outright terrible, and Glee gets a tonne of fun mileage out of a talented, charismatic cast and a parade of choice dialogue (mostly from the hilariously retarded Brittany and Sue Sylvester), but it’s a shame that the character work never rivals the cast’s ability or the show’s musical performances.

Thankfully there’s still a great deal of effective drama to counter the laziness, and most of it centres around Kurt Hummell – seemingly the only character allowed any consistent character growth. A storyline focusing around Kurt’s dad’s heart attack brings the show its most tear-jerking moments and leads to one of the instances where Glee’s musical choice (‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’) feels naturally born from an emotional moment, rather than being jammed in to suit the ‘theme of the week’ or having the plot awkwardly written around it.

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Elsewhere, Kurt is subjected to sustained bullying and harassment for being gay, soon finding a kindred spirit in out-and-proud Blaine, lead singer of rival prep school glee club The Warblers. The storyline is the most well-handled and consistent for the show, and though it stoops to using the old ‘homophobic jock bully is really just acting out of closeted gayness’ cliché, Colfer’s performance is fantastic and the leads to the introduction of the series’ best new character, Blaine, who’s not only far more likeable than the majority of the cast, but as lead of The Warblers, his musical numbers blow New Directions’ already excellent song performances out of the water every time, ensuring that Season Two boasts the most impressive, joyful and rewarding selection of music for the series so far.

Which is the biggest strength and the ultimate draw for Glee: The big, show-stopping musical moments, which easily outshine any problematic character work. There’s a few missteps, sure – ‘The Rocky Horror Glee Show’ provides the weakest moments of the show in terms of both drama and music, and a Britney-centric episode proves an obvious and rather dull choice, especially compared to a Fleetwood Mac ‘artist of the week’ entry. But Puck adding a country twang to Billy Joel’s ‘Only The Good Die Young’, Kurt’s heartfelt rendition of ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’, The Warblers bringing down the house (or a Gap store) with their spin on ‘When I Get You Alone’, New Directions and Sue Sylvester’s anthemic cover of My Chemical Romance’s ‘Sing’ and the zombie spectacular mashup of ‘Thriller/Heads Will Roll’ all provide wonderful highlights, with some fun original composition, too. The show is filled with toe-tapping, grin-inducing musical numbers that can’t fail to fill you with, well, glee.

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It’s a guilty pleasure, sure, but “pleasure” is the operative word, and though the quality of the character drama is often no better than an especially bad episode of Hollyoaks, the music is phenomenal and delivered by incredibly talented performers. It might not be perfect, but when Glee fires on all cylinders it does feel-good television like no other show on the airwaves.

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20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray set arrives with an exceptional A/V treatment across the board. The show’s vibrant, colourful visuals look stunning, while the details on display in close-ups is incredibly impressive. Naturally, it’s a show about music, so the sound is especially important. Unsurprisingly, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track delivers the good, with dialogue and school hall ambience well catered for and the series’ magnificent musical numbers an even bigger treat for the ears.

There’s a generous selection of special features, though there’s some obvious omissions (no sing-a-long subtitle tracks?) and the featurettes veer towards promotional fluff, there’s a lot of fun stuff in there for fans:

  • Glee Music Jukebox
  • A feature which allows you to quickly hop to any song on each disc’s episodes

  • The Making of The Rocky Horror Glee Show (6 minutes, 47 seconds)
  • A short featurette in which the cast talk about the episode and how they got prepared, with on-set behind-the-scenes footage.

  • Exclusive Bonus Song – ‘Planet, Shmanet, Janet’ (1 minute, 11 second)
  • An extra song from the Rocky Horror episode, performed by the red lips. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly short and not too exciting.

  • Building Glee’s Auditorium with Cory Monteith (5 minutes, 31 seconds)
  • Actor Cory Monteith (Finn) gives a tour of the newly-built auditorium set, which was constructed to mirror and replace an actual location used to film the Season One auditorium scenes. Interspersed are interviews with the set designers and constructors, who give a break-down of how the set was put together.

  • A Day in the Life of Brittany (5 minutes, 45 seconds)
  • Actress Heather Morris gives a walkthrough of a regular day on set, only in character as the gloriously dumb Brittany, leaving spare shoes under her trailer to ward off gnomes and inspecting the craft service room for construction paper and glue.

  • Shooting Glee in New York City (10 minutes, 31 second)
  • The cast and crew have fun on location in NYC for filming on the Season Two finale.

  • Guesting on Glee (8 minutes, 6 seconds)
  • Guest stars Katie Couric, Carol Burnett, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cheyenne Jackson, Jonathan Groff, John Stamos and Charice talk about guesting on the show and how their roles came about.

  • Stevie Nicks Goes Glee (3 minutes, 34 seconds)
  • The Fleetwood Mac singer/songwriter talks about Glee’s episode focused around the band.

  • Sue’s Quips (2 minutes, 15 seconds)
  • A compilation of Sue Sylvester’s choice lines and put-downs.

  • Santana’s Slams (2 minutes, 51 seconds)
  • Another compilation, this time of Santana’s bitchiest moments.

  • The Wit of Brittany (2 minutes, 20 seconds)
  • A collection of Brittany’s best, most outlandishly retarded lines.

  • Getting Waxed with Jane Lynch (6 minutes, 08 seconds)
  • By fan demand, Jane Lynch (Sue Sylvester) gets a wax sculpture made of herself at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.

  • Glee at Comic-Con 2010 (14 minutes, 54 seconds)
  • The cast and producers give a press conference at Comic-Con.

The Show:

The Blu-ray:

Glee: The Complete Second Season is out on Blu-ray and DVD in the UK now.
Click here to order the Blu-ray from