Review: ‘Glee’, Series One

The phenomenon that is ‘Glee’ has finally come to an end in the UK, and what a spectacular end it was after a slightly mediocre second half of the first series.

Having already been commissioned for both a second and third series, ‘Glee’s’ unique formula has certainly proved to be immensely popular, with its combination of pop music and soap opera-esque antics moving in new directions (sorry, had to) that other shows had only ever tried and never pulled off especially successfully. The use of familiarity in the musical numbers to express situations that (most of the time) we could actually have experienced in our own lives allowed the shows creators to balance the unrealistic showmanship (like the piano guy who seemed to spend his days wandering after the Glee club in the hope they’d need his services) with heartfelt stories that struck the right note with the audience.

On the other hand, the post-sectionals half of the series seemed to lack the sparkle it once exuded, instead randomly inserting equally random songs into the show instead of tying it with the ‘theme of the day’. This was particularly highlighted when the show actually linked the songs to the themes again, particularly in the case of ‘Dream On’ and the Journey medley at regionals. The Lady Gaga episode was a specific disappointment for me, particularly in light of the magnificent costumes the cast wore (except Finn’s shower curtain number, it would probably best if that was burned), as they failed to live up to Gaga’s own exuberance and popstar presence and seemed entirely disjointed (I mean, who can explain why ‘Poker Face’ was a fitting farewell song for Rachel and Shelby?), unlike in the earlier Madonna episode which effectively encapsulated everything the Queen of Pop stands for.

The characterisation, however, was superb throughout: none of the characters seemed to lose themselves or head in directions that were unexplained or simply badly written. I thought the exploration of Kurt’s struggle to place himself within a man’s world was one of the stronger roles to explore, especially with his dad’s role as the protective yet slightly distant parent grappling with his identity and its clash with his son’s personality. I feel Rachel was let down slightly towards the end, as she simply became a vocal commodity instead of a character, and more screen-time for her failed relationship with her mother, Shelby (played by the wonderful Idina Menzel) would have helped expose her vulnerabilities more; instead, the finale saw her humbled without a real exploration of her mother’s motives or even her home-life with her adoptive dads.

Sue Sylvester, of course, was the superstar of the series, and again I feel like this was another character left trailing behind in the second part, ignored for the issues when, actually, her comical interjections would have both lightened the mood and shown that life really does go on. Jane Lynch’s timing and gentle changes in intonation ensure Sue’s character was maintained despite her irrationality in the face of Glee. And just when you were wondering how on earth she became an educator, she stands up to Olivia Newton-John and co. to tell them that, despite the level of competition, the various Glee clubs are still just kids that are trying their hardest. It was incredibly apt that she chose not to tell Will she voted for him, allowing the rivalry to be maintained instead of compromised.

So I will be tuning in for my ‘Glee’ fix when it returns with its anticipated second series, but hopefully the length won’t compromise the talent next time by dragging both the character and the songs further than they were meant to go.

Review: ‘Dirty Sexy Money’, Series One

Where did it all go wrong for ‘Dirty Sexy Money’? It had glitz, glamour, and impossibilities in every episode. Certainly, series one was brilliant, although the finale is, perhaps, the beginning of its downfall.

The Darlings are impossibly rich – talks of a $410 million hospital donation are passed off like they’re only giving them a glass of water. The Darling children and their inability to comprehend the value of money is seamlessly countered by Nick George’s inability to retain his old life once the money takes hold of him. Constantly under the illusion that the Darlings money will enable him to do the good he was attempting to do beforehand, the audience witness Nick’s transformation into another member of the Darling family, particularly highlighted when Tripp declares Nick will be the inheritor of Darling Enterprises, and Nick’s repressing a smile instead of running in fear of the corruption that comes with responsibility.

The cast is perfectly set, although Juliet’s role dwindles unexpectedly towards the end (I think Samaire Armstrong had to leave for personal reasons) and her character is compromised from holding out for her hero to finding it within a week, and there’s not really any follow-through on her relationship. Jeremy’s status as accidentally selfish is played perfectly by Seth Gabel, who shows the right intentions are mixed up with the wrong outward actions, particularly in his attempt to have a normal relationship with Sofia. Tripp, in my opinion, changes a bit too much depending on who’s talking of him. At one point, Tish says Tripp gets too competitive, yet we don’t really see this, even in the poker game: we see a father desperate to keep his children safe and provide them with the right pathways in life.

The finale was the weakest episode, with no particular cliffhanger except the hint of Nick and Karen’s future relationship. Brian didn’t race to Brazil for his son, Carmelita’s disappearance didn’t seem to faze Patrick extensively, Nick randomly decided more children was a good idea in his failing marriage, Simon Elder’s plans went no further than telling Ellen about Carmelita…In short, not enough happened to make people want more, and you should always leave them wanting more. However, the rest of the series was outstanding, so a weak end shouldn’t have lost too many loyal followers. After all, money is the root of all evil, and everyone loves the scandal that follows.