Glee: Season 2
There are television series that become hits, others enter the rarified realm of cult classic and fewer still become a genuine phenomenon. One of the latest shows to attain that third stage of popularity is a little show on Fox called ‘Glee’. It is an underdog series that works in a large part because it is about losers and social outcasts in a small town high school. Right off the bat it should be easy to identify the primary appeal of the series; far more members of the audience occupied that hierarchal position rather than being sufficiently privileged to have a coveted seat at the popular kid’s table. Although this is a powerful and well established factor in creating a series that will catch on with the viewer in this instance there is a far more overwhelming reason for success. This show features some of the brightest upcoming young stars on the current music scene. Each episode features highly polished song and dance numbers that not only rival most music video but are on par with the performances people pay exceptionally large sums on money to enjoy on Broadway. The reason for this comes down to the simple fact that many of the cast members worked in music videos and trotted the boards on the great white way. A friend of mine noted that he’d rather watch the professionals on ‘Glee’ the uneven hopefuls depicted on talent shows such as ‘American Idol’. Admittedly there is a solid place on the television landscape to warrant both approaches but ‘Glee’ has the additional perk of developing well written stories that serve as the foundation for the performances. Of course, you have to be able to get past the main unnatural aspects of and musicals, people just bursting out in song and dance numbers. While many numbers ‘spontaneously’ happen at least there is some concerted effort to utilizes the believable premise of performances given by a high school show choir. For those unaware of modern parlance that is considered the proper term when referring to what had been known as a glee club. It comes down to Fox found itself with a huge hit on its hands and they are just initiating the third season. This herald the release of the full season sets on DVD and Blu-ray and once again it is time to consider the merits of this season.
The series was created by one of the more eclectic minds in television, Ryan Murphy. Prior to this he came on the scene with the highly controversial and decidedly more mature show, ‘Nip/Tuck’ as well as the more traditionally structured high school drama-comedy ‘Popular’. It is a far stretch for a producer to go from a series about a pair of oversexed plastic surgeons to one concerned with a bunch of ambitious kids in Ohio. That setting helps sell the series to the audience. Instead of using the more traditional and basically overused locations of either Los Angeles or New York City ‘Glee’ takes place in the smaller city of Lima, Ohio. Either costal location would remove the proceedings from being readily identified by the audience. Kids in either of those big cities would come off as too contrived and wind up being a rip off of shows like ‘Fame’.
The second season begins with the members of the glee club return after the summer break following their disappointing showing at regionals. The facility advisor for ‘New Directions’, Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), finds himself forced to take sides with his bitter enemy, head coach of the "Cheerios’ cheerleaders, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) when the budgets for their respective teams are cut, diverted to the football team. That team is now under the command of the formidable coach Shannon Beiste (Dot Jones). Soon the cheerleaders are disbanded and New Directions begins to rebuild. One of the newcomers to join is the transfer student Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet), handsome, great voice and overly large, trademark lips. Since this is based on high school life romances shuffle on a regular basis. Former head cheerleader and new teen mom, Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) has broken up with the ex-quarterback and male vocal lead, Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) who has connected with the ultimate diva female lead singer Rachel Berry (Lea Michele). Wheelchair bound Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale) has been dumped by Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz) in favor of dancer Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.). Even Mr. Schuester is recovering from his divorce by dating fellow teacher the lovely but OCD afflicted Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays). She leaves him for a dentist, Carl Howell played by guest star John Stamos. Openly Gay Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer)transfers to as new school due to homophobic bullying and finds love with a member of that school’s vocal group. His father also moves in with Finn’s mother completing the complex web of love connections. Just for a little touch of controversy there is also a degree of romantic interest between best friends, the innocent Brittany Pears (Heather Morris ) and the manipulative Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera).
One of the main changes that came about in the series as a result of its success was its ability to attract the attention of some of the most notable celebrities in the music business. This lead to two types of episodes that became fan favorites; the homage and guest star episodes. Theme episodes focused on a particular artist. Finding their way into this season were tributes to Madonna, Fleetwood Mac, Brittany Spears and an incredibly energetic take on ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show. Besides the appearances by John Stamos one of the best received episodes featured Academy Award winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow who more than slammed it out of the park performing with the kids.
‘Glee’ has gone far beyond just a popular TV show. It has engendered an entire huge industry. The songs and albums have dominated iTunes smashing previous records for number one hits. A live tour played too sold out venues across the country although the 3D movie of the concert did seem to fall a bit short. There was even a reality series to find potential future stars in upcoming seasons. There are changes planned for season three but until that unfolds this second season will keep fans going strong.