SOUND OFF: GLEE Gets Tested
Sex, food and rock n roll was the theme of GLEE's "Tested" - showcasing some tubular 80s tunes ranging from Robert Palmer and Foreigner to Pat Benatar and Janet Jackson, all while explicating the finer points of modern sexuality as it pertains to the characters and perceived viewing audience at large, as well. Reliably timely, Glee got tested - and passed with flying colors; a rainbow, no doubt.
Love Is A Battlefield
GLEE in NYC is filled with surprises around every turn - and, so it seems, so it goes for the former McKinley High crew transplanted to a new place called home. Artie (Kevin McHale) featured prominently in the story-focused show, which was penned by Russel Friend and Garrett Lerner and directed by Paul McCrane, due to his humorously-played (until it wasn't) STD diagnosis - in this case, Chlamydia. Although the visual metaphor of an actual rolling (thanks to his wheelchair) virus was perhaps a bit over the top, even for GLEE, the addressing of an invariably pertinent topic was well-used and well-played, all in all. Over on the other end of the sexual spectrum, Sam (Chord Overstreet) and Mercedes (Amber Riley) contemplated the next step in their near-chaste relationship - that is, consummation; church included. In the middle were the pair otherwise known as Klaine - aka Blaine (Darren Criss) and Kurt (Chris Colfer) - at a crossroads in their newly closely-bound relationship whilst living together in the Big Apple. Speaking of food...
The most delectably and decadently depicted epicurious examples in GLEE's long and storied history were certainly seen last night byway of the series of drool-inducing food spotlights given Blaine's NYC-based overindulgence - or, should I say, series of lip-smacking culinary goodness. Mmm mmm good. The parallels between porn and food were pronounced, to say the least - as we bois and girls later saw. Although Kurt's physical transformation may have been a bit far-fetched as actually shown, the acting class-set sequences introducing the classmates of the NYADA crew was a welcome diversion from the more clean-cut offerings of the Sam/Mercedes romance and the plight of Artie and his three paramours - or, in the case of his most-wanted, as it were: woo-ee; or, would-be-paramour. Nevertheless, McHale got a memorable musical moment with Robert Palmer's enduring rocker "Addicted To Love", complete with identically outfitted model back-up trio on instruments ala the iconic music videos of the increasingly distant era. On that note, leave it to Glee to bathe in the excesses of a bygone decade - and, with "Tested", some huge-haired 80s showstoppers got their due. Robert Palmer was only the start.
Rad, too, were Sam and Mercedes, spotlight with two song sequences, the first in the form of a Foreigner hit heavenly delivered in "I Want To Know What Love Is", a church-set rendition inventively emerging from a dramatic scene quite effectively set-up in the plot-heavy script. Accordingly, Janet Jackson's "Let's Wait Awhile" was given a strongly-voiced iteration with Riley's dependably commanding delivery clear to hear and see. Without a doubt, the tentative coupling of Sam and Mercedes seems inevitably dubious in the total scheme of things - they seem unlikely to last in the long run - and perhaps last night we witnessed the best it will get between them, for now. But, who knows?! Yet, they were not the only couple on the ep with a considerable amount of heartache and romantic tumult.
Klaine was dealt a big dose of drama with the perceived building possibility of a sideline d'alliance with workout-crazy Kurt and its juxtaposition with the amusingly-examined increasing waistline of Blaine. Pat Benatar's classic "Love Is A Battlefield" was afforded a musical moment worth remembering in the Spartan-inspired NYADA-set sequence led by Blaine and Kurt, though the pair seemed to be worthy of another musical showpiece since the song stack of the ep was so slim, all told, if we were to be brutally honest. Brutal for sure was the Kurt Intervention - but all-too needed. So, too, was Rachel (Lea Michele) an unfortunate supporting player in the show, with perhaps Michele's real-life recent media blitz in support of her excellent solo album debut a part of the reduced focus - in addition to last week's major plot-line shooting demands and the glimpsed events coming up, especially with the opening night of FUNNY GIRL looming on the horizon for next week. Nonetheless, Rachel and Mercedes got a rare dramatic moment together, sensitively and endearing played by the duo of Michele and Riley. On the other hand, there's always a reason for Rachel to sing - always. Something. Anything. Whatever. If something else in the ep would have had to go it would have been worth it to justify another musical number, particularly one for Rachel, but a topic-centric and generally strong show was amply evidently to see - pulled off with aplomb by the wisely-chosen central cast of the newly reformatted series as it now stands, and sings, and reinforcing a newfound energy in the series spurned on by the new locale.
Overwhelmingly positive body image messages were enforced in copious supply, while the touchy subjects of teen sexuality as it exists in 2014 was played with appreciable delicacy, exploring multiple sides of modern relationships as they are now defined by a whole new generation, in a whole new way - with some things remaining the same, as history says they would, will and should. As we saw, though, the highs and lows of romance remain the same as always, all considered, while the specifics of each individual circumstance may differ.
Cronuts to Chlamydia, it is undeniable that "Tested" was Glee as its most of-the-moment - this, from the series with a recent episode focused on the trend of twerking, no less - and a generally solid entry for the ever-present theme shows that the series has claimed as its bread and butter ever since the tone itself shifted noticeably from the more pronounced pitch black comedy as seen in the first half of S1. Since then, special topics such as STDs have been shown any number of reverential to outright profane due diligence by the always-creative if occasionally inconsistent team that creates the show - with this week's ep surely a lesser example of the intriguingly designed Glee 5.0 as we have seen it thus far, but enjoyable all the same.
Next? Well, it was just announced by co-creator and Glee mastermind Ryan Murphy that the final season will jump ahead a few years and depict most if not all of the major and minor players that the series has introduced thus far; if the actors that played them are willing, that is - the possibilities therefore are virtually endless. Until then, we have next week's "Opening Night" to give us a shot of adrenaline that can only be provided by an entertainment event as white-hot as a Broadway premiere. Clap, clap, clap, indeed!
From This Author Pat Cerasaro