SOUND OFF: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely GLEE Club Band, With Demi Lovato
Demi Lovato! The Beatles! Junior-Senior BundleProm! Tina... in the sky with diamonds! The sights and sounds of GLEE's second S5 ep were somewhat slight in the grand scheme of the show but wholly satisfying all the same, introducing an amusing frippery of a show written and directed by co-created Ian Brennan acting as a joyous appetizer before the dramatic and tragic events of next week's tribute to real-life fallen Glee star Cory Monteith arrives. But, first, Glee does The Beatles, Side B: Rubber Soul. Plus, let it be she: Rachel (Lea Michele) landed the role of Fanny in FUNNY GIRL!
In her much anticipated debut, pop star and X FACTOR judge Demi Lovato exceeded expectations in both the acting and song departments, managing to make a memorable impression with her "Sapphic goddess" character of Dani, a newly introduced love interest for Santana (Naya Rivera), and a fellow co-worker at the NYC diner with Rachel (Lea Michele). "Here Comes The Sun" acted as an ideal introduction for Lovato and Rivera to light the spark of their pairing with, complete with actual real-life warm golden rays to accent the sweetly-sung rendering of the classic Beatles track by the talented alto twosome, with Lovato convincingly strumming on her guitar. Appreciably, Lovato is set for several more episodes, so we can certainly hope for more of her affable aire on display in the weeks to come - most notably, with a Katy Perry and Lady Gaga tribute capped with the first appearance of S5 add-on Adam Lambert, following the short break following next week's Episode 3 tribute episode.
The title of last night's episode was "Tina In The Sky With Diamonds" and that image appeared near the end - well, more or less. So went the show - it was finally Tina's big turn in the spotlight... well, more or less. True, Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) may have had to endure a shockingly humiliating, CARRIE-infused prom escapade in order for it to happen, but she eventually emerged stronger and more resilient gleek as a result of the sordid events of the prom and she ultimately took the stage of the oddly-named junior-senior BundleProm with well-earned pride to claim her victory - despite the evil workings of rotten Cheerio Bree (S5 addition Erinn Westbrook) all along, that is. Indeed, Principal Sue Sylvester may have met her match with the bratty Bree - or, perhaps, found a new best friend.
Newcomer, too, was prominently featured Nurse Penny (Phoebe Strole), given a bizarre storyline to share with always endearing Sam (Chord Overstreet), who made the most of the disappointingly subpar story he was given. Highlighted by Overstreet's compelling charisma on the Beatles hallmark "Something", the intentionally awkwardly staged series of sequences was an amusing juxtaposition to the earnest and committed emotion of the song's sentiment if somewhat unclear in its justification. But, if you think about it: Sam singing "Something"? So perfect.
So, too, while Tina may have held the episode's actual title, the heart of the episode lied solely with the NYC storyline, yet again - clearly setting the stage for a truly tremendous outpouring of emotion next week, no doubt. Spotlighting their iconic bond, Rachel and Kurt (Chris Colfer) were given a spectacular song showcase bringing to mind their highlights from Season Two, strutting and posing atop swirling grand pianos in a NYADA-set sequence while they performed a particularly pianistic (and appropriately so) "Get Back". But, as lovely and heart-warming as that friendship and the ever-enriching NYC storyline may be, especially with Santana and Dani added into the mix, that sassy SMASH joke may have been going too far! OK, OK - maybe not. SMASH Season 1 was pretty great! And, these are characters residing in the world of musical theatre, after all! All is fair in love, war... and theatre.
All things considered, the rich relationships of the original gleeks are far more dynamic and deeply connected than the new McKinley High additions, so Season Five will be the time to really develop these hopeful headliners. Speaking of which: "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was given the full gleek 2.0 treatment, complete with multi-colored satin Suits and boisterous Beatles attitude, enthusiastically led by Ryder (Blake Jenner), Jake (Jacob Artist), Unique (Alex Newell) and Marley (Melissa Benoist).
Back in fine form, while not quite as fierce as its peak - but, clearly gearing up for a major entry next week, natch - Glee is managing to juggle the split-storyline scheme introduced in Season Four with much success as seen in the first two episodes of the fifth season of the hit musical dramedy series so far. Naysayers be damned! They did it. While the dark comedy has always been sporadic in its effectiveness and the series itself has wavered in its storytelling strengths, in these first two servings we have seen a magnified focus on the secondary characters of the series with commendable and recommendably replay-able results, as obvious as that emphasis may be to dissuade from the glaring hole in the center of the action.
For sure, "Let It Be", "Yesterday", "Got To Get You Into My Life" and "All You Need Is Love" were as good as any Glee musical numbers, new or old. Unfortunately, to address one of the more troubling elements of the new season, Mr. Schue (Matthew Morrison) continues to receive limited focus and screen-time, though perhaps he will be given more material in shows coming up considering the expanded emphasis on rarely recognized characters in these two shows. Case in point, when was the last episode that featured original gleek Tina first and foremost, above all the rest of the characters? Not since the long-ago days of Mike Chang (Harry Shum, Jr.), if then! On that note, we can hope to hear her complete "Revolution" in the future since we were only given a tantalizing portion last night - but, even if not, "Hey Jude" was an apt showcase, as it was for the entire New Directions, especially Blaine (Darren Criss) and that raucous and awesome riffing!
Then again, "Let It Be" was the real winner, all told. Poor Tina!
Peace, love and Glee - a sweet and mild episode with some excellent song selections made for a more than minimally entertaining evening. "Let It Be" and let it GLEE!
Photo Credits: FOX