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FLASH FRIDAY: The Big GLEE Game, Plus Fireworks

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Huddle up, gleeks! We are gearing up for the double-dose of GLEE that we will be getting this week - first, following the big game on Sunday is the highly awaited Super Bowl spectacular return of GLEE on FOX, and Tuesday's "Silly Love Songs" Valentine's Day tribute episode has its own winsome and winning charms and allure all its own, as we will see and sample. What's most exciting is the monstrous music events each promises to be - and here, in this column, we have everything from the Katy Perry opening number of the super-special Super Bowl show and Darren Criss taking on "Bills, Bills, Bills" to Lea Michele tackling Lady Antebellum and, of course, the hoped-for Holy Mary game-saver that the mash-up of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and the Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Heads Will Roll" is supposed to be! In taking a look back at Season 2 so far, GLEE could use a pristine, knock-down/drag-out victory. Will they score?

War & Love

Football fans or Broadway babies, FOX has the market cornered on entertainment value this weekend thanks to the super-sized Super Bowl edition of GLEE. Costing upwards of $4 million, the episode is going to be a pumped-up, purportedly prize-worthy entry (they just won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy/Musical) in the satisfying if uneven second season of the global phenomenon known as GLEE. In an episode titled "The Sue Sylvester Shuffle", we will continue the Season 2 trend of an emphasis on current radio hits - including songs by Lady Antebellum, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Black Eyed Peas, Destiny's Child, as well as dances to Katy Perry and Snoop Dogg - in addition to the classic Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and an eerie song made famous by The Zombies, "She's Not There". I, for one, hope this episode marks the end of the trend of almost every other song being from the last few years (there aren't that many left to do!) and hope we have a wider selection of material for the second half of season two - and with the returns of Kristin Chenoweth and Gwyneth Paltrow, we most assuredly will get just that. Kristin told me herself that she will be performing an aria come Spring - that can't come soon enough. It says a lot that there have been more songs by Bruno Mars than by Cole Porter featured on the show recently, and it's not even  necessarily a bad thing as long as its not perpetual and all-consuming as it is starting to be. I thought it was supposed to be 1/3 pop, 1/3 theatre and 1/3 older hits? The Super Bowl episode is a perfect example of too much new material - even if Lea Michele outdoes the Lady Antebellum original. Great voices need great material to truly shine, and I hope more substantive material is coming soon in GLEE's assuredly bright future.

So, without further ado, here is a super-special soupcon of the Super Bowl episode and a sampling of Valentine's Day confections to come on GLEE!

First, here is the Cheerios performing to Katy Perry/Snoop Dogg's "California Girls" in a complete clip of the opening number - including motocross, fire whips and sparkler bras - which, if nothing else, shows the budget was at least well-spent! The pizazz is undeniable.

Now, take a look at Lea Michele's take on Lady Antebellum's "Need You Know" with Mark Salling on guitar. Wildly impressive.

Here is a full look at Darren Criss taking on the millennial Destiny's Child anthem "Bills, Bills, Bills", a particular delight and perhaps the most unexpectedly enjoyable "They're having him/her cover what?" song so far this season. And, just you wait until you hear his two songs on the Valentine's Day show!

Closing out the pigskin contingent, here is the supposedly spine-tingling "Thriller/Heads Will Roll" mash-up on the football field - if the visuals match the audio, it could very well raise the dead.

Plus, here we have a behind-the-scenes video with the cast discussing filming "California Gurls" and Katie Couric's cameo appearance.

Here's a new promo if you just have to catch a peek of "Thriller" before the big GLEE show on Sunday! Don't miss it!

Also, don't forget Tuesday marks the "Silly Love Songs" Valentine's tribute, which contains a vastly different song stack than the Super Bowl special, with selections from Robin Thicke ("Can I Get You Alone?"), Wings ("Silly Love Songs"), and Richard Rodgers & Lorez Hart's "My Funny Valentine" from BABES IN ARMS (it's about time we had a musical theatre song!), as well as Lea Michele outsinging and blazing past Katy Perry on "Firework" and Mark Salling heroically taking on Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls". Plus, Darren Criss & The Warbler's "Silly Love Songs" and Kevin McHale's "P.Y.T."!

Preview them all in the tantalizing tidbits available here.

Darren Criss has already gotten his own FLASH FRIDAY column, so it should probably need not have to be said, but I will anyway: he is a superstar. This is - somehow, someway - his very best performance on the show to date, and he has never been anything less than absolutely spectacularly splendid. He outdoes even himself here with the perfect match to his fierce abilities. This is what happens when a great song - well, two, if you count Beethoven's 5th - meets a great performer. An impossible-to-cover song, covered impossibly well. Bravo, Darren, bravo.

Certainly, whether your tastes lay more with BABES IN ARMS or The Black Eyed Peas, all the bases - or should that be yards? - seem to be covered with the unprecedented double-GLEE return week coming up. What a way to wish the winter away! The Super Bowl episode alone promises to be major mini-movie-musical event unlike any other before, even in the GLEE universe. Will it top "Britney/Brittany" or "The Rocky Horror GLEE Show" or "You're A Mean One, Sue Sylvester"? Whatever happens, first thing Monday morning we will have all the post-game analysis right here at BroadwayWorld. Stay tuned - and suit up!

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From This Author Pat Cerasaro

Pat Cerasaro contributes exclusive scholarly columns including InDepth InterViews, Sound Off, Theatrical Throwback Thursdays, Flash Friday and Flash Special as well as additional special features, (read more...)