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SOUND OFF: GLEE Gets Two Of Its Own Pots O' Gold

Coming after a nearly month-long mini-hiatus following the superb "Asian F" in early October, the gleeks of McKinley High on GLEE swept back onto the main stage last night with the hotly anticipated "Pot O' Gold" episode, which introduced new recurring cast members and THE GLEE PROJECT co-winner, Damian McGinty in the tailor-made role of sassy and offensive Rory Flanagan. While McGinty proved to be a winning addition to the roundly respectable line-up of GLEE Season Three, once again the musical performance highlight of the night goes to new GLEE regular Darren Criss - alongside show standout Lea Michele and the rest of the glee club - and their electrifying take on Katy Perry's campy anthem "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)". Much like with Lea Michele's emotionally shattering "Firework", once again a Katy Perry anthem has been rendered even better than the huge hit original by the gleeks of GLEE. Also, "Pot O' Gold" - directed by HAIRSPRAY movie musical helmer Adam Shankman - continued the season-long character arc of Tony-winning Broadway star Idina Menzel, in the role of rival McKinley glee club director Shelby Corcoran, and further developed her complex relationship with Quinn and Puck, played by sensitive Dianna Agron and imposingly forceful Mark Salling - the latter of whom contributed an emotionally charged and displayed his rarely seen softer side with his sensitive rendering of the 80s Foreigner power ballad "Waiting For A Girl Like You". McGinty's two selections - Teddy Thompson's "Take Care Of Yourself" and Kermit the Frog's "Bein' Green" - were relatively lucky and charmed introductions to the foreign exchange student character. Additionally, Mercedes, Santana and Brittany also got a Christina Aguilera/BURLESQUE-esque moment in the spotlight with their sweet and sexy "Candyman" (written by Linda Perry) as the newly formed girl-group The Troubletones. So, as for the rest of "Pot O' Gold" and how the songs stacked up in their dramatic context - as well as virtually everything else? Read on! The rainbow certainly ends with a shiny, gleaming pot o' gold - and maybe a leprechaun or two to love, too! Thank goodness it's Tuesday (or was) - and thank St. Patrick it's GLEE! After all, we've been waiting for a GLEE like this all October!

T.G.I.T.

The music royalties alone would make King Midas jealous. Yet, despite the lack of a FINIAN'S RAINBOW tune, GLEE's "Pot O' Gold" proved to be the perfect way to win back all the naysayers who may have fallen out of love with the show in the divisive Season Two - although, all revealed, I admit that I tended to enjoy the intermittent variety show echoes and almost weekly stylistic recreation of the show, myself - and certainly stands tall alongside the first three uniformly solid episodes of Season 3 so far. Indeed, if the show follows the solid course it is on now - even with Ryan Murphy somehow splitting his duties between not only GLEE and FX's AMERICAN HORROR STORY (which was just renewed for a second season), but also the development of his new CBS sitcom pilot - GLEE could very well be around for many more years to come - in many guises. With the permanent establishment of a titanic performer possessing the magnitude of star power and charisma that is copiously, repeatedly displayed by Darren Criss, now Damien McGinty has his own chance to cut out a corner of the GLEE universe for himself, too. The show clearly can handle cast shakeups and shuffling (remember Chord Overstreet? He will be returning in 2012), after all - and will. While the original cast has their own unique chemistry, that does not mean that newcomers will necessarily fail to set the same stages of McKinley High and beyond alight with new stars and new shows in future seasons. The GLEE machine may very well allow that to happen. Time will tell. And, anyway, we should enjoy the original cast complete as we have them now and for the duration of the next eighteen episodes in Season Three.

The formula that made so many millions of us fall head over heels in love with the musical dramedy and won over by the magic of it all in the early episodes of Season 1 and sporadically spread out throughout Season 2, now can most assuredly rest easy that there will be shards of that warm, fuzzy light of raw, young talent singing its heart out strewn throughout the 3D, multi-tiered LED Technicolor rainbow that the show manages to paint over the course of every episode, week in and week out - almost always; nearly without fail. Truly, the simple fact that the show still works at all and has not worn out its welcome in any way whatsoever is more than a merely minor miracle - and the way it seems to be maturing and, even, entering a period of renaissance before our very eyes is heartening and enlivening to see, to say the least. It is very rare to see a TV show get better as it goes along - some coast; others falter; some crash and burn in a blaze of jump-the-shark glory; others fizzle and fade - yet, GLEE seems to be rising from the ashes of much of network TV (OK - all) - including the countless failed shows already canceled so far this especially bloody and brutal Fall season - and is subsequently emerging as one of TV's topmost treasures - this, in a crowded and almost-embarrassingly rich era for television in general, containing such quality programming (to easily rival any film in any movie theater) as THE WALKING DEAD, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, DAMAGES, MAD MEN and Murphy's own, quite revolutionary and unquestionably edgy and fearlessly daring AMERICAN HORROR STORY. Truly, for any network prime time TV show to even be counted alongside that rich, basic and premium cable company is something to be quite ecstatically proud of, and, after only 4 episodes in Season 3, GLEE is on course to rank in the very highest echelon and soar to the highest hues of the wide and vast rainbow of TV today. GLEE may even be the pot o' gold itself.

As for the comedy and drama of the evening, top chuckling honors went - as always - to Jane Lynch's sensational and delicious devouring of irascible ultra-bully Sue Sylvester, especially her delectably rude first moment with secondary character standout (and Emmy nominee) Mike O'Malley - given their surname, Hummel, Sue commonly refers to Chris Colfer's character, Kurt, as Porcelain - which stood as the comedic highlight of the night, as well as the eleventh hour rendezvous featuring the two comedic foes later on. Adam Shankman's adept and spontaneously spectacular handling of the musical material was a welcome repeat of his stupendous work on the ROCKY HORROR tribute episode last Halloween and his judicious juggling of the multiple storylines simultaneously in both the tense moments and absurd ones - compounded by the rapid-fire editing; a GLee Hallmark from the outset - was appreciably enjoyable and well-rendered in this story-advancing episode. McGinty and Heather Morris are already creating a soon-to-be-classic characterization of their cute and hilarious relationship, with "Bein' Green" an unexpected and effortlessly entertaining slow-mo solo moment ideally musically introducing Rory to the world. So, too, did McGinty's soulful "Take Care Of Yourself" (originally by Teddy Thompson) take flight - and fly into the supersonic falsetto stratosphere and far beyond.

As far as the success of the drama quotient of the evening goes, Idina Menzel and Mark Salling gave great gravitas to their tender scenes together, with Salling's Foreigner cover a fresh and appreciatively touching take on the 80s classic. And, what about that cliffhanger kiss of a final shot?! Besides that, the biggest wow moment of the night indisputably came when the entire New Directions club - sans Mercedes and Santana; the latter of whom sat this song out, sourpuss intact - took on Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)", which hit much like a, well, basketball blast to the forehead - pure joy and harmoniousness much like the many memorable moments that gave GLEE its initial allure two years - and 300 musical numbers - ago. Brittany and Santana's subtly portrayed lesbian liaison was further explored - complete with a requisite Breadstix date - and, yet again, Naya Rivera revealed her serious star power in both her dramatic moments, comedic asides, and, later, in the sizzling trio with Amber Riley, Naya Rivera and Heather Morris and their Andrews Sisters-ish iteration of Christina Aguilera and Linda Perry's genre-bending BACK TO BASICS 40s homage "Candyman". Next week's "The First Time" proves to be the most significant and epic episode of Season 3 yet, so we have much to look forward to in the coming weeks as GLEE heats up again and settles in for a mostly uninterrupted half-dozen episodes or so as we move into the dawning of 2012 in less than two months.

Yes, last night on the "Pot O' Gold" episode of GLEE, Criss and McGinty were without a doubt the first two wishes come true, but the collective chemistry of the entire collection of characters honed so entertainingly and compellingly by Shankman and company was the third and final of the three wishes made marvelously real that ultimately pushed the whole enterprise up over the crest of the rainbow. Thank GLEE It's Tuesday!


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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...)