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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Glee - "Never Been Kissed"

     FOX's Glee is finally back, after only one episode in the past three weeks. Last night's foray, "Never Been Kissed", gave us two plots that fit the title, allowing both Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Beiste (Dot Jones) some quality screen time. Two of my favorite characters, it was fantastic to see even more of then than normal.

     Of course, that's a relative claim. I've read the review whining about Kurt's emotional journey, saying that it's dragging the show down. I disagree completely. At a time when the bullying of gays is up, and celebrities are taking to YouTube with the "It Gets Better" slogan, I see absolutely nothing wrong with having a brave, fully fleshed out gay high schooler in a major network show. Especially when Colfer is such a capable actor. His tears of frustration do not get old.

     The moment Dot Jones showed up on screen this year, I fell in love with her character. The newest misfit at McKinley High, Coach Beiste is a straight, forty-year old woman who we find out has never been kissed. Sure, it's not hard to understand why that is, or why the students would use her as a cool-down when getting hot with their significant other, but allowing Beiste to show dimension made her incredibly sympathetic. I love how what started off as a joke that any teenager in America could relate to turned into something more. Glee delivers morality message frequently, but this is one that benefited from being heard. Although I cannot envision a future for Beiste and Will (Matthew Morrison), their tender kiss, done not out of pity, but out of compassion, was a highlight of the night.


     Sadly, this episode will not be remembered among the best for it's musical numbers. The girls' Bon Jovi mash-up was fun, but the only one that really stood out was the Warbler's "Teenage Dream". It may not have been realistic, as soon many of the show's musical numbers aren't, but it was well executed, and a fantastic version of a song I didn't think that much of.

     The same scene also introduced the audience to Blaine (Darren Criss), quite probably the long-rumored love interest that Kurt will be getting. The bond between the two was instant, and it's a light at the end of the tunnel for long-suffering Kurt. Criss impressed audiences and producers alike, and is already being wooed to upgrade to series regular, likely to kick-in at the start of season three next fall, which is already ordered.

     The third thread of the homosexual plot involved a school bully who has been picking on Kurt. To be honest, I couldn't tell if it was one of the same guys who has slammed Kurt into lockers before or not. It's always possible that he could be Kurt's love interest instead of Blaine, but I doubt it. There could have been an interesting story there, but with Glee's already huge ensemble, it's probably better that the guy just disappeared into the background.

     In other news, Puck (Mark Salling) made his not-so-triumphant return after spending the last two episode in juvie. Before the ending credits, he was already facing serious trouble, including a return to lockup. Seeing Puck the rebel was a departure from the tough guy who came off as almost sweet last year as he tried to step up and take responsibility as a father. It was an unfortunate backslide, and one I hope will be corrected. Unless they're just ready to dump someone from the cast, and he's the choice. I'd be OK with that, as it's got to happen no later than the end of the season, but I'd miss him.

     Speaking of the too-large group of players, will they ever reveal what grade the students are in? I'm guessing that since Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.) remains the only original club member not a series regular, he's a senior. Someone has to graduate. I find it semi-believable that everyone returned for season two (except one guy, who was said to move, not graduate), but surely they were not all freshmen? Puck, Artie (Kevin McHale), and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) are the primary candidates in my mind. I'm not really ready to let go of anyone else. They cannot all possibly return for season three, unless the show follows them to college. Which would be awesome, but again, way too many people to share screen time already, and a new setting, with inevitable new characters, would just add to the mess.

     Oh, and the Artie and Brittany (Heather Morris) thing should just go away. I'm for Brittany and Santana (Naya Rivera) all the way! Or at least find a sweet girl for Brittany.

     One other complaint that I have about Glee is sort of minor, through it is a trap that many series fall into (Justified springs to mind), and that is how well the series writers know the area where the show is set. I grew up in the central Ohio area, and went to college and lived in Westerville for several years after. In last night's episode, Kurt visited a fictional private school in Westerville. Now Glee takes place in Lima, Ohio. The fact that McKinley High School is actually in Canton, Ohio is beside the point, as the television McKinley bears little similarity to the real one. However, Lima and Canton are about two and a half hours apart. Both Lima and Canton are each about one and a half to two hours away from Westerville (in different directions, naturally). Therefore, these quick little jaunts down to Westerville, a close suburb of Columbus, would be more than that. I love hearing names of familiar places in a show that I adore, but would it kill someone to spend a few minutes with Google to get the facts right?

     Glee is only fun to pick apart because it is such a great series, and I look forward to discussing it whenever I can. My criticisms are in no way meant to drive anyone away from the show. Please tune in Tuesday nights at 8pm on FOX.

For frequent mini-reviews and occasional tv news, follow Jerome on Twitter.

Article first published as TV Review: Glee "Never Been Kissed" on Blogcritics.

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