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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

GLEE Finds Another "Child Star"

Article first published as TV Review: 'Glee' - 'Child Star' on Blogcritics.

TV Review: ‘Glee’ – ‘Child Star’

This week’s Glee, “Child Star,” finally focuses on the new kids of the New Directions, even as they joke that another alumnus may walk through the door at any second (none do). Instead, we see much of their personal dynamic as couples come together and friendships are worked out, all while the group prepares to perform at a horrible kid’s bar mitzvah. Which leads to a couple of fresh faces joining the group.

G3I feel slightly bad for the seven kids who join Glee in its final season because they’ll never get the development that beloved favorites have gotten. At the same time, while I enjoyed “Child Star” overall, I spent a lot of time missing all the other long-time characters absent from the hour, caring more about them this close to the end than I do about any new people in the cast. It’s really a tough position in which to put this crop of youngsters, especially when two of them don’t even appear until this episode.

Mason (whom many believe has an incestuous relationship with his sister, Madison), reveals that he is actually attracted to Jane (Samanatha Marie Ware). Jane is flattered, until Madison erupts in jealous rage (see? incest!), and Jane backs away from the drama. Luckily, Mason isn’t content to stay all Flowers in the Attic with his sibling, and makes a stand in the best musical performance of the night: Queen’s “I Want to Break Free.” This leads to Madison understanding and loosening her grip, a fairly predictable story move, but, one that gives Mason and Jane as happy an ending as they’re likely to get in the short time Glee has left.

Meanwhile, Spencer (Marshall Williams) has a crush on Alistair (Finneas O’Connell, Bad Teacher), which he expresses in a the enjoyable “Friday I’m in Love,” but has no game. Roderick (Noah Gurthrie) wants to climb a rope but has no athletic skills. Synergy is found when the two agree to help each other out, though this goes horribly, Spencer having no idea how to motivate someone like Roderick, and Roderick not even attempting to coach Spencer. Somehow, though, it all works out in the end because this is Glee, where emotion always trumps logic, and Spencer, Roderick, and Jane (why Jane?) celebrate together in the fantastic “Uptown Funk.”

I mentioned that I like “Child Star,” and I do, but neither of its stories play out all that intelligently. I guess I’m getting soft on the series as the end looms near, realizing I’m going to miss its whacky unevenness.It does “heart” so well, making me feel for the characters even when I shouldn’t care. This episode is a prime example, a way to blatantly illustrate what Glee does well and what it sucks at, so it strikes the nostalgia note alongside the others it is trying to hit.

All of this may be burying the lead because the titular “Child Star” introduced this week is Myron Muskovitz (J.J. Totah, Jessie). Myron is having his bar miztvah, and being a flaming, drama queen, 13-year-old, he wants everything to be perfect. His uncle, Superintendent Harris (Christopher Cousins), forces Sue (Jane Lynch) to cooperate, meaning the New Directions get involved in the party. Strangely, Myron also demands Sue and Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones) dance back up for him, which is fun, but completely goes against his drive for perfection. Anyway, everyone reluctantly agrees to meet the nightmare child’s demands, and in the end, his uncle strong-arms him out of middle school and into the glee club.

Myron is absolutely awful, so I’m glad there won’t be time to develop him. Don’t get me wrong; Totah clearly has talent. But his Disney Channel pedigree shows when Myron goes total spoiled brat, and is more annoying that he is likeable. His introductory performance, “Lose My Breath,” is more creepy than anything. When he eventually goes on at his bar mitzvah with “Break Free,” thankfully he blends into the background more than his character should, realistically speaking, since so many others are on stage with him. Still, that doesn’t mean he should be allowed to stay.

The silver lining is, with Myron and Alistair joining up, the New Directions now number eight, and twelve are needed for Sectionals in two weeks. Is anyone other than me thinking that now is a great time to bring back Marley, Jake, Ryder, and Unique? After all, while there is no way in the world these twelve should be able to have a credible set ready in time for judging, at least we know the four have chops and their presence has been missed. If they don’t return, the other spots are doomed to go to glorified extras, as has been done on Glee in the past.

G2The other thing worth noting in “Child Star” is that Will (Matthew Morrison) finally goes toe-to-toe with Sue on her level. Will has been through quite a journey, and coming back from Vocal Adrenaline, he’s found inner strength. He always stands up to Sue, but as he calls her Suzy Q and gets in her face, something seems different in their chemistry. Since Sue is likely to stay on as principal and Will will surely be back in charge of the New Directions at the end of all this, I’m thinking Glee is going to do a plot where Will finally turns into the man Sue has slyly been trying to make him into, even if her hilariously jumping on his back indicates otherwise.

I have a few last complaints about this episode. First, where is Kurt? His honeymoon is only said to be a weekend, meaning he should be back already. Why are Will and Rachel (Lea Michele) left to run the glee club alone? Also, why is Kitty (Becca Tobin), the lone glee clubber without plot this week, demoted to guest star this year when she is around more than Artie (Kevin McHale) and recently re-promoted Mercedes (Amber Riley)? She deserves better, and so does Mercedes for that matter, getting the credit but not the screen time. I’m not complaining about the lack of Artie. Lastly, the final number of “Child Star” is “Cool Kids,” which falls flat and serves very little purpose in the story. Bad ending choice.

Over all, “Child Star” is emotionally fulfilling enough, though not as much as some other recent hours, and despite plot holes, works OK. The end is in sight. Let’s get to it.

Glee airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.

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