Glee 3x05 "The First Time"

Ahh, much better…

Not that last week’s episode was THAT bad, but after the hiatus cut short the good grove the show was in, it would be a shame for them to continue in a downward spiral.

Although that number I could have done without. Not just because I Love West Side Story, but also because it is no coincidence that once the Warblers were removed from the picture, the show and musical numbers got substantially better.

The same thing can be said for the heavy-handed gay bullying storyline that was featured last season. Oh sure; I wanted resolution when this season kicked off regarding Karofsky and how he would fit into the realm of things. Well, now we know and I dig it. That scene between him and Kurt was sweet and a nice wrap-up to everything we all had to endure. Wouldn’t mind seeing him again as long as they pursue this direction…

What I loved about this episode as a whole is that it, quite masterfully might I add, featured the entire ensemble of the show. That is no small feat when the cast is this large. Mike Chang and his parents, Coach Bieste and her new man, Artie, Tina, Santana, Puck, Karofsky…all of them had nice moments and were layered into the story with the regulars of Rachel, Finn, Kurt and Blaine. Right down to brief scenes with Schuester, a quick glance of Mercedes in the audience, a funny line from Brittany…I said from the get-go that if the show cannot handle this large of an ensemble, then the show will only continue to suffer from the feeling of dropped plotlines and inconsistent characterization.

Also, it didn’t hurt that nearly everyone involved, right down to the new maneater Warbler Sebastian, was mostly likeable and acted in a normal manner. Again, no small feat for Glee.

Somewhere in a stateside mansion, while sipping a fancy tea at a piano, Stephen Sondheim is smiling. One of the best decisions the Glee folk have ever made was to choose WSS as the school musical and run through nearly the entire show. They did not misstep on a single number.

Quite possibly, the whitest version of
West Side Story ever.
Although, I do have one complaint. Harry Shum Jr. never tackled “The Jet Song” or “Gee, Officer Krupke.” I have a feeling that he would have destroyed either number.

Anyways, I was texting Caroline right before the show aired and once I caught wind that the episode would feature the WSS classics set alongside the present day Glee drama, I predicted disaster. To their credit, they did a solid job; I can’t act like I did not gasp whenever a number began. Sue me; I am a sucker for out-of-scene staging.

Besides, the numbers were just that awesomesauce that staging – and I can’t believe I am saying this – could have taken a back seat for this one episode. “Tonight” sounded amazing; Lea’s and Darren’s voices mixed very nicely. I do have to point out that I was surprised this number would be featured at all after Tina sang a solo version in season one. Glee does not really use a number more then once (the exception being “Don’t Stop Believing”).

I ship Darren with that stance.
“A Boy like That” and “One Hand, One Heart” were both good, largely because Michele, Criss and Naya Rivera (LOVE her) played off each other like ringers of the production. In fact, I’ll get the petition circulating: Rivera stars as Anita in the 2017 Broadway revival of West Side Story. Who is with me? “America” was FLAWLESS, easily an all-time favorite number and that was mostly to her being straight-up fabulous (and ignoring some ridiculous accents).

Ironically, it was the whole “First Time” thing, such as that lame ending, that was sub-par. I know a good PR hook like the back of my hand, so I’ll take it for what it is. Besides, who cares when nearly an entire episode is an homage to Sondheim and a musical classic. It really was a fine hour for the show and I am back to being excited again. Job well done Glee!


Anonymous said...

First, I wanted to say thank you, because you always have meaningful comments regarding the episodes of Glee.

Second, I wondered what your thoughts were on the lyrics of "America" being the ones from the film version of West Side Story rather than the stage version?

Thank you.

-Tamara, an interested reader

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tamara!

Quite frankly, the lyrics change was not even a thought because when I think West Side Story , I defer to the film. That is not a slam against any Broadway production or revival; the film is just that iconic and one of the best movie-musicals of all time.

Besides, a few lyric changes are harmless when compared to Glee's editing of Rocky Horror Picture Show . Every other number or homage was very faithful.