Glee 3x10 "Glee Actually"

Being that this was a Christmas-themed episode - let me remind you, I loathe Christmas music with a passion - this episode was not going to register well with me regardless. Also, it was going to feel like an even greater disappointment on the heels of last week's fantastic episode. Also also, last year's Christmas episode was flat-out awful other then the partial homage they did to a classic black-and-white Christmas specials...but Glee knows that a holiday album sells like donuts and that is all Ryan Murphy needs in his creative process.

But here's the kicker...this episode didn't turn out half-bad. When the operative word is "interesting" after watching an episode of Glee, I suppose you can do worst. The whole Love Actually hook was dropped in out of nowhere, but my honest-to-God impression is that they used that movie reference to justify the story (well, "stories") they wanted to tell anyways. That's right; it's an excuse for all of the veering back and forth between disparate stories...also known as "a typical Glee episode." All well and good, but it wasn't as smart or clever as they thought they were being and who did they honestly think they were fooling.

Although I do have to admit, their vignette-style of storytelling makes it easy for me to recap and comment on. At least there is that. Story #1...

First off, the number? Only worked because Kevin McHale is a performing dynamo. It's been long overstated in the fandom, but he's really one of the most versatile and talented performers, dancing-wise and vocally. So naturally, he's ignored most of the time.

As far as his story...enh, I wanted to love the It's a Wonderful Life aspect. And to be fair, McHale, again, played Artie's turmoil beautifully. But they hardly did any world building with its alternate universe and with some of the characters missing from the scene, the heavy-handed approach they took and Rory's bizarre appearance, the whole thing felt incomplete. It's a shame really - just like the body-switching they did last year, they seem really apprehensive to commit to a full story like this. That would be a hell of a lot more exciting then...well, most of the show as it is.

I do have to say though, while watching this bit, I kept thinking about how the Glee folk should really turn out a full 45 minute prequel episode somewhere down the road. I'd watch the hell out of that.

Cute, I guess.

Obviously, Burt Hummel is made of win and no amount of cancer was going to ruin his return to the show. And while I really don't want to admit it, I have to give Glee major props for one thing; it's not often in the mainstream that we get a look into the relationship between a father and his gay son's boyfriend. We had a hint of it a few seasons back, but the three of them on the couch watching football (until Kurt caved in and read Vogue; I'm right there with you buddy), as little as it was, was enough to please me. It was something unique and really authentic-feeling - I didn't see it coming.

Considering Puck never really was on my good side and Jake is following suit, I didn't abhor their shenanigans...whatever it was that they were doing. Oh sure, the number was mega-hideous (even though the idea of a Barenaked Ladies number works in theory for them), but the scene at Breadstyx was sweet enough. I adore Aisha Tyler (Jake's Mom), so I'll take any scene involving her.

Not bad by any means, just not my thing.

The whole Mayan calendar thing? A little too obvious.

Quintessential holiday song. Meaning, I just am not a fan.

Along with the Hummel/Anderson storyline, the Sue one is where the show also deserves some praise. This was the most "Christmas spirit" out of the stories, what with Sue's newfound (and probably temporary) hospitality. Sure, Sue's writing was erratic with each passing scene; fortunately, they have Jane Lynch around to amp up the acting quota for the show. And considering the show was dancing around tumultuous territory - namely, Marley's bulemia storyline I couldn't stand ever - they played it out nicely.

It says something about my low expectations for the show that I can tolerate an episode like this. Sandwiched in a stronger block of episodes, this episode would have felt a lot weaker. As it stands, I can go into the hiatus feeling that this episode - as well as this entire season thus far - hasn't hit the low points that last season struck, even if its spectacular moments have been fewer and far in-between.

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