The first season of 'Glee' was a novelty. We all sat back and said, "Wow, a high school TV show that's also a musical. Well, isn't this quaint?" Some people (see: Gleeks) took to the show like it was the greatest series ever created, others, like myself, found it slightly charming but often pandering. So, what does the second season bring? More of the same, except this time the show seems even more determined to make us believe that these are the most downtrodden kids that have ever existed. We're endlessly regaled with their stories of not being accepted, while the writing coddles its characters instead of actually helping them.
'Glee' likes to think of itself as a bastion of hope for the outcasts of the world. Creator Ryan Murphy and his team have gone to great lengths to represent just about every ignored minority in America. They've got a place for everyone, but just so you stay interested, most of the women portrayed are skinny and sexy. The show goes out of its way to preach about each character's situation, instead of letting them work through it. What becomes even more outrageous is that they treat peoples' differences the same way they treat being obese. "Just be yourself," the show exclaims, without any real understanding that in some cases, obesity is a condition that can severely hamper and shorten one's life. It's fine teaching kids to be okay with the person that they are, but teaching them to be unhealthy and disguising that as personal acceptance sends a bad message.
I've grown weary of the show and its predictable formula. It's like 'Saved By the Bell' but with more singing and better production values. Every week each episode has an underlying theme like alcohol, sex, bullying, and magically each of the characters are going through exactly what that episode is about. Then painfully obvious music choices are made to fit in with the theme. It's become a tedious exercise.
'Glee' never follows its own rules either. This is what frustrates me the most about the show. There's an episode in the middle of the season where the New Directions hold a benefit concert to raise money for nationals. Nobody shows up. This makes absolutely no sense. First of all, where are the kids' parents? At least they should have come. Second, the entire Glee Club sulks over their hated status, saying that no one wants to come out and see them. While the show would like you to think these kids are social pariahs, what they actually show happening is something completely different. Every single school assembly that the club does the audience of students gets up on their feet and starts cheering along. Yes, this makes for a good shot of a rocking audience as the camera pans across them, but it means something else. It means that the club isn't as hated as the show makes them out to be. It means that people actually like them, or even love them. To make us believe at one moment that they're loved and adored by essentially the whole school, and then in the next episode try to make us believe that everyone hates them is kind of goofy.
The characters of 'Glee' have sitcom personalities. This means that it doesn't matter what they learned in the episode before, little or no learning is carried on to the next episode. There are numerous times where Sue learns to be a nice cordial person and then completely ignores that and becomes a bitch during the next episode. These constant backtracks in character personalities become extremely tiresome. The only thing that really carries throughout the seasons are who is dating who, and who hates who because that person is dating someone they like.
I understand that people still love 'Glee' for its upbeat singing and its colorful displays of popular songs, but when you get down to the core of the show, there's little to love. It's too wrapped up in its formulaic presentation to allow any of its characters to really grow or learn. It tries desperately to exist in a semi-fantasy world like '30 Rock,' but fails because of its numerous life lessons where it tries to teach us some valuable social commentary that Mr. Murphy thinks we need to hear. 'Glee' has become a melodramatic bore, punctuated by catchy musical numbers which are all filmed in a music video style. Choreography be damned, this camera is going to swing around as fast as possible with half-second cuts, completely obscuring any dance routine that was created for that number.
'Glee' has a strong fanbase, but for me its novelty has worn off. It's characters are stagnant and the writers refuse to change even the smallest thing about them, fearing that they'll all of a sudden climb out of the stereotypical holes they've dug for themselves.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Glee' comes to Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox. The second season has been pressed onto four 50-GB Blu-ray discs. This season features another 22 episodes, but somehow they look and sound better than their first season counterparts. They're packaged in a slightly oversized keepcase with swinging disc hubs that house the discs back to back. The back of the package indicates a Region A release. It comes complete with a slipcover that has the same artwork as the cover art.
Season one of 'Glee' was actually plagued with quite a few scenes harboring digital noise. The noise here, however, has been tempered (although there is one scene with Brittany peering out from a very dark background with is full of white digital noise). The 1080p picture for season two looks clearer, cleaner, and full of more detail.
Each episode has a smooth, crisp look to it. Facial features are wonderfully resolved. Individual strands of hair are completely discernible. Colors pop much more this time around; from the off-putting colors of Rachel's numerous sweaters to the bright red border of the Dalton Academy uniforms. Colors always look bright and vivid.
I was surprised by the lacking of digital artifacts. The first season was hampered by numerous instances of banding, here I hardly noticed it. There is a musical number featuring a giant wall of lights behind the performers. Much like the light wall you'd see at a concert. Props like that are instantly candidates for blocking as the tiny lights pulsate, wave, and change with the music. Not so here though. The wall of lights stayed consistently clear and artifact free.
For whatever reason, season two is a noticeable improvement from season one.
The same goes for the audio. Season one seemed all-too front-centric. I felt the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix should have engulfed me, especially during the show's musical numbers, but sadly it didn't. That problem has been fixed this time around. The mix pays more attention to the surrounds, giving us a more well-rounded, more realistic listening environment.
Most of the show features a decidedly front-heavy mix due to the amount of regular old talking that goes on, but once the show switches to music mode there's no stopping it. The bass beats of the hip-hop songs boom forth from the sub as the voices of the soloists are belted out from the front. The rears are filled with the echoes of the chorus. It feels like you're in the auditorium watching them perform.
I feel they mixed the acoustics much better for this release. It sounds much more engaging this time around.
'Glee' Music Jukebox – This feature is present on every disc and is simply a way to choose the different musical numbers to watch. You know, in case you didn't actually want to watch the rest of the show.
'Glee's initial freshness has worn off, and they haven't replaced it with anything. They're still trying to skate by on flashy musical numbers while largely ignoring any real learning or development in the main characters. 'Glee' has also become too preachy for its own good. It tries to please everyone without really saying anything. I just don't see the appeal of this show anymore. Fans will be excited about the improved audio and video. This release is for fans only.