TV Report Card | 'Glee' Season 5A Review

Overview: Lima and New York remained divided intervals wherein, Rachel continued to pursue her dreams of stardom on the big white way and the New (New) Directions attempted to maintain their former classmates’ Glee Club glory. The show also had to deal with losing one of its core members, star Cory Monteith and his character Finn Hudson.

Storyline Direction: Getting off to a rather glib start, “Glee” waited for 3 episodes before addressing the tragic passing of Cory Monteith’s Finn. In the meantime, the chirpy faces of its stars paraded around with marginal success to avoid the elephant in the room. Finally acknowledging it in the heartbreaking episode “The Quarterback”, the show has barely touched on the subject since.

While it is probably wise not to fixate on Finn’s passing, the characters on the show seemed to have moved on rather seamlessly, and with rapid healing. Rachel has even been giving “the eye” to Sam. It’s just too soon for any of that. There is moving on and then there is simply ignoring the issue completely. While, they haven’t gone that far, the loss of Finn has been played too distant from the heart.

Now to the final episode of the 2013 half of the season, the show’s annual Christmas special was one of the worst episodes of the entire series’ run. The disrespectful audition to play Mary in the High School’s version of the Nativity was supposedly “respectful”. It was only after Kitty says that she feels unworthy for the role that the gang stages the worst and most insolent musical number they have ever done.

Claiming it was under the guise to make Kitty take the part would have made some coherent sense, if she were so repulsed she stopped the number before it could end. Instead, it played until its conclusion and it was marginally worse than the earlier, supposedly “less offensive” number. 

Another issue, why the need to claim this episode took place in 2012? We already saw the Christmas special for that year. If it was to avoid talking about Finn, it was absurd. Especially when given the new timeline Finn would be alive and why wouldn’t, Kurt at least, be with him for Christmas? 

Mr. Schuester has spiraled into a full blown man-child, dancing with underage students in the hallway of school as they grind on him, "twerking", claiming it was a god-given right. Seriously? There is such a thing as a character stumbling with their maturity at times, however, Mr. Schue is a devolving at such a rate, it wouldn’t be surprising if he showed up after winter break as a student, claiming to be retaking the high school credits he never finished.

To make matters worse there was a whole episode dedicated to the kids having delusions of puppets. Yes, you read that correctly, there were freaking puppets.

Production Caliber: For whatever reason, it felt exceedingly claustrophobic. The diner was a welcomed new sight.

Performance Quality: All of the cast’s performances have been strong. Lea Michele has fought through the season with panache and grace. Given all of the things considered, the entire cast has stepped up to the plate.

The performances that have stood out this season belong to Amber Riley (Mercedes) and Mark Salling (Puck), both of whom aren’t regulars. They truly stirred the soul and Riley’s vocals have been greatly missed. The usually exuberant Darren Criss (Blaine) seems bored. Who can blame him, need we remember the awful puppet storyline?

Musical Score: Amber Riley’s performance during “The Quarterback” and Lea Michele’s rendition of “To Make You Feel My Love” have not been matched, at this point in the season. The biggest thing missing is Riley’s passionate voice. Where everyone else sounds like they’re going through the motions, she always brought the emotion.

Overall Grade: C, aside from the outstanding episode “The Quarterback” and the Beatles tribute, nothing has been hitting the mark. It’s what one might expect given the off-screen turmoil and it’s understandable.

Having new “Glee” is better than the alternative but the show doesn’t feel like it will return to its former glory any time soon. One couldn’t really expect it to. The heart of what made “Glee” what it's been, isn’t there anymore.

[Image by FOX]