Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Glee "Wheels": See the Real Me

For a series that has achieved such great name recognition so quickly, Glee has still suffered from an identity problem, something that can easily happen when you've got three distinctive writers shaping the show. Ryan Murphy, who penned "Wheels," seems to have learned a bit from the success of recent episodes by Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, and sees what we saw tonight as the tone for the series going forward, telling LA Times as much in a recent interview:
This episode is the turning point for the show. Certainly, after this, it remains a comedy, and it’s fun. But writing this made me feel the responsibility of showing the truth of the pain that outcasts go through. It’s not all razzle-dazzle show business. It’s tough, and it’s painful, and it was for me growing up, and it is for most people. So I think this made me realize that amid the fun and the glamour, it’s really great now and again to show the underbelly of what people who are different feel.
Of course that all ties together a theme of the episode, revealing the real person behind the mask. Kurt came out of the closet to his father a couple episodes back, and now more characters are coming out of their own self-made closets. Tina and her fake stutter, Puck with his paternal asperation, and Sue as caregiver to her sister with down syndrome.

All told, I'm all for the tone Murphy has decided on, if only that it has to mean less of Terri and her fake baby storyline. Her absence here reinforces the correlation between good episodes and her absence since the pilot. It also apparently calls for more singing and dancing, which is always good for this blog, right? Take for instance the multiple use of "Dancing with Myself," first the Glee Cast version of Nouvelle Vague's take on it, and Billy Idol's popular take (originally by Idol's old Generation X band, of course). I'm too lazy right now to go back and check, but I think that might be the first time an original has been used alongside a Glee Cast version. The song itself was originally inspired by a Japanese disco, where Idol saw the Japanese dancing by themselves in front of mirrors. How better to see the real you than in a mirror?

With this song, and the Wicked 'diva off' of "Defying Gravity" (most popular version sung by previous guest star Kristen Chenoweth), we've now heard all the songs featured on the recently released soundtrack, Glee: The Music, Volume 1. From here on out, I guess, we're looking at Volume 2 (next week: "Don't Stand So Close to Me.") UPDATE: Volume 2 is indeed in the works, coming with in a month of Vol 1 (December 8).

Playlist: Glee - Episode 1.09
1. "Dancing With Myself" - Glee Cast
2. "Dancing With Myself" - Billy Idol
3. "Pusherman" - Curtis Mayfield
4. "Flight of the Bumblebee" - The Swingle Singers
5. "Defying Gravity - Glee Cast
6. "Proud Mary" - Ike & Tina Turner (Glee Cast)

Previously: "Mash-Up" (Episode 1.08)

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