Sunday, October 31, 2010

Grading "Glee" -- Season 02, Episode 05 -- Rocky Horror Picture Glee Show!

I haven't had a chance to watch this episode until now, but today is Halloween, so it feels totally appropriate.

Audio recordings of the songs from this episode have been available for a couple of weeks, but I managed to avoid them completely. I never had any interest in hearing "Glee" recordings outside of the shows themselves, so there was no reason to change my habits now. Take away the costumes and the staging and the dance numbers that you can only get while watching the show and what do you have? Cover versions that are usually embarrassing compared with the originals, and with the campiest possible production to boot. Speaking of costumes and staging, in which episode could that possibly be more important than this one? So there were plenty of reasons to hold out on hearing the songs.

A number of commentators have complained that they can't possibly see how a RHPS-themed episode of "Glee" could possibly manage to shoehorn the songs into the show's plot. Well, the first few times I saw RHPS, I didn't like it. It was weird, sexy in a somewhat grotesque way, and had some memorable characters, but the movie made absolutely no sense. Eventually I learned to ignore the fact that there was no plot and an idiotic ending, and to just enjoy the movie's quirks. And the songs, they grow on you, of course. As for "Glee" ... hmmm ... the plots make no sense ... the songs drop in from out of nowhere with almost no connection to the dialogue ... quirky, memorable characters ... a flair for OTT theatrics ... it's a perfect fit! So for those of you who don't understand how songs from RHPS can possibly fit into an episode of "Glee", I mean, have you SEEN Rocky Horror Picture Show??

"Dammit Janet". B. This one was just getting good when it was suddenly cut off (or in plot terms, by Mr. Schue having to leave the room). As you'd expect, Finn and Rachel did a great job of capturing the basic essence of Brad and Janet, best described as "geeky deers caught in the headlights".

"Hot Patootie". B+. A shockingly great performance from John Stamos, who really earned his spot on the cast during this episode. Who knew that he could pull off a choreographed scene like that? And Mr. Schue's jealous, fuming looks (mimicking the reaction of Frank-N-Furter to Stamos' Eddie from the movie) were brilliant.

Sweet Transvestite. D+. Amber Riley has only one gear: diva. Lost in this performance were all the multifaceted elements that made Tim Curry's portrayal of Frank-N-Furter so great. Frank-N-Furter is a freak, a pervert, a sleazeball with schizophrenic mood changes (often within the same song). He's sexy only in a car crash sort of way, and he's not the kind of party animal you want to spend any time with because he's too unpredictable, and everything about the way he sings suggests that he might fly off the handle at any moment. None of these subtleties were there in Riley's interpretation, instead, she simply played him like a character from the "Lady Marmalade" video.

"Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me". A. Talking about Jayma Mays' singing in this scene would be missing the point (after all, the Janet role doesn't require much in the way of singing). She nailed the mannerisms, the timing, and the facial expressions. Toss in the one-liners from the rest of the cast and Santana and Brittany's frolicking, and you've got a classic.

The Time Warp. C+. Of course you knew they'd do this one, and of course it had to be in full costume. Too bad this was the only scene featuring Chris Colfer singing as Riff Raff, because I think he'd do a good job with that character. The performance was fairly average -- nothing technically wrong with it, but it felt flat, uninventive, and strictly by-the-numbers.


Sandra said...

John Stamos rocked it! And, by golly, Jayma Mays can actually sing (assuming that was her voice...). The episode as a whole was good, not great, but those two performances made it for me.

Barry said...

I'm fairly sure that everyone on "Glee" always does their own singing. And later on I read that Jayma Mays performed that song for her "Glee" audition, so yeah, it was her. I agree, the episode as a whole was good, but not great, but the good parts were *really* good.