REVIEW: Glee the Complete Fifth Season
So, when did Glee go off the rails for you? I began tiring of the show in the third season, stuck around for one more and realized it couldn’t make up its mind about the type of series it wanted to be. Part of the blame goes to Ryan Murphy and Fox for falling so in love with their core characters that they wouldn’t let them grow up and leave high school. While a spinoff set in Manhattan had been considered and discarded, trying to have it all didn’t work either. After seeing the fitting tribute to Cory Monteith, I bid Finn Hudson and the rest of Lima High an overdue farewell.
When Glee the Complete Fifth Season arrived for review, it gave me a chance to see if I made the right decision or not. The series’ musical numbers remain strong as ever but it also remains maddening. On the other hand, the various social topics it had addressed makes the show wonderful drama but the rest of it is set in a world so divorced from the one we live in, it gets infuriating.
First, the cast is too largely, too spread and too unwieldy to properly focus on one set of characters. We have Rachel, Kurt, and Santana in New York, Mercedes in Los Angeles and everyone else in Lima, OH. But, we have the originals poised to graduate and the newcomers still looking to get themselves properly established in the hearts and minds of the audience.
You still have all the adults with their own issues from Mr. Schu and Emma starting a family to Sue deposing Principal Figgins and managing to somehow shut down Glee Club.
And while the students never seem to have any classes or homework or trouble juggling extracurriculars, homework, family obligations and the like, it beggars the imagination that not one but two of the cast are such geniuses that they fight over Valedictorian. It would have been nice to see the school wrestle with the arrival of the Common Core curriculum or the pressures of standardized testing on both faculty and students.
Rachel’s assent to Broadway is the stuff of legend and her dream come true (we could have satisfactorily ended the series when she debuted) but for her to actually give it away for television makes little sense along with the decision to use Santana as her publicist.
The show veers from one emotional note to another without a lot of proper foreshadowing or setup so character traits come and go, as do their romantic feelings. Of the newcomers, the most intriguing was Marley who is gone early on after revealing her heretofore unknown songwriting skills, which conveniently come into play when the club needs a song at Regionals. And then there’s the horrid unaired Christmas special, held over from 2013 and a sad way to end the first half of the season.
This season saw the show limp to its 100th episode which Murphy and Brad Falchuk used to trash the club and scatter everyone to the four winds. As centennial episodes go, it was above average but stung with unrealistic events. Eight episodes later, the friends find themselves in many unexpected places, leaving the viewer to wonder how the sixth and final season, now airing, would tie things up.
The high definition transfers on the six disc DVD set are fine although it is noteworthy Fox has not released this on Blu-ray. As usual, the set comes with its patented Glee Musical Jukebox, allowing viewers to go straight to the musical numbers.
The smaller than usual extras include Gleeful: Celebrating 100 Episodes of Glee (8:31) with Matthew Morrison (Will Shuester) and the cast members fondly looking back when they were a phenomenon that had not been anticipated. There’s also Glee in the City (13:34) where producer/director Ian Brennan and actors Kevin McHale, Darren Criss, Amber Riley, Chris Colfer, Chord Overstreet, Adam Lambert, and Lea Michele talk about the story possibilities by being set in the center of the universe.