Glee is still finding its way, and last night’s episode was a step backwards in some ways, forwards in others. They’re already having problems figuring out how to sustain the tone of the pilot or even the rules that govern the musical numbers; they’re getting close to doing full-fledged musical numbers that go beyond the boundaries of “real-life” performance, and I would not be at all surprised if people are breaking into song in the street by the time the season is over. Though one way or another, they’ll have to improve the lip-synching, an important part of any filmed musical (it’s not usually possible to do an elaborate musical number without singing to playback). I don’t know if it’s the lip-synching or the sound recording, which gives no suggestion of the acoustic of wherever they happen to be performing the number, but they simply don’t give the feeling that they’re doing these numbers in the room. (This is a very common problem on TV shows that do musical numbers. There’s no time to mix the sound of the song to really match the dialogue, so the dialogue and music wind up sounding like they were recorded in completely different rooms — which they were.)
It also never ceases to amaze me that edgy one-camera (and in this case one-hour) shows can get away with doing plots that would get a more conventional-looking show branded as hopelessly corny. The scene where the evil new coach tries to kick out the people who are “different” and is rebuffed with a speech about how being different is what makes you special — not only is that an old plot, but they didn’t even feel the need to try to cut through the treacle or subvert the scene with a joke the way [insert name of multi-camera teen comedy that did this plot] would. I’m not really criticizing, because it is probably a good thing that shows from Glee to 30 Rock feel the confidence to do old sitcom plots without apologizing for them. It’s like their edgy cred frees the writers up to do all the stories they remember from their years of non-edgy TV viewing.
Finally, to bring these two points together, I will say that Glee is increasingly starting to remind me of: