Thursday, 28 October 2010

'GLEE' 2.5 - "The Rocky Horror Glee Show"

Thursday, 28 October 2010

I'm not really a fan of sci-fi parody musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show. And I don't know the '70s movie well enough to get excited by the prospect of Glee using it as the basis for a Halloween special. Consequently, I was expecting "The Rocky Horror Glee Show" to leave me indifferent and bored, but it surprised me by provided an entertaining, camp hour with a strong theme holding its various pieces together.

Mr Schue (Matthew Morrison) was astonished to find that Emma's (Jayma Mays) mysophobia is starting to abate, seemingly because she's spending time with stress-free boyfriend Dr Carl (John Stamos), who's found a way to distract Emma's mind with fun dates, including a trip to a midnight screening of his beloved Rocky Horror Picture Show. Jealous of his love rival's moves, Schue decides to try and impress Emma by staging a production of Rocky Horror with the glee club.

However, given the musical's risqué material and lyrics, Schue found himself wondering if Rocky Horror was appropriate for high school students to perform. Elsewhere, Sue (Jane Lynch) was plotting to sabotage the show at the eleventh hour by offering negative criticism on local TV, as part of a deal with priggish station heads Tim Stanwick (Brian Bostwick) and Barry Jeffries (Meat Loaf). During rehearsals, Finn (Corey Monteith) started to become self-conscious about his body, knowing his role as Brad will mean walking around in his underwear, and Mercedes (Amber Riley) argued her case for starring at bisexual transvestite Dr Frank-N-Furter -- which is traditionally a male role.

There were some good ideas buzzing around this episode. I particularly appreciated Finn's subplot, highlighting his lack of self-confidence over his body, particularly because Sam (Chord Overstreet) is only too keen to show off his abs. It's obviously a little silly someone with Monteith's athletic physique would be quite so shy, as the idea would have worked better with Artie (Kevin McHale) or Kurt (Chris Colfer), but the thought was appreciated. It was a storyline that felt relatively fresh; certainly when compared to how often similar plots are given to teenage girls who lack the "hourglass figure" society favours.

The Schue/Emma love-story continued, although I'm just not convinced by the appeal of those characters as a couple. Maybe it's because Emma strikes me as far too dippy for a man like Schue, almost resembling a schoolgirl in his presence, or the fact they already got together in season 1 and it wasn't a very enjoyable partnership. Emma's squealing over hunky Carl is a little irritating, but I can't help thinking her character's better off with the likeable singing dentist. Carl is clearly a good influence on mysophobic Emma, so in many ways Schue came across as a meddling, bitter, covetous annoyance throughout this episode.

From a British perspective, I have to giggle at US network television when it comes to standards and practices in the media, as this episode went to great lengths to avoid having Rachel (Lea Michele) perform risqué number "Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me", by giving that performance to the adult Emma, and I suspect Mercedes playing Frank-N-Furter only came about because they daren't show a man in drag. To its credit, Glee actually commented on censorship and society's attitudes to envelope-pushing art, but it still amused me how the show itself was hamstrung by the somewhat puritanical rules of American broadcasting. If this episode had been produced in the UK, it wouldn't have been so neutered.

Overall, I get the feeling "The Rocky Horror Glee Show" will split audience, and perhaps only appeal to fans of the musical. I don't know many regular teenagers who are that aware of Rocky Horror, so this episode will perhaps feel like it's a treat for an exclusive club for many viewers. However, as someone with only a general interest and affection for the movie, I felt this was a fun and lively hour, and the musical numbers were all handled well. "The Time Warp" finale was especially good, although that song always seems to outstay its welcome by the third chorus.

What did you think? Was this a trick or a treat for Halloween week?

  • In case you didn't realize, guest stars Brian Bostwick and Meat Loaf were original cast members in The Rocky Horror Picture Show -- playing Brad and Eddie, respectively. It's a shame the more recognizable Susan Sarandon, Tim Curry or Richard O'Brien didn't cameo in this episode, though.
  • Did you notice that some of the Rocky Horror lyrics were changed so they could be broadcast on TV, too? "Transsexual Transylvania" becoming "Sensational Transylvania" was the most obvious alteration, and robbed the song of its impact.
  • The opening scene with Quinn's (Diana Agron) ruby red lips singing "Science Fiction/Double Feature", copying the opening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, was absolutely spot-on.
  • Jayma Mays auditioned for the role of Emma by singing "Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me", which she got to actually perform here.
WRITER: Ryan Murphy (story by Ryan Murphy & Tim Wollaston)
DIRECTOR: Adam Shankman
TRANSMISSION: 26 October 2010, Fox, 8/7c