Saturday, November 13, 2010

Glee 2.05: "The Rocky Horror Glee Show"

“You know, Halloween is fast approaching. The day when parents encourage little boys to dress like little girls and little girls to dress like whores.”

I’ve never seen “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” yet I was still finding “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” entertaining for the most part until about the last ten minutes. I think I would have appreciated the whole thing more if I had actually seen “Rocky Horror.” I generally enjoy good parody. Although I’m not really sure if this was good parody or not. If the one or two of you who actually read this blog have seen the movie, feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you think. From what I saw in the episode, I might enjoy “Rocky Horror.” I may have to marathon “Rocky Horror” and “Xanadu” some time and just call it a cheesy ‘70s-80s musical movie weekend. I can think of worse things to do with my time.

The episode begins with some in media res. The New Directions crew are performing “Rocky Horror,” and John Stamos…I’m sorry…Carl…interrupts the proceedings. He’s in a ridiculous costume, and he’s pissed. He accuses Will of reneging on his promise not to go after Emma. Will looks both uncomfortable and horrified, and in voice over, he wonders how things got to that point. Well, folks, it all started one day during lunch period when Will noticed Emma was eating her sandwich with the crust still on. Will is irked, to say the least, that Carl is actually helping Emma move past her OCD tendencies. Will calls it “making her better,” which I find horribly patronizing, but I’ll save my full rant for a little later in this post. Not only is Emma now eating bread crust, she and Carl went to a notoriously filthy old movie theater to see a screening of “Rocky Horror.”

Will’s jealousy gets the better of him, and he makes what turns out to be a rather rash decision. He tells Emma that he loves “Rocky Horror” too. He loves it so much, in fact, that he’s going to have New Directions put it on as a musical. Emma cautions that some of the material is a bit risqué and parents won’t approve, but Will is determined that with some edits, he can make it work. When he brings the idea to the students, they’re just as skeptical about how parents will take it, but after some convincing by Will, they’re really enthusiastic about it. Finn and Rachel will be Brad and Janet, and the rest of the cast soon falls into place from there.

Over at the local news station, we finally get to see another long awaited segment of “Sue’s Corner.” In this particular edition, Sue is ranting about Halloween. Sue thinks the real meaning of Halloween is fear, and she encourages parents to do everything they can to scare their kids on the big night. The next day, Sue is paid a visit by the new station managers. Being from the cable news business, they thrive on perpetuating fear (a nice little bit of social commentary). They want Sue to do an exposé on the upcoming “Rocky Horror” production. Sue doesn’t like the movie thanks to how an audience one reacted to her sister when they went to see it, and she can’t resist the station managers’ suggestion that she could win a local Emmy for her work. Add her usual desire to make Will miserable, and of course she’s in.

In a kind of attempt to show us just how bad Will’s idea was, one of the plots in this episode involves an exploration of male body image issues. Finn is nervous about the fact that Brad spends part of the show in his underwear. Rachel tries to reassure him that she loves him and thinks he looks great just as he is, but Finn’s not buying it. He gets crap from the other girls in glee club because they know all about his bad eating habits. They say it’s only fair to make fun of Finn in this case given how guys usually treat them. Finn, Sam, and Artie have an interesting conversation in the weight room. Sam reveals the lengths he goes to in achieving his physique, and I’m left wondering if he has an eating disorder.

Sue calls Will out into the hallway in the middle of rehearsal. She says she’s heard about the “Rocky Horror” plans, and she wants in on it. Will offers the part of the Criminologist. That’s not the only faculty addition to the production, though. Since this whole thing is really just a plot to try and win over Emma, Will of course has to ask Emma for help. He asks her to be costume designer, clearly angling for a way to spend plenty of one-on-one time with her. There’s one other big production challenge to deal with in the middle of the episode. Mike Chang tells Will that his parents refuse to give him permission to perform. He’s upset because he was finally getting confident enough in his singing abilities to play Dr. Frank-n-Furter.

Sue is upset that the production, and her chance at a local Emmy, may not go on, but she gets an idea to salvage the show when she sees Emma and Carl talking about their Halloween costumes. She brings the couple to the choir room and tells Will that Carl should be the new Frank-n-Furter. Will is most definitely not amused, and he demands Carl audition. Carl sings a rendition of “Hot Patootie” that all the glee kids seem to like. I wasn’t all that impressed, personally. The song seemed a bit high for John Stamos’ range. Of course, Carl giving a good performance makes Will even more pissy than he already was. “Hot Patootie” is sung by Eddie, though, not Frank-n-Furter, so Eddie is the part Carl gets. Mercedes volunteers to be Frank-n-Furter. I’m not really sure what to think about that. Were the writers really trying to put their own spin on the classic, or was FOX just afraid to have a man in drag on prime time? There’s really no way to know. I’d be curious to know what Harry Shum, Jr. would have actually brought to the part. Sure, he doesn’t really have the vocals, but he would have brought a really great physicality to it.

At a rehearsal where everyone is trying out their costume, Sam, who is playing Rocky, voices his concern that his tight gold underwear might show too much if he tries to dance. Will, half thinking that yeah, maybe the role of Rocky is inappropriate for a teenager to play and half thinking of another opportunity to get close to Emma, decides he’s going to play Rocky himself.
Will has decided he’s going to play Rocky. He tells Emma he would like her help to practice his part. Of course, he wants to rehearse “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me.” It’s a hot performance, to say the least, although it’s made more than a little creepy by Santana and Brittany watching through the window. I get, from reading a synopsis of the movie, why that was done, but it’s still creepy.

Sam and Finn have yet another conversation in the locker room, and this time Sam thinks he got kicked out of the show just because he complained about his costume. Finn is worried that the same thing will happen to him, and Sam gives him a pep talk to try to get him to embrace appearing on stage in his underwear. Next thing we know, it’s time for another rehearsal, and everybody is wondering where Finn has gone. Principal Figgins barges in and demands to speak to Will. It turns out Finn is going to be suspended. He got the great idea to walk down the hallway in his Brad costume, which Figgins didn’t find to be at all appropriate. After some pleading from Will, Figgins relents and lets Finn off with a warning. That’s not the end of the trouble, though. We see the in media res scene from the beginning where an angry Carl barges in demanding to know why Will is going after Emma again. Emma told him about “Toucha Me,” and understandably, Carl isn’t happy. Will just looks sheepish.

The final shoe drops when Becky stops by Will’s office while trick-or-treating. She lets it slip that Sue thinks “Rocky Horror” is an abomination. She takes Will to Sue’s office and shows him a pre-taped Sue’s Corner where Sue is speaking out against the production. Will confronts Sue about her scheming, but he also acknowledges that she has a point. He no longer thinks “Rocky Horror” is really appropriate for high school kids to be performing. He’s going to pull the show, to Sue’s chagrin (she can’t win that Emmy now). He also has a chat with Emma. He’s going to back off, because he sees how Carl is making her better (there’s that phrase again). He says she should be with Carl “for now,” and that he loves her, but sees this is best. I found this to be horribly twisted, especially the “for now” bit. So he wants Carl to do all the hard work of helping Emma control her OCD then just swoop back in once she’s “better?” Class act.

I was pretty happily going along with this episode (with the exception of the Brittany and Santana spying, of course) until the last ten minutes or so. Between Will being horrible to Emma and censorship winning, with was just a muddled message all around. Will announces to the group that they’re going to perform “Rocky Horror” just for themselves, not an audience. And the kids don’t seem all upset about it. They give a rousing rendition of “Time Warp” in the final scene of the episode. I just thought the ending was incredibly lame. All that hard work and they’re’ not going to actually perform it for anyone?

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