Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Joss Whedon's Glee Episode

Last night's episode of Glee, "Dream On," was directed by the incomparable Joss Whedon, and featured a guest appearance by Whedon-regular Neil Patrick Harris. As an admitted fan of both Glee and Whedon I was understandably excited, and with the added bonus of NPH the episode seemed sure to become an instant classic. And you know what? It sort of was.

The episode was certainly not without its problems, but overall I think it's the best we've seen from Glee since they won sectionals. It started out a bit rocky with the first act being almost entirely story driven; the story wasn't bad by any means, but on a musical show it was strange that there wasn't a single musical number for the first third of the episode. The next half hour made up for it in spades though, with a couple of incredible duets from NPH and series regular Matthew Morrison. There was also a special focus on wheelchair-bound character Artie, resulting in a heartbreaking fantasy rendition of "Safety Dance" that ranks among the best performances the show has ever had. On top of all that we got a surprising development about Jessie that could potentially change a predictable subplot into a much more interesting (if slightly contrived) story arc.

Overall it was a great episode that focused more on individual characters than the general ensemble, which makes sense given that Whedon was directing. He is a master with character development and in this episode he managed to interweave three different character-specific stories and have each of them feel equally relevant and interesting. The Glee cast is fairly large and so the focus on a few individuals was unsurprising and probably wise. To Whedon's credit none of the characters felt absent even if they didn't have any lines, which is more than you can say about a lot of the recent episodes. Most importantly the song choices were amazing and perfectly accentuated the characters' individual arcs. I really enjoyed the episode and hope Whedon comes back to direct another one soon. We certainly haven't seen the last of NPH's character...

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