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by Pat Cerasaro
On the fourteenth episode of the fourth season of FOX's hit musical comedy series Glee - airing on February 14, no less - Valentine's Day got its grand due, McKinley High-style, once again with "I Do", written by co-creators Ian Brennan and directed by Brad Falchuk. Complete with heartwarming twists, heart-stopping turns and heartfelt musical numbers for us to remember long after the bonbons have disappeared and the tea-lights have burned out in the morning-after haze, it was a theme show supreme. Plus, how about the Glee cast in a COMPANY movie musical someday, at least if last night's tribute was any indication of what could be. After all, if Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) isn't a born-to-be Joanne in the storied tradition of uncompromising divas like Elaine Stritch and Patti LuPone, then who the heck is?!
(Not?) Getting Married
Romances rekindled, courtships cut off; new love, old love; true love, blue love, even lusty red-hot love, too - last night's Glee gave us more than our money's worth and put it all where its mouth is - singing. Pushing boundaries has never been something Glee has shied away from and "I Do" was remarkable if only for its frank portrayal of a vast array of couplings; heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual among them. Where else but on Glee is the next generation and their attitudes towards sexuality as well-represented? Furthermore, where else on television - or on earth - would you chance to peruse a song from Sondheim's COMPANY and a Marvin Gaye mainstay both as musical numbers effortlessly employed within the plot of a random episode? Such are the myriad joys of Glee - and a theme show such as last night's Valentine's Day one gave us many new developments and fresh drama to go along with the marvelous musical numbers and ribald, risqué comedy we have come to expect from the genre-redefining series.
A veritable valentine to dedicated, die-hard gleeks around the world, we were given a reunion and new union or two, too, with an all-out wedding celebration wedding together the new and old Glee - that is, Glee 4.0 and the attendant "something new" featured players to go alongside the "something borrowed" and "something old" contingents of the chorus corps that collectively make up the old adage. "Something blue" would definitely be the heartbreaking wedding ceremony itself and the fall-out following Emma (Jayma Mays) and Will (Matt Morrison)'s "Getting Married Today" musical sequence. Visually arresting, employing an imaginative split-screen effect and utilizing a montage technique that would be well-used in a feature film adaptation of Sondheim and George Furth's concept musical COMPANY someday, "Getting Married Today" was one of GLEE's most effective and well-integrated musical numbers to date - the song itself a Masterpiece musical number; yet another taken from the great canon of musical theatre and given new life on GLEE, with the series now eighty episodes into its run and holding strong with six million viewers (or more).
"Anything Can Happen," indeed, to quote Ellie Goulding's of-the-moment hit featured as the ferocious finale of the fantastic ep. Glee consistently reinvents itself while still surprising us and reminding us why we return week after week even when it is not at its best - particularly when moments like the final three minutes occur out of the blue. Is Rachel (Lea Michele) really pregnant?! Will the wonders never cease?
As for the rest of the romance - proto-gleek Puck (Mark Salling) gave his brother, Noah (Jacob Artist), some advice put to good use insofar as his burgeoning relationship with Marley (Melissa Benoist) is concerned, while Artie (Kevin McHale) found a fast friend with the ultra-fierce niece of Miss Pillsbury, Betty (THE Glee PROJECT S2's runner-up, Ali Stroker). Quinn (Dianna Agron) showed her girl-friendly side by stoking the flames of an unexpected tryst with Santana (Naya Rivera). As for the couples closest to GLEE's big ole heart for most of us gleeks, Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss) resumed their long-distance romance, while, so, too, did Rachel and Finn (Cory Monteith) resume their Epic pairing in heart, body and song - if not mind, that is. Yet, what will the future hold for all of them, especially if Kurt and Rachel are headed back to New York and their distinctly more-fabulous-than-Lima, OH lives? We will have to remain watching to see for sure, which should not be a problem if the series remains as compelling and the quality as consistent as it has this season (more or less). Yes, Season Four may be one of GLEE's most unique and most effective seasons to date, as a matter of fact.
Taking a look at the musical numbers that highlight the various entanglements of the rich assortment of characters that comprise the Glee universe, particularly in a theme episode like this, is absolutely essential in order to fully grasp the intricate and oftentimes ingenuous enhancement to the themes, design and structure of the episode - let alone the plot and story itself - that they almost always provide. For instance, take the aforementioned inter-cutting of Goulding's "Anything Can Happen" with the shocking developments depicted back in the NYC-set storyline with Rachel realizing she may be pregnant; and, to add to that, Brody (Dean Geyer) could even be the father. Also, the previously mentioned COMPANY homage gave even greater weight to what could have seemed an anti-climatic called-off wedding such as we have seen on far too many series in the past - thus, it made the build-up matter more than the pay-off (especially wise since there ended up being no immediate reunion). As for the rest of the songstack, "I Do" gave us some unusual choices from some names not heard quite as often as Sondheim or whomever tops the charts these days thanks to songs such as the Marvin Gaye/Terrell R&B staple "You're All I Need To Get By", sung suavely by Noah and emotively by Marley. Also, Kurt and Blaine duetted on a pulsating Depeche Mode hit, "Just Can't Get Enough", while Rachel and Finn led the cast in a stirring and intriguingly staged and edited "We've Got Tonite" (made famous by Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton).
All in all, it was easy to say "I Do" to the uniformly strong musical numbers, enlivening and energizing atmosphere and lovable cast of characters that make up GLEE. Our relationship seems sure to last for many more anniversaries to come - as any other gleek at this late date would whole-heartedly agree.