[Contains slushy-facials and SPOILERS!!!]
Hankering for a little more Lea Michele in my life, I was lucky enough to find the first season of Glee (2009) for sale in my local Poundland, and promptly set about working my way through the two-part boxset. As I’ve said in the past, I wasn’t too impressed with the show when it debuted here in the UK, and still find it wildly inconsistent and unsatisfying as an overall viewing experience… but watching/hearing Michele sing is always immensely enjoyable, regardless of the song she’s singing, or the context in which she’s singing it. I also love her acting too, of course, especially when she’s playing comedy… so, weirdly, my favourite musical moment of the season is probably her over-emoting in the deliberately terrible promo video for “Run Joey Run” (ep #1.17)… or possibly the scene referenced in the title of this post, where ‘Rachel’ duets with club coach ‘Will Schuester’ (Matthew Morrison), and develops a crush on him as the song progresses, directing the full-bore intensity of her growing obsession straight into the camera lens… though, honestly, anytime Michele/Rachel starts belting away with a manic smile or anguished frown on her face, it’s a high-point for me!
And whoever decided to cast Idina Menzel as her estranged biological mother was a frickin’ genius, because besides being a legit Broadway legend in her own right, she also bears an uncanny resemblance to Michele… so seeing/hearing them singing together on-screen was a truly glorious treat for me, even if the song-selection for their final duet (Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”!?) was wildly inappropriate and off-putting. For the record, Menzel appeared in five episodes this season (ep #1.14/19-22)… which isn’t nearly enough, imho. Encore, dammit!
Although the motivations, actions, and attitudes of scheming coach ‘Sue Sylvester’ made very little sense from episode to episode*, it’s a testament to Jane Lynch‘s remarkable talent and charisma that her character remained the most sympathetic and cheer-worthy “grown-up” in the show. At one point ‘Kurt’ (Chris Colfer) comments that it’s impossible to feel sorry for the woman, but he’s dead wrong… despite her relentless malevolence towards the eponymous show-choir, and its curly-haired coach in particular, I still kinda hate “Mr. Schu” for deliberately leading Sue on and then standing her up solely to f*ck with her head, in episode #1.21. Obviously, as viewers, we’re privy to more of her vulnerable private moments than they are, and therefore have more sympathy for her than the people she torments do, but I still think that he should have known that he was totally crossing the line there. Feh!
Still, the least likeable (and, crucially, the least amusing) main character has to be ‘Quinn’, who attempts to trick her chaste boyfriend ‘Finn’ (Cory Monteith) into accepting responsibility for getting her pregnant, when she knows full well that his bad-boy best-friend ‘Puck’ (Mark Salling) was the real baby-daddy. Boo to that! In retrospect, I can’t help feeling a little sorry for Dianna Agron, who was clearly acting (and singing!) her heart out, while slowly being eclipsed by her formerly-silent side-chicks, ‘Santana’ (Naya Rivera) and ‘Brittany’ (Heather Morris), as they emerged from her shadow to become stand-out, scene-stealing characters in their own right. Fun fact: Former Beyoncé back-up dancer Morris was originally brought in solely as a choreographer/consultant for the “Single Ladies” dance routine (ep #1.4), but everyone loved her so much she was cast as one of the subordinate Cheerios, and her role gradually expanded over the course of the series via hilariously bizarre one-liners (such as her claim that dolphins are “gay sharks”), and a heartfelt sapphic romance with gal-pal Santana. Bless ’em.
Er… I feel duty-bound to mention ‘Mercedes’ (Amber Riley) and ‘Emma Pillsbury’ (Jayma Mays) too, but I’m fairly apathetic about both of those characters, despite my appreciation for the skills of the actresses playing them…
Meanwhile, notable guest-stars included: Kristin Chenoweth as adorable washout ‘April Rhodes’, who Will recruits as a ringer for the show-choir, before realising what a terrible influence she is on “his” kids (eps #1.5/16)… Sarah Drew as ‘Suzy Pepper’, a senior student with a creepy crush on Will (#1.10)… Anna Camp as ‘Candace Dystra’, a former beauty-pageant loser serving as a judge at Sectionals (#1.13)… and Molly Shannon as ‘Brenda Castle’, an Astronomy teacher who beamed into the staff-lounge to mock Sue, then vanished from the series as abruptly as she’d appeared (#1.17/19)…
* Her getting recruited to help judge the Regional finals, despite being a co-director of one of the competing teams, and then choosing to betray everything we know about her by voting in favour of “New Directions” simply because the other judges said some slightly mean things about her school was a particularly ludicrous and holey plot-twist.