Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Predictable Season Without Consequences: Glee Season Three Jumps The Shark.

The Good: Moments of humor, Moments of performance, Moments of character.
The Bad: More produced sounds, Acting and plots that fall dramatically short.
The Basics: The third season of Glee has the show becoming utterly inconsequential and not worth watching.

The third season of many television shows are the peak or first truly wonderful season. For so many projects, it takes years to get off the ground and truly hit the stride a show needs to achieve greatness. By the third season, the actors have a firm idea of their characters (usually), the writers know how to write for them and the producers have an idea where they want the show and series to go. So many shows come into their third season with a renewed sense of purpose and a higher standard of quality relative to the earlier seasons.

Glee is not one of those shows.

Instead, the third season of Glee easily and quickly reveals the fatal flaw for the series. The producers of Glee made a mistake that killed the series and the third season of Glee is the season where the impending death is foreshadowed as the episodes bleed out and it loses its charm, originality, and purpose. The fatal mistake Glee’s producers made was making each season a full school year. Following the first season – when FOX realized just how popular the show was becoming – the producers should have made Glee’s seasons represent a half school year each. This would have allowed the show to continue with a cast of characters that viewers actually cared about.

As it is, Glee Season Three is split into the usual two parts: the road to Regionals and the subsequent road to Nationals. The first half of the season is diluted (in school) with a race for class president and (outside the school) a race for the Congressional seat for the district McKinley High is in. The second half of the season has the members of the Senior Class preparing for graduation and lamenting about the end of their high school experience.

Usually, the evaluation of a season of television has me exploring each character, going through the overall plot of the season, and judging the acting. Glee Season Three left me so unenthused that I cannot get muster the enthusiasm to devote that much time to the season and boxed set. The primary reason for my lack of eagerness to devote time to the season is that the episodic elements of the season – by this point, Glee is utterly formulaic in the way it has the New Directions glee club presenting popular music that follows a theme each episode – are predictable and the serialized elements (the character growth that builds upon itself with each episode) are without consequence. Glee Season Three includes big life events for some of the characters – Kurt’s father and Sue running for office, Quinn getting into a car accident, and Coach Beiste getting abused by her spouse, but none of those events have lasting or significant consequences. The most disappointing aspect of this is how the theme episodes lose their resonance because the producers refuse to have significant consequences for the events.

As a result, episodes like the one that deals with teen drinking and “I’m On My Way” which has Quinn texting and driving lead to nothing. None of the members of New Directions drink and get date raped, break limbs or get incarcerated. Quinn’s texting and driving accident is so worthlessly rendered that by the end of the season, all consequences of the accident are erased.

So, the producers of Glee struggle through the third season to progress the established characters of Glee and add new characters who might take their place in season four. Unfortunately, the religious zealot, the spoiled tonedeaf idiot, and the exchange student who are focused on in the third season do not have any sense of character or intrigue that any of the prior characters have. Even Santana in the first season was more interesting than any of the new characters are in the third season of Glee.

Additionally, the time devoted to preparing to replace the established characters in season three further weakens many of the principle characters from Glee. Sue Sylvester is not featured as prominently in the third season and Mercedes and Artie are dismissed more frequently than they are used well. Until her accident, Quinn is a virtual nonentity as well.

Now on DVD, Glee Season Three has featurettes and deleted scenes, none of which make the primary programming any better. As much as I enjoyed the prior seasons of Glee, Glee Season Three is a messy melodrama that replaces substantial character growth with easy answers and that takes what was once a surprisingly meaningful franchise and guts it completely.

For prior Glee works, please check out my reviews of:
Glee - The 3-D Concert Movie
Glee - Season Two, Volume Two
Glee - Season Two, Volume One
Glee - The Complete First Season
Glee - Season One, Volume One: The Road To Sectionals


For other television reviews, please click here to visit my index page on the subject!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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