Friday, September 06, 2013

Glee - Season 4 Review

US Airdate: September 13th 2012- May 9th 2013

The fourth year of the show and it's a mixture of Lima and New York.

Two Worlds: Glee put itself in an unenviable position for it's fourth season. Not only did it have to push some of the main character forward in a different location but it also had to remember that no everyone graduated at the end of the previous. Finding a balance for both worlds was certainly going to be a tough one for the series. The first half of the season though seemed to favour with the remaining kids in Lima though more than those who moved to New York and elsewhere. Thankfully by the time we got to the second half of the season, there was a better balance between both places.

McKinley seemed to be desperate to come up with a new pecking order. Gone were Rachel, Santana, Finn and Kurt and in their places were the likes of Marley (a less ruthless Rachel), Kitty (a mashup of Santana and Quinn), Ryder (a nicer version of Finn), Jake (Puck's half brother) and of course the recently transferred Unique (Kurt meets Mercedes). All of them are decent characters, some better than others but the comparisons to the people they came before were hard not to ignore and it did hamper them initially, though they got better as the season progressed for the most part.

The whole rectangle with Kitty/Jake/Marley/Ryder was similarly played out to the one we got in the first season with Quinn/Puck/Rachel/Finn but it was still amusing in parts while Unique's quest for acceptance and bonding with the girls had a similar feel to Kurt's storylines from earlier seasons. Again, I should point out that these characters did get more likeable as the season progressed though and issues such as Marley's eating disorder and Ryder's learning difficulties were decent character plots too.

As for the McKinley characters we already knew and loved, Finn spending most of the season as a mini-Will and even tutoring the Glee club actually did the character a lot of favours in some respects along with his break up with Rachel. Don't get me wrong - Finn's habit for saying and doing stupid things (his insensitive comment about Sue's baby, kissing Emma for example) were still present but it was the first consistent season for me where I found him nearly likeable as a character before his off-screen departure into college with Puck as well as the unfortunate passing of actor Cory Monteith recently.

Then there's Blaine. In some ways, this was the first season in which the writers made more of an effort to define the character outside of Kurt and while their break up came from the most predictable of reasons, I actually quite enjoyed the single version of the character. Whether he was donning superhero costumes, briefly fancying Sam (whose relationship with Brittany was pretty hit and miss) or singing one too many solos, this was certainly a better season for Blaine as a character than the previous one had been for him.

Of course not all of the McKinley characters really benefited though for this year. Tina became pretty unbearable to watch as she attempted miserably to become a queen bee with New Directions (along with an annoying stalker-like crush on Blaine), Artie was still largely underused, save for a few moments, Brittany was a spare part until her exit in the finale, Will/Emma/Sue/Beiste didn't have that much to do, Burt was ill but the writers didn't properly explore it and the likes of Quinn, Mercedes, Puck and Mike were just guest characters who barely had anything to do really when they did occasionally appear in the show.

New York was a slightly better avenue for the remaining characters though. Rachel flourished in the NYADA setting and the flatshare scenario with herself, Kurt and Santana provided some of the more entertaining moments of the season (even if we had to wait ages for Santana to hightail it to New York). Love interest wise, Brody was a boring one for Rachel and Adam, while sweet was quickly dispatched with, so we really didn't get to see him and Kurt blossom into anything significant. That's the power of Klaine I suppose.

In terms of events throughout the season - the break up episode was the show's best one yet, the shooting episode was good on paper and acted well by the cast involved but terribly misjudged in execution, the second Britney Spears tribute episode was a dud while the wedding of Will and Emma had a lot of interesting hook ups (namely Quinn/Santana) while the Sectional/Regional episodes were fun enough as was the Catfish plot involving Ryder and Unique and New Directions take on Grease.

Overall, while there were some niggles here and there, I actually think that this season was as close to recapturing the essence of the first season as possible. It wasn't perfect but it had it's moments. A lot of good ones along with a few I'd rather forget too. Oh and some good guest roles for both Kate Hudson as mean spirited dance teacher, Cassandra and Sarah Jessica Parker as the more sunny Vogue editor, Isabella. Definitely one of the show's better years.

DVD Extras: A Music Jukebox, deleted scenes, Movin On Up: Glee in NYC, something on Jake/Marley, Building New York, a feature on 500 songs, Blaine's Time Capsule and a premiere party feature.

Episode Ratings

4x01: The New Rachel 9/10, 4x02: Britney 2.0 = 5/10,
4x03: Makeover = 6/10, 4x04: The Break Up = 10/10,
4x05: The Role You Were Born To Play = 7/10, 4x06: Glease = 8/10,
4x07: Dynamic Duets = 7/10, 4x08: Thanksgiving = 8/10,
4x09: Swan Song = 7/10, 4x10: Glee, Actually = 7/10,
4x11: Sadie Hawkins = 7/10, 4x12: Naked = 7/10,
4x13: Diva = 7/10, 4x14: I Do = 9/10,
4x15: Girls (And Boys) On Film = 7/10, 4x16: Feud = 7/10,
4x17: Guilty Pleasures = 7/10, 4x18: Shooting Star = 5/10,
4x19: Sweet Dreams = 8/10, 4x20: Lights Out = 7/10,
4x21: Wonder-Ful = 7/10, 4x22: All Or Nothing = 9/10

Glee Season 4 will be available on DVD from October 1st.

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