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Glee: The Complete Second Season(TV) (2010-2011)
A high-school Spanish teacher becomes the director of the school's Glee club, hoping to restore it to its former glory.
For more about Glee: The Complete Second Season and the Glee: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray release, see Glee: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on September 21, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Jane Lynch, Chris Colfer, Matthew Morrison, Dianna Agron
Directors: Brad Falchuk, Eric Stoltz, Ryan Murphy, Paris Barclay, Elodie Keene, Adam Shankman
» See full cast & crew
Glee: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review
The New Directions lack direction in season two, but the music's still great.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, September 21, 2011
Glee's rise to pop culture ubiquity was one of the biggest surprises of the 2009-2010 TV season. Who'd have thought a musical drama/comedy about show choir geeks would rocket so quickly to the top of the charts? And I'm not just talking about TV ratings. Cover songs by the Glee cast now consistently rank in the iTunes top-10 best sellers from week to week, and in February of this year, the show's fictitious New Directions show choir beat out Elvis Presley—not to mention The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Michael Jackson—for having the most songs ever included in the Billboard Top 100. In an era when the downloadable 99-cent single is now the de facto music-delivery medium, Glee has become a kind of pop recycling factory, churning out 4-5 cover songs each week, from Broadway classics to the latest hits. And in season two, the Glee cast even started performing original songs, one of which—"Loser Like Me"—made it to #2 on the Billboard charts. Clearly, the show is doing something right. That said, in season two, the narrative string that ties these top-40 tunes together starts to fray into a few too many tangents, some of the them akin to soppy, pedantic after-school specials. It's frankly amazing that the show can be so good and so bad, sometimes all at once. Glee has become that high school crush you hate to love. She shows you a great time, but she's also kind of annoying and self- important. She's funny and sweet, but sometimes she gets too weepy and melodramatic. You want to leave her, but she keeps drawing you back.
If you're not yet a "gleek" and you don't know Sue Sylvester from Sylvester Stallone, a quick recap is probably in order. Glee centers around the New Directions show choir at McKinley High, an average school in that epicenter of averageness, suburban Ohio. The students in New Directions —which, yes, sounds conspicuously like nude erections—are perennially picked on, especially by the school's jocks, who are fond of chucking slushies in their faces, amongst other aggressive bullying tactics. Most of the glee club kids are resigned to the fact that they'll never be popular, but in glee they've finally found a place where they fit in as collective outsiders. There's wheelchair-bound white rapper Artie (Kevin McHale) and flamboyantly gay fashionista Kurt (Chris Colfer), dating Asian students Mike (Harry Shum, Jr.) and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), mohawked one-time juvie inmate Puck (Mark Sailing), and overweight Mercedes (Amber Riley), a diva-in-training who does a mean Aretha Franklin impersonation. A few of the members once were popular, but found their social standing cut down significantly when they joined the club, like star quarterback Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) and his off-and-on cheerleader girlfriend Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron), or sarcastic mean girl Santana (Naya Rivera) and her ditzy blond sidekick/soulmate Brittany S. Pierce (Heather Morris). Meanwhile, Jewish American Princess Rachel (Lea Michele), the show's female lead, is in a class all her own, blindly unaware of how obnoxious she can be in her ongoing quest for future Broadway super-stardom. This year we're also introduced to goldilocksed new guy Sam (the strangely named Chord Overstreet), a "trouty-mouthed" footballer with a Justin Bieber haircut and a penchant for Jack Johnson songs.
The main dramatic arc of season two takes the characters from sectionals to the national show choir competition in New York City, but that's just a loose framework. Overall, this season seems far more episodic and scattershot than last year, with the emphasis less on sustained storytelling and character development and more on "themed" episodes. Now, Glee has always had a different musical theme from week to week— from girl groups to one hit wonders to Lady Gaga—but many of the season two episodes pack tidy moral motifs as well. "Blame it on the Alcohol" uses Ke$ha's "Tick-Tock" as a lesson on the consequences of underaged drinking. (Hint: There's on-stage vomiting.) "Grilled Cheesus," which begins with Finn finding the face of Christ in his George Forman-ized cheese sandwich, gets the glee kids talking about their views on faith. And in "Sexy," the students learn the low-down on the facts of life from substitute sex-ed teacher Holly Holiday (repeat guest star Gwyneth Paltrow), the latest love interest for glee club coach Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison). Grief and diversity, bullying and the rumor mill—all get their own hour-long specials, and some of these episodes can get a bit heavy-handed, with dialogue that occasionally veers close to eye-roll- inducing over-obviousness. I'm not sure why the show's trinity of writers—co-creators Brad Falchuk, Ian Brennan, and Ryan Murphy—feels the need to turn Glee into a series of cultural public service announcements. This wouldn't be so bad if the life lessons proceeded naturally from the ongoing narrative, but unfortunately it often feels the other way around, as if each script is consciously built around a "teachable moment."
But let's not get too hung up on season two's "And Knowing is Half the Battle"-style didacticism, or any of the other complaints you could rightfully lob at the trio of showrunners. The thing is, as much as Glee irks me sometimes—the implausible non sequiturs, Rachel's lip-trembling power ballads, the ever-shifting love quadrangles—it's still one of the most infectiously enjoyable shows on television. Unless you're a grinch on par with the New Directions' nemesis, sharp-tongued cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (the brilliant Jane Lynch), you simply can't hate Glee. It's too much fun. And there are some great moments this year. The Rocky Horror episode is pitch perfect. The airheaded Brittany finally gets her due with a Britney Spears-themed episode—she also hosts a video-cast called "Fondue for Two"—and Gwyneth Paltrow is surprisingly likeable as the gathers-no-moss substitute teacher who distracts Mr. Schuester from his true feelings for Emma (Jayma Mays), the school's OCD-afflicted guidance counselor. (Who starts dating her dentist, John Stamos!) As expected, Sue's endless machinations to bring down the glee club are as maniacal and entertaining as ever, even if they're often patently beyond belief. More realistically, Kurt truly comes into his own as a character this season—his sub-plot about the difficulties of being an openly gay student is timely and affecting—and his boyfriend Blaine (Darren Criss) is the best new addition to the cast. Of course, you can't talk about Glee without mentioning the music, and given that there are over 130 songs featured this season, the hit- to-dud ratio is actually quite strong. There are some regrettable selections—like a whole episode devoted to Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors" album—but otherwise you can easily see why the Glee cast routinely makes it to the top of the Billboard charts, with tunes from Stevie Wonder to Katy Perry, The Beatles to Madonna to Florence and the Machine.
Glee: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
While most TV shows have made the switch to shooting digitally, Glee is still shot on film, which sets it apart with a slightly more cinematic look. If you've seen season one on Blu-ray, you can expect a practically identical presentation for season two, with strong 1080p/AVC-encoded transfers for all 22 episodes. The overall look is slightly soft compared to most contemporary theatrical productions, but there's still a satisfying sense of clarity. Textures in close-ups are finely resolved, so much so that you can actually make out when the make-up department has tried to cover up a pimple on an actor's face. Color is dense and saturated but very realistic—the musical numbers may be stylized, but the image never is—and the picture looks especially fantastic during outdoor, daylight scenes. Skin tones, throughout, are perfectly balanced, black levels are deep, and contrast is nicely tuned. If you caught the show on Fox in high definition, you can expect a slightly more pristine look here, with fewer compression problems, but there are still a few small issues that keep the presentation from higher marks. Darker scenes are often peppered with bluish chroma noise, some fine color gradients look a little splotchy, and there are a few instance of mild banding. None of these are overt distractions, though, and if you say season one on Blu-ray, you know exactly what to expect.
Glee: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Like the video, the quality of the show's sound design—presented here via lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround tracks—is practically indistinguishable from last year's season one release. And that's a good thing. Season one sounds great, and so does season two. Obviously, the main source of "Aural Intensity" here—if I can namecheck one of the New Directions' rival show choirs—is the music. As you'd hope, the various pop songs and show tunes sound fantastic, especially if you've got a capable 5.1 home theater set-up. The music has real presence, clarity, and dynamic punch, without ever sounding overly compressed or bottom heavy. (That's not to say the songs don't sound glossy or extremely processed. They certainly do, but that's all part of the default pop music style nowadays.) During the bigger numbers, the instruments and voices are spread throughout every channel, creating an enveloping soundfield that puts you right in the school auditorium. When we go back to reality, however— the day-to-day drama of school life—the mix is much less active. You'll hear occasional ambience in the rear speakers—the clamor of between-period hallways, cheers from the audience at the big competitions, New York street sounds, etc.—but there are also plenty of instances where there could be more immersive sound design and there simply isn't. No big deal, though. Where it counts, Glee's audio delivers. The dialogue is unerringly clear, and the music sounds great turned up loud. English SDH, Spanish, French, and Portuguese subtitle options are available, all appearing in easy-to-read white lettering.
Glee: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
There are no audio commentaries, unfortunately—I assume the cast and crew are pretty busy working on season three—but this set comes with a strong assortment of featurettes.
Glee: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
It wasn't quite a sophomore slump, but Glee's second season did have a hard time finding its focus for the year. With few exceptions—most notably the Kurt/Blaine relationship—overarching character development was sacrificed in favor of more self-contained, didactic, "theme"-based episodes. (The religion episode, the "we're all different" episode, the alcohol episode, the sex-ed episode, et cetera.) From what I've read in interviews, though, it seems like the show's writers have learned from some of their season two mistakes, so it'll be interesting to see how season three turns out. Regardless of its storytelling shortcomings, Glee: Season Two is a worthwhile entertainment investment, especially if you were a fan of the first season. The set looks great, sounds fantastic, and comes with a decent collection of special features. Recommended!
Glee: Other Seasons
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Glee: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Glee: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray - June 29, 2011
This September, Fox Home Entertainment will release Glee: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray. The breakout television hit, Glee's sophomore season finds the New Directions team regrouping after their Season One loss at Regionals. Glee: The Complete Second ...
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