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Posted at 11:24 AM ET, 09/28/2011

‘Glee’ by the musical numbers: Idina Menzel returns in ‘I Am Unicorn’


Shelby (Idina Menzel) and daughter Rachel (Lea Michele) have a “West Side” moment in last night’s “Glee.”

“Glee’s” third season improved slightly with episode two, “I Am Unicorn,” an installment that welcomed back Shelby Corcoran (Idina Menzel), saw tensions rise during auditions for the McKinley High production of “West Side Story” and, as always, raised numerous questions.

Among those questions: Why do Puck (Mark Salling) and Quinn (Dianna Agron) suddenly care so much about their baby Beth, the one they let the aforementioned Shelby adopt, when they barely mentioned the child last season? How did Kurt honestly expect the co-directors of “West Side” — Coach Beiste, Emma and Artie — not to cast Blaine as Tony? The kid looks like Richard Beymer’s long lost grandson, for God’s sake. Why did the reformed Quinn show up for Booty Camp in a girly white dress and an extremely high pair of wedges? And, in a related question, is it just me or does Quinn look hotter with the pink hair and nose ring?

I can’t get to the bottom of all that right now. What I can do is break down the episode’s three musical numbers, which yielded an average of one splashy performance for every 20 minutes of “Glee.” Not a bad ratio, but one that hopefully can be improved upon next week. Check out my assessments, then vote for your favorite in the poll below.

Related links:

Sue Sylvester of “Glee” vs. Leslie Knope of “Parks and Rec”

‘Glee’: Can the show find its footing in season three?

‘Glee’ as imagined by ‘Sesame Street’

Shelby and Rachel: “Somewhere”

Taking a tune normally sung by ethnicity-crossed lovers in “West Side Story” and making it an anthem for an estranged mother and daughter added a new layer of meaning to the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim classic. Unfortunately, Menzel and Michele — both phenomenal singers — belted it out with such intensity that the emotional subtlety got lost. Grade: B-.

Kurt: “I’m the Greatest Star”

Kurt opted to audition with a vocally challenging number from “Funny Girl.” And, in keeping with “Glee” tradition, production values for that audition were high. (We never dance-climbed on scaffolding during auditions for my high school musicals. Not even during callbacks.)

Performance-wise, Chris Colfer hit all the right notes and deservedly earned the wild (albeit inappropriate in an audition setting) applause that followed. But from a plot development perspective, would the astute Kurt really have chosen to audition for Tony — as we would later be reminded, a romantic and decidedly masculine leading role — by making falsetto-y flute noises? He seems too smart for that. But his choice did make it much more convenient for the Blaine rivalry that would inevitably follow. Grade for Kurt/Colfer’s performance: A. Grade for use of character-related logic: C.

Blaine: “Something’s Coming”

In case there was any doubt he was born to play Tony, Blaine (Darren Criss, current most crushable “Glee” star ) knocked this “West Side” number out of the McKinley High School auditorium and into the Broadway musical stratosphere. To borrow a phrase used by Coach Beiste earlier in the episode, he proved he could make both lady and man parts move. Which, of course, means Kurt just lost his shot at Tony. Hey, Hummel, there’s no shame in being Riff . . . or some Jet with no name. Grade: A.

Which number do you think “Glee” did best? Vote in the poll below.

By  |  11:24 AM ET, 09/28/2011

Tags:  Glee; TV

 
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