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TV Column
Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 03/16/2011

‘Glee’: Regionals, and The Kiss — We watch so you don’t have to [updated with ratings]


New Directions perform original songs at Regionals on “Glee.” (Adam Rose - Fox)

[ Update]: This week’s much-harumphed about episode of “Glee,” featuring comic Kathy Griffin playing a composite Sarah Palin/Christine O’Donnell character, and also featuring The Kiss, attracted around 11 million viewers, according to early Nielsen stats.

Despite all that pre-broadcast harumphing in the press — See Palin take a swipe at on Fox News Channel, see Griffin take a swipe at Palin on a talk show, and so on and so forth — the crowd that actually watched the epsiode was nearly a million shy of the gang that watched the previous week’s episode, in which America’s Sweetheart Gwyneth Paltrow stopped by again as substitute teacher Holly Holiday, this time to teach a steamy musical sex-ed class while dressed in black leather, to the tune, “Do You Want to Touch Me (Oh Yeah).”

The audience for the Griffin/Kiss episode is, in fact, “Glee’s” fourth-smallest of this TV season. In fairness, it’s the show’s first episode since last weekend’s switch to Daylight Savings Time. And shows typically take a dip the first several days after that switch — a dip even Kathy Griffin playing Sarah Palin, and The Kiss, could not beat.

WaPo Team TV’s Emily Yahr blogs:

“Glee” always raises important questions, like “Why is that character acting completely different than they did two episodes ago?” and “Wait, doesn’t that storyline mean that everything that was established in last week’s episode is now a lie?” While we’ve sort of gotten used to important questions being posed, but not answered, on this Fox series, we’re happy to report that this week, “Glee” did, in fact, answer some long-running head scratchers.

Finn and Quinn are together at last! Will a McKinley High couple actually stay happily together longer than two episodes?

Answer: Of course not. Yes, former cheerleader/teen mom Quinn and hunky football player Finn have finally realized they are soulmates. But everything went awry this week when Quinn went through one of her signature personality changes. This week, she was a cross between Reese Witherspoon’s Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde” -- overly chirpy -- and Reese Witherspoon’s Tracy Flick in “Election” -- psychotically ambitious -- as she schemed ways to capture the prom-queen crown. Obsessed with wanting to return to the top of the social ladder, from which she has fallen since joining glee club, Quinn completely terrified Finn when she let him know he was expected to do his bit and campaign to be named king.

And from there, it was just a hop, skip and a jump to Finn realizing he still has feelings for his ex, glee club diva Rachel. Is anybody else out there getting exasperated with Finn? Anyway, no matter how many times Quinn shoots meaningful glances his way, things clearly are not going to stay “happy.”

How long can the writers drag out the Kurt-Blaine storyline?

Answer: Not long at all! Always-emotional Kurt is mourning the sudden death of his bird, Pavarotti, and as a tribute, sings the Beatles tune “Blackbird.” This touching tribute causes Blaine, Kurt’s new BFF/crush, to wake up and realize he has feelings for Kurt -- which results in the Much-Awaited Kiss. And when we say “much awaited” we mean in the sense that, immediately after the episode, the phrase “THEY KISSED” was a trending topic on Twitter, and Darren Criss (Blaine) was Google trending as well.

Can we just get Regionals over with already, and can the New Directions win so we don’t have to hear them whine about it?

Answer: Yes and yes. The Regionals competition finally took place, and the McKinley High glee club decided that the only way to win was to write some original songs.

After a few false starts including Santana’s ode to Sam’s mouth, a jazzy number called “Trouty Mouth” (also a trending topic on Twitter!), glee club coach Mr. Schue convinces the kids to dig deep and try to find the pain that makes music worth singing. Getting depressed works! Rachel is traumatized to learn that Finn, is back together with Quinn, and sobs her way through a song called “Get It Right,” whose lyrics include:

Can I start again with my faith shaken, cause I can’t go back and do this

I just have to stay and face my mistakes

But if I get stronger and wiser

I’ll get through this

...and other inspirational words. The whole club collaborates on a bouncy tune called “Loser Like Me,” inspired by Sue Sylvester (evil cheerleading coach and now rival glee club director) who bullies them on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, Sue’s glee club Aural Intensity (who pander to the judging panel with “Jesus Is My Friend”) and the Warblers, who start with a sleepy Blaine-Kurt duet with Hey Monday’s “Candles” but then speed things up with Pink’s “Raise Your Glass.”

Anyway, the judges award the prize to the New Directions, who can take that gaudy trophy with them to Nationals in New York City. Then, when the wife of the lieutenant governor announces on stage that New Directions has won, Sue Sylvester punches her in the face.

Kathy Griffin guest starring, apparently as a Sarah Palin-esque character -- funny, lame, or who cares?

Answer: Depends on who you ask. With only a couple minutes of screen time, Griffin played one of the Regionals competition judges who was introduced to the audience as a former Tea Party candidate, and wore a red skirt-suit and glasses and hairstyle that appeared intended to bring to mind the former Alaska governor. But the first words out of her mouth were “I’m not a witch,” so apparently she was also part Christine O’Donnell.

For good measure, the writers threw in a few lines about checking the New Directions kids’ birth certificates to make sure they were born in the United States, which came out of nowhere -- something we’ve come to expect and love about “Glee.” Well, okay, “expect” anyway. There some disapproving on Griffin’s character’s part of the Kurt-Blaine duet, for suggesting that gay is okay, and you have what passes for character development on “Glee.”

Anyway, Griffin’s scene was stolen out from under her by Loretta Devine, playing an exotic dancer-turned-nun who was one of the other competition judges, and who did not like being pandered to with the “Jesus Is My Friend” performance.

Will show creator Ryan Murphy ever get his own brand of revenge on Kings of Leon for not letting him use their song on the show?

Answer: Kinda. Mr. Schue received a cease-and-desist letter from My Chemical Romance saying they couldn’t use their song, “Sing,” for the Regionals competition, though it turned out Sue Sylvester just fabricated the whole thing. We like to think it was meant as a jab at Kings of Leon. But as so often happens when it comes to “Glee,” we expected more.

No new “Glee” episodes until April -- and here’s tonight’s set list, in order:

“Misery” -- Maroon 5

“Blackbird” -- The Beatles

“Hell to the No” (original)

“Jesus Is My Friend” -- Sonseed

“Candles” -- Hey Monday

“Raise Your Glass” -- Pink

“Get It Right” (original)

“Loser Like Me” (original)

And see for yourself:

By  |  06:00 AM ET, 03/16/2011

 
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