Glee season 5 part 2 - Glee in New York (open spoilers)

I mostly quit watching Glee after “The Quarterback”, but tuned in this week because I’d heard that the show was going to be fully set in New York City.

I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. It wasn’t great, and if this were a pilot for a new show then I’m not sure I’d be interested, but it seemed like a big improvement over the past season and a half. The basic setup is that several months have passed since the last episode, Rachel and Kurt are still living in their loft in Bushwick, and Blaine, Sam, and Artie also all now live in NYC. Santana is apparently on vacation and I’m not sure if she’ll be back, but another old friend from the original cast shows up at the end of the episode.

My two big criticisms are that (typically for Glee) there seemed to be two or three episodes’ worth of material crammed into one hour – one character changes residences three different times in the course of the episode – and that while this is apparently set nearly a year after the previous episodes of season five it seems like hardly anything has happened in the time that was skipped over. But this seems like more or less the version of Glee that I WANTED back at the beginning of season four.

Did anyone else watch it?

We thought it was the best episode of the season simply because it was all in New York.

Finally the characters can stop pretending they are amateurs and work with professionals and have an “adult” story line. If this is what they plan to do next for the upcoming finale season, it will be worth watching again.

Meh, I hated the New York storyline (this was supposed to be a high school drama) and I still don’t like it. It really sucks considering the last 3 eps in Lima were really good.

A bunch of people in New York trying to get on Broadway… isn’t that basically “Smash”?

I haven’t been pleased with the New York storylines to date, but I feel like Glee in New York at least has the potential to be more interesting than a show that keeps recycling the same basic high school storylines (Sue tries to destroy the glee club! Teen love triangle! Cheerleaders and/or football players are mean to the glee club members!) with younger characters who are essentially more boring versions of the original cast.

Though, the new characters recently graduated (Sam, Blaine, Unique) weren’t original retreads… maybe a new Freshman class could have had some personality apart from being the “New” whatever. Then again, it wasn’t like they gave Rory or the Christian guy a chance - who were fairly different types of characters. Sigh.

If the writers were capable of coming up with interesting new characters or storylines for McKinley, they should have done so back in season four when I still gave a damn.

I think the main problem with Rory and Joe was that they both got on the show by winning the Glee Project reality series…which was essentially a singing competition and not an acting competition. The show has always been a mixed bag in terms of acting, but they both seemed worse than the rest of the main cast to me.

They didn’t seem all that much worse than Ryder, who was absolutely horrible, or even Marley half the time.

Edit: I see Ryder was a glee project winner as well… but they kept his Finn 2.0 character around much longer than the other winners.

I like that they’re paring down the featured players and hopefully this translates into a little more focus. I like that they sang just a bunch of songs without sticking to an overly restrictive theme. But I do hope they find a suitable villain character, because-- regardless of how you felt about Sue or Santana, for instance-- they at least had some killer lines.

I think one of the major problems with the show’s later seasons was that it had been established early on that the choir needed 12 members to compete. They often had to sub in some band members or other minor characters to hit that number for a competition, but the glee club always had somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 members. This was okay early on, but it was getting awkward by season three when they started adding in new club members/Glee Project winners and got even worse in season four when they introduced a bunch of younger characters while still keeping around many of the characters who’d already graduated. This resulted in too many characters overall but also a weirdly claustrophobic version of New York where Rachel and Kurt hardly met any new people. I noticed that Kurt said the Adam Lambert character was pretty much the only friend he’d made since he moved to New York, even though he’s now in his second or third semester at NYADA (I wasn’t clear on whether it was late fall 2013 or early spring 2014) and has two different jobs.

Like you I’m hoping that the show stays focused on a more manageable number of major characters, but I’m also hoping that they start to encounter a wider variety of minor and one-time characters and have some more interesting adventures and mishaps in the city.

I assume Santana will be back, although I don’t think she was mentioned in this episode except for in the “Here’s what you missed on Glee” intro. It seems like there should also be plenty of opportunities for new villains in the Broadway realm and/or at NYADA. The show has thus far been largely uninterested in the NYADA setting, but one of the most prestigious performing arts schools in the country presumably has a lot more going on than what we’ve seen thus far.

My main problem was that deus ex machina mechanisms: Blaine and Sam need an affordable apartment in Manhattan and Mercedes just happens to get a 2 BR (would any label really she’ll out that much for an unknown artist?), Sam just happens to get a modeling gig when needed, Artie just happens to catch the handimugger (wouldn’t he likely get arrested for pepper spraying him like that? Who happens to still have the computer, etc… Then there’s the fact that Rachel, with no professional experience whatever, is going to be the lead in a major Broadway revival, but still works as a waitress, but turns down a 24/7 driver (so would I if I could have the cash instead, but that apparently wasn’t an option. And what pricks are Kurt and Blaine that neither gives up his seat in the town car to the friend in the wheelchair?

I wish the last episodes would be on HBO so that we could have Darren Chris/Chord Overstreet nudity. But, the Fall of Lima can only help.

I’ll defend the modeling one as not being a deus ex machina. Sam said he’d been told by his agent that he needed to cut his hair if he wanted to get work, but he’d thus far refused to do so (due to the poisonous influence of Will Schuester). After talking to Blaine he finally agreed to get a haircut, and only after that was he offered a modeling job. I don’t know much about the modeling world so I don’t know if any of this is remotely plausible, but I don’t find it difficult to believe that there were jobs waiting for someone who looked like Chord Overstreet.

Does Rachel still work as a waitress? The intro said she’d been doing out of town tryouts for the past few months, so I don’t think she could have still been working at that diner. I did wonder why she gave up the towncar and driver to ride the subway with Artie rather than just giving Artie a ride when he needed one.

Did anybody else find Will a lot less sympathetic when it was revealed he was a lousy teacher?

Are you referring to something recent, or to the episode with Ricky Martin back in season three?

Bumping this thread to ask if anyone else watched the season finale, episode 5x20 “The Untitled Rachel Berry Project”.

Oh, when I started this thread I intended the “open spoilers” in the subject line to apply to the entire fifth season, not just the episode “New New York”, so anyone who’s concerned about spoilers for later episodes shouldn’t read past this post. Anyone who’s looking for previous discussion (with open spoilers) of the episodes between “New New York” and “Untitled Rachel Berry Project” should check out this thread.

As I mentioned in the other thread, I wasn’t wowed by the second-to-last episode of the season (written by Chris Colfer, who plays Kurt) “Old Dog New Tricks”, but thought it was fine as a filler episode. After seeing “The Untitled Rachel Berry Project”, I kind of wished they’d just ended the season with “Old Dog New Tricks”. That episode wouldn’t have been a very good season finale, but the finale we got wasn’t a very good finale either, and struck me as a lot sloppier, more amateurish, and inconsistent than the one written by the guy who’d never written a TV script before.*

There were some enjoyable parts in “Untitled Rachel Berry Project” and the songs were mostly pretty good, but a good chunk of the episode was inexplicably devoted to an unfunny show-within-a-show sequence that I guess was supposed to be a parody of Girls or something. Worse still, this episode either forgot or undid much of what has happened since the show moved to New York, making much of this season – heck, much of the last season, and some of the season before that – completely pointless. Take Sam’s lifelong dream (introduced six months ago) of becoming a model. It’s abandoned in this episode, the moment he achieves his first success. He leaves New York and heads “home” to Ohio, although it was established way back in season three that his family doesn’t even live in Ohio anymore. Kurt and Blaine have pretty much the same argument they’ve been having since early season three. Blaine tells Kurt what he thinks Kurt wants to hear and can’t live up to it, Kurt is angry for a little while, but ultimately winds up not only forgiving but apologizing to Blaine for Blaine’s own dishonesty. I guess this is at least consistent characterization, but neither they nor the writers seem to realize they’ve been down this same road many times before.

Then there’s Rachel, whose lifelong dream of becoming a Broadway star was established way back in the first episode of the show. In this episode she decides to throw it all away to go to Hollywood and shoot a TV pilot. Two episodes back the show at least attempted to give us a reason why she’d be tempted to skip a performance and audition for a role on a TV series, but it didn’t seem like the writers were even trying to justify her decision to quit Broadway for Hollywood. It’s not like she even got along well with the writer sent to develop the pilot with her (played by a sadly misused Kristen Schaal), and the first script she’s given is terrible. But Rachel sings at her for a while the Schaal character comes up with a new script that is apparently pretty much the pilot for Glee.

I don’t object to the show going meta, but I do object to undermining everything we know about who the main character is and what she wants. We’ve heard Rachel talk about her Broadway dreams for years, and seen her work to make them come true. Often the only thing keeping her character from being totally insufferable was knowing that she was working very hard to achieve her goal despite all the odds. But just a few weeks after her big opening night she’s suddenly decided for no reason at all that she doesn’t really care that much about Broadway, or her contract, or even the continued employment of the rest of the cast and crew of Funny Girl. So why should I, as the viewer, care about this character anymore? Even if I suspend my disbelief and accept that her new dream is to become a television star, I can’t root for her to succeed when I know how easily bored she becomes once she gets what she wants and how many people she’s willing to stomp on to get there.

*FWIW Colfer did previously write the screenplay for the indie movie Struck By Lightning, which I didn’t see but didn’t get very good reviews, and is also the author of a successful children’s book series The Land of Stories, which I haven’t read but has received pretty good reviews.

I didn’t understand it: she was so sincerely contrite about skipping out and Santana having to fill in for her (as freaking if) and getting her butt handed to her by Michael Lerner (who had ever reason to be pissed)… but then she says “Chuck it!” again two episodes later. No sense of continuity at all.

Isn’t Untitled Rachel Berry Project just another pilot essentially? There’s no telling IF it will be picked up or, if it is, IF it will be around for more than a few episodes. I understand her not wanting to become the female Topol and playing Fanny Bryce for the next forty years, but there’s no reason to believe yet that will happen.

Also, where are her gay dads? They were mentioned in the last episode, but oddly seem to have washed their hands of Rachel like she went off to live in Tibet. Two gay dads who it’s already been established are doting and love showtunes (though strangely they never bonded with Kurt and Blaine) would be at every damned performance of Funny Girl starring their daughter even if it meant cashing in the life insurance and walking dogs to feed themselves, PLUS this is the type of decision Rachel would talk over with her parents (including probably Idina Menzel).

Ryan Murphy is apparently a Deistic creator: he sets it in motion and walks away to whatever his next project is. Sometimes that really shows, particularly in the complete lack of continuity. (And I’m still pissed at them for wasting Tim Conway and Billy Dee Williams- they may as well have just used two total no-names.)

It’s my impression that someone (I’ll blame Ryan Murphy, although I don’t know if it was him) for some reason didn’t want the show to be set in New York anymore, and that’s the only reason Rachel is suddenly abandoning Broadway.

Still, it seemed like the writers weren’t even trying to have this make sense. If they wanted Rachel to leave New York then why didn’t they just have her fired from Funny Girl two episodes ago? Heck, why did they give her the lead in Funny Girl in the first place? I felt that was a mistake from the beginning just in narrative terms, and it would certainly make more sense now to have Rachel give up her role as an understudy or member of the chorus to pursue other opportunities. Or the show could have flopped, or Rachel could have quit after being seriously mistreated in some way, or she could have even had some sort of personal crisis that caused her to question whether a career on Broadway was really worth it. Maybe it could have hit her that the main reason she and Finn weren’t together for what turned out to be the last year of his life was because he hadn’t wanted to get in the way of her career. I mean, I’m just spitballing here, but it seems easy to come up with reasons better than “I landed my dream job but got bored with it after a couple of weeks, but luckily another opportunity just fell into my lap!”

Yeah, the phone call Rachel got from Hollywood just said they were going forward with the pilot. And IIRC, she seemed to have already decided to leave New York before she even got the call. It’s my recollection that the phone call happened after she delivered that weird speech about how they were all scattering to the winds even though Kurt, Blaine, and Artie are still attending school in New York, Santana was just out of town for a week to shoot a commercial, Brittany was going on tour with Mercedes but would be coming back to Santana (I guess? They didn’t really address this), and Mercedes herself could presumably return to New York after her tour if she wanted to.

I thought it was odd that the “Opening Night” episode told us why Artie had to miss Rachel’s Broadway debut but couldn’t spare a line or two to explain or even acknowledge that Rachel’s parents wouldn’t be there. If there was time for that weird and unnecessary Sue subplot, there was time to, I dunno, show Rachel getting a big bouquet from her dads and say “I’m really sad they can’t make it to opening night, but they’ll be here next week!”

They managed to waste Kristen Schaal despite giving her far more lines, so Tim Conway and Billy Dee Williams may gotten off lightly.

Kristen Schaal needs to take a couple of more mainstream roles before she’s permanently typecast in crazy “Christopher Lloyd” roles like this one/30 ROCK/WILFRED/ and other recent roles.

I was shocked that moving the focus to NY exclusively (and eliminating the bland characters) managed to make the show even dumber than it’s been.

On that note, may I reiterate that I really hate the move to make the show exclusively New York? It started out at a high school glee drama - it should keep its roots that way. Going to NY exclusively turned it into a (and I can’t believe I’m saying this) worse version of Smash.