- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
The bloom is clearly off the rose over at Glee these days. With declining ratings, a loss of critical support and awards recognition, and a decidedly unsatisfying set of story arcs for its third season, Glee had a rocky and dispiriting nine months on the air. As always, there were impressive musical performances on display; Glee features one of the most imposing triple threat casts on television, but a new writing staff installed for the show’s third year on the air did nothing to endear most of the characters to us, and several new characters were introduced who didn’t catch the fancy of most of the show’s core audience.
Glee: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
Directed by Eric Stoltz et al
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 960 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: SDH, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 69.99
Release Date: August 14, 2012
Review Date: August 18, 2012
Things started off rocky for Glee even before the first episodes began airing for the third season. Creator Ryan Murphy proclaimed during the summer that there would be no stunt casting this season and that there would be no theme shows, the season instead concentrating on the core members of the cast, many of whom would be graduating from McKinley High at the end of the season. And yet, when ratings began dropping almost immediately, the first things reinstated were stunt casting (Real Housewives of Atlanta star Nene Leakes (big mistake), Ricky Martin, Jeff Goldblum and Brian Stokes Mitchell, Matt Bomer, Whoopi Goldberg, Gloria Estefan) and theme shows (tributes to Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Saturday Night Fever). The new writing staff added even more ambitious dramatic storylines to the show’s general mix of teenaged angst (sexual initiation, teen suicide, domestic abuse), but the execution was generally unsatisfactory with too abrupt beginnings and ends to these stories. Other dramatic arcs came out of the blue (Matthew Morrison’s Will Schuester being a lousy Spanish teacher after years on the job, Jane Lynch’s Sue Sylvester deciding to have a baby, Lea Michele’s Rachel and Cory Monteith’s Finn deciding to get married) and were either ridiculously handled (Schuester simply switches to being a history teacher: state licensing boards don’t work that way) or shuffled to the back burner for the remainder of the season. Rachel’s obsessive quest to get accepted into the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts dominated the entire season, often to the detriment of others characters’ wishes and dreams who were similarly thwarted, confused, or rejected. If there was some dissatisfaction with Chris Colfer’s Kurt being given a large portion of season two’s screen time, there was no question that season three was completely dominated by Lea Michele in both song and story.
Last season, two performers were brought on to the show who had immediate appeal and great success: Chord Overstreet as Sam and Darren Criss as Blaine each staked a claim to merit their places as members of the cast. (There was an unpleasant dropping of Overstreet for awhile in a fight over his becoming a series regular, but he was soon brought back several episodes into the third season.) This season, new cast members have been brought in but haven’t really clicked in a profound way as last year’s additions did. The Glee Project reality show had two winners Damian McGinty and Samuel Larsen who joined the Glee cast: McGinty as foreign exchange student Rory Flanagan and Larsen as religion-conscious Joe Hart. Though competent, neither made a strong impression either acting or singing (though McGinty did do a charming “It Isn’t Easy Being Green” as his introductory song to the show). But The Glee Project did produce one bona fide star: Alex Newell, who came in third in the competition, burst into prominence as Wade Adams, a cross dresser whose on-stage persona as Unique singing “Boogie Shoes” brought down the house late in the season. It appears that Newell will continue into Glee’s fourth season, a bit of good news that the show could desperately use.
As for casting ideas that went totally awry, tone deaf Sugar Motta played by Vanessa Lengies was added for comic value but quickly faded to the rear of the pack (having no discernible singing talent is a decided detriment on this show). Grant Gustin came aboard this season as the villainous Sebastian Smythe, a vicious, scheming member of the Dalton Academy Warblers who developed an instant crush on Blaine and did all in his power to win him from Kurt. The handling of his storyline was one of the true low points in the season, and his late season turnaround was as irritating and unrealistic as anything Glee has ever done. And in a real loss of an appealing talent, Eric Bruskotter was brought in as Ohio State recruiter Cooter Menkins, a character who served as the central point of a love triangle with football coach Shannon Bieste (Dot-Marie Jones) and Sue Sylvester. But the love triangle business was quickly scotched by an abrupt elopement for Bieste and Menkins and then in the unsatisfactorily developed domestic abuse story that played out over two episodes losing one of the few appealing adults in the cast to a sensationalistic storyline that came out of nowhere. The teen suicide story featuring the wonderful Max Adler as gay football player Dave Karofsky was introduced and wrapped up even more quickly and with no follow-up.
On the positive side, many of the musical numbers were as electric and vibrant as ever. With West Side Story serving as this season’s student production, the first five episodes allowed six numbers from that show to be staged and sung by various cast members. Darren Criss did a wonderful “Something’s Coming” and Harry Shum, Jr. came into his own with “Cool.” Criss and series star Lea Michele dueted touchingly to both “Tonight” and “One Hand, One Heart,” the latter in the episode entitled “The First Time” dealing with the sexual initiation for straight couple Finn and Rachel and gay couple Kurt and Blaine. But with musical theater songs being so heavily laced into the opening episodes of the season (the premiere also featured one of the season’s highlights “You Can’t Stop the Beat” from Hairspray), rumor had it that Fox ordered less Broadway and more pop/rock for the remaining episodes. This led to such memorable songs as “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Rumor Has It,” “Jolene,” “We Found Love in a Hopeless Place,” “I’m Coming Home,” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and “I Will Always Love You.” Special mention must be given to Amber Riley who was given more solos this year and knocked every single one of them out of the park. However, show and film music wasn't totally left behind. Renditions of "I'm the Greatest Star," "Music of the Night," "I Am Not the Boy Next Door,""Flashdance," and "Buenos Aires" dropped in here and there during the remainder of the season.
Here are the twenty-two episodes which are contained on four discs in the season three set:
1 – The Purple Piano Project
2 – I Am Unicorn
3 – Asian F
4 – Pot O’Gold
5 – The First Time
6 – Mash Off
7 – I Kissed a Girl
8 – Hold on to Sixteen
9 – Extraordinary Merry Christmas
10 – Yes/No
11 – Michael
12 – The Spanish Teacher
13 – Heart
14 – On My Way
15 – Big Brother
16 – Saturday Night Glee-ver
17 – Dance with Somebody
18 – Choke
19 – Prom-A-Saurus
20 – Props
21 – Nationals
22 – Goodbye
The program is broadcast on Fox with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio and 720p resolution, and these 1080p transfers (AVC codec) are in every way superior to the broadcast versions. Color is richly hued without a trace of blooming (difficult with the cherry red of those football and cheerleader uniforms), and flesh tones are always accurate and very appealing. There is plenty of detail to be seen in facial features, hair, and clothes. Black levels are a bit less impressive than one might expect even though Glee goes much more for bright images rather than dark ones, and there are shots where sharpness is not all that it could be. Each episode has been divided into 12 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix outdistances the sound quality of the network broadcasts with exceptional spread through the surrounds with the orchestrations for all of the musical numbers and a clarity of tone that the lossless encode brings to the table. There is also a distinct and welcome use of the LFE channel to give added power to the bass lines of the musical numbers. If only more thought were put into adding surround enhancement to the remainder of the show apart from musical numbers. We get some ambient sounds in the surrounds during various contests and assemblies, but much less than we should in hallway or cafeteria scenes.
Each disc contains the Glee Music Jukebox, an opportunity to go straight to the musical numbers in each episode. Though once again Fox did not include a booklet inside the case to detail which numbers are present and who’s doing the singing in each episode, this feature does offer a list of songs for each episode. However, some of the coding is a bit sloppy causing the number to be cut off at the last note or two before returning the viewer to the jukebox menu.
All video bonus features are presented in 1080p.
“Glee Under the Stars” offers a question and answer presentation at Santa Monica High School where Dot-Marie Jones, Chris Colfer, Jane Lynch, Mike O’Malley, casting director Robert Ulrich, and producer Dante DiLoreto make comments and answer audience questions. It runs 7 ¾ minutes.
There is one extended scene (4 minutes with the Ginger Supremacists) and two deleted scenes (2 ¾ minutes with Sue playing Laurey in Oklahoma! in high school and 3 ¾ minutes of Santana singing “Santa Baby” taken from the Christmas episode).
“Give a Note” is a 7 ¾-minute presentation of a $10,000 check to Culver City Middle School for promoting the arts (primarily musical theater) in the school. The presentation is by Dot-Marie Jones and Jayma Mays.
“Behind the Scenes of ‘Props’” offers brief cast and crew interviews in the episode where the actors switched identities during a dream sequence. It runs 5 ¾ minutes.
“Meet the Newbies” offers brief interviews with the four finalists from The Glee Project who were presented this season on the show as they talk about the demands the show made on their talent: Damian McGinty, Samuel Larsen, Alex Newell, and Lindsay Pearce along with Nene Leakes and Vanessa Lengies. It runs 13 ¼ minutes.
“Saying Goodbye” is a 15 ¼-minute behind the scenes look at the filming of the last episode with writer-director Brad Falchuk, choreographer Zach Woodlee, and many of the actors talking about and reminiscing about their time on the show.
“Ask Sue” finds Jane Lynch’s Sue Sylvester answering a series of questions submitted to her from around the world. Though most of the answers are silly or funny, there’s a grain of truth in some of them in this 6 ¼-minute featurette.
“Return of Sue’s Quips” is another montage of this season’s trash talk and putdowns by Sue Sylvester. It runs 3 minutes.
[Reviewer’s Note: Before the release of this season set, producer Ryan Murphy flooded Twitter with a series of deleted scenes featuring many of the show’s core characters (Kurt and Blaine having a tender moment, a Brittany/Santana scene, Mike Chang and his father). One is curious why these interesting deleted scenes were not among the otherwise scant deleted material on this release.]
3/5 (not an average)
Glee can still manage to rouse a disenchanted viewer with an exciting song, a great production number, or with some funny business or a serious moment. But the series’ always spotty writing finally caught up with the show in a big way in season three, and with major changes ahead to the format of the program and with a new, tougher timeslot this fall (Thursdays at 9 p.m.), the future longevity of Glee seems very much in doubt.