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Blu-ray Review Glee: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Matt Hough, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. Matt Hough

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    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
    Year: 2011-2012
    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1   1080p   AVC codec
    Running Time: 960 minutes
    Rating: NR
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    Subtitles:  SDH, French, Spanish

    Region: A
    MSRP: $ 69.99


    Release Date: August 14, 2012

    Review Date: August 18, 2012




    The Season

    3/5


    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




    Video Quality

    4.5/5


    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.



    Audio Quality

    4.5/5


    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.



    Special Features

    3/5


    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.]



    In Conclusion

    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.



    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC

     
  2. DaveHof

    DaveHof Stunt Coordinator

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    To each his own. I enjoyed the season very much.
     
  3. Ethan Riley

    Ethan Riley Producer

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    I bought it Friday; I'm up to episode three. I'm enjoying it more than season two for whatever reason. The musical numbers are better if anything; just goes to show you that the cast's collective talent is growing.
    I don't know what the future holds in store for Glee. It'll at least finish out season 4...after that, who knows. Depends on if any of the newbs catch on, and if Glee can actually holds in own in that difficult timeslot. If you ask me--and this is just pure Hollywood speculation on my part--I think that Fox wants Glee off the air. There's no other reason to air it on Thursday nights at nine!! That's a suicide timeslot! Way too much competition across the nets!
    Glee, due to its format--is just always going to be one of those shows that's hard to sustain as a long-term television commitment. The high school kids will naturally come and go; and viewer loyalty is based largely on actor familiarity. That's the nature of this beast. And you can't really do a show where you center on the high school and meanwhile keep cutting to New York to see how Kurt and Rachel are doing with their careers, or whatever's going to happen this year. The focus gets all mangled up. I don't know. There were always too many people on this show and to have characters in more than one setting will, I think, kill the show. Ah well, it was fun while it lasted.
     
  4. DaveHof

    DaveHof Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree, Ethan. I was a fan from the moment I watched the pilot, and I stayed with the show and continued to enjoy it after the pop culture in-crowd moved on to the next big thing. But like most shows that take off like a rocket, 'Glee' was bound to come back to earth just as quickly. I would not be surprised at all if this upcoming season was its last. But I will be more than content to own what will then be nearly 100 episodes of great musical numbers, soaring Lea Michele vocals and expertly written and delivered Sue Sylvester dialogue.
     
  5. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    The concept of Glee is awesome...but I think Matt's review of season 3 really hit the nail on the head for me.

    The story lines were so HUGE and would appear so suddenly and end so suddenly that instead of meaningful story arcs it was hard to remember all that had been going on without a score card. I got whiplash as story lines kept spinning around me so quickly. The writing staff needs to figure out how to plot out their character's development and put a little more effort into long-term planning.

    But the show would still come together and fully engage in the best "let's put on a show" tradition. I was particularly moved this year by the duet of "Mean" by Puckerman and Bieste. I was completely unfamiliar with the song. But the odd pairing of the two characters and their storylines made for quite a treat. No one was more surprised than me to find out the song had been penned by Taylor Swift.
     
  6. ThatDonGuy

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    If Fox really wanted it off the air, it would have moved the show to Friday nights. Keep in mind that Glee is one of Fox's biggest moneymakers - in fact, I think it takes in the most money of all scripted non-animated TV shows on US network television.

    Besides, Thursday nights don't seem to hurt The X Factor or American Idol any. I think Fox just wants to make Tuesday night its "half-hour comedies" night (the way NBC does with Thursday), and didn't really have anywhere else to place Glee.

    However, you're probably right that Season 4 may end up being a weak season, depending on how they handle the balance between Rachel & Kurt in New York and the "leftovers" in Ohio.
     
  7. Ethan Riley

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    I'm about halfway through the season now. So far, pretty good. I notice that the first eight episodes comprised a "mini-arc" type of thing. Those eight eps moved along briskly, however, it was obvious that there was some sort of writers' mandate to wrap up all those storylines by the end of the 8th ep. Some ended okay, others just dropped out of sight. There was never, for example, any great political showdown between Sue and Kurt's father; they passed up the election and just went on to the results. And the whole thing about Quinn trying to get back at Shelby went away too abruptly (Quinn just suddenly had a semi-disingenuous charge of heart). Then they suddenly brought back Chord Overstreet (through a totally incredulous plot change--he'd been working as a stripper? While still in high school and living with his parents?? Who does that?? And he's making all this dough for his family, yet drops it all just to move back to Ohio, changing high schools in mid-term, just to sing in a show choir. Come on.) And none of this would be a shock, except that I never thought Sam Evans was any great asset to the cast; they should have moved on to a new character. And then for his reintroduction song, they have him do "Red Solo Cup?" Boys and girls, can you say "awkward?" That whole plot turn was just a waste, IMO.
    And I notice they under-utilized the newbs. The Irish kid is a great singer but annoying otherwise. And the Asperger's girl got about 5 lines in her first episode and then has been ignored, so far.
    And then we get to the Big Christmas Episode. I hearby declare the thing to be the single worst Christmas episode I've ever seen--anywhere. It was totally embarrassing from beginning to end. They waste a good 15 minutes doing a black-and-white send-up of old 1960s Christmas shows in which celebrity guest stars suddenly appear at the front door and start singing stupid songs. But if that wasn't bad enough, they awkwardly try to mash the thing with a parody of the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special. And they fail--big time--on both counts. It was more depressing than anything else. And then suddenly Jewish Rachel has a "Christmas" list a mile long, knowing full well that boyfriend Finn hasn't a dime to his name. Rachel isn't that naive--or that mean--! And to top off an already embarrassing episode, the whole thing just has to end in the obligatory Homeless Shelter. Why do I say that? Because every "Christmas" themed show ends up with the characters "volunteering" in a homeless shelter. Never fails. Always always always. These good souls get to Christmas Eve and suddenly realize that there's homeless Central Casting extras in the world and do their best to ladle out lasagna to these extras. Happens in every show. "Oh--I just realized! It's Christmas! And the local homeless have no one there to help them pass out the lasagna! I must go to them at once!" Okay??? And then you see those oh-so-grateful homeless extras--tears forming under their eyes--with gratitude--yes, gratitude--that someone...sniff! cares enough to...to feed them...sniff! lasagna. Every. Show. On television. Has done this scene! And then you get add-ons with cloying, overly-sympathetic dialogue towards these poor extras who just don't enough lasagna in their lives. And you see the big-eyed homeless kids with smudges on their faces, courtesy of the makeup department. They kind of look like those big-eyed kids from those 70s schlock paintings.
    Just once I'd like to see a tv show tackle the homeless problems in the U.S. in a realistic way, and not just on a Christmas episode. Like these people are only worthy of kindness and consideration every Christmas and Thanksgiving.
    Ah...okay. Moving on...
     

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