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'Glee': How (not) to avoid a 'bad reputation'

May 5, 2010 |  6:42 am

A_117_GLEE_2008

“Let's get physical, physical ... I wanna get physical.”

The kids of McKinley High take an unexpected -- and dare I say tragic -- visit to the '80s in an attempt to explore the theme of bad reputations.

Sue's reputation is in question after Kurt steals a video of her jazzercising to Olivia Newton-John's hit "Physical." After uploading the video to YouTube, Sue quickly becomes a viral star -- OK, most people are laughing at her. On top of this, a school-wide “G-List,” which ranks the members' hotness, has caught the attention of Principal Figgins, who demands that whoever posted the list pay the heavy price of suspension from school. Of course, there's the usual yawn-inducing  threat of shutting down the glee club (aren’t those old). Speaking of the aforementioned list, Quinn leads the pack (odd) and, of course, Rachel comes up dead last. Apparently, Artie, Mercedes, Tina and Kurt aren’t sexy, or doable, at all -- according to the list.

Will, wanting to teach the kids a lesson, challenges them to take on songs with generally bad reputations and shake things up by putting that ol' “Glee” magic on them. And of course he decides to lead by example by taking on a solo. The very second I hear the beginning, “Dum-dum-dum-da-da-dum-dum-snap,” my stomach begins churning. There are not many songs I hate as much as “Ice Ice Baby” -- for many reasons, but for brevity, I'll list just one, in two words: Vanilla Ice (who sadly gains 15 more minutes of fame thanks to Fox and now me). I get it, they were going for cheesy and that song reigns supreme, but seriously another Matthew Morrison rap? Seriously! Between the rapping and the dancing, I was ready for life as I knew it to end. Strangely, Quinn moves quite well for a preggers teen, but what do I know? Sorry, this was, by far, my absolute least favorite moment of the series. Yes, the entire series. I know some of you are going to throw major shade in my direction for saying that. I am fully prepared to handle the criticism.    

117_GLEE-Ep_Sc07_2244The theme of bad reputations takes on extra meaning for the kids, who all want to sully their images in an attempt to become more popular. 

Kurt, Mercedes, Tina, Artie and Brittany – who joins in partly because her meds make her forget how to leave the room and because she doesn't score as high as she'd like on the list – hatch a plan to make themselves more popular at McKinley by becoming rebels. How do they plan to achieve this? By creating a "disturbance" in the library with an over-the-top performance of  “U Can't Touch This,” trademark Hammer harem pants and all. Yeah, I was confused at the logic as well. Sadly, this fails to tarnish their rep – though bonus points for Artie’s take on the classically embarrassing track. They then decide to spill the beans to Sue, who doesn’t react the way they expect, considering Olivia Newton-John has now seen the clip and offers to revamp the video to help salvage both Sue’s and the original video's reputations.

Again, we are treated to a full video from Sue, this time with Newton-John and a slew of buff and pumped-up pretty boys jiggling their goods. Naturally, the video becomes a mega-hit. The video is spot-on, right down to the closeup of a toned guy's butt cheeks shakin’ like a Polaroid picture, though they leave the portly guys at home. I would have gotten a great laugh if they'd stuck Coach Tanaka in the corner of the room on an elliptical in Lycra. Oh well. During a touching scene. Sue decides to donate her earnings from the revamped “Physical” video to her sister's residential care facility, and in return, her sis talks Sue into giving back. Which she translates into counseling Emma and breaking her up with Will. Of course, in Sue's world, this means breaking up Will and Emma by spilling all the tea on Will in regard to how he’s been sleazing it up all over town with rival choir directors and sharing his bed with April (how does she know all this). Emma, continuing her newfound swagger, confronts him in a crowded faculty break room and humiliates him. Geez, he gets the reputation of a slut, and he’s slept with no one, poor guy.

Rachel, hoping to add vixen to her resume, decides to make a video of “Run Joey Run” – a song I admit I’d never heard before tonight, but it's a bit earlier than the '80s. She enlists Puck, Finn and Jesse to star as her leading men without telling them. Good thing she deceives them; if that’s what you gotta do to get Puck singing again, go for it! The song ended up being my favorite of the evening, not hard considering the songbook that was offered. I’ll be honest, I didn’t quite understand the fallout over the video. Sure she deceived all three of them, but come on! Last I checked, Jesse was deceiving her (aww he even claimed he  wasn't a heartbreaker), Finn blew the coveted first time with a skeezy Cheerio and lied about it and Puck ... well, Puck only seemed interested in Rachel when he was going through a dry spell. So cut the girl some slack for wanting to appear popular and have all the guys chasing after her.

Our adventure into the '80s is capped off with "Total Eclipse of the Heart," during which I become distracted by high school memories of the anti-drug-and-alcohol club I was in and the embarrassingly cheesy routine we performed to this song. I actually used to think the song was strictly made for these types of clubs to perform.

I spent most of the episode shouting, “Oh no, they didn’t!" when a song came on, but I got it – the songs were supposed to be bad. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that I absolutely hate this episode. HATE IT. Each of the musical numbers felt about two minutes longer than they should have been. I love Newton-John’s walk-on cameo, but I don’t want them to fall into the habit of re-creating music videos frame by frame: It was cute -- once. It sounds harsh, but I could have completely done without the episode. It was almost as if they needed filler just to showcase the “Physical” video. Didn't help that Molly Shannon made a less-than-stellar first impression. She got completely lost in the episode and didn’t offer any laughs, though maybe it's just a tease for what's to come for her character.

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy (Follow me on Twitter @GerrickKennedy)

Photos: At top, Rachel doesn't make the grade. Bottom, Molly Shannon, with Jane Lynch, guests on "Glee." Credit: Fox

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