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'Thriller' or Chiller? 'Glee' Takes on Michael Jackson Classic in Super Bowl Episode

by Maureen Ryan, posted Nov 17th 2010 8:10PM
Maybe it's just me. But I flinched when I read an EW headline, which said that 'Glee' is covering Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' in its much-hyped post-Super Bowl episode.

The good news, I guess, is that the Super Bowl episode of 'Glee' won't be a Michael Jackson-themed affair. 'Thriller' will be the only Jackson song that the show will cover, and it will be combined with another pop tune to be named later.

Rumors had circulated at one point that 'Glee' would be doing a tribute to one artist (perhaps Bruce Springsteen) for its Super Bowl episode, but EW reports that the show decided not to go in that direction. That's a relief, given what a mess 'Glee's' Britney Spears episode was (let me be clear, Heather Morris was fab in the Britney outing. Everything else? Not so much. The writing in that episode was about as wobbly and vague as Brit's 2007 VMA Awards appearance). The other artists on tap for the Super Bowl episode include Katy Perry, Lady Antebellum and Black Eyed Peas.

It's good that 'Glee' isn't doing a tribute to, well, anything that week, though I still fear that the episode will be an overwrought mess. The thing is, the bigger 'Glee' goes -- whether it's a big idea or a big musical theme -- the more likely it is to fail in the execution.

'Glee' is a messy show, and it revels in that mess, which on occasion can take the form of charming shagginess. Increasingly often, however, it asks to be congratulated for its sloppiest, laziest tendencies, and that may be the show's most annoying quality.

Was it good that 'Glee' attempted to take on the concept of bullying last week? Sure. But it's more disappointing that the show largely failed in its treatment of the subject, given how important that timely topic is. It felt as though 'Glee' was patting itself on the back for an episode that was almost comically unrealistic and superficial. But we're all supposed to congratulate 'Glee' any time it shows even the slightest shred of ambition, right?

Well, no. It'd be nice if 'Glee' attempted to narrative coherence and consistent characterization more than a couple of times per season. But the more successful the show is, the more it indulges itself. I guess, as far as the show is concerned, we should just shut up, put a lid on any kind of desire for consistency and enjoy the next song.

It's not that 'Glee' can't be good -- it can be pretty fun when it features one or two stories that feel somewhat connected to reality and when it focuses human-sized emotions and moments, and it can still pull off fun musical numbers at times. But for the most part, 'Glee' wanders around like a three year old in a department store -- picking up whatever shiny object catches its fancy and smashing whatever it feels like smashing. I used to have a theory that Good 'Glee' and Bad 'Glee' battled for supremacy within the show, but now I'm convinced that the only real goal is to get 'Glee'-related topics to trend on Twitter.

Episodes that air after the Super Bowl are rarely good examples of what that particular show does consistently well, so I'm especially worried about 'Glee' airing in that high-profile spot. The show is going to go big -- very big. And the bigger it gets, the harder 'Glee' falls.

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"The show is going to go big -- very big. And the bigger it gets, the harder 'Glee' falls."

Ironic, you used a quote Michael once used- the bigger the star the harder fall and he'd know. I don't watch Glee so I can't have an opinion on it other than apathy. I am an avid MJ fan so a cover of Thriller is eh... IMO.

In general, the original is USUALLY always better than the cover. Michael couldn't even make a cover better than the original with his cover of Come Together.

I was semi-excited semi-not excited about their possibly going to be a cover of Michael's songs. I was keeping my mine open-minded but prepared for disappoint.

The fact that they won't cover one of his less none songs that could fit with some high school drama in Glee disappoints me when they're trying to cover Thriller. Maybe they will do good with it or not but it would've been cool if they'd done one of his less known songs.

November 18 2010 at 5:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can think of more colorful 4 letter words to describe Glee other than "mess". I watch it occasionally for the music which it often interprets in creative and fun ways. But the storylines--oh my oh my--they are frequently awful and make this over hyped show unwatchable. But the rabidly protective tween fans of Glee would sell their parents on Ebay before they would concede the awfulness of their fave show. Glee reminds me of really, really bad "After School Specials" with musical interludes. Their take on homophobia, bullying, death or any traumatic event in the life of a high school student is filled with hoary cliches and overwrought characters.

November 18 2010 at 11:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Spot on, Mo! Thanks for your excellent, insightful, and smart commentary. I completely agree with your assessment of both Glee and Outsourced.

I feel sometimes like I'm the only one that sees what a mess both of those shows are, and by virtue of the ratings no one else does. I feel a little like Oliver Douglass in Hooterville.

November 18 2010 at 9:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Patrick's comment
Eric H

Glad arbitrary things make you feel superior.

November 18 2010 at 9:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Craig Ranapia

The less said about the Rocky Horrible Glee Show the better -- and the more like I am not to be banned for excessive profanity. How you could take something as mad and sexy as Rocky Horror and make it BORING and BLAND is beyond me...

November 18 2010 at 4:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"I guess, as far as the show is concerned, we should just shut up, put a lid on any kind of desire for consistency and enjoy the next song."

Personally, I like Glee because it is inconsistent, and I think this allows it to hit notes other shows mired in continuity and realism just can't hit. Glee can hit highs and lows, but most shows just hit somewhere in the middle. I'd rather have Glee, warts and all. No one's saying you should shut up, but this the current vision of the show is the creators' vision, and it's highly successful. Not sure why it would be logical for them to listen to your advice, honestly.

November 17 2010 at 11:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brendan D

I feel about "Glee" like I felt about Rex Grossman the year the Bears went to the Super Bowl. You see flashes of downright brilliance, and you understand that there's the potential for greatness... and then, out of nowhere, there's another g.d. interception (or bad outing).

With last night's ep, however, I kind of figured it out: the problems are every single main character from last year, with the exception of Kurt. I think "Glee" needs a Veronica Mars Season 2-like bus "breakdown" in which Rachel, Quinn, Finn, and Mr. Schu all explode. Yes, it'd reduce the cast size dramatically, and it'd be the producers and writers admitting defeat. But after last night, I want to see more of Kurt and Principal Sue and little -- if any -- of Schu and the Willettes.

Barring that, I've already dropped "Glee" from my DVR list (Hulu is good enough, when I get around to it), and, though I'll probably end up watching the post-Super Bowl episode live, I just don't care anymore. That is, unless there's something dramatic going on (like, say, they finally develop Britney as something more than the village idiot). But I'm not holding my breath.

November 17 2010 at 9:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have an issue with a mash up of Thriller. IMO, Thriller is one of MJ's masterpieces and it should not be messed with. Just like when they tried to redo Rocky Horror Picture show which I think failed terribly. I think that there are just songs that they should not even attempt to sing. Just saying...

November 17 2010 at 8:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Myreah Moore

Da-- Ms. Mo :
I think your kind of HARSH, I think "Glee"
is a EXCELLENT show.
I am so tried that every network only has copy cat shows people killing each other or cutting each other up or crimes or hospitals show. There is nothing unique about those show.
What do these shows in there realistic way teach us.
"FEAR" don't go outside because you may be killed and it might take a while to figure out why then you become a so call COLD CASE and someday when the dig you up they will figure it out. But don't hold your breath.
Glee is a breath of fresh air, What is it with you?
You didn't get in show choir in HIGH SCHOOL so your taking it out on Glee.
Glee in PRUE entertainment a little bit of Broadway song and dance with a little on going soap-opera mixed in.
If I learn something from it GREAT but I watch it to be entertained.
I NEVER thought GLEE's main purpose was to be the end all be all show to teach moral issues.
I think your to HARD on it, just enjoy it for what it is.

November 17 2010 at 8:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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