S3E9: I just knew that the Glee we fell in love with was somewhere in there. It’s the Glee that takes liberties with its characters’ overdrawn characteristics while only driving us mildly crazy because it does so to a fruitful point. It’s the Glee that actually makes us feel something, instead of supposing spurts of sideplots bracketed by a few good songs is enough. It’s the Glee that indulges its vanities, but manages to bring us along for the ride.
This year’s Christmas episode let go of most of never ending side plots to give us a standalone episode that actually kind of worked. Of course, by kind of worked, we mean the heart is there, but as usual the organization isn’t. Unfortunately, that’s just something we’ve come to expect and, sadly, accept from the series. Still, they almost always know how to use the holiday season to an emotional advantage, and this year they pulled from a few of our favorite Holiday specials, like The Star Wars Christmas Special, The Judy Garland Christmas Show and It’s Christmas, Charlie Brown. It wasn’t exactly a Community-worthy homage, but it had its moments.
“You gave me a dead pig for Christmas?” –Rachel
“Well, not yet, it’s got to get fat first.” –Finn The episode opens with “All I Want for Christmas is You” which set the tone pretty perfectly for the Merry variety show we were about to enjoy in place of an actual episode. It’s cute, it’s cheerful, and it’s covered in tinsel and one over the top smooch between Finn and Rachel. As usual, she’s got a case of the light switch personality. Last episode, she was sweet and caring and all about the good of the group, this week all she can think about is the 15 item list of things like spray tan, teeth whitening and baubles that she’s insisting Finn get her for Christmas.
Of course, Finn is a high school student in Lima, Ohio, so he doesn’t have the cash for these things. He gets her a Bono-approved gift: he pays to fatten up a pig and donate it to a starving African family. This of course elicits that famous Peanuts quip from Lucy, “I just want what’s coming to me. I just want what I deserve.” Yup, Rachel is certainly being a regular Lucy.
“But the Frosty story isn’t happy, at the end he melts and dies.” -Sam
“Sorry, Sam, but the phrase is ‘Merry Christmas,’ not ‘Morose Christmas.’” –Artie Sue flips her character switch over to Grinchy with a heart of gold and enlists the glee club to help her entertain the folks at the homeless shelter. Now that her sister has passed, she’s doing good in order to distract herself from her sadness. If she hadn’t played that card, I’d be tempted to bring up her hateful Senate campaign against the arts. The club agrees, but when the local TV station needs the club to fill in for the Yule Log broadcast with a Christmas special, they drop the shelter commitment like a ton of bricks.
Meanwhile, Rory is spending Christmas in the States without family, so he sings “Blue Christmas” to make himself feel a little better. They appreciate the song (and so do I – I’m so glad they extended his episode order), but everyone agrees after last year’s difficult, robot-leg fueled Christmas, they need a cheery holiday. As they head into rehearsals, Rachel apparently forgets her own comments from moments before because she sings “River” by Joni Mitchell. Artie deems the song too mushy and demands happy songs and happy stories only. Sam, who’s just invited Rory to spend Christmas with his family in Kentucky, challenges Artie, saying the sad moments at Christmas are what help us appreciate the wonderful ones. But Artie’s daydream about Chewbacca and the spectacular, overgrown Christmas special he’s supposed to helm overtake Sam’s words of sanity. And yes, sadly Chewbacca was grossly underused despite all the hype.
“Oh my stars, more guests? I hope it’s carolers.” –Kurt
Just before the actual holiday special gets underway, Blaine and Rachel sing the cutesy little original song they’ve been promoting in every TV preview for the last week: “Extraordinary Merry Christmas.” Artie says it’s gold, and by “gold” he must mean “pre-teen pandering, empty and cute.” Hey, I said it was cute. Sue comes in and confronts them about ditching the homeless shelter, but they cannot be moved. The TV show must go on, but Quinn and Sam feel bad and decide to dish out dinner at the shelter instead of starring in the Christmas special.
While the special was pretty adorable once you resigned to the fact that they were, in fact, going to air the entire Christmas special in order in the middle of the episode. On a replica of the Judy Garland Christmas Show set, Kurt lives out his Judy Garland dreams while singing “Let It Snow” alongside his “holiday roommate” and fellow “bachelor” Blaine. This is one of those instances of over-indulgence that is just a little too charming to hate. Of course, as the special continues, the charm begins to wear thinner. Rachel’s overacting becomes a little over the top – even for her. Renditions of “My Favorite Things,” the Bruce Springsteen arrangement of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” played by Finn and Puck dressed like Han and Luke, and Brittany’s “Christmas Wrapping” which swapped The Waitresses’ line “I think I’ll miss this one this year” for “Couldn’t miss this one this year” without taking notice of the rest of the song’s anti-holiday lyrics, comprised the rest of the special up until Rory’s tiny role.
He was the Linus of this jumbled homage, sent on camera to read Frosty The Snowman, but he instead pulls out the second chapter of the Gospel according to Luke – the speech from It’s Christmas Charlie Brown that ends “Peace on earth and good will to men.” And with that, I lost it. It wasn’t a perfect use of the reference, but it’s an effective one, both for the selfish glee club members and for the audience. Damn that holiday spirit, making writers’ jobs easier.
Meanwhile, Sue, Quinn, and Sam are running out of food at the shelter and just then, the glee club shows up, having seen the error of their ways, to sing one last song and donate their wasteful prop turkey and ski chalet holiday decorations to those less fortunate. Then comes the big song they choose as their closing number: “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Now, I’ve never been a fan of this song. It always seems a little hostile and accusatory for a Christmas song, not to mention I can’t figure out who should feel included in this song. It sort of alienates the starving folks in far away lands and it alienates the listener who’s too consumer-culture obsessed to refrain from spending money on the Christmas CD where they found this confounding song. And to top it all off, the glee club sings the song to homeless children, which comes off a bit odd because it seems like they’re saying they don’t have it so bad (there are starving children in Africa) or that they’re singing about them like the kids can’t hear them. It’s all very weird. But, if you manage to stop listening to the lyrics and let the visual and the musical accompaniment wash over you, this was actually a sort of sweet ending.
Well, almost. We have to sew up the selfish Rachel story. She apologizes for hating the donation pig; she’s named it Barbra. Finn, however, felt bad for getting her something that she couldn’t keep, so he also got her a star and named if after himself so she would never feel lonely – which is way too sweet and insightful for the high school quarterback. He also got her earrings, but like the selfish girl in every Christmas special, she’s had a change of heart and the present makes her feel guilty. They both decide to return their presents to each other (she got him an iPad or iPod – does it really matter?) and they put the money in the Salvation Army bucket that both Sam and Rory are ringing bells for.
The smaltzy, sappy episode had to have put a few of you off. There’s no way it didn’t. But there’s one thing I appreciate about a Glee Christmas episode: they’re really willing to go for broke. There’s no boundary on how candy cane-ridden and gum-drop-covered their Christmas specials will be. And, for the most part, it’s okay with me. Just as long as they refrain from bringing back the weird non-existent (or so rare and/or expensive that is might as well be non-existent) miracle technologies. We’re filled with childlike wonder on account of the holidays – we weren’t born yesterday.
End of the Rainbow, by playwright Peter Quilter, follows Garland's life story in 1968 as she prepared for a career boost with a run of shows at London cabaret hotspot Talk of the Town, while she was still battling drugs.
The drama premiered at the Sydney Opera House in Australia in 2005 and featured in London's West End until earlier this year (11).
Actress/singer Tracie Bennett, who starred in the British production, will reprise her role as the Hollywood icon when the show opens for previews in New York in March (12).
Garland died from a drug overdose in June, 1969, aged 47.
The Batman Begins star has been invited to sit on the judging panel alongside Nigel Lythgoe and Mary Murphy, while High School Musical director/choreographer Kenny Ortega is also set to make a special appearance.
Holmes, a big fan of the TV competition, revealed the news during an appearance on talk show Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday (09Aug11), shortly before jetting from New York to Los Angeles to fit the taping into her tight schedule.
She said, "I'm flying out tonight and going to be a guest judge on So You Think You Can Dance with Kenny Ortega, Nigel and Mary. I love that show."
It won't be Holmes' first appearance on the hit programme - she showed off her singing and dancing skills in 2009 when she filmed a video tribute to Judy Garland to promote kids' charity the Dizzy Feet Foundation and mark the show's 100th episode.
Gaga broke down in tears after becoming overwhelmed by one contestant's performance during her a stint as a guest judge on the show last month (Jul11).
The Devil Wears Prada star last year (09) signed on to play the Wizard of Oz legend in a big screen adaptation of biographer Gerald Clarke's 2001 book Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland.
Work on the movie has yet to begin and Hathaway reveals production may not start until late 2012 - to make sure the film correctly portrays Garland's life story.
Speaking on BBC Radio Four's Front Row radio show, the actress says, "It's a very sensitive project and there have been so many stories told about her life that we're really trying to get it right.
"So we're taking our time with it. I know it seems like it's sort of an endless process but it's very, very slow incremental steps.
"I had a meeting about it a couple of weeks ago and we're all very motivated."
Hathaway also opened up about the struggles of playing Garland on the big screen, adding, "I certainly don't sing like Judy Garland... But I think people might cry murder if they don't get to hear Judy's beloved voice so the talk is for me to sing but I don't know if that's exactly what will happen."
Aylesworth passed away in Rancho Mirage, California on 28 July (10).
He performed on radio in his native Toronto as a child, and went on to find success on U.S. television.
Aylesworth was perhaps best known for co-creating 1970s American country music television variety show Hee Haw with Frank Peppiatt and Bernie Brillstein. The programme featured famous guests in country, gospel and bluegrass music, including Johnny Cash and Conway Twitty.
In addition, he served as a writer or producer on TV shows such as Your Hit Parade, The Kraft Music Hall, The Judy Garland Show and The Jonathan Winters Show.
He was also among the writers who shared an Emmy nomination for The Julie Andrews Hour in 1973 and The Sonny and Cher Show in 1976.
Aylesworth is survived by his fourth wife, Anita, two children from his first marriage, three from his second marriage, and one grandson.
The 17 year old, who found fame playing on kids show The Wizards of Waverly Place, is desperate to follow in the footsteps of late musical legend Judy Garland, who she credits with inspiring her to pursue an acting career.
Gomez tells Us Weekly, "My favourite movie of all time is The Wizard of Oz. Judy Garland is the reason I wanted to become an actress."
The stunning star was recently forced to deny rumours she's set to star in a forthcoming Broadway show - but Johansson admits she would love to take on an all singing, all dancing role, either on stage or screen.
The actress tells Spinner.com, "When I was a kid, I started acting because I wanted to be in movie musicals and on Broadway. I took a lot of vocal lessons and I thought I was going to be Judy Garland or something.
"It's always been my dream to do a movie musical. I always wanted to sing on camera."
And with the success of recent big screen musicals Chicago, Moulin Rouge and Dreamgirls, the 24 year old is confident she'll get the chance to show off all her talents: 'I'm really excited that it's sort of been revived. It's nice that I maybe have a chance to do it."
Gelbart got his big break writing jokes for comedians Sid Caesar and Danny Thomas and became a staff member on The Red Buttons Show in the early 1950s.
He went on to write for variety shows fronted by Judy Garland and Danny Kaye.
He also wrote the book A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, which became a hit play and movie.
Gelbart was diagnosed with cancer in June (09). He died on Friday (11Sep09).
The actress appeared on the U.S. show's 23 July (09) season finale, to perform a singing and dancing tribute to Judy Garland.
While many experts praised her rendition, others were more critical and members of the public, critics and fellow dancers posted scathing reviews online.
One wrote, "She tried to mimic Judy Garland but didn't come close.
The snipes prompted show producer and judge Nigel Lythgoe to take to the internet himself, in Holmes' defence.
He wrote on his Twitter.com page, "I'm trying to figure out why Katie is being judged as a dancer. When a (baseball) star throws out the opening pitch no one says, 'Ooh, crap pitcher.'".
The actress pays homage to screen icon Judy Garland on the special show, due to air in the U.S. on Thursday (23Jul09), performing a routine inspired by Garland's Get Happy song from the movie Summer Stock and donning replicas of the late star's trademark jacket and hat for the sequence.
The Batman Begins star tells Entertainment Tonight, "I like to sing and dance, so it is really fun.
Holmes has previously showed off her dance skills in U.S. drama Eli Stone when she appeared on the TV show last year (08).