'Glee,' finishing weakly?: Three things the show should fix next season

Glee closed out its first season last night, and it must be pointed out that, while the series remains one of the most original concepts in prime-time, Glee has also become, I’m sorry to say, a bit strained, a tad self-congratulatory. Worse, it has a woman problem. Here are three things Glee has to do to get back on track for an excellent second season.

1. Stop the theme episodes. Last week’s edition was the weakest to date: “Funk” was an atomic dog. That hour typified the problems that have bogged down much of the last half of the season: Repetitive messages that Glee hammered home as though your head was an anvil, and a single joke rephrased over and over until it becomes irritating. (The phrase “in a funk” repeated so many times, I began to think that the producers did not believe the show’s younger viewers knew what it meant and therefore had to SPELL IT OUT FOR THEM.) That, and the fact that the version of the song that left Vocal Adrenaline speechless — “Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off the Sucker)” — was the least funky performance Glee has ever staged.

But the flaws within “Funk” had been in evidence for a while now. I really enjoyed the Madonna episode; I thought it was inventive and varied in the way it incorporated nearly as many styles of pop imagery as the Phases of Madge herself. The Lady Gaga episode, “Theatricality,” was an enjoyable mess, but a mess nonetheless. The Gaga covers almost seemed arbitrarily assigned to various characters. The show is straining too hard to make the music in these theme-episodes further the story lines, and showing strain in musicals, which are supposed to seem effortless, is deadly.

2. Dial back on the Lessons We All Must Learn. While it’s always nice to remind impressionable viewers that hating or humiliating groups of people is bad, Glee has made this notion one of its crushingly obvious, season-long themes. By cycling variations on the same dialogue. the show does a disservice to a variety of characters who each deserve more distinctive delineations. From Kurt to Mercedes, the singers’ “very special” scripted moments have managed to make the plea, “Can’t we all just get along” not inspiring, but insipid.

3. Glee and its woman problem. Glee knows where it wants to go with its male characters. As much as I could do with fewer “soulful” grimaces from Matthew Morrison’s Will Schuester when he sings, he remains a strong narrative through-line for the series, the connective element common in most of the show’s wildly disparate story lines. Kurt is one of the most vividly portrayed young men on TV. But many of the women have been turned into unlikable caricatures. Most obviously there’s Will’s wife Terri, whose season arc has been to go from enthusiastic eccentric to fierce harridan; if any actress in prime time deserves to feel bitter about how her character has been developed, it’s Jessalyn Gilsig. Will’s putative love interest, Emma, has become even more freakishly neurotic than she started out, and that character pretty much started out over-the-top. Rachel is currently the neediest, most grasping student in the school, and far less the confident-in-herself young woman she once was.  And it’s only Jane Lynch’s carefully calibrated timing and perfectly-pitched line-readings that have prevented Sue Sylvester from becoming a garish cartoon.

I also hope the makers of Glee have taken a deep breath, stepped back, re-watched their superb, finely detailed pilot episode, and are now crafting second-season episodes that will match the glow that burned brightly during much of the first half of the first season.

What did you think of Glee’s season overall?

Follow: @kentucker

Comments (471 total) Add your comment
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  • Q

    Glee is NOT an original concept, it’s just HSM sexed up for prime time. It’s not even the first musical high school prime time show for heaven’s sake. Hull High anyone?

    • LA

      You can’t even compare this to that ridiculous crap know as HSM. At least the actors on Glee can actually sing. ZE didn’t even sing in the first HSM.

      • LOL

        I hope you understand that what we hear on Glee isn’t their actual RAW voice…it’s clearly been enhanced (big time) by computers

      • BlackIrish4094

        The Madonna episode was the WORST and the 1st sign of problems with this show. They randomly assigned poeple songs to perform (the exact thing the writer complains about in the Gaga episode). For sure, NO MORE THEME shows. But guests who swim within the glee universe are fine.

      • Ben

        I would agree with LA. Although it isn’t their RAW voices, those that have seen them live in their Broadway performances or special appearances, know that they can actually sing compared to the trash coming from Zac Efron and the Disney crew.

      • Binh

        I’m not opposed to theme eps, ie ballads, acapella, country, boy/girl groups, dance, etc, but I don’t want to see any more single artist “tribute” eps. Although I liked most of the songs from the Madonna ep, I felt the story around the performances felt way to clunky and inorganic. Another thing I’d like to see improved is the continuity in the writing. I do agree that the PSA-esque lessons in the back 9 although important felt like they were being hammered into us too much. And one last thing is perhaps spread the love to the other actors. The other adults are pretty much forgotten, Jesse wasn’t developed enough, and heck Matt and Mike have gotten less lines than the mean jocks. I guess it’s tough with such a large ensemble cast, but with 3 new characters next season, it’s only going to get worse. I still love the show!

      • Kate Kennedy

        As Cory Monteith has said, Glee is like someone beat up High School Musical and stole its lunch money.

      • Patrick

        I don’t know why people called it the lady gaga episode when they did just as many gaga songs as they did kiss songs. Yes the girls dressed like gaga but the guys dressed like Kiss so clearly most people, including the media, bought into the advertising ploy to get people to watch the episode. It was just as much about kiss as it was gaga so get over it.

      • jordan

        I disagree with you for the most part, Tucker.
        1) Theme episodes have been pretty controlled for the most part and make song choices flow better. Not to mention, two of the best episodes have been theme episodes this season.
        2) The Lessons We All Must Learn comes with the High School territory. It’s not like Glee has been acting like Saved By The Bell. Their messages have been very well executed for the most part and have been the heart of the show at times.
        3) I think you’re seeing what you want to see, because both Mercedes and Quinn have had wonderful storylines, and there has been a lot of growth with Rachel’s character with the mother storyline.

      • Jenna

        I was forced to watch HSM with my niece. Not horrible as fluff piece but in no way compares with the talent on Glee.

      • jen

        “”””””I hope you understand that what we hear on Glee isn’t their actual RAW voice…it’s clearly been enhanced (big time) by computers”””””””

        yea it may be that its enhanced on tv, but they CAN sing. at the concert their voices sounded even better than they do on the show. lea michele is wayyy better. she can literally hit and hold all her notes. amber riley sounds exactly like her recorded versions. and even cory can sing. at first i was really skeptical about his voice, but he has improved so much since the first episode. he definitely holds his own

      • Yareli

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    • chris

      hmm…. your age bracket?

    • Gator

      So just b/c it has a high school setting and music it is just like High School Musical?? Not even close. This is an adult show, with a wicked sense of humor that also has extremely talented singers and dancers. High School Musical was a children’s movie geared toward nobody older than high school age.

    • Tarc

      So what you’re saying is… that you’ve never seen either Glee or HSM, or you’re just that dumb?

    • A Plastic Surgeon

      Suggestion #4: Nose job for Lea Michele.

      • Abby

        harsh, jerk.

      • Amy

        So, if you are a Plastic Surgeon as you have insinuated, are you just trying to make sure you stay in business with that comment? When did it become taboo to be okay with the way you look. I think Lea Michele looks great the way she is and her nose fits with her other facial features. Stop putting others looks down just so you can make money off of them.

      • Betty

        Dude, ever heard of Barbra? That little comment that Lea’s character Rachel said about everyone saying that Barbra should have a nose job was true. And now she’s Barbra freakin’ Streisand.

      • B

        why does she need a nose job?

      • Daisy

        A nose job, really? Her nose is fine. Actually, a nose job could have negative effects on the quality of her singing voice. Singing is more than just vocal cords. The structure of one’s face impacts the quality of the sound. I wouldn’t mess with mother nature if I were Lea Michele.

      • Cordawg

        This seems like a racist remark based on the fact that she is (or appears to be) Jewish.

      • Stella

        Oh come on! She is beautiful just the way she is. It’s not even Jennifer Grey kinda bad and look what happened when she had her nose job done…she was no longer recognized and pretty much forgotten.

      • Amanda

        Some people just can’t take a joke. They should take Prozac, then. =)

      • Grant

        Lea Michelle is beautiful and any man would be insanely lucky to have her and her adorable nose and rosebud lips. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke, I say.

      • franniecookie

        Dude – expand your harsh and narrow horizons. I caught Funny Girl on TCM last weekend and thought Lea Michele is SOOOOOO much more adorable than Babs ever thought of. Check out her Dove commercials – she gets her geek on for Glee but she is one classy and attractive (not to mention incredibly talented) lady – Idina Menzel on the other hand….

      • Pot Calling the Kettle Black

        Cordawg, Hilarious. You’re accusing Surgeon of being racist when your comment “appears to be Jewish” is far more racist than Surgeon’s albeit-tasteless joking around.

      • jujubeans

        This comment and it’s line of responses made me lmao.

    • Aly

      Glee has more in common with My So Called Life, Freaks and Geeks, and the creator’s prior show Popular than HSM…unless HSM also tackles themes of prejudice and social alienation. Otherwise, the music and setting is the only thing it has in common with HSM. That’s like calling Moulin Rouge a ripoff of the best little whorehouse in Texas because they are both musicals with prostitutes.

      • Zoe

        Gosh, yes–I hadn’t even connected Popular and Glee until now, but WOW. Popular was clearly a stylistic predecessor to this show. All you Glee lovers, track down the Popular DVDs this summer – bet you’ll like Popular if you like Glee!

      • Gleek

        So I guess the “Very Special” episode where Mercedes gets in a “funk” because she feels fat while singing Chaka Khan “I’m Everywoman” song isn’t a good idea….Give “Glee” a break…It’s doing fine…just FINE. It’s not your show…just let them sing and dance and continue to be an inconsistent mess like high school tends to be….relax…after all, it’s called “Glee.”

    • Amanda

      and high school musical is just a worse and younger version of grease so…

      • Petr

        The chili supper was a truly aosweme experience, definitely worth skipping my 5pm Theology class for! I was so surprised at the number of people that came and at the fact that the event happens every year. It was like something that my mom would tell me about when she was growing up in Natchez, MS. I think it’s so wonderful that all the people of the neighborhood can come together and get to know their neighbors. It really made me think about trying to get something like that established in my own neighborhood back home.

      • Eduardaa

        Small Town CharmFor the first years of my life I lived in Petersburg, Illinois. This was a small town of about 2300 people. After seevnth grade I moved to the very small town of Hayesville, Ohio. If you think 2300 people is small, well Hayesville has about 400 people max. The town is so small in order to have enough people for a school they combined two other towns along with Hayesville to make my school, Hillsdale. Why my parents chose to move to this town I have no idea. It was so small and I’m not sure how well it prepared me for Notre Dame. However, after living at Notre Dame, I do sort of miss the small town charm where everyone knows everyone. It is what you would call a “farm town”; in fact I live on a farm…don’t judge Not many people from my high school went to college, let alone out of state for college. In fact, I believe there were three, including myself that went out of state. Therefore, it is a very big deal for my community when one of their own leaves. It is always nice to go back for break and have everyone asking about school and how different it is from home. I do love Hayesville and its small town charm, and I am proud to be a small town girl.

    • JJ

      Glee and HSM can trace their roots back to Fame.

    • wino

      umm, Q only said Glee is not an original concept for tv, and used HSM as an example of a tv musical. he/she never compared the quality of HSM to Glee. why are people reading more into that sentence? anyway, the theme episodes are starting to feel like a cheap trick similar to stunt casting. lets scale those down along w. the inspirational pep talks.

    • Brett

      Absolutely, JJ. “Glee” is “Fame” without the diversity.

  • jack hart

    lovin the whole season. sue sylvester should get her own spin-off show

    • UGH

      #1. STOP SHOWING ENDLESS PROMO ADS OF SUE SLYVESTER SHOUTING THROUGH A BULLHORN.

      • Test

        #2. Stop typing in all CAPS!

    • God

      I think Sue Sylvester is one of the best characters on TV. Jane Lynch is one of the five funniest women around! I think that one of the show’s problems is that they listened to the feedback about giving more solos to other people than Will, Rachel and Finn, and it was jarring. Had they gradually integrated more solos by other people it would have worked better. Musical numbers in musicals give characters a chance to say what they can’t say to each other, and I think some of the song choices have been forced, just to give supporting performers a solo.

      • Lea

        I am waiting for her to be impregnated by Curt. Then we know it is shark time.

    • Angi

      Love Sue, but the second half of this season has fallen down on its face otherwise. I’ve no problem with over-the-top, it’s a musical about high school. But the much of the last few week’s episodes, and especially last weeks have had a LOT of dreck interspersed with better moments. Forced feeling “theme” weeks, histrionic storylines, and on a technical lever, there is no longer even a slight attempt to lip sync in time with the lyric or music. They need to call britney spears. Any act that can sucked folks into pay $150 a ticket to watch someone NOT SING LIVE during a live concert can certainly help out the Glee producers.

      • Rosi

        DE 145 6X10Crossfit 1 set of 1 4 sets of 2. i had to just use the bar for the cleans beacuse it has been ten years since i have done them and i remembered why halfway through my first set they kind of suck, but in a good way!

    • OMGq

      As much as I love Sue Sylvester (and trust me, I do) I am completely over the whole “I am going to bring down the glee club” story. it’s stupid and lame – especially since this show is about the glee club and anyone with half a brain knows that without the glee club there would be no show. I think it’s time for her to focus her anger towards something else – create a new issue/cause for her to rally against and leave the glee club alone.

      • sasha

        i totally agree!!!

      • DC

        I agree too. I think Jane Lynch is long overdue to be the break out star and I enjoy the character. But, I agree the taking down the Glee Club story line has become lame. And I agree with Ken that it is only the great skills of Jane Lynch that has kept the character from becoming a cartoon. And, the whole getting away with everything and faking a photo for blackmail is so over the top that I don’t think it adds to the story. I enjoy over the top when it works, as it can and has on Glee, but sometimes over the top is simply just that.

      • B

        Totally agree. That’s another big challenge to the writers in that they have to develop all the characters so they have some meaningful growth, and not bring the show to a standstill

      • Zack B

        It hasn’t been about “taking down the Glee Club” for some time now. It is about family and how messy those things can get: Sue is nothing more than a big sister who resents having to share her space with little brother Will. In the end they will always have each other’s back – albeit in backhanded ways – but her vote for the club being best at Regionals proves it.

        The theme episodes are less meaningless attempts to justify the music and more of a commentary on the fadish nature of high school. I recall from my high school days how many fads came and went in ONE YEAR – remember Pogs anyone?

        The only uneven part of the show is how it can give you whiplash switching from outlandish and awesome to meaningfully dramatic and awesome. The few sour notes have come not from themes or characters but perhaps from unrealistic expectations from fans and critics alike. Its the imperfections that make this show so special and worth watching, because I would argue the imperfections of the seemingly perfect in a world obsessed with appearences of perfection are the point the showrunners are trying to make with this series. Or, if you will: we’re all freaks, but we’re all freaks together.

      • elr

        I agree, I think it is now time for her to embrace the Glee Club. Maybe they should combine the Cheerios and Glee Club.

    • Lea

      True, Sue is awesome. And, yes, maybe there are some woman problems. But the #1 female and font of wisdom? Brittany — “I think my cat is reading my diary.”

      • Susan

        love that – made me actually lol!

      • DKUVA

        Hear, Hear. Brittany may only have one or two lines a week — but they are almost always hilarious:
        ——
        Mr. Schue: “Who can tell me what a ballad is?”
        Brittany: “A male duck”
        ——–
        “Sometimes I forget my middlename”
        ——–
        “Did you know that dolphins are just gay sharks?”
        ——–
        Artie:”I’m kinda getting cold feet”
        Brittany:”Can you even feel your feet?”
        ——–
        Santana:”Sex is not dating”
        Brittany:”If it were Santana and I would be dating”
        ——–
        “It’s not that. It’s just that most of us don’t know how to bake. I find recipes confusing.”

  • Bob

    I want to like this show. I enjoyed the first few episodes. But…

    The big problems are the LIP SYNCHING.

    And the AUTOTUNE!

    Yes, the big problem is that the music has become entirely homogenized.

    It ALL sounds the same. It all sounds SYNTHETIC.

    • Q

      Agree, and it’s so unnecessary here – the cast is full of Broadways stars who have the chops to sing live. Another synthetic singing show is nothing new or original!

      • Dan

        While the autotune is a valid complaint, you can’t fault a television show for recording sung audio apart from the video recording of the show. Do you know how much cheaper the cost of resetting a scene is because of one bum note, as opposed to doing a retake in a controlled studio environment? It’s absurd to think that the singers on a scripted television show would sing live, when the production cost of doing it would stagger the budget. The only feasible way for a television show to incorporate musical elements is to record them separately and add them in post.

      • Melissa

        Yes, but the lip synching could be *synchronized* better. Last week, Quinn’s “funk” performance was so badly matched up that it was very distracting. The show has much better production value than to let that kind of thing happen.

      • Kelly

        I agree with both Dan and Melissa – pretty much anything with musical elements (including music videos) are created using studio recordings of the sound and separately recorded video that are edited together – HOWEVER – as the season has gone on they have become more and more lazy in the editing room – on a number of the songs in the last few episodes it looks like they just gave up trying to make it all sync and it is very distracting to a lot of us.

      • OMGq

        I love the show but when I buy the songs on iTunes it sounds like the songs are being sung by the Chipmunks – I mean REALLY. They need to tone down the AUTOTUNE!!!!!!!!!!

      • Luckily

        (In response to Melissa)

        Luckily (or not), I was so distracted by the weird (creepy?) dance the supposedly pregnant girls were doing to even notice the sychronization was off.

      • Sarah

        My dad is a music teacher in a high school, but he won’t watch this show because the vocals sound so over-produced. Maybe Quinn needs the auto-tune help, but we know Rachel, Schue, Kurt and Mercedes- to name just a few- definitely don’t.

      • Tiffnay

        Finn doesn’t sound that great WITH the autotune so I definitely wouldn’t want to here him without it. The only thing he sings pretty well is rock songs but this is GLEE club which sings mostly pop songs and ballads. As for the rest, Rachel, Mercedes, Will, Kurt, I think they’d be just fine without the autotune.

    • john t.

      agreed. the two reasons why i stopped watching the show.

      • Mary

        Yeah, last weeks was especially bad. The supposedly oh-so-devastating performance was actually so poorly done it was cringe-worthy. Vocal Adrenaline would have been speechless, butg with laughter not with awe. And I totally agree with lay off the heavy handed MESSAGE bits. You’re already hitting people over the head with the music, it’s not necessary for the characters to launch into these long-winded and patronizing lectures.

    • Woot

      99.9% of musicals on TV are lip synched. They record the music and then the characters lip synch it on screen because it has better audio. ALL music videos are lip synched to to the studio version. Pretty much all movie musicals are lip synched. The only movie I can think of that didn’t is Across the Universe. So what they are doing is actually the norm.

      • mara

        but it looks horrible! at least try to make it look like they’re actually singing and give it something to make it sound like it’s live singing rather than recorded over later.

      • Clayton

        Moulin Rouge! was mostly recorded as the scenes were shot. There are some exceptions of lip-synching, but it’s largely another example.

      • Q

        Of course it’s the norm – and it sucks. If Glee wanted to be original it would feature live singing.

      • Kat

        But it sounds so fake. They’ll be singing in an auditorium without microphones, and you can hear these 12 kids over a loud band and it sounds like a flawless and flat studio recording? Please. At least try to add some background white noise and some echoes to make it sound more realistic. Some of the kids do need to work on more believable lip-synching (definitely Lea Michele, since she does so much of the singing!) but my main problem is the canned studio sound.

      • Blame Leno

        I’m shocked that people watching Glee are in search of realism. LOL! Are any of you singers. The amt. of ‘takes’ it would take to give you what you’re asking for would bankrupt the show. I honestly don’t get that distracted by the track being off and they musicals performances I consider complete fantasy moments so I realize that microphones besides they could be using lavaliers in the auditorium. I know we did when I was in high school. Do you need to see them put them on so you can feel like it’s all more realistic?

      • susan

        Sorry, but no. There are numerous musical companies, both in cities and touring, filled with talented people who sing live every single performance, every single time, sometimes a couple of times a day who manage to get through it.

        Glee could do away with a lot of the MTV camera cutting — which is mostly just used to hide the tremendous flaws anyway — and just have them perform the song with a couple of takes for the different angles. If they’re professionals, this shouldn’t tucker the poor little things out too much. And they definitely need to 86 the massive chorus of hundreds over over-dubbed voices ooohhh and ahhhh backup. It’s beyond asinine to hear and watch.
        Bigger and over-produced is not better except to those who are so inured to low quality that is just seems normal to them.

      • Teresa

        “A Mighty Wind” recorded the music live (although they had to edit in different takes for the final concert scenes). In the DVD commentary, Christopher Guest remarks that this is very unusual for any film production, but he insisted that it be done that way. It’s one of the things that makes the movie so wonderful.

        About the “bum notes” problem–that’s almost the point of filming live performances. I’ve recently come back to Glee (it was Madonna who brought me back) after not liking the first episodes.

        The reason I didn’t like them was because everything felt too polished in the musical performances. I don’t mind that feeling in numbers that meant to be fantasy singing. But when the kids are supposed to be really singing (like when they are “rehearsing”), then I want the sound to be spontaneous and rough. I don’t want all the dance moves to be perfect. I want it to have the fascination of a real rehearsal, which is not about getting it right, but about the possibility of it going wrong.

      • Flyer

        I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with Teresa about the “bum notes” issue. I sat through this past season of Idol and heard WAY too many bum notes sung live by people who can allegedly sing, including the eventual winner, Lee DeWyze. “Glee” isn’t a reality show, nor was it intended to have a gritty “Fame”-like feel to it. I’m willing to suspend my belief because I find the music and dances highly ENTERTAINING. Do the complainers even realize how much DIALOGUE in movies and TV is actually re-recorded lines rather than what was filmed live? With the increasing use of green screens and CGI, there’s a diminishing amount of “real” in the shows and films we watch. If you get hung up on how the tricks are done, you’ll miss out on the magic being created for your enjoyment.

      • actually

        i was an extra in across the universe. it was lip synched. it was hard enough filming with hundreds of people and getting lighting, effects, etc… right without having to have performances be perfect too. i worked on cupid too. same thing in their karaoke scenes too. usually they do play back and the actor sings live on top of the playback to sync it up correctly. but they only use the pre recorded sound on the actual epissode.

      • Rich

        John Cameron Mitchell vocals were live in the movie version of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”

      • Ryan S

        Honestly, people should just relax about it. lip scynched is going to happen to save time and money, and its not like its a real musical where they break out in song. THATs what makes them different. its not like rachel turns the corner then starts singing about how she got slushied. Honestly i enjoy the show for its awkwardly placed lessons, the fact that some songs are overly done. I think they’ve done an amazing job just for the fact that they’ve lasted this long doing something that involves as much singing as it does. Not to mention if you watch some of Vocal Adrenaline’s performances there is NO way they can sing AND dance like that. but ya know what? i dont care. because the show makes me happy and gives me something to focus on rather than the crap that goes on in my own life.

    • Marc

      Agreed! They need a drag queen to show them how its done!

    • Stephen

      The AUTOTUNING is one of the reason I don’t watch this show. It drives me CRAZY!! I like authentic singing. Not computerized crap.

    • llevinso

      I have a problem with the autotuning as well. These people (aside from Cory) can actually sing. No need for the MASSIVE autotune!! The lipsynching I can understand for the staging of the numbers and all but not the autotuning. Stop please!

      • Suze

        Although, it’s Cory’s autotuning that drives me the most nuts. His singing “voice” winds up being completely inconsistent with how he speaks.

      • Zoey

        Oh God, I know. It really bothers me that I can hear the autotune so well whenever Cory sings.

    • Zach Reisfeld

      It isnt lip synching. The actors perform the songs live when they film the scenes and then when they edit the show together they layer in the prerecorded vocals in place of the live ones. Not lip synching

      • DC

        Exactly.

      • WhoMe

        umm, how is that not lip syncing?

      • Bob

        Memo to Zach:
        That is called lip syncing.

      • Beth

        Nope, he’s right. Lip Synching is moving your ‘lips’ (thus the lip part) and ‘synching’ it to the music without any sound coming out. Artists are encouraged to sing under their breath to avoid lip synching, because it often looks fake. That makes it not lip synching, just singing softly.

      • Bob

        Nope, Beth is wrong. There are several different ways to lip synch. The method they use on Glee is one, the method that Beth mentions is another. There are more!

      • susan

        Either way, they’re not flapping their lips in time with the words being sung and it looks cheesy and laughable.

      • Mark

        It’s true there are several methods. What Tim Burton did on Sweeney Todd was have the cast prerecord all the songs, but then on set they still sang live on set along with their own pre-recording with each take that was filmed. (you can see it on the DVD extras) They did this because when someone is actually singing there are facial, throat, and other muscle movements, as opposed to just moving the lips. In the final product the on-set vocals were removed and recording was used, but it didn’t look as dubbed as Glee does because the cast was actually signing live at the time they were filmed. The Glee kids mostly look like they’re doing the silent mime thing to the prerecording (or they’re just doing an incredibly bad job at singing live with the recording!) But it’s just not working, especially on the close-ups. I realize they’re on a TV schedule, not a movie schedule, but what’s the point of turning out something that is so obviously off that multitudes of people on comment boards and blogs all over the net notice and comment about it. That surely can’t be what they’re going for.

      • mariposa

        Not lip synching would cost too much, there would be too many takes, the microphone would pick up every swish of clothes, movement of feet. My daughter’s concert in school were recorded live and yeah you heard everything. Glee does not have the production money of a full length movie it is a show of very talented people doing their best. I think the story line has to vary, there are so many subjects in high school, just ask Joss Whedon, Buffy (let’s leave monsters out) had issues and they were relevant to her age.

    • cab91

      Agree about the Autotune. When Rachel starting singing the U2 song a few weeks ago, the start was just her voice and amazing. Then they ruined it with a big production

    • nathaniel

      yes auto tune is used in the music of glee, however, i’ve work as a recording engineer for 20 years now and after having to listen to every single piece of a song i’m working on i’ve developed a very well trained ear to be able to catch everything in the song (i.e. correct pitch, melody, harmony, lead guitar, bass, piano, synths, kick, snare,…etc.) so i can tell you with 100% confidence that you guys have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about in reference to the effects auto tune has on the vocals. before cher’s “believe” auto tune was a well kept trade secret in the industry. yes its used to enhance vocals, however, no matter what you say auto tune nor any other recording software or hardware can make a bad singer sound good without sounding fake or robotic. auto tune literally either “lifts” a flat note (meaning slightly below the intended note) or “pulls” a sharp note (meaning slightly above) to the point where it is the correct note intended to be sung. unless the producers are intending to use it solely for a special effect (in which they turn up the settings to correct the pitch faster than the software can process the audio, which in turn gives the robotic and computerized sound you hear from lil wayne or t pain) auto tune is only used in places in the recording where the singer is off key. but most times with a singer as good as lea michele the singer is hardly ever off key but when they are, as recording engineers and producers, its our job to gather do multiple takes. chances are they will not be off on the same note (with the exception of the high notes) on subsequent takes and then through the magic of editing and mixing, it sounds like one effortless perfectly on pitch vocal recording WITHOUT AUTO TUNE’S assistance. as for the vocals not sounding raw? are you dumb? the producers of glee have access to the best recording equipment around to pick up the vocals and record them significantly clearer than they ever could be heard by the human ear and therefore when it’s played back to us it sounds that much better and clearer because it IS, and again WITHOUT A COMPUTER’S ENHANCING ASSISTANCE. this is why almost ALL music today sounds, TO YOU, synthesized, computerized, or what have you. and lastly as far as those actors in the show who are NOT the greatest singers around to begin with? of course you can hear a digitized effect in their voice because their vocals have to be enhanced to sound up to par with others who can manage on their own. and those times are the only examples of DETECTABLE auto tune enhanced vocals that i’ve noticed on the show.

      • Donna

        I actually really enjoyed reading your post. Very informative!

      • Suzequ

        Thank you, Nathaniel! Someone who knows what they’re talking about explaining it clearly.

      • Cordawg

        Nathaniel, this was interesting, informative, and full of answers to my questions about the show. Thanks so much for writing!

        I feel that Quinn and Finn are the two weakest links when it comes to singing, but I think the producers chose those actors because they had qualities required for their characters. Their performances are credible in the dramatic and comedic parts, so the singing had to come second. I just wish the producers would let Puck do more of the heavy lifting since he sings so well.

        However, it’s good to know that every one of these people has talent; that talent just gets an extra boost in spots :)

      • Bobby!

        Nathaniel, I guess I respect your experience. But you are wrong. Just wrong.

        I don’t expect the music production to happen on analog equipment only. And when we “mere non-audio professional mortals” use the terms AUTOTUNE, we don’t mean that specific software program. We don’t care about the actual process of over-manipulation and homoginization.

        We care about the end result more than the actual process. And the result for MANY of us is unacceptable. It sounds so polished that all humanity is wiped away. They might as well just program a computer to sing for them.

        The CLARITY of the audio, as you infre, is not causing this over-smoothing nor is it causing the over-blending of the sound into this pablum. THAT is not the problem. Super-high-fidelity sound makes the human voice sound MORE real, not LESS real. I’d think an audio engineer might understand that concept. Are YOU dumb? (sorry, but you hurled the insults first)

        But all this is pointless. There are many of us complaining about the tenor or the audio. Instead of being so defensive, maybe you should use your grand intelligence and experience to do something positive: streamline production without compromising on sound.

        Maybe you are unaware how highly tuned we humans are to the nature of the human voice. We DO notice. All of us, not just you elite audio engineers. A little humility here would do you good. Instead of insisting on telling us that this is good audio, maybe you could listen to those of us who are telling you that it isn’t. Because my ears are the final test for me, and if your audio only is at the same quality as the Glee audio, then you, my friend, = FAIL.

      • D

        Thanks Nathaniel. Bobby, you sound like a tool. What are your credentials, exactly?

      • Bobby!

        My credentials are that I listen to the show and it sounds crappy.

        THOSE are my credentials, bozo.

        Oh, and while not as experiened as Bobby, I have worked in video production for over 10 years and have conducted multiple audio recording sessions, usually narration.

        So F U.

      • Brook

        Bobby, you are, in fact, dumb. Nathaniel was trying to enlighten us, his “are you dumb?” comment was sarcastic in nature and used to make an emphatic point. He wasn’t literally asking if you are dumb.

        ———-

        The thing about Glee is that people seem to love it or hate it. If you really are enjoying it, then you can get lost in the fun/emotion/comedy/drama of the music, regardless of how produced it is or how many phantom background singers there are.

        Also, about the “lip-syncing” issue: this drives me totally crazy too, but in the times I’ve noticed it, it seems more like editing mishaps since they have to edit the video as well as edit the recorded soundtrack. The recorded songs are in full, and they almost never use an entire song in the show, so a keener eye would be helpful in cutting away a second earlier so that we don’t see that they are cutting out an entire verse.

        Overall, I love Glee, and it entertains me so I forgive the occasional glitch.

      • nathaniel

        bobby, you clearly didn’t understand my intentions in my comment. i certainly was not trying to be condescending. my issue is that people are claiming that all the vocals have been edited with way too much auto tune when they really don’t have even the slightest clue of what auto tune truly does. you even said that when you use that word that you’re not talking about the software. well there is no such thing called auto tune EXCEPT the software so if you’re not referring to that, then don’t use the word because it makes no sense. i’m certainly not “elite” audio production god and i don’t look down on those with no experience as if they’re peons. however, i certainly don’t respect anyone who is uninformed about something when they talk about it as if they are despite the fact that they haven’t bothered to do even the slightest bit of research on the topic. did you ever stop to think and realize that i’m as highly tuned to the human voice as you are? also did it ever occur to you that, as an audio engineer, i spend roughly 12 to 16 hours in the studio every single day listening to multiple takes over and over and over of thousands of different artists and i hear the playbacks of the recordings before even the slightest bit of mixing or editing occurs? i know how the human voice gets picked up by high quality equipment and yes it does pick up flaws which you would think would make it sound, as you say, more human but in reality it produces a much smoother and richer tone. have you noticed that this complaint of non human like vocals is not just limited to the music of glee? it is the equipment that produces the sound. either way i agree with you in disliking the way it sounds (i like the vulnerability of an imperfect sounding audio cut) but the sound you and i both dislike is industry standard nowadays and if i don’t equip my studio with it then i would never get the high profile clients that i do and my business would suffer. so, to me, at the end of the day it’s all about making a living. and one more thing regardless of whether or not my previous comment came across as condescending (which, again, was not my intention) you have no right to call me out on it if you’re only gonna turn around and act the same way towards me. at least i had the decency to not call anybody specific out.

      • nathaniel

        oh and one last thing bobby: as far me saying that it’s good audio? well, in actuality, it’s as close to perfect of an audio production as you can possibly get. just because it’s not to the liking of the majority doesn’t mean that it’s not extremely high quality. similarly, i personally don’t particularly care for davinci’s “mona lisa,” that doesn’t mean it’s not an amazing painting. it’s just means that it’s not of my taste. and if it bothers you so much to the point where it’s “unacceptable” than stop either accept it and try look past it or, if you can’t, stop watching the show altogether.

      • missy

        Wow, thanks Nathaniel, that was super interesting. I learned something!

        As far as “Glee” goes, it’s merely entertainment, IMO. Nothing more, nothing less. I truly enjoy the show – I find it funny on a ridiculous level. It’s nice to just laugh, enjoy the music, and be entertained. And I think the “life lessons” are important. “Scrubs” was also hilarious with over-the-top characters but the life lessons were great. I think it’s important that the target audience understands (1) bad choices have consequences, and (2) it’s important to accept people’s differences. While this may wear on us older viewers from time to time I don’t think 13 year olds can hear it enough!

        I LOVE Sue Sylvester and Kristen Chenoweth (when she’s appeared as a guest). Jane Lynch is getting her long-overdue “star” recognition. She’s amazing.

        Sue has shown us her “soft side” several times and she’s not always trying to “take down the Glee Club”.

        As far as the show being “over the top”, good grief, did anyone ever watch the creator’s (Ryan…can’t recall his last name) other hit, “Nip/Tuck”? Talk about “out there”!!!!!!

        Not all the singers are Broadway star quality, but that’s how high school is, folks. That’s probably the most realistic part of the show, for those of you who want realism.

        Just enjoy it for what it is. If you want reality watch some of the stuff on Animal Planet, news magazine shows, or “Cops”.

    • Stella

      I’ve had to stop watching the show in HD. It throws the voice and lip match off something terrible and makes it seem even worse. This is with Direct TV, not sure how it is with other providers. But I HATE THAT!

    • robot

      totally agree, the auto tune is obviously a quick way to get through tedious recording sessions but it has taken any of the soul away from the performances. if i wanted to hear a computer sing, i’d do it myself.

    • G

      Sue’s Vogue and Let’s get physical made me cringe with the autotune.

  • Mikey

    I agree that the post hiatus episodes have been a little weak, but probably only in comparison to the season’s strong start. What does it say that my family would rather watch repeats of the first episodes than watch “Funk?” Don’t get me wrong. It’s still great, but let’s hope it gets back some of it’s mojo for season two.

    • D

      Funk was the weakest episode, musically, of the season though.

      • Bobby!

        But D is a bozo, whose opinion does not count.

        F U, D.

    • shocking that a bunch of cheesy white people singing funk music didn’t go over so well.

  • gen

    I think you hit the nail on the head

    • DEEDEE

      Ken Tucker speaks TRUTH!!!

    • Harold

      California Love For the majority of my cldoihohd, I grew up in one of the most beautiful places on the West Coast, Santa Barbara, California. It is a city nestled between the mountains and the ocean and has a population of a little less than 100,000 people.One of Santa Barbara’s most highly regarded qualities is the comfortable climate. It averages in the mid seventies all year long, with exceptional bouts of rain. I have become extremely spoiled with this weather and I was accustomed to wearing the same thing year round with no problems or discomfort. It was a big transition coming to the midwest, where the changes in weather affect people’s every day activities. Santa Barbara is definitely not immune to the materialistic Southern California culture and caters to wealthy shoppers and very trendy people. Over the past years, I have seen it change from a nice town in a good location to a hot spot destination for the wealthy. However, we are all aware of how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful location and it is shown through the huge appreciation for the earth. The people of Santa Barbara definitely have a “hippy” side which is exemplified by their habit of buying only organic goods with their reusable grocery bags. Let’s just say at my house you won’t find any Ziplocs and leftover food goes in the compost out back.

  • Bryanna

    I agree with Ken. The show used to be fun, but then turned in to an afterschool special. I also agree that the overproduced performances have taken things down a bit, too. I’d like to hear them sing. And more of the cast members having solos, too.

    • Lily

      Completely agree re: afterschool special-ity of the back 9. I enjoy Will and Sue, but would prefer to see them used less in favor of developing the younger characters. And the over-the-top emoting that occurs during those very special lipsynch moments wears on me, too. That said, I really enjoy the program and amd looking forward to both tonight’s finale and the Season 2 return.

    • thin

      Yeah, I started out liking the show a lot, and I realized last week when they interrupted “Loser” to get back to the story that the songs are the only thing I care about in the show anymore. I still like the music, but I don’t care about what’s going on with any of these people at this point.

    • wg

      Agreed – I am SO tired of the PSA’s that stop the story while one character imparts a Very Important Message to another. Be kind. Arts programs are good. We get it. Get on with the story and the singing.

      • D

        If you are against the PSAs, you need to watch the show “Strangers with Candy” on Comedy Central’s website. It takes PSAs and turns them on their head. Very politically incorrect humor from 10 years ago. And it has a young Stephen Colbert!

      • Bobby!

        No, we just need to stop the cute factor.

        F U, D

    • chrisB

      Could. Not. Agree. More. And sometimes even the Very Special Episode’s message could use some autotuning. For example: Finn *isn’t* supposed to feel uncomfortable that a gay dude has arranged to become his stepbrother & set up their room as a little harem zone? Sorry, but that’s some sexual harassment, and some pretty twisted harassment at that.

      • Brook

        I totally agree! I was really sketched out by Kurt and Finn sharing a room. Would they let their straight teenaged son share a room with their straight teenaged daughter? It really bothered me that the parents were so nonchalant about it.

  • marco

    I couldnt disagree more.

    Themed episodes are super fun, the madonna and gaga were among the best of the season.

    And Rachel and Sue are among the most popular characters why changed them.

    • BlackIrish4094

      The themed episodes were the worst ever, perhaps you’re big fans of both artists but the episodes were forced and many people enjoy hearing a nice slection of music (I can’t stand madonna past True Blue or that freak Gaga at all) so why alienate parts of your audience for a full episode. A mix of artists and music types is a better way to go.

      • Melanie

        Since so many people (with the exception of you it looks like) are fans of Madonna and GaGa, it seems that they were drawing in more people to watch the show than alienating people. Gaga is popular with lots and lots of people, therefore lots and lots of people will watch a GaGa themed show.

      • actually

        the point is that you should put the quality of your show above trying to placate a fickle audience. if the music was storyline dictated people wouldn’t complain. if you just want to listen to madonna or gaga, buy their albums or watch their videos. this is a television show not a karaoke show.

      • D

        They had KISS songs on the Gaga episode. Some artists are worthy of a theme episode, and it is not like there is a theme episode every week or something. Good to throw one in occasionally to mix it up I think.

      • D

        When I say theme episode, I am referring to a single-artist theme episode. I wasn’t so fond of the Funk episode but I wasn’t counting that one as a theme. They didn’t even do much funk on that episode.

  • Kyle

    Have to agree with everything on here – theme episodes in particular are hampering the show. The first set of episodes managed to have multiple storylines running at once, but now they seem determined to want to wrap everything that happens per episode up nicely.

    • D

      It is more like the episodes were jumping around willy-nilly in the back nine.

      • Bobby!

        F U, D

  • jennifer250

    Glee is the anti HSM…the characters are real human beings with flaws, strengths and weaknesses. They aren’t stereotypes…they transcend those stereotypes of jock, nerd, cheerleader. I wouldn’t let my young daughter watch HSM because it’s insipid and vacuous…and doesn’t portray kids as real people with problems beyond who to take to prom. Glee continues, despite the aforementioned shortcomings (most of which I agree with) to set an example for young people AND parents that has not yet been set…how to accept and love our children for who they are, and how that struggle to reconcile who we are with who we wanted to be is a defining one for people of any age or sex, etc.

    • BlackIrish4094

      Except they were unfair to Finn in regards to Kurt sharing his room. Any hetero male would have been pissed in that situation so sometimes they are not teaching balanced understanding. Finn was just as entitled to his feelings as Kurt and Kurt HAD manipulated him and the situation and Finn’s mother had handled it badly so I thought it was BS painting Finn as the bad guy (and I’m a parent too).

      • Icon

        I agree, it was wrong of him to use that word he used but he was at breaking point.

      • JBW

        I have to agree with you. Sometimes I feel as though Ryan Murphy works too hard to create sympathy for Kurt’s character, because he modeled the character after himself. Finn wasn’t right to blow up at Kurt like that instead of talking to his mom about the situation, but Kurt wasn’t right either. I felt like it was manipulated to make the audience feel bad for him, when Finn was right. Kurt does like him, and I think Finn was right to feel uncomfortable sharing a room with him.

      • Teresa

        I agree, JBW. But I think what makes it works is the actor playing Kurt. I felt like his face at the end of that scene was completely ambiguous. That he knew that this was sort of a breakthrough for his father–but it was coming at the expense of Finn, and part of him was dying inside about that.

      • MikeV

        And the word felt so forced, used purely so that it could be clear that Finn was wrong and Kurt was right. This is, incidently, currently my biggest problem with the show: they have such strong characters, but recently it seems their actions are purely based on the needs of the plot at that instant(like Rachel’s Jeckle/Hyde boyfriend).

      • DC

        I agree. Finn is one of the kindest most tolerant characters on the show but even he shouldn’t be manipulated into sleeping in the same room as the guy who is clearly in love with him and acting like it is OK. And while I applaud Kurt’s dad for his struggles to accept and defend his son, I think he was in the wrong. It made me go from being engrossed in a highly entertaining show to wondering why the writers were pushing an extremely biased and unfair agenda. This wasn’t about acceptance of someone who has a different lifestyle, it was Finn being bullied and manipulated. Finn did not owe Kurt an apology – Kurt owed him one.

      • Betty

        Agreed! I was frustrated the writers had to keep shoving acceptance of Kurt down Finn’s throat. I think he’s already very understanding and very accepting of Kurt. They don’t need to hogtie him just to make sure he understands. Plus, like any teenager, he was justified in freaking out that he and his mom were moving in with her boyfriend without talking about it with him first. That’s really unrealistic. As a child of divorce, if my mom told me we were moving into her boyfriend’s house without talking about it with me first, I’d FLIP out.

      • zoot

        Thank You!!!! it seemed like after the episode, if anyone wrote anything in Finn’s favor..they were to be hanged. I LOVE Kurt..I love his dad, I love their relationship, I love Finn, I love his honesty, I love he can admit his mistakes BUT Finn was in the right last week and all the posters who wanted to make it a lesson about acceptance were in the wrong. It was about deceit on Kurt’s part and frustration on Finn’s. I have faith that the writers will fix this next season.

      • ashley

        I agree also. I love all the characters but this creeped me out because I kept thinking – what if this was a girl being forced to room with her “stepbrother” who has a giant crush on her. That wouldn’t be acceptable – why is this? I felt sorry for both of them.

      • Topanga

        I couldn’t agree more with this conversation. I love Glee, but this storyline bothered me ALOT. I agree with Ken Tucker on all counts – this is a great show, but it has really wavered over this second half of the season. Hoping Ryan Murphy and Co. can get this show back on track, because when it does hit the mark – and that’s more often than other shows out there – it’s the best show on television.

  • moonbeam

    Well spoken, Ken Tucker. I hope the Powers that Glee read this and reflect on it. This show was such a wonderful surprise (It’s quirky, naughty, clever, heartwarming and entertaining all at the same time!) and although the surprise element is gone, the quality of the show must be maintained – that means plot and character – iTunes downloads and gimmicks should not be the driving forces.

    • Kat

      I agree with moonbeam – don’t let the iTunes downloads dictate the show! I also agree with Ken Tucker, on all counts. It started out as a great show, but I don’t think I can really call it “great” any more…it’s just okay and it’s almost becoming one of those shows I consider a “guilty pleasure” because the quality isn’t there, but I still want to enjoy it. The horrible studio sound and lip-syncing, the lack of continuity and consistency, the hammering of themes and messages…and my god, whenever Will Schuester tries to get down and do some rap or hip hop or something. It was good initially, because grading on a dorky white boy scale, he had surprisingly impressive skills. But they’re overdoing that style with Will, and he’s just not that good with it. Without clicking “play” on that video above, just take a look at Matthew Morrison’s posture in the preview still shot. The ramrod straight back posture (tilted forward does not make it any less stiff and straight), the tightly pressed together legs. He always does that and it’s paaainful. I thought he was supposed to have hip hop dance training; I have no idea why he hits that posture when trying to get funky. Anyways, that’s the least of Glee’s problems, but seeing an example of it here, I had to vent.

  • RH

    Couldn’t agree more. The funk episode was pretty bad. I actually cringed a few times, and I love this show.

    • Liz

      The thing about the funk episode that killed me was Quinn dancing around doing some kind of jump squat. Girl is like 9 months pregnant adn probably wouldn’t be able to do that.

      • BlackIrish4094

        And the Quinn back up singers freaked me out too, rubbing the bellies suggestiveley, uncalled for…

    • chrisB

      All show long, I’m thinking “please don’t do James Brown! Please don’t do Parliament! Please don’t do the Meters!” Well, at least the Meters were spared…

  • Rion

    I hope they find a way to better utilize Terri next season.

    • rancho dudamongo

      yeah by getting rid of her character completely. they led her into such an unlikable place that there is no way she can come back. just let her go. why does she need to be on the show anyway?

      • Rion

        You’re a fool. Terri makes the show better. If anything, they need to expand her role the way they did in the first half of the season.

    • Tarc

      I’m for eliminating Terri completely.

      • D

        Nooo. I want Terri AND her sister back!

      • Brook

        Kendra is arguably the funniest person on the show, line-for-line.

    • JenR

      Can anyone think of a workable plotline for her? Maybe she could become a rival cheerleading coach at another school and compete with Sue. I would like to see more of the Cheerios anyway.

      • D

        Puck has a thing for cougars :)

  • Joseph

    Excellent observations, Ken! I’m so overwhelmed by Glee that I can’t see these objective observations. I hope Glee creators are paying attention.

    • GGG

      I agree with you. I just love this show so much, I’m smiling at the end of every episode no matter what is happening. But Ken is right, the first half of the season was STELLAR. The second half was just really good.

  • jfms777

    I agree with Ken Tucker. The first half-year was stronger, the theme shows erratic, use of guest stars erratic (Neil Patrick Harris bad; Idina Menzel fine), and the women are too negatively portrayed. Thank
    God Jane Lynch can turn a b*tch into a b*tch-with-humanity.

    • Michael

      Ehh, Neil Patrick Harris was great.

      • Ariettty

        Agree! The “Dream On” duet/duel with Matthew Morrison and NPH was my favorite # on the show so far. More Bryan Ryan please!

  • KC

    Cancel the show so Lea Michelle can go onto bigger and better things.

    • Ciara

      not until i move to new york so I can actually see her! Until then keep her tv.

      • Ciara

        on tv. not tv. I don’t really want her tv. Actually, it’d probably be better than mine so why not.

      • daman

        lol, this comment is hilarious

      • D

        Freudian slip?

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