Glee 1.14: "Hell-O" Midseason Premiere! is very nice to see you!

Goddamn but it is nice to have Glee back on television again. My other shows are well and fine, even spectacular. But rarely do they inspire the same level of emotional turbulence and vocal outrage as Glee.

If I had been expecting a Phenomenal! Way-Out! Fireworks and Brass Bands! midseason return, well, I have to say that "Hell-O" would have disappointed me. Thankfully, I was much more concerned over how this episode would be in terms of setting a direction for the rest of the season and in correcting the errors of the midseason finale.

Verdict: Solid!, if not absolutely spectacular.

By necessity, I suppose, most of this episode was spent on the "main" characters. Likesayforinstance, Rachel. I kind of hate Rachel, for all that she is a brilliantly written and performed character. I to care and I try to be sympathetic and I try to enjoy more than her solos (which I do really enjoy because Lea Michele is fabulous). But honestly, my reaction to her teary-eyed emotional scenes is literally "Oh, shut up." BUT. There is a bright spot now. An incredibly delightful bright spot that will probably carry me through the rest of the season and then some.

I have two words for y'all: BROADWAY MAGIC.

Jonathan Groff and Idina Menzel are the best thing to happen to this show since...well, since the rest of it, I guess, but you know what I mean. For all that he's basically the male version of Rachel, I am totally in love with Jesse St. James. He's just so CUTE...and he might be evil (jury's still out), which is even better. Plus, Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele have some stunning chemistry that was especially apparent during their Lionel Richie duet. Hardly surprising, considering their previous work together. But lordamighty it's good stuff.

As for Idina Menzel, her character is kind of like a miracle. Because she is A Reasonable Adult. And Glee just doesn't have those. Didn't get to hear her sing yet, but she is hysterical, reasonably flawed, possibly devious, and kind of my favorite. Also, I would just like to point out that Idina Menzel and Matthew Morrison making out might be the hottest thing ever (although in the context of the show it sort of made me want to cry of shame for how dumb Will Schuester is being).

And on that "Will Schue Is Being Dumb" note, I am happy to announce that I got my respect back for Emma! The nauseatingly adorable Will and Emma office and date night scenes definitely made me...well, nauseated. But Emma eventually found her good sense again and Will, though ridiculous, is back to being a believably flawed character.

I have two...well, three favorite scenes from "Hell-O." The tentatively added third is Rachel's All American Rejects solo. I may vehemently dislike her, but I will admit, it was pretty cool to see the whole Glee Club rocking out and backing her up after Finn totally blew her off. (Note on Finn: he's a great character - my favorite - and the cheerleader scenes his storyline spawned were hilarious and goddamn if his Door's solo wasn't twelve kinds of amazing, but maybe shelf him for awhile and focus on someone else? Like his Number One Fangirl Kurt?)

As for those two Definitely Favorite scenes: Jayma Mays and Jessalyn Gilsig. Lea Michele and Jane Lynch. I don't give Glee enough credit for being a powerhouse of exceptional women performers. The Terri and Emma scene was emotionally charged to the point of insanity as well as well-acted; Terri Schuester in fullblown bitch mode is a sight to behold. And Lea Michele and Jane Lynch have a surprisingly excellent comic chemistry that I hope to see more of. Oh, and while I'm already talking about Jane Lynch,

SUE SYLVESTER IS BACK. And I am SO FRIGGIN' ECSTATIC. I was really worried at the midseason finale when Sue was being sidelined and made out to be more Grumpy Neighbor than Ruthless Antagonist. I was still worried at the beginning of "Hell-O," actually, because the writers just had to start her off with making a crack about Will's hair (which was unfortunately only the first of the episode). HOWEVER, as evidenced by a) her plotting with Santana and Brittany, b) her manipulation of Principal Figgins, c) the Old Maid's Club, and d) her straight out promise to Will she'll be doing her damnedest to get him fired, I can only (happily) conclude that The Real Sue Sylvester Has Stood Up. And she is going to knock you down. Twice.

Overall, "Hell-O" was a reasonably good episode, if not a great one. The musical numbers were so-so; wonderfully performed, obviously, but I wasn't particularly moved by the Beatles show-ender, and the most exciting thing about "Highway to Hell" was the fire at the end. The interpersonal drama/comedy gets a mixed review. A few moments of true, golden hilarious, but they were punctuation points to all the time spent cleaning up the mess from the midseason finale and the tedious process of setting up plotlines for the rest of the season. Certainly, "Hell-O" is not going to go down in history as one of Glee's best.

(This review also posted on my blog at



Apr 14, 2010 10:00AM EDT

Not Glee's best, I concur - but I also think they've set up the rest of the season nicely. They tied up loose ends too quickly and too neatly in the first half, that it made me scared that the second half would be boring... but judging from the conflicts presented in this not-the-best-but-not-so-bad episode, I think we'll have a lot of interesting plotlines in the future, and I'm excited at the possibility. Plus, I absolutely LOVE Jonathan Groff and Idina Menzel (even though she didn't end up playing Rachel's mother as per fans suggestion ;p) - the chemistry between Rachel and Jesse is undeniable, possibly because Lea & Jonathan have worked together for so long on Spring Awakening. Even though I used to be Team Finn all the way, now I'm kinda swinging towards Team Jesse. He may be evil, but he is kinda perfect for her. The one thing I'm missing is Puck & Quinn, but I'm guessing that relationship will be explored in the later episodes. Seeing the way Quinn was watching Santana & Brittany going after Finn makes me think that she will not stay in her seemingly unhappy relationship with her baby daddy. All in all, I liked the episode, tho not as much as I wanted to...

Apr 14, 2010 1:17PM EDT

Awesome review, Kouou! As usual with Glee, there is so very much to say, and you covered it all very well. I also loved the addition of Jonathan Groff and Idina Menzel and think they've added an excellent new dimension to the show as long as they last. I was starting to get a little worried after the fall finale when it seemed like everything was going to fall into places with Will and Emma getting together plus probably Rachel and Finn plus Quinn and Puck. While they played with all that for a little while this episode, it all fell apart again, and in an actually well-done way which I appreciated.
I'm thrilled these new characters are stepping in too because my other concern from the 1st half of the season was that Glee was going to become as ridiculously "incestuous" as Grey's Anatomy, aka everyone slept with everyone, then when there were no more options, finally some new characters got thrown in. New characters and love interests have come to Glee just in time to save them from that Grey's fate, so hooray for that!
Can't wait for more Sue last week since she wasn't in it quite enough this time, and I'm also hoping for more on Quinn, Puck, Kurt and the rest of the gang who didn't get any plot spotlight this time.

Apr 14, 2010 1:46PM EDT

well i'd say that this episode was just not what i expected, glee is usually so full of energy and fantastic but this episode seemed dull and rushed and i really dislike the jesse st.james character , but fully expect glee to rebound

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Apr 14, 2010 7:37PM EDT

Idina Menzel is my favorite person on the planet. Just saying.

Apr 14, 2010 11:43PM EDT

GREAT review. Mediocre episode. I agree that the leading ladies portrayed their variations of crazy fantastically, and Matthew Morrison is adorably hot and thankfully following the advice he both gave and got (find out who you are now), but yea...even I'm over Rachel and Finn now. Let's move on. Next episode is the Madonna-thon, and after Emma's admission of flower power I'm thinking she'll be singing "Like a Virgin"...but you never know. Apparently we learn a bit more about Sue's love life (and finally get to hear the dulcet tones of Jane Lynch!), and other characters' sexual identities, so Kurt's crush on Finn will be brought up a bit then, but he gets the main storyline the episode after that (with his dad! I'm gonna bawl, I know it!)
But back to this episode, watching it a 2nd time with my boo was a little better because I was expecting the melodrama and ridiculous "oh look, a backup orchestra, wow" asides. I'm still a little sad because I had hoped the show would portray choir more realistically (which would still provide plenty of drama and singing), but I guess music without autotune freaks out the youth of today. Either way, Brittany is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters, though I don't know if she would carry a whole show. Either way, I'm going to keep watching. I mean...Idina freaking could I not????

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