Thursday, April 26, 2012

tribute to the tribute

It took me a little bit longer to get through Season 2 of Glee, as I slowed down to a saner 1.5 episode per day average pace instead of the life-reordering 3 episode per day pace I sustained through Season 1. And Season 2 was, as Santana would say, a whole truckload of awesome -- might have been an eeeeeeever so slightly smaller truck than in Season 1 -- but still the best thing to grace network television since NBC's Thursday night lineup of the mid-80s. Exhibit A, Mr. Figgins:

Can't. Breathe.

But then I found myself in quite the predicament, because by the time I finished Season 2, Season 3 was already well under way. The Season 3 episodes that had already aired were available on Amazon, but not for free (not that I wouldn't pay cash money to watch Glee, don't misunderstand me, but I knew they'd be free eventually if I could just hold out for a bit longer) and I didn't really want to jump in and start watching the new episodes midseason when I'd already missed some key plot points. I know, it's a first world problem, but it's my first world problem, dammit. Plus, I still had that "not sure what day/what time/what channel/oh God it's all just too overwhelming!!" issue about live television shows that kept me and Glee apart in the first place.

But once I knew that the Whitney Houston tribute episode was coming up, I had to find a way to join the legions of television watchers who HAVE figured out how to watch network television shows as they air (or shortly thereafter). Armed with just two clues: (1) it's on Tuesday; and (2) it's on Fox -- I went to work. I pulled out the handy channel guide that AT&T left when they installed our U-verse and learned that Fox is channel 6.

I turned on channel 6 and then tried several buttons on the remote that seemed likely to lead to some kind of programming guide. "OK" - nope. "INFO" - nope. "GUIDE" -- bingo! From there I was able to use the arrows to scroll to the right until I finally landed on Glee (FYI -- 7 p.m. CST).

Then I examined the remote a little bit more to find the "record" button (which is in an easy-to-spot red color -- thanks, AT&T!) pressed it, and got a friendly note on the TV screen advising me that Glee was scheduled to record at 7 p.m. Success! I'm not going to tell you it was easy. You've got to want it badly enough. It took the marriage between Glee and Whitney to finally light that fire in me, and let me tell you, the episode did not disappoint.

It opens with Mercedes and the diva troupe, still in mourning over Whitney's demise, performing a fabulous, but almost somber, a capella version of "How Will I Know:"

Mr. Schue sees them and tells Emma that he doesn't understand why the kids are still struggling so hard with Whitney's death two months after the fact. Emma reaches into her stash of guidance counselor pamphlets and pulls out one called "Princess Diana: Why Am I Still Crying?" She explains that Whitney is their Princess Diana, and her death has caused the seniors to reflect on their lost childhoods and upcoming graduation. This is a bit of a stretch, as these kids were infants at the peak of Whitney's career, and by the time they were old enough to even be aware of popular music, Whitney was telling Diane Sawyer that crack is wack and sounding raspier than Tina Turner in venues thoughout Western Europe {may she rest in peace}. But I was hardly going to kick this gift horse in the mouth and was happy to just sit back, suspend my disbelief, and enjoy.

The episode is about separation anxiety, as several characters grapple with the fact that everyone will be going in different directions after graduation. The separation anxiety manifests itself in understandable ways (Blaine, Kurt's dad) and borderline-creepy ways (Mr. Schue's panic over the possibility that the Glee kids might miss his wedding). But ultimately (as per usual with Glee) it's really all just a fun romp!

I thought the gang did a fine job with the music. In a post-mortem with Callie the next day, I said that I really wished they'd covered You Give Good Love and All the Man That I Need, and she said that she had been hoping to hear The Greatest Love of All {heck yes!} -- but let's face it, to cover all of Whit's hits you'd need a whole Glee/Whitney mini-series {hmmmm . . . actually . . .}. BTW, I have to give a big shout out to Callie for alerting me early in the day on Tuesday that Glee/Whitney Day had finally arrived. I admit that I was already on it because of info I'd gathered in the {ahem} Glee blogosphere, but it is so nice to know that you've got friends who have your back when it comes to life's most important pop culture events.

But I'll tell you, there is nothing like a Whitney tribute episode to remind you how ah-maz-ing Whitney's voice really was in its prime. Sometimes on Glee you'll think "wow, that was better than the original!" but not with Whitney songs. They did a great job, but at the end of the day nobody can match the power, range and depth of Whitney's voice {in contrast, they nailed Gotye with ease}. I still think the best Whitney performance ever on Glee was Mercedes' cover of I Will Always Love You (in an earlier episode), so I'll end my little tribute with that:

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