Friday, December 11, 2009

Recap bonanza: "Glee," "Sunny," "The League"

This week, FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "The League" both had their season finales, and Fox's bright new musical comedy "Glee" had a mid-season finale (it returns April 13).
Instead of having individual recaps for each, I've decided to mesh them all together into one mega-recap in the interest of time. Because what goes together better than showtunes, poisoned beer and fantasy football?
Away we go...
* Glee, "Sectionals": Though I'd probably classify "Glee" as the most breezily entertaining new show of the season, it's been pretty inconsistent for the first half of its freshman season. Terri's fake pregnancy was probably the worst TV subplot since Landry Clarke's impromptu killing spree in season two of "Friday Night Lights." Plus, I grew tired of the whole Quinn-Finn-Puck story. Come on -- even Finn isn't dumb enough to believe you can get a girl pregnant WITHOUT HAVING SEX! But the show's zesty musical numbers, witty dialogue and excellent acting make it a must see. "Sectionals" took all the show's best elements and threw them into a single episode.
We had Mercedes belting out "And I'm Telling You," Rachel getting her Streisand on and the whole Glee crewing soulfully crooning The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want."
We saw evil cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester finally get a little payback, being stripped of her job with the Cheerios and suspended from McKinley. Of course, even in defeat, Sue was fierce and Jane Lynch milked every last drop out of Sue's final scene of the year: "Get ready to board the Sue Sylvester express. Destination: HORROR!" (Lynch's breathy, ominous reading of the word "horror" was, alone, worth the entire episode).
But the episode's best scene came when Will, after finally ditching his crazy wife, chased after a heartbroken Emma and planted one of the most satisfying TV kisses ever on her lips. Swoon!
April can't come fast enough.
"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "The Gang Reignites the Rivalry": Admittedly, this season of FX's nutty dark comedy "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" has been a bit spotty. Yes, as always, some episodes were brilliant, include the hilarious offering "The World Series Defense" (and, if you have a few spare bucks, I highly recommend renting or buying the DVD-only special "A Very Sunny Christmas"). But there were quite a few disappointments (am I the only one who expected more from that "kitten mittens" episode?).
However, the season five finale "The Gang Reignites the Rivalry" was pretty excellent, from the opening with Frank in his ill-advised skinny jeans to the gang's victory over the nasty frat brothers at the end. My favorite sequence has to be the one in which Dennis and Frank vandalize the home of poor Art Sloan, as Dennis pontificates about how kids today have no respect. And, by the way, "I'm a legend!" is my new battle cry.
"The League," "The Shiva Bowl": I haven't really written anything about FX's freshman comedy "The League," which was just renewed for a second season. That's unfortunate, because I found the show to be one of the season's biggest surprises. After a broad, coarse (but still funny) pilot, the series has settled into a nice groove as a laid-back comedy about a group of friends in a fantasy football league. I know nothing about fantasy football, so I can't attest to whether the show portrays that world accurately. However, I've spent enough time around guys to know that the show's depiction of male friendship is spot on. I love the easy chemistry among the actors, particularly in this season's finale, in which league outcast Andre finally beat perennial champion Pete. Of course, Andre did lose his girlfriend Shiva, who dumped him after learning the guys had named their league trophy after her. I loved the moment when Shiva saw the trophy, bearing her high school yearbook picture, in Ruxin's car, and Ruxin sheepishly told her "I can explain. But it isn't going to make you feel any better."
With its scatological humor and goofy characters, "The League" isn't a classy show, and I can see why a lot of critics didn't like. But it made me laugh, and it has a nice, familiar feel to it. I really look forward to future seasons.

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