Thursday, October 28, 2010

A virgin weighs in on "The Rocky Horror Glee Show"

Spoilers on "The Rocky Horror Glee Show" after the jump.

As someone who writes about -- and cares about -- popular culture, I try to stay familiar with as many cultural touchstones as possible. I try to see all the significant TV shows and movies that I can; try (vaguely) to at least be aware of popular music artists and I read all the popular books that don't offend me as a lit snob (I'm sorry, but I'm never reading a Dan Brown novel. NEVER).
Yet, every so often, I miss something significant. I never saw "Dirty Dancing," have never glimpsed an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" (no, not even in its first season, when the damn thing was pretty much unavoidable) and have yet to read a single "Twilight" book (the original "Twilight" does sit on my bookshelf, but I can't bring myself to pick it up).
But perhaps there is no greater gap in my pop culture knowledge than the fact that I have never seen the feverishly adored cult classic "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." I mean never. I've had opportunities to, but just never took them. Why? I don't know. I mean, I know what it's about. I've heard some of the songs before (Mainly because a friend forced me to listen to the soundtrack when I drove her home for holiday break one year). I've just never had a desire to see it. This likely shocks a lot of my friends, given my taste for weird, macabre culture, but it just seemed too self-consciously odd for my tastes.
Still, I do feel a certain guilt over this omission. I mean, how can you consider yourself a pop culture expert when you've never seen "Rocky Horror?" That guilt flared again when I learned that the mega-popular TV show "Glee" (of which, to my credit, I've never missed an episode) was doing an episode entirely devoted to "Rocky Horror."
Yikes, I thought. Will even understand anything that's going on? Should I even watch it? Well, I did, a bit reluctantly. At the episode's start, I began wondering if I should just turn it off. Was this going to be one big in-joke? Would it be totally lost on me?
It turns out that "The Rocky Horror Glee Show" was a pretty typical "Glee" episode. Yes, there were inside jokes, like the cameos by Meat Loaf and Barry Bostwick, who starred in the original film. And yes, if you don't care about the movie, the musical numbers were a little tough to slog through. And yes, the ep had the usual flaws that have plagued "Glee" throughout its run (a tendency to shoe-horn in songs to fit a theme; the increasing unlikability of Will Schuester).
But there was enough for me to enjoy, including some solid laughs in the Sue storyline. Plus, the show finally decided to use John Stamos's theater cred and give him a number. After his non-singing in the Britney Spears ep, I thought he would face the same fate Victor Garber, whom I believe sang not a single note when he cameoed as Will's dad last year.
Over all, the episode was a solid effort that I would have enjoyed more were I a "Rocky Horror" devotee, but managed to find entertaining anyway.
Some more thoughts on "The Rocky Horror Glee Show":
* I love Sue, but the best line in the ep went to Brittany, who, while discussing costume ideas with Kurt, announced "I'm going as a peanut allergy."
* However, Sue did have some great stuff this episode, particularly when she appealed to Carl's dentistry instincts to persuade him to participate in the play. "70 percent of all teeth in this school are wooden." Heh.
*  God, I love Cheerio Becky. Her Sue costume was a hoot, and it was great to hear her threaten to "cut" Will if he didn't give her candy.
* OK, was anyone buying Finn's "body issues"? He's a football player, and we've seen him sing in the shower. We know he's not a "hot mess." It all seemed so phony to me. But I liked the discussion among the guys about when, exactly, women started objectifying men. And I like Santana rehashing Artie's line about the ostrich eggs. Though I do hope we won't be joking about her boobs every episode.
* One more note about this episode. I think "Rocky Horror" fans and virgins alike can agree one major problem with this episode: too much Will, not enough Kurt. Yeah, Kurt doesn't have to take center stage every episode, but he's quickly becoming the show's most interesting character. I'd rather have too much Kurt than too much Will any day.

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