'Glee' Postmortem: The Best and Worst of Season 3

'Glee' Postmortem: The Best and Worst of Season 3 Welcome to the "Glee" season 3 postmortem, where we dissect the just-ended season as if it were some kind of alien for us to marvel at in its intricacies and strangeness. Or we can sit in judgement of it. Either way.

General Thoughts:

This season of "Glee" (the third one, for those of you who, like me, feel as though this show has been on TV for five years) was supposed to be a return to form for a show that lost its touch in its second season. Creator Ryan Murphy promised fewer current pop songs and more re-imaginings of classics, plus fewer guest stars and a bigger focus on the core characters.

So. Did "Glee" season 3 deliver?

The answer is a resounding "kinda."

The promise for fewer pop songs went relatively well, at least as well as "Glee" can do on that promise. There was a lot of Broadway going on toward the beginning of the season, especially considering that the "West Side Story" hullabaloo was happening. But the show seemed to panic a bit a few episodes in, as if it needs Katy Perry songs in order to breathe.

As for the "fewer guest stars" promise... well, no such luck there. Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, NeNe Leakes, Whoopi Goldberg, Grant Gustin... there were quite a few. None quite to the extent of *shudder* Gwyneth Paltrow, but still. As for a focus on core characters, that gets a passing grade, but points are docked for almost completely ignoring Tina in favor of featuring the winners from "The Glee Project." Why introduce new characters if you can't manage the ones you have properly?

One of the stronger points of the season was also one of its weakest: the themes. Themes and storylines got much more grown-up this season, with the kids dealing with marriage, college, devastating car accidents, and the like. It all kind of puts show choir competitions into perspective.

That's a good and a bad thing: on one hand, the higher stakes made the relationships and storylines more interesting, so we weren't just waiting for the next song. On the other hand, the show got very weighty and preachy, and lost a lot of the fun from the first season, where the important stuff was the stuff that's actually important to high schoolers: popularity, crushes,  and maybe show choir competitions.

As for the performances, some were good, some were bad, the vast majority were somewhere in the middle and trying too hard to be exactly like the original. Far too many of them were simply sung in the choir room (Cut to singer! Now cut to other students, watching and bobbing heads slightly! Now cut back to singer! Riveting!) as opposed to, I dunno, using the nearly limitless possibilities of television and the musical format to change setting every once in a while. But there were some gems.

Best Performances:

"Rumour Has It/Someone Like You" -- There was something electric about this performance, perhaps because it was a landmark number for the show and the girls were performing in front of a live audience of reporters. Whatever it was, it gave Naya Rivera a spark that we hadn't seen before, as she performed a pretty well-arranged mash-up with intensity.

"Let It Snow" -- A lot of people didn't like this Christmas episode or the show-within-a-show black and white segment. I thought it was a cheap trick, but one that worked: it was all pretty fun. What was especially nice about it, though, was that the way it was shot afforded some longer takes from farther out, giving us a clearer, uninterrupted show of the performance. There are some very talented performers on "Glee," and when you let them let loose without cutting to audience reactions every few seconds, you really get to see their energy. It doesn't hurt that Chris Colfer and Darren Criss are two of the best performers on the show.

"How Will I Know" -- This performance started off an episode that had the kids a little more upset about the death of Whitney Houston than any normal high schooler would have been, so it's a bit dramatic. But it's also very simple, with no instrumentals, just relying on the a capella voices of the very talented Lea Michele, Chris Colfer, Amber Riley and Naya Rivera.

Worst Performances:

"Sexy and I Know It" -- I don't care if it's in Spanish. Should a teacher be singing this kind of thing to a bunch of high school students? Inappropriate. Also, this song sucks. It just does. Good club song. Bad listening song.

"Red Solo Cup" -- Every year, Toby Keith surprises me by coming out with a new song that is even more brainless than his last one. "Red Solo Cup" is so pointless as a piece of music that I wonder how it hasn't imploded upon itself. This was the song that was given to poor Chord Overstreet in his awkward return to the cast, which of course had to be punctuated by him pulling out his guitar and singing one of the most ridiculous songs I've ever heard. Seriously, I question whether this might have been punishment for Overstreet refusing to stay on for the early part of the season.

What did you think of "Glee" season 3? How did it compare to seasons 1 and 2? What were your favorite songs/episodes, and your least favorite ones? Let us know!

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