Feb. 23, 2011 at 10:07 AM ET
By Ryan McGee of HitFix.com
Well, after last week’s “Glee” debacle, I wanted to drink as much as the characters did in this week’s installment, “Blame It on the Alcohol.” This episode sent me back to more tried and true reactions, which left half of me wanting to toast the episode and the other hand feverishly looking for booze to numb the pain. There are times in which I’ve not liked an episode of “Glee” because it was either dull or offensive. Tonight’s episode falls under another category of disappointment, but it’s the best of my personal three. “Alcohol” left me underwhelmed due to the show’s chronic inability to edit itself.
It’s a problem that not many shows have, but “Glee” seems to excel at it. How many episodes of other shows have you seen in which you can feel the writers straining to stretch the plot out to fill the network-mandated time slot? “Glee” has the opposite problem, often shoving what could be half a season of narrative into a single hour. That gives the audience a lot to take in. Too much, in fact. Just look at how many storylines were thrown against the television screen tonight, Wacky Wallwalker-style:
1) Figgins decides to employ New Directions to help curb rampant drinking on campus, the first of its kind ever in this show
2) Rachel tries to start writing her original song, only to be stymied by lack of life experience
3) New Directions throws a drunken party at Rachel’s house, in which several new interactions are teased out
4) Will deals with his loneliness through drinking
5) Blaine starts to question his sexuality
6) Burt and Kurt have their first real dealings with the physical manifestation of Kurt’s sexuality
Each one of those, ON THEIR OWN, could be an episode of television. Some of them could even be great episodes. Personally, having a karaoke-style bottle episode in Rachel’s Oscar-themed basement could have yielded the greatest episode of the show to date. Everything about that room represented possibility, while still staying within a recognizable reality. Yes, that basement is ridiculous, but totally in keeping with everything we know about Rachel’s parents. Having a stage for them to perform gave the show every chance to have the group perform songs fueled by season-long melodramas plus Big Daddy Booze to yield some earned character shifts and maybe even breakthroughs. It was a simple, brilliant, and economical way to work through all the intra-team romantic relationships.
So, naturally, that only lasted for about six minutes, with the rest of the episode dealing with the fallout from that party.