Move over, Mr. Schuester! Paltrow takes over the 'Glee' club

Nov. 17, 2010 at 10:32 AM ET

Ryan McGee of writes: After careful consideration, I think I’m coming closer to understanding the perfect way to look at the weekly output of “Glee.” In the past, I’ve tried to liken it to the New England weather, ever-changing. Other times, I’ve chalked up the show to existing in whatever world in which that particular episode’s writer thinks the show exists. But there’s potentially another way to look at the show’s wildly erratic (albeit occasionally brilliant) existence.

Rather than look at what appears on a weekly basis as the carefully considered result of a fine-tuned process from initial idea to final presentation, what the “Glee” audience sees is the result of a first draft that got rushed into production so FOX had something to air on Tuesdays at 8 pm. Between last week’s “Never Been Kissed” and this week’s installment, “The Substitute,” I counted roughly ten plots all fighting for attention and coherence. And that’s without even really trying to keep score.

Many of you seem tired with what you perceive to be my unmitigated rants on the show, but all I can say is that no show would frustrate me this much without having the essential building blocks for something as great as “Glee” could be if the creative staff had either the time or the inclination to make it better. I haven’t had an issue this past fortnight with any of the particular storylines individually (even while some have been more potent than others) so much as their incredibly poor execution. Many shows suffer from having no ideas. “Glee” has so many that it’s insane, but what’s even more insane is that the show doesn’t seem to know how to dramatize any of them in a sensible way.

Let’s start out with Big Idea #1) What would New Directions, and by proxy “Glee,” be without Will Schuester? About two-thirds of the way through the episode, I cried out, “Much, much better!” A good portion of this week tried to pose this question, all the while essentially undermining the theoretical “hero” of the show. (I put “hero” in quotes because I don’t buy that argument, but the show did introduce the show through his eyes and continues to keep him at the center even though the show’s approximately 50x stronger when it’s about the kids.) Through substitute Holly Holiday, the episode seemed quite content to recast the entire first season as the misplaced dreams of man using his students to relive his past.

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