Let me get this straight; Glee has centered an episode centered around The Rocky Horror Picture Show? This may be the greatest idea in history, or the worst one.
Actually, both have far more similarities than one may think, and not just the fact that the two are musicals. Both are competently made and have rabid fan bases. Both also have themes, styles, and approaches have been done before, and better. I already examined the television musicals in a separate post; some are certainly superior to Glee. As for Rocky Horror, two films have always explored the relationship between rock music and a sort of cultural adolescence. Those are Brian DePalma’s Phantom of the Paradise (which emulates fifties style rock music better) and Derek Jarman’s Jubilee (which was released after Rocky but features much of the same cast and explores the themes in a better way).
Besides, Glee has had the same sort of effect on television that Rocky Horror has had on film. Most critics do not really consider Glee to be any sort of classic. But it does have a rabid fan base that has set new levels in how a show can thrive. For better or worse, Glee will be around for quite some time in the same way Rocky Horror has been.
Well, on with the show.
Alright, again, I barely know the names of any of these characters. I will try my best to keep up.
And God said let there be lips, and there were lips. Sorry, I will try to keep those to a minimum. It’s “Science Fiction, Double Feature.” I don’t recognize the singer. Already, frankly, not off to the best start…they are essentially redoing the openings EXACTLY as happened in the original. And it doesn’t sound as sincere. When Richard O’Brien sang it, he was doing so out of nostalgia. Well, this singer sounds as though she doesn’t know what a “double feature” is.
Huh…apparently they are just doing the show on stage? I believe Rachel is playing Janet, while Finn is playing Brad.
Oh, it’s a rehearsal. And then we get a flashback of Will’s week. Emma talks about how much she likes Rocky: “We don’t dress up; at least not yet.” And then we get clips of what it is like to go to to the show….but, it’s not like the ones I’ve been to. Anyway, Will decides to put it on because he wants to impress the school guidance counselor.
Will goes to announce it. OK, and everyone is up in arms over the adult material in the show. Right…this has been around for thirty years now. AND he wants to censor it? What is going on here? Artie will be playing Dr. Scott (who could have guessed?). They are going through casting and…some Asian guy is playing Frank. Some blond guy named Sam is playing Rocky. They LOOK the parts. This may turn out to be good.
“I have no idea what is going on in this script” goes the first line in rehearsal. What the hell is going on? Did any of the people involved in this read the thing? Again, I have to emphasize this material is thirty years old and pretty well known. So why treat it as though it is still risque and new? Anyway, Finn is nervous about being in his underwear, blah blah blah….
And now for the news. Seriously, we have…Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester doing Sue’s Corner. I love Jane Lynch, ever since she did Christopher Guest comedies. Besides, she can sing, too. Go watch A Mighty Wind. She could just sit there and illicit laughs. She talks about how to instill fear in children on Halloween. “Children must know fear, or else how will they know how to behave?” I know many parents who are taking notes.
Two people, played by Meat Loaf and Barry Bostwick (har har), come in saying they are station managers, telling Sue how to spice up her segment. You know, this is all funny stuff. Mexican Terrorist ants….I am laughing, I will not lie. Perhaps if the show just focused on this sort of thing rather than coming across as a high school soap opera, I would have been kinder to it. Anyway, Sue wants to destroy Rocky Horror (her disabled sister had toast thrown at her at one of the screenings) along with these two station managers. “We want you to do an expose” to show how the liberal agenda is taking control of the high school. She is considering it and…
Well, not perfect, but better than my previous experience. So far, the one mistake they are making is pretending as though this material is fresh. It is not; better to not mention any of the “taboos” at all. This is the show that already did a Lady Gaga episode, after all.
We are back. They are rehearsing “Dammit Janet” and the cheerleaders are going on about how ugly Finn will look in his underwear. OK..clear lip syncing right here. Again, I cannot say that it is a bad version. The fact Magenta is in a cheer leading costume adds a sort of bizarre touch or surrealism. I can’t really say much more about it. It is exactly how you would imagine it. Wait….I have to ask, is Mercedes playing Columbia? That is…not what should happen.
Anyway, Sue comes in, and Will offers her the part of the Criminologist. Sue says she wants “final script approval” (I assume this means that the journey will not be strange).
Sam and Finn at the gym. As is Artie, with a five pound weight. They talk about internet porn and how it altered female brain chemistry (did David Mamet punch up the script?) and they still make Finn feel bad about his body. I would be more concerned about the girl playing Columbia, but that is just me.
Will goes to Emma to see if she will do the costuming. She is ecstatic. Emma is worried that she is coming onto him. The Asian boy (Mike, apparently) comes back, saying that he cannot play Frank. Huh. That’s quite a bad move. So who will play Frank? I guess this is their way of introducing drama.
Sue is talking to a mentally disabled girl named Becky, telling her to go yell at fat people. What is going on? Who is Becky? And who invited the Cheap Laughs from Next Door? It is frankly rather mean spirited to have us laugh at this situation. Anyway, Will comes in, announcing the show is canceled.
Well, sorry about that little hiccup with Mike’s name. As I write this, I have the Wikipedia page about the characters up. Looking back and forth and the two pages can be quite hectic. Again, this is just sort of going through the motions. I do not understand why they wanted to do this outside of the gimmick. I guess Finn’s insecurities are authentic, but that could be accomplished with other works. I mean, he is worried about looking bad in his underwear, but not about simulating gay sex on stage in a high school? I guarantee that would get more people to make fun of him.
We are back. Sue comes in to Emma and Carl designing costumes and feels they are engaging in bizarre sex. Right…..Sue claims that her “heart” is breaking and mentioning about how there is no “art” in the school. She basically wants to encourage Carl to join the cast to get the show back on.
So he goes and sings “Hot Patootie.” It is nowhere even CLOSE to being in context. His voice is…fine, but nowhere near good enough. Oh, and why on earth is the verse dedicated to his girlfriend sung while his doing the twist with a guy? I don’t get it. And where did that sax comes from? I remain unimpressed with this run through. Mostly because the song is my second favorite from the film (the first, I am sure they have cut out) and only really sounds correct in context. Well, he does an OK job singing it, but Meat Loaf actually PERFORMED it with everything he had.
Sue claims she eliminated Eddie anyway (say what?!) and Will demands Carl sings a Frank song. Carl refuses, claiming it is inappropriate. OK….
Mercedes volunteers to play Frank. Mercedes. A woman. Playing Frank. Wanting to “modernize” the song. A woman. Playing Frank.
Commercial, and thank God, because I am livid.
Who’s idea was it to have a WOMAN play Frank? What does that mean? Is she going to sing the song “Sweet Transvestite” in a business suit? Did they NOT read the script? Do they not understand what Rocky Horror is setting out to do? I don’t care; if this is how they were going to handle this on network television, they should not have done it. Pure and simple.
And what they hell does she mean by modernize the song? Rocky Horror sounded deliberately dated when it was released; that was part of the point. Well, she hasn’t sung it yet, so I will wait.
We are back.
It is the first dress rehearsal. It looks like they are running through the opening in the castle. Finn says he does not want to be in his underwear. Sam is worried he will “show off some nuttage.” OK…well, let’s see. It is actually the introduction of Frank and…
“Sweet Transvestite.” It is sung like a drag queen playing Aretha Franklin. No.
No. No. No. No. This is all wrong. And she is dressed in the same sort of outfit, which, giving the context, means she is not a transvestite. THEY ALSO CENSORED THE LINE TRANSSEXUAL TRANSYLVANIA (it is now “sensational”…not even close).
This is awful. I cannot imagine anyone supporting it or saying this is a good idea. AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, YOU ARE FROM TRANSSEXUAL, TRANSYLVANIA.
Everyone applauds. Eddy comes out by accident. Emma supports him, Will does not. Will wants to fire Carl, and tells Emma as much in the next scene. He is covering himself by saying that it is “too adult.” Actually, what he wants to do is play Rocky himself. Anyway, he says he needs Emma’s help to rehearse. Bad “Touch Me” pun. Actually, it is an introduction to the song. Two cheerleaders watch through the window
Again, bad lip syncing, and they keep the virgin joke. The Cheerleaders are acting as Magenta and Columbia. Well, considering they are not in their underwear, they are still acting quite risque. I was also under the impression the lyric went “Then if anything grows” and “I’ll oil you up and rub you down.” So they continue their censorship.
The Cheerleaders are dancing with each other in the hall. I don’t get it. Emma is really getting into this role, and they have the same editing technique as in the film. It makes no sense this time around…where are all of these people coming from.
The song ends. Emma feels bad and runs out the room.
I am still indescribably furious about they way they handled “Sweet Transvestite.” Why? Who thought that this would be acceptable? I am so confused. Frankly, if they were worried about the material, they should not have tried to do it.
We are back in the gym, with Finn. Sam comes to spot him. He is upset about the fact he is not playing Rocky. Sam says that the Brad roll is about “being confident” (as opposed to..being an asshole?). Finn says that he doesn’t need to hide and finds some new confidence. Well, glad insecurities can be solved after one conversation.
Back to Artie….not doing a German accent. Of course they are doing the infamous “Brad/Janet/Rocky/Dr. Scott” scene, with Sue saying they have incredible pacing problems. Her opinions have become her rewrites.
Anyway, Finn says he has been suspended for walking around school in his boxers and glasses. He says it is because he was trying to be comfortable in the part. The principal wants to suspend him for a month. Will kicks Finn out and then chastises the principal, referencing some time when a cheerleader stripped or…something. I think it was a callback to a previous episode, but damned if I know. The principal agrees but asks Will if the show is worth it.
We come back to the opening scene. Carl comes out and thinks Will is trying to cheat on Emma. So yea.
Becky comes in and tries to get candy from Will. Becky claims Rocky Horror is an “afbobinashun.” Apparently, Sue has recorded her next news segment against the play. Becky tells Will about it, and then Will watches it.
The scene ends with Becky saying “give me some chocolate or I will cut you.”
Will confronts Sue. She says that she plans to air it on opening night. Will says she didn’t say anything “unreasonable.” Even though, you know, they have not “exposed” the kids to everything (that was the whole point of the news segment) that was in Rocky Horror. Will agrees to pull show. Sue is shocked and says that he shouldn’t pull the show to after opening night.
Back to the stage. Will and Emma are there. He admits that he did it so he could get close to Emma. Emma, surprisingly, does not sprint from the room. Will says that he will never “abuse” their feelings for each other again. He agrees to back off while Carl and her are dating.
He then gathers the kids and apologizes to them. Well, wait…..Rocky Horror is not about pushing boundaries? What? What?! Then he says that it was for “outcasts” (ok, that is true) and then tries to compare the Glee club to Rocky Horror. Then says that they will perform it for themselves.
Then we cut to “The Time Warp.” Again, poor lip syncing. Thank God Artie didn’t sing, but Brad suddenly decides to. Oh well, it sounds close enough to the original. Oh wait, Artie decided to…talk to musical accompiantment.
Group Sex! Group Sex! Sorry.
We are now onto Magenta’s verse. She sings it too….well, I am used to Magenta having a deeper voice. But then, I guess it is good they are trying something different. And then the cast ends the song, they hit the ground, Will applauds, and we are out.
Final Analysis: One very, very major flaw almost destroys the thing: Mercedes as Frank. Basically, they do not understand the material. I think this was the compromise that they had to make to get away with it, but then, Rocky Horror is about how futile it is to compromise. To dilute it in any way is to take away from it. Yes, the film was flawed. But watching it, I got the impression that this was the only way that this was the only way to express whatever was on Richard O’Brien’s mind. The rest is not…well, it is not terrible, but they are just going through the motions. They clearly do not understand what a “Science Fiction Double Feature” is, and “Toucha Toucha Touch Me” was diluted to the point where the original meaning was gone.
Still, I liked it better than I liked the other episode I watched. At least it did not feel gimmicky and the whole angle actually made sense to the plot. Plus, it is incredible that, after thirty five years, that film still gets that sort of attention. Let’s see if The Room or Repo! The Genetic Opera can do that (as much as I enjoy both, I have my doubts). I guess it is good that Glee still decided to salute something that is still not considered part of the mainstream culture (the actual theater shows, not the film itself). Still, it WAS a mistake to treat Rocky Horror as though it was new. That was another vital mistake, but they managed to recover (though just barely).
So, overall, an improvement, but still…for whatever reason, I hold reservations. Maybe because, even though they appear to, there is still not enough respect for the original material that they decide to perform. Again, Glee, failing to change to acknowledge your flaws is not the sign of good art. Good art is progress. It is the artist realizing what works and what does not. I know that every fan of the show already loves it and doesn’t want a thing to change, but still, others have pointed out these flaws. Do not be afraid to improve your work.
Too put it in a way that may be easier to understand in this context, I have already told you once, Glee. I won’t tell you twice. Wise up.