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Glee: I Just Crush a Lot

After the realistic delights of last week’s episode — more secondary characters, believably emotional father-son talks — Glee headed straight back to Crazytown this week, with mixed results. Some plot points moved ahead, as Finn and Quinn’s parents demonstrated the two ways to learn your kids are pregnant (hugs, lack thereof); some stayed static as ever (please, Mr. Schue, rip off Terri’s fake belly, before we tear our hair out); some existed purely for our amusement (Rachel’s momentary yet intense crush on Mr. Schue); and some, well, we’re still absorbing (Kurt’s crush on Finn: believable? Too corny? We’re not sure). We continue to mourn the lack of Puck singing solo, miss Sue (thankfully, it looks like she’s back with a vengeance next week), and try to absorb the idea of a teenage boy singing to a sonogram, in our weekly judgments!

Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, "Endless Love"
See video below
Pizzazz: 2
Relevance: 7
Absurdity: 8
Mr. Schue wants the kids to learn the meaning of telling a story through song, so he puts names in a hat, and fate decides ballad-singing pairs. Since “Matt” (who exactly is he, anyway?) is out sick, Schue throws his name in, and he’s paired with Rachel, who’s frighteningly ready to sing this cheesiest of ballads — and in B flat, no less. We don’t quite buy that this would be her favorite (there’s got to be something by Barbra this girl likes), though we love Kurt’s voiceover, in which he dreams of singing it to newly revealed crush Finn (“but screw him if he thinks he’s taking the Diana Ross part from me”). In the end, the sight of Rachel chasing a frightened Mr. Schue around the piano (and the all-too-believable teasing from the glee-club peanut-gallery) wins us over.

The Pretenders, "I'll Stand By You"
Pizzazz: 4
Relevance: 8
Absurdity: 9
This episode was about unrequited love in a big way: Rachel’s for Mr. Schue, Puck’s for Quinn, and here, Kurt’s for Finn. This crush seems a little out of left field, until we see an amusing montage of Kurt-Finn moments — including a hilarious discussion of skin care (Kurt educating Finn about his T-zone). Though Kurt’s right about Finn’s style (soft rock suits him well indeed) and Cory Monteith’s voice seems to be gaining strength (the full version of the song sounds great here), we feared for Glee’s life twice in this scene: once when Kurt insisted on including the title and artist of the song in his suggestion to Finn (so canned, and a recurring trope several times this episode) and — we still nearly fall over thinking of it — when Finn started singing to a sonogram. Were we supposed to laugh, cry … cringe? We did a little of all three.

The Police, "Don't Stand So Close To Me"/ Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, "Young Girl"
Pizzazz: 9
Relevance: 9
Absurdity: 8
Why are we not surprised that Rachel isn’t the first girl to crush on the ever-naïve Will? Emma (Yay! Emma and her cardigans are back!) counsels Mr. Schue to deal with Rachel gently — which clearly means through an ambiguous song about inappropriate relationships! Matthew Morrison gets to show off his lovely tenor and dead-on Sting impression (let’s all take a moment to swoon, again), but we mostly love how he over-gesticulates in Rachel’s direction with slightly altered lines like, “Young girl, you’re out of your mind!” Rachel for once gets the best line of the episode (“It means I’m very young, and it’s hard for you to stand close to me!”), Emma makes bush-baby eyes at Schue, and “Young Girl” gets a reggae beat it never needed. Scene!

Jennifer Paige, “Crush”
Pizzazz: 3
Relevance: 9
Absurdity: 8
Though Lea Michele’s a dead ringer for Jennifer Paige in the full version of this sultry, late ninetie’s pop gem, we only get one moment of hilarity — insistent glares from Rachel, deer-in-the-headlights looks from Schue — during the episode. We do love, though, that Rachel prepared a CD of backup vocals for use in the car (hey, it’s not easy — and it’s totally something she’d pore over at home), and the later heart-to-heart she and Schue share is one of the few truly endearing, realistically high school moments of awkwardness this week.

Paul Anka, "(You're) Having My Baby"
Pizzazz: 4
Relevance: 9
Absurdity: 9
Speaking of do-we-laugh-or-cringe moments, Finn brings a big one to dinner with the Fabrays. On the plus side, he’s finally stepping up to the plate; on the minus, well, let’s just say that only on Glee would we get the indescribable pleasure of hearing Paul Anka over a ham dinner. We give Finn points for resourcefulness with the kitchen radio, but again we have trouble buying the song choice (come on — Kurt has better taste, and would never be quite so literal) and the ensuing melee with Quinn’s family is just a little too after-school-special-ish to be touching.

Bill Withers, "Lean on Me"
Pizzazz: 7
Relevance: 9
Absurdity: 5
It’s a shame we didn’t get to hear the original ballad pairings as they were intended — Puck and Mercedes could’ve made a fierce team, and we can only dream of the magic possible between Tina and “Other Asian.” We were also puzzled by Mercedes’s reaction to Puck — we get that she thinks she’s the diva in charge of Project Quinn and Finn, but wouldn’t she love the delicious, dramatic kink Puck throws into the plans? Regardless, we’re happy she didn’t feel the need to say, “Let’s all sing the a capella classic by Bill Withers, ‘Lean on Me!,’” the arrangement isn’t too complex, and the rendition the glee club performs is heartwarming above all. Bonus: the magnificent ironic trust fall Finn executes! Next week: Eve, and maybe Jonathan Groff?!!

More Recaps:
Speakeasy voices our thoughts exactly: according to Mr. Schue's definition of "ballad," shouldn't the show be called...well....Ballad? But Glee is so much more of an oxymoron ....
Todd VanDerWerff suggests that the show should be studied in the context of the musical, in which tonal and emotional shifts happen in a whiplash manner, but are ideally grounded in a believable way (i.e., how Rachel explains in voice over how she’s developing a crush on Schue by singing with him).
Dan Snierson at EW.com gives the usual line-by-line recap, reminding us of Kurt’s quote of the night, which has already been highlighted in our comments: “''I don't know why I find his stupidity charming ... I mean, he's cheating off a girl who thinks the square root of 4 is rainbows.''

Photo: Carin Baer/FOX