Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The RBI Report: "Furt"

Hey, gang! I just can't go a week without doing the RBI Report. I have Internet access; I saw the episode - I really have no excuse. So, here we go...

"Furt," written by Ryan Murphy, directed by Carol Baker.

In the interest of fairness and objectivity, I've tried to approach each episode with a more critical look at what worked and what didn't, from a storytelling perspective. But this week, I'm not sure how successsful I'll be at this. Because, frankly, there was a lot in "Furt" that just plain annoyed me - a lot of personal preference stuff.

For example, I cringe anytime the show references their own ship names. I do not like hearing the words "Finchel" and "Puckleberry" on my TV. Shipper portmanteaux fascinate me, but I prefer to read them on the Internet, thank you. To make matters worse, "Furt" is just awful. "Kinn" is a far more suitable nickname for the Finn/Kurt ship. I mean, "kin" is a synonym for family! Also, it's not one letter away from being flatulence.

Moreover, I just can't get behind Sam/Quinn. I want my Quinndependence, dammit! This is a woman who breaks into lockers and grills Rachel about feminism - I want her to embrace singledom. As much as Sam seems like a nice guy (some episodes), I just can't get on board with their relationship.

For that matter, I don't like how the whole club is paired off into couples now: Finn/Rachel, Sam/Quinn, Puck/Santana, Artie/Brittany, Mike/Tina. This sort of charade is only cute in High School Musical, and only effective on Grey's Anatomy. Arguably. (And don't even get me started about how Mercedes is the odd woman out on this coupling. Just don't even.)

Ryan Murphy wrote this episode, and I think some of his hallmarks have led to my annoyance. Murphs loves his payoffs, but never seems to set them up really well. A lot of the things in this episode I was generally okay with, until I thought about how it happened and then I got mad. Ryan is king of Big Concept, Lackluster Execution, and I felt like that was my experience with "Furt."

For example: yes, Finn singing to Kurt was cute, but I just couldn't embrace it because I'm tired of this character carousel Finn has been on since Season 1. It seems they can't find anything else for his character to do other than have to choose between what is right and what is popular. And it seems like he always chooses what's popular and then backtracks when he realizes he's being a jerk. I just wish the writers weren't dancing around Finn waving signs that say, "He's likeable! He's a leader! He's the good guy!" If you SHOW me, I will believe it. I don't like watching Finn backtrack and realize he screwed up the first time around. I believe he is capable of doing the right thing on the first try. We can move on from this. Cory's a damn fine actor - challenge him with something new.

Finn's hangup on popularity is certainly not specific to him. It's part of the whole show, and plays part with Quinn, Sam, Puck, Artie, and Santana. I hesitate to say it needs to be shelved, but I am growing tired of it. It's the same conflicts over and over - Glee really is a carousel. It's fun and whimsical, but after growing 'round and 'round for awhile, you start to get dizzy.

Another example: the bullying storyline is playing out across the episodes, unlike most other storylines Glee handles. Yay! And I appreciated that everyone seemed to be behaving in all the appropriate ways when confronted with the situation (Burt, Sue, Will, Rachel, Sam, etc.), and it's annoying that Karofsky was allowed back to McKinley. But, I have some issues concerning Karofsky's continued harrassment of Kurt, post-kiss.

My interpretation of bullying is about power. Karofsky bullied Kurt because he felt powerless against his insecurities, and by forcing Kurt to feel inferior to him, thereby empowered himself. It's sick, twisted, cowardly, etc; but that's how a lot of insecure teenaged minds work. As soon as Karofsky kissed Kurt, he lost power. Kurt learned a secret about him, and in Karofsky's eyes, gained power over Karofsky. Post-kiss, it makes sense that Karofsky would do everything he can to get his power back, and simultaneously keep Kurt quiet.

But the ways in which the two have interacted since the kiss just don't add up to Karofsky desperate to regain his power. The wink? The girlish hand flip? I don't buy it. The threat to kill certainly is effective, but when put with the others, it just seems out of place. This uneven follow-up is making my interest in the Kurt/Karofsky storyline wane, which is unfortunate, because it was so compelling.

Third example: Carol Burnett. You have the Queen of Comedy, living legend, playing Sue Sylvester's mother, and... what exactly was her purpose? I love Carol Burnett. I love Sue Sylvester. I love the casting. But their storyline felt shoe-horned in there, and was overshadowed by the other wedding. Jane and Carol could have killed an actual developed storyline, if it were given more time and a conflict with more direct effect on an episode's events or character moments. You don't waste Carol Burnett, guys. You just don't. (Also, the Nazi-hunting jokes started wearing thin, for my taste.)

The direction in this episode was just okay for me as well. I felt like the musical numbers could have been a little more snazzily shot - a sharp Carol Burnett/Jane Lynch duet, and two fun Glee numbers should have come off more giddily infectious. I wanted a grin to be plastered all over my face, but it just wasn't there. (I also got confused about Finn singing to Kurt, and then to Rachel, and then to Carole, and then back to Rachel... perspective whiplash, party of one!) And who else caught that reaction shot of Santana during a Finn/Rachel moment? What is going on with that girl? I hope it's some character development (Brittana!) and not just a plot device for Finn and Rachel's relationship (sigh).

Alright, guys. This wasn't so much a recap of the writing and direction so much as "Things She Bloggo Wants to Nitpick and Whine About," so forgive me. I'm on vacation, and just want to share some opinions without thinking too much. I'm sure some of you loved the episode, and that's totally okay. To each Gleek, his or her own!

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