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Featured TV on DVD Review: Glee: Season Three

August 13th, 2012

Glee: Season Two - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray

Glee was an instant hit when it first debuted and developed a fanbase in the millions and garnered countless major awards. However, in the third season the rating declined and the number of awards and nominations were way down. In fact, it only picked up three Emmy nominations and was passed over for Outstanding Comedy Series. Has the show really taken that large a hit in quality? Has it gone from award-worthy to merely good? Or is it showing signs of completely collapsing?

The Show

Season three takes place during the senior year for many of the main characters: Rachel, Finn, Quinn, Puck, Kurt, Santana, Brittany, Mercedes, and Mike. This gives them a lot of motivation to win nationals this year. They also are missing a few people from last year, including Quinn, who is having a crisis of identity after giving up her baby, Beth, for adoption. This means they have a lot of holes to fill. Recruiting might be hard, but Will Schuester secured three used pianos from Motta's Pianos, which he hopes to use to spread the word of Glee Club. He runs into two obstacles. Firstly, Sue Sylvester sabotages them and then gets the idea to use her anti-arts fervor to boost her sagging congressional campaign. Secondly, it turns out the pianos come with a catch, Sugar Motta. Sugar can't sing and she claims she has Asperger syndrome, but in reality, she's just a nasty person.

On a side note, Asperger advocates complained about Sugar Motta, saying she was a negative stereotype of people with Asperger's. Except she doesn't have Asperger syndrome. She says right away that she is self-diagnosed and it is clear she's there to make fun of people who pretend to have something like Asperger syndrome to get away with being nasty to other people. I would have thought Asperger advocates would be all too aware of people using this syndrome in this regard.

When Sugar fails her audition (she's a really, really bad singer) she gets her rich father to set up a rival Glee Club at the school. She even gets him to hire Shelby Corcoran to lead it. Of course, Shelby has a lot of history at the school. She's Rachel's birth mother and Rachel still hasn't forgiven her giving her up for adoption. She's also the one who adopted Beth, so she's at odds with Quinn as well. On the other hand, they do have some really big news, when Kurt's guilt trip against Blaine finally convinces Blaine to transfer to McKinley High and he joins New Direction. This is a major score for the team, but all is not well with the two, as they become competitors, even now that they are both in New Direction.

There are other, non-New Directions plot threads as well. Will and Emma are living together, which is actually really good for her, until her parents show up, which causes her OCD to go into overdrive. Kurt and Rachel realize their dream of studying musical theater in New York City will be harder than they thought and both try to pad their transcript with Student Body President. Sue Sylvester runs for congress, and when it looks like she is going to win, Burt Hummel runs as a write-in candidate.

There's more to the season than that. It's very convoluted in its story lines. Some of these work, Santana's coming out has a lot of emotional weight to it. Others only partially work. Mike dealing with his father starts out pretty funny, but falls apart. Likewise, the romance story with Coach Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones) starts out strong, but they mishandled the domestic abuse storyline. Others don't work from the start. You know Quinn is going to have a redemptive moment, so you are just waiting for that to happen. Her bad girl phase is just a distraction till that happens.

Overall it is weaker than the previous two seasons and there are signs the show is going into bad soap opera territory and I'm not sure how the show will handle losing so much of its main cast.

The Extras

There are plenty of extras on Blu-ray, starting with jukeboxes on each disc. Disc one also has Glee Under the Stars, an eight-minute featurette on the season opening festival. There is also an extended and a deleted scene. Disc Two has one deleted scene. Disc three has Glee Gives a Note, which is an eight-minute featurette on the Glee cast presenting money to schools to promote art education. The final disc starts with a six-minute featurette on Props, the body-swap episode. There are also featurettes on on the new cast members, as well as the cast members that are saying goodbye. Finally, there are a couple Sue Sylvester featurettes. The first is a Q&A and the other is a collection of her insults from the seasons. That's not a bad collection of extras, but it is not a major selling point either.

Glee continues to look really good with strong details and the colors are exceptional. The audio is engaging and immersive with the surround sound speakers getting a workout.

The Blu-ray has no exclusive extras, but costs just 25% more than the DVD. This is a good deal for a TV on DVD release.

The Verdict

Glee is showing signs of serious weakness. The hit to miss ratio on the storylines got weaker and there were several that seemed like missed opportunities. The extras on the DVD and the Blu-ray remain on par with the previous seasons, so if you were happy with this season, then it is worth picking up. However, ratings have slipped pretty dramatically, so there's a chance quite a few former fans have given up on the series already.

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