Oh my God there is Glee Project RPF featuring Marissa for Yuletide. I don't even know who half these people are yet, and I am still ridiculously excited by this fact. Oh, and while I'm on the dark side, here is a super delightful regular-Glee RPF, which bends my don't-ship-people-rule (Five Songs Make a Story, but the slash is so incredibly tame and Darren names a cat Sir Nicholas de Mimsy Porpington the Third). There's another one I'm intrigued by, because it's Darren/Lea, but labeled explicit so I can't quite link it. I'm winnowing in from the top and bottom to see how much I can salvage before I get to the rotten part, though.
Glee, 3x09, "Extraordinary Merry Christmas"
I can't call it better or worse than last year's Christmas episode, because they were just so different, and both had fatal flaws (last year, Brittany/Artie; this year, much of the music and Kardashian!Rachel) -- but since I can't seem to stop watching this one, it is having no trouble competing with the previous episode for reigning season champion. After a somewhat uneven start, absolutely everything paid off and I ended up so happy that I floated on clouds for like, a week straight before I could even start to put it into words. And then I needed another week to finish.
* I still don't really know what a director does or how you tell one's work apart from another's, but apparently Matthew Morrison was in charge of this one, so...hooray? It looked pretty? Was he responsible for all the aerial shots and other perspective changes during "Let It Snow"? Because if so, I noticed that and loved it.
* I finally figured out Breadstix's omnipresent significance: it's totally the front for the Lima Mafia, isn't it?
* I love Kurt breezing by and copping to having told Rachel Finn had no idea what to get her. Plus she looked extra pretty in that moment. (am I hardcore ignoring both the crazed Material Girl gleam in Rachel's eye and Finn's bizarre choice to, and I quote, "give his vegan Jewish girlfriend a slaughter hog"? You bet. And you have no idea how hard I want to get on my anti-Send A Farm Animal soapbox. I'll give you the nutshell version: WHO THINKS IT IS FESTIVE TO TELL PEOPLE YOU'VE BOUGHT THEM AN ANIMAL'S DEATH?)
* No. Whoa. Hold up. You returned an IPOD? The earrings I get, because thrift store cubic zirconia sparkles the same way so if it costs double digits you're shopping wrong, but an iPod?! That is quality stuff and it will make you happier much longer than the brief enjoyment you get out of patting yourself on the back for being all noble and self sacrificing one day a year. And yes, the key theme here is that Christmas is about making yourself happy. Work with my self-centeredness.
* But I did like them joining Sam and Rory in the end (after a friendly snowball to the crotch, natch). Sam, in particular, looks so fetching in his hat that he actually makes bell ringers seem less like secret servants of the devil.
* Sue has warm and fuzzy Christmas feelings in her heart! Real ones! Apparently she snapped out of crazy mode at the same time as Quinn. I loved her calling Wheels/Porcelain/Other Gay in for a discussion of charitable give-back holiday plans. In particular, I love how pleased with himself Blaine looks after being re-dubbed "Young Burt Reynolds."
* I will never understand why or how "All I Want For Christmas Is You" became an accepted holiday classic. It's part of the whole puzzling "Why is Mariah Carey famous or successful at all?" mystery. This year's opening number was deeply inferior to last year's, particularly during those vomitrocious (but mercifully brief, and never again addressed) scenes of Mercedes singing at Sam**, but I always like a happy club. She had a GORGEOUS outfit + necklace on; I must have it. Blaine looks especially dapper in his velvet sportcoat. And Rachel's Thumbelina hair takes some getting used to, but I think I ultimately judged it cute. Especially while twirling herself into a garland.
[**I fell for Sam/Quinn during Christmas last year. You can see why this is a particularly bitter pill to swallow.]
Also, it was at this point that I finally accepted a horrible truth: I...like the length of Quinn's hair better right now than when it was longer. She looks sharper and cuter with an even collar-length bob than with the long ponytail. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME.
* Spoiler alert: I eventually come around on most of the music, at least enough to tolerate it in context, but not Blue Christmas. Blue Christmas is awful. It's like being slowly pressed to death.
[edit: although, there is that fantastic bit with Kurt mistaking "the King" for Jesus, specifically Blaine's reaction to it.]
* Second use I have found for Rory, since singing is decidedly not his wheelhouse: everyone's desire to adopt him. Specifically, Sam and his wonderful sympathy about missing one's family and invitation to spend the holidays with the Evans clan. (definitely no financial problems with that idea, no sirree bob)
* Was not totally in love with "River," even though I know I like Sarah McLachlan's cover of it, but it was nice to see Rachel back on her beautiful stage full of snowy Christmas trees.
* Long before I knew what was happening with the special, Artie's description of Kurt & Blaine's chalet (as the perfect hosts) had me in fits of glee. I love how they preen for the role, too. Especially since this happened about three days after I decided that all future Glee episodes this season should just revolve around them in some way.
* First use I have found for Artie being awful: it causes Sam to hotly rebel from their selfish desires for glory and a) defend sadness as a legitimate Christmas feeling, and b) stomp away to help people. Taking Quinn with him. Yee-haw! (more on this later)
* I still don't really see why the TV special vs. helping the homeless came down to an either/or issue, though -- especially if they were doing the PBS special live, it's not like either one took all that long. There seemed like plenty of time to do both, even on the same night.
* EXTRAORDINARY MERRY CHRISTMAS. I have not calmed down one iota from from my immediate giddy delirium upon seeing Blaine and Rachel, one of the rare Heavenly Vocal Perfection pairings, team up. Look at her precious dress! Don't look at his elbow patches, but otherwise, who cares, OH MY GOD I NEED HIM AS A 1950s SUITOR RIGHT NOW. I particularly love that he manages to avoid singing to Kurt, and instead is properly, constantly focusing on Rachel with all kinds of appropriate contact, both eye and physical. The tree moment is especially precious. It's great music, too, in case that was not clear. One of the two highlights.
***The Holiday Special****
Past Me: What we saw of West Side Story was gorgeous. Is there any way that we could somehow have the Glee cast perform the entire thing? Because I have never more desperately wanted to buy a ticket to a fictional play.
WISH: GRANTED. Not exactly the way I wished for, but in an even better context. I don't love black and white -- I don't understand why anyone would ever voluntarily film something this way -- but this special was still WONDERFUL in all respects** and I am delirious with joy that we basically got to see the whole thing.
(**except the Star Wars bits, which were bizarre, fugly, and completely unnecessary except maybe to drive home how effing awful Artie is, in case anyone was still unclear after 3x05.)
Those aside? alsjdflaksjdlasdfalsdf. And by that I mostly mean BLAINE AND KURT -- best friends/holiday roommates, perfect! -- and "Let It Snow," which took me quite a few listens to love independently as a musical choice, but with the dancing and general retro feel immediately became both my favorite part of the episode and my Holiday Happy Place. It's just so bright and innocent and terrifically cute. Every time I try to get on LJ and finish writing about this episode, I get hung up on this scene and watch it two or three times in a row before going away to process all my Feelings.
Rachel and Mercedes are fun too -- not quite as enjoyable, but I do like their acting. The more people that join the party, the less exciting it gets, but I never stop being enchanted and delighted by this holiday special's over-exaggeration and general existence on my screen. Which is interesting, since I also got progressively less enthused by each musical performance. I guess that's a testament to how much I love shows-within-a-show? Because really, Glee, uninspiring song choices. And do I even need to mention your bizarre faceplant of a global warming reference?
[Edit: oh my god, I've never gotten all the way through Finn & Puck's song before. BLAINE + HARMONICA. Argument is invalid.]
I do love ribbon twirling, though once Brittany took the lead vocals, I could not shake the feeling that the Cheerios' song was culled from a Barbie holiday movie. [edit the second: changed my mind! Now I adore it. It's the first time since, I want to say 2010, that I haven't hated Brittany. She is definitely a much better character when sent to play a performance role, and not allowed to speak. Honest to god, it almost makes her seem intelligent and/or self-aware.]
[edit the third: I've never had the patience to stop and hear what Rory had to say, either. You mean he managed to follow Sam's lead AND work Jesus in there? holy crap, y'all. Glee, I'm impressed.]
ASDJ;FKLASJDFKL;ASDFKLASDF. MY EMOTIONS. You - I - with the - and the friendship!
Translation: you not only de-crazied Quinn, but you made her the sole person in the club to follow Sam to the homeless shelter. And had him acknowledge it. And talk to her. Do you know how huge this is? Everyone knows there needs to be mutual respect and friendship between them before we can build that base back up. And this was everything I wanted -- just enough to let us know that Quinn is going to find herself before she goes anywhere else.
Way to make up for the sins of last episode, show. Do you know how much off-screen time there was where it was 100% Sam And Quinn? I bet fanfiction.net and A03 do. For this, I am willing to sacrifice their appearance in the Most Wonderful Holiday Special Of All Time.
"You deserve good things, Quinn." <---- And I've picked out my favorite line of the hour.
That's A Wrap
* Just when I think Sue can't be any less hateful this week, there is HER FACE when the rest of the club comes through the door. And during the whole song. So many miracles tonight.
* Wait, wait, wait. Does even Puck's HAT have a mohawk?
* I am not feeling as moved by "Do They Know It's Christmas?" as I know I should be (Welcome Christmas forever! ...or maybe it's because the lyrics are apparently horrendous for the context), but it was quite a lovely setup. I particularly loved the adorable little girl with the pink monkey, Quinn's smile at Finn, and Kurt & Blaine being their little harmonizing duo off at the end. Why doesn't this club sing with/for children all the time?
* I'm SO happy that Santana's number got cut out of this episode. I see no reason I should ever watch it, since it features her and a song I hate and a "friendship" I hate more, but I'm sure its MIA status improved the overall episode quality by at least 15%. Best editing decision ever.
* As happy as that makes me, I am equally angry that the Kurt/Blaine gift-giving scene got cut, with an extra splash of anger for the fact that this one has NOT been made available online. Fools!
In conclusion: Excellent. If Community had not hit their holiday special out of the stratosphere, this would have been my favorite Christmas episode without question. I've watched bits of it at least 30 times by now, and let it play straight through no fewer than three. Possibly I have formed an unnatural attachment to it since it was the last review of the regular season for 2011 and it just hung around in my brain and would not leave.
Up next: every bit of Will/Emma related news that rolls out for the next episode only serves to nauseate me more. Well, the excellence was nice while it lasted.
And now that I've finally tackled Glee, along comes Chuck to blow my mind to smithereens.
5x07, "Versus The Santa Suit"
First: I finally watched "The 12 Dogs of Christmas," and I'm telling you this because while it took most of the movie to figure out why I knew the actress playing Aunt Delores, I finally realized (with no small amount of delight), "Beckman!" Just trust me when I say how much fans of both dogs and her need to watch this. In case I have failed to mention it before now, Beckman is officially my second favorite individual on this show now, right ahead of Sarah and the recently downgraded Alex (downgraded for poor life choices re: dating).
Now: This by far is the highest percentage of watchable footage I've ever seen from a Chuck episode. If you were watching my LJ during the live airing, you might have seen a temporary post around 7:15 that declared "CHUCK. BE LIKE THIS ALWAYS" in enormous letters, to give you an idea of how much I enjoyed the vast majority of this. It was actually worth watching as an episode instead of a series of shippy clips, let's put it that way.
Things This Episode Did Right
I need to ground myself in Shaw's (evidently stupidly complicated) backstory post-haste, because as usual, I am drawn toward the villains on this series. I feel like I could probably even ship him and Sarah. He's a very attractive man. And apparently he has some sort of murdered-wife angst! That could drive anyone crazy. I fully understand and respect his desire to take Sarah down slowly and painfully.
Next: apparently you're allowed to whale on women a lot harder when they are skilled spies. Noted! That was quite a punch or three to the face. I love everything about her easy-as-pie capture, the taunting, the uncomfortable hanging, and especially the excellent decision to go with slow torture by freezing, which as Castle can attest, is my favorite of all the things. I can't tell you how happy I was when he caught her the second time, too. I hadn't even finished complaining about Sarah's excessive talent or the insufficient amount of hostage time before it was back for good.
Chuck's face the first time Shaw gets him on webcam. Did I say we'd finally found the YouTube-worthy moments last week? If so, I misspoke. THIS is where the goods have been hiding. "You untie Sarah right now." "Let her go." "Why are you doing this?" "Don't you hurt her." I will never, ever get tired of either one of them in Angry Protective Mode. Except now we get to use fun phrases like "my wife" while we're in that mode. And that's just one part. *gleefully bouncing up and down in her chair*
Sarah's shaky, teary confession about Shaw's wife doesn't sit so well with me. I know I don't have the whole story, but...I get an unpleasant gnawing feeling in my stomach at the idea of assassinating people being "assignments" or "part of the job." (see "why I hate spy shows") I did like the tears and her general demeanor, though. And the random assault kissing. And wherever all of the following quotes happened:
-"You're not half the man that he is."
-"I know you're in pain, and you want this to stop."
-"Chuck is coming up with a way to stop you as we speak!" (aw, faith)
-"You killed my wife. Now you're going to suffer just like I did. You're going to spend the rest of your life without Chuck."
-"Just so you know, while you're begging for mercy, your wife is watching."
Other bits I loved: Stan Lee! And the entire CIA Christmas party! (side note: the drunk lady is the person I've begun picturing as Dt. Hinesburg in the Nikki Heat novels) And Beckman kissing Chuck for cover. (laughing forever) And Casey getting shot and pratically dying, which would be great with a character I cared about or on any other show. I especially loved his plan for Alex's Christmas present (toy nostalgia: number two with a bullet in my book, right after actual books).
Further in the quote department: "Ellie, please, go home. I have to know that you're safe." Before they went overboard with it, I really enjoyed that splash of family love, exceedingly boring though an older sister/younger brother dynamic is. (I live that dynamic, and possibly that is what's ruined it for me, but it is just...impossible for me to care. Sisters are like best friends, brothers have that Bro Code thing, older brothers protect younger sisters, and...older sisters just seem like mothers at best, and not in a fun protective way, but a lame duck way.) Cheek kiss, though, I will take it! With bonus I love you.
Morgan being the first one to get to Sarah -- acceptable, for now, but it just reminds me over and over again how disappointed I am with their casting choice for Morgan if they're going to keep drawing from this well. I love interaction between women and their love interest's best friend. I love it! This rescue attempt would be pitch-perfect if he were even mildly attractive. But as it is, it's just depressing.
Where Everything Went Wrong
Oh, right about the time where we decided that it was more important to have Chuck and Ellie hug it out than reunite the spouses, and decided to go with a great big time jump from "unconscious and unresponsive" to "in the middle of the post-danger meeting." If you were within a thousand mile radius you might have heard me yelling, "SON OF A BITCH, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?" I honestly need to know what settings are wrong in your collective brain that you would go through all the effort of setting up a brilliant capture, hostage and near-death experience and then so blatantly squander the entire reason to set one of those up in the first place. I've seen you do this right! (Phase Three) Possibly more than once! (The Suburbs) Wherefore doth thou mock me now?
I mean. As I recall, the last thing Sarah saw was, post-Intersect-upgrade, Shaw advancing on a decidedly unarmed and probably outmatched Chuck with nothing more than faith in his hypothetical plan. And presently, she's like a little ice cube. As much I love his arm around her shoulders on the sofa and all in the aftermath, I would much rather have seen their immediate reactions to each other. Where is the fic? It's been five days and I can't find anything. You are not the small fandom you pretend to be. Is there some reason this is not meriting all of the writing effort?
And then, like I am not already nursing a grudge the size of Texas, the ending/preview happened and I went off like a powder keg. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN, 'DOES CHUCK KNOW ABOUT THE BABY???' Is this a baby you took from its dead mother's arms (possibly after you shot her) to save its life? Birthed by an unsuitable-for-motherhood best friend? Were you raped on some desolate mission as a greenhorn? Because those are the only explanations I will accept for this bullshit. And even the last one is dodgy." I am expecting clear-cut explanations of misdirection, because if there is one thing I hate above everything else in fiction, it is when secret half or mostly-grown kids pop out of the woodwork.
When I couldn't take the suspense anymore, I demanded spoilers from Lord Google. The internet immediately told me to simmer down and cut the crazy, which is helpful because they know what kind of show Chuck is and I don't (hence being prone to fits of highly suggestible hysteria), and they are actually being pretty supportive of one or two of my theories. So. As long as it's not biologically hers, then hey, I am all on board this train of Potential Awesome. Bring it on. If you fail me, I can be harder on you.
Anyway. There was a pretty Christmas kiss, at least, so, I should shut up and be happy. I mean, look how happy this kiss I just found made me. What do you think I would have done if I'd seen this episode live? Would I have recognized that the angsty squee outweighed the sucky storyline direction?
*15 minutes later* Have I not officially wrapped this review? I should do that, because I just found a gold mine of new-to-me clips that I need to get on post-haste, like this one and this one and *goes down the rabbit hole*
In conclusion: easy best episode of the season. I'm sorry that season 5 is objectively the best one, if we measure the entire series by Chuck/Sarah (which we do, though I've also been enjoying them being their own company), yet I have made it my life's mission to complain about it in non-stop detail. I'm just glad I wasn't around for season 4. I have built a shrine to season 4 in my head, based on The View From Youtube, and I can't imagine what kind of words I would have to say about it if the plot became a relevant thing and/or I watched it in order.
Oh! And I forgot to mention, I showed up to The Mentalist last week for our annual get-together, because you know how my interest in this show is 100% devoted to Patrick Jane getting roughed up. A drowning with bonus amnesia certainly counts.
That was the most exciting part, Lisbon finding him -- something I am presently busy applying to, oh, all of my crime shows ever -- because after that I remembered why I can only stomach this show about once a year. Besides his ridiculous last name, I hate how Jane is incapable of having a sincere emotion. Every time you let your guard down enough to hope, bam, you get your ass handed to you. It's tiresome. It's like the negative reviews about that book Liar -- you stop believing anything he says and thus lose any real interest in what happens to him. You can invest in people reacting to him, but as a character, he might as well be a cartoon for all the depth you can expect. And since the people reacting to him are not terribly interesting (though that Van Pelt is a looker), there's really no reason to stick around.
Did enjoy him calling Lisbon "Teresa" throughout, but I was really banking on something substantial when we finally broke through the memory barrier and reintroduced tragedy to his brain, and that didn't happen. It ended up so rushed and underwhelming that it just felt tacked on, like they had to reverse the scenario they'd set up but had no idea how to do it and just went, "Hey, so, that's the reset button. Got it? Great, see you next year." The one glimmer of reality I managed to squirrel away from this hour was "You think I can't see what's going on here? . . . You're dancing around some forgotten tragedy. I'm happy now. Just let me be happy." I'm letting it break my heart and you can't ruin it for me; I need this.