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I may just have watched the most emotionally satisfying episode of Glee since the season 1 finale.

At the beginning of this season, it felt like the Glee writers had regained their focus. No more songs slotted in just to move iTunes sales, no more tribute episodes or stunt casting, no more Jukebox Blaine. But all too soon that promise withered, and we were back to nonsensical storylines, after-school specials, and characters who served the plot, rather than the other way around.

But tonight, in a tribute episode to Whitney Houston of all people, the show attained some measure of real feeling. I fully admit that Kurt and Blaine are the main reason I’m still watching the show (due to Chris Colfer’s enormous talent and my ridiculous crush on Darren Criss) so the fact that the most emotionally involving thread centred around their relationship certainly biases me. But for once, we actually got to see them talking – acting as though they were in a real relationship. The “drama” cooked up to get them there was silly, of course, but the writers finally addressed the separation syndrome that all high school couples – even those where both parties are graduating – go through.

Making Blaine a junior was a patently obvious move on the creators’ part to keep Criss, their cash cow, in the choir room for another year. Leaving aside the monumental personality change required to go from last season’s confident gay mentor to this year’s worshipful puppy dog, it seemed as though the writers didn’t think through the fact that Kurt encouraging Blaine to switch schools was a real dick move on his part, considering he’d be graduating and Blaine would be stuck in horrible McKinley for a year without him. And finally, the show addressed that problem. The result was a moving scene where Kurt and Blaine actually talked rather than singing at each other, and acted as though they might actually be in a real relationship. (Never mind that when Glee actually tackles these plot holes it starts to resemble fan fiction. This is one of the rare shows where the fanficcers are often better writers than the showrunners.)

The show has addressed the “where do we go from here” with Mercedes and Finn-and-Rachel, so it’s to be hoped we’ll get similar storylines for Santana and Brittany and especially Mike and Tina. (Jenna Ushkowitz has been sooooo underused on this show it’s not even funny; Tina has the potential to be such a badass and they just give her nothing.)

Random observations:

  • Puck gives all the guys empty shot glasses? Whatever. Also, it’d be nice to know what happened with Shelby and Beth; Puck may have demonstrated the most emotional growth of any character this season and then it just got dropped.
  • I continue to not care about Will and Emma.
  • Where are Sugar and Rory? I know Irishface only had so many episodes in his contract, but I didn’t realize that applied to Sugar as well. They really should have hired the girl who played Harmony; she was by far the best of the Glee Project people they’ve had on.
  • Why is Quinn getting into a relationship now, when she’s about to leave? Honestly, she’d be so much better off learning how to be on her own. I also miss her hanging out with Artie, as that’s a pairing we never saw much, and Autotuned-Dianna-Agron sounded good with Slightly-Less-Autotuned-Kevin-McHale.
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Blog post for RL work on the Best Picture nominees here.

Will try to be tweeting a bit during the broadcast, but there’s wine and food and most importantly The Girls, so I’ll be focused on that rather than on my phone.

Awwwwwwww

The trailer makes this look disturbingly Juno-esque, i.e., chock full of jokes and too clever by half. The difference being, Chris Colfer was 20 when he wrote this, while Diablo Cody was in her 30s.

….Yeah, I’m still probably going to see it.

May you forever avoid Sybil Fawlty.

 

Liveblogging the Grammys

Gonna make an attempt to comment on the Grammys – they’re on CBS so there’s no new The Good Wife tonight. Drinking game: one for every mention of Whitney Houston. Have 911 on speed dial for alcohol poisoning.

– Blonde, bridal on the RC: must be Taylor Swift.

– Looking the complete opposite: Adele. She looks great, but one presumes that’s not her performance outfit.

– LL Cool J, being remarkably straightforward about what the show’s going to like.

– Katy Perry just goosed Robyn on camera. I … don’t know what to do with that.

– Nicki Minaj just turned up with “the Pope.” Slightly less attention-grabbing than Gaga’s arrival via egg, but still: keep it classy, Nicki.

– I feel like I’ve seen Fergie’s dress before. (Edit: I have! Gaultier, stealing from himself. Thanks Fug Girls!) She clearly decided against “sombre and respectful.” She is also tripping all over it to show it off to ET Canada. At some point, you just need to give up on the shoe cam, guys.

– Aaaand, Rihanna’s barely wearing a dress at all.

– Aw, Mumford & Sons are cute! I don’t think I knew what they looked like before tonight.

– Daaaaaamn, John Legend looks GOOD. He’s dressed in chocolate brown, can I lick him?

– NPH! He looks adorbs.

– THANK YOU, ET Canada, for explaining the difference between Record/Song/Album of the Year. I’ve always wondered. I will probably forget within a week, but it’s nice to know they’re not arbitrary designations.

– Having the Boss and the E Street Band open is kind of like having Prince do it – there’s nowhere to go but down. Hope there’ll be some kind of tribute to Clarence Clemmons in there, too.

– O…kay. A prayer for Whitney – interesting idea?

– So this Bruno Mars performance is quite fun, but of all the artists one should not try to imitate, James Brown is, like, #1.

– Damn, Bonnie Raitt sounds amazing. More like what Etta really sounded like than all the melisma Alicia Keys is bringing.

– I’m turning the channel while Chris Brown is on in protest. He shouldn’t be allowed on that show in the first place, but it’s particularly ironic on a night they’re paying tribute to Houston, another battered woman.

– And the makers of AutoTune shut off Dave Grohl as he rails against crappy pop music. Bonus: he cut into Seacrest’s time. Love it.

– Why are we celebrating the Beach Boys? I missed the memo.

– If Chris Brown wins a Grammy right now, I’m turning it off.

– And he did. Bye-bye, Grammy broadcast.

The Cloons had two films at TIFF last fall, and before the festival opened it sure seemed like this was the one with the buzz. Yet The Ides of March disappeared from theatres relatively quickly and The Descendants is still out there, I guess ’cause people like seeing George Clooney cry and Hawaii’s real pretty.

It’s sure not going to appear in the pantheon of great political films, but Ides is a lot stronger and subtler than Good Night and Good Luck, Clooney’s last examination of political/media incest. The beats are pretty obvious: young ideologue (Ryan Gosling) joins up with Obama-esque campaigner (Clooney), gets disillusioned, and becomes what he beheld. And, of course, there’s a chick complicating things (Evan Rachel Wood) – naturally, she’s an intern who might as well walk around in a red dress the whole time, so clearly does she spell “Trouble.” (That’s “Trouble” with a T, which rhymes with P, and that stands for “Predictable.”)

So, no, the notion that political candidates have feet of clay isn’t going to shock anyone over the age of, like, 10, and when everything falls apart it all happens a bit too quickly (Jack Bauer never had such a crappy 24 hours). But the script, for which Clooney and his writing partners are nominated, is smart and punchy, helped along by the presence of the always-awesome Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti as rival campaign managers. (Note: a film about and starring these two would be at least five times as interesting, but probably would have tanked even faster at the box office. C’est la vie.) Given that it’s up against The Descendants and Hugo both of which have more nominations, an adaptation of a Le Carré novel, and the always bet-on-able Aaron Sorkin, it probably doesn’t have a chance at winning, but it’s the kind of movie you’re glad to see get made and recognized, so increasingly rare are thoughtful movies made for grown-ups.

While not as foreseeable as Amy Winehouse’s passing, the death of Whitney Houston, though shocking, doesn’t come entirely out of the blue, given her lifestyle for the past 15 to 20 years. There have been rumours for a long time that the sweet image she projected in her numerous videos was simply a creation of her label’s PR team, and that the drugged-out, nasty piece of work she became in later years was her true self. After all, one of the big hits off her breakthrough album was about sleeping with another woman’s husband.

Nevertheless, it’s always heartbreaking to see a true talent gone so terribly wrong. Her eponymous album was one of the first I owned when I started breaking away from my parents’ steady diet of Bach, Beethoven and Brahms, and as much as Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Tina Turner, she helped define an era. Really sorry you didn’t get your shit together, Whitney. Rest in peace.