When we, the intrepid viewers of Fox's most creative live show, "Glee," settle in front of our TVs on a Tuesday night, we can never be sure what we are going to get in the way of quality television. The show is very much like that little girl from the Mother Goose book; the one with the curl on her forehead. When "Glee" is good, it is very good, and when it is bad, it is horrid. Thankfully, the sixth episode of the season, titled "Mash Off," was the first thing, not at all the second.
As far as the performances go, "Glee" and Will are keeping with the short tradition they have started by having a show focused on mashups; that is to say, two different songs sung in the same performance, not back-to-back, as in a medley, but interspersed. Not all of the mashups the cast members have done were artistically successful, but, in this episode, there were no clunkers. In fact most of the numbers were borderline excellent, with the best one coming last in the show. Mercedes and Santana (now with the rival show choir, The Troubletones) lead the group in two songs by Adele, "Rumor Has It" (Mercedes) and "Someone Like You" (Santana). This is what it looked like. Whew!
Not only was that last number the best production of the show, it provided the springboard to a very dramatic moment that surely will have repercussions in episodes to come.
The plotlines were creative, yet believable. For example, Brittany, as only someone like Brittany could do, makes two major campaign promises in the candidates' debate for the school presidency: that she will ban tornadoes and, every Tuesday, she will go topless. As you might suppose, that second promise got a bigger hand than her first one. By the way, prior to the candidates' speeches, Principal Figgins has another very funny moment. Perhaps we should pause at this point to give a nod to Iqbal Theba, who plays the role of Figgins. Not since Gale Gordon (Osgood Conklin) from "Our Miss Brooks" have we had such an amusing high school principal in a TV show.
Even though the school elections have not yet come about, this episode took care of a detail that never should have come up and that had driven an unfortunate wedge between Rachel and Kurt. On a more serious campaign note, Sue Sylvester has finally ramped up her run for Congress by attacking the person she believes to be her most dangerous opponent: Burt Hummel. She runs two attack ads against him that are so vicious and mendacious they defy belief. Burt complains to his campaign manager, Will, that he is getting clobbered by these ads. As a result, Will comes up with an outrageous negative ad of his own that has the unwanted side-effect of hurting one of the students. Perhaps if that student had shown Will a little more respect and loyalty over the past two years, he might have kept such a consequence in mind. This is the one small area where the plot may have strayed a bit from logic. Considering its contents, it is questionable that a man like Burt would have approved it, even though it gives his opponent the thrashing she so richly deserves.
It is through these outrageous attack ads that "Glee" earns the extra kudo this week. Although the show and its cast (even Sue) have an excellent record of doing PSAs, the satiric effect of these fake ads may have been the show's most significant contribution to social well-being yet. By taking them to the limits of absurdity, the show has shone a spotlight on those ads, written by lying sacks of fertilizer for the benefit of the very small number of Americans who are too stupid to operate a tape dispenser. Surely the excellent satire we saw of these horrendous pollutants to our collective intelligence will not put an end to the practice, but it was refreshing to see someone send the message: enough already!
"Glee," Season 3, Episode 6: "Mash Off"