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GLEE:
THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON

So does GLEE ($70) deliver in its sophomore year? Yes and no. During its freshmen year, GLEE was definitely one of the darlings of the 2009-2010 broadcast season. However, like so many that have come before, the series was definitely a victim of the sophomore slump, with "New Directions" (and the series writing in general) seemingly loosing direction. Things do improve as season two progresses, with the writing getting somewhat better focus. However, even when the writing, the characters and their motivations meander, GLEE consistently manages to entertain, with its excellent musical numbers, and production values of said musical numbers.

For the non-Gleeks out there, here is a little breakdown of what the series is… GLEE is a mixture of genres that combines comedy and drama, along with music, and all rolls all of the ingredients into one smart little entertainment package. GLEE is set at the fictional William McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio. During the series first season, the school’s Glee Club is taken over by Spanish teacher and former William McKinley alumni Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison). When Will was a student at McKinley, the Glee club ruled the school and was the most popular extra-curricular activity. Renaming the Glee club (which now competes as a show choir) to "New Directions," it is Will’s greatest hope was to restore the school’s show choir/Glee club to the position it held during his glory days.

Unfortunately, even with a certain measure of success and recognition, the show choir remained at the bottom of the school’s social strata. Even adding some of the more popular kids, couldn’t overcome the stigma of glee being the refuge of the school’s social outcasts. During the second year of his tenure over the show choir, Will and "New Directions" continue to face a number of challenges… there are even deeper budget cuts that leave the show choir without the necessary funding. Plus, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), the cutthroat head coach of McKinley High’s "Cheerios" cheerleading squad still wants to squash Will and "New Directions" like bugs.

At the start of season two, the "New Directions" roster consists of the following: Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) is the most driven member of the show choir, who sees the club as a stepping-stone to fame. Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) is McKinley High’s star quarterback who begins a relationship with Rachel. Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) is the show choir’s male soprano, whose flamboyance makes him a target for the school’s bullies. Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley) is a diva in the making, with a voice to match. Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale) is a paraplegic, but it doesn’t diminish his desire to perform. Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz) is the show choir’s resident Goth, who is shy and insecure and joined glee as a means of overcoming her fears. Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) is the fallen head cheerleader, who learns some humility the hard way before rising to the top again. Santana Lopez (Heather Morris) and Brittany S. Pierce (Heather Morris) also come to "New Directions" from cheerleading, while Noah "Puck" Puckerman (Mark Salling) hails from the football team. The season two cast of GLEE also features Jessalyn Gilsig, Jayma Mays, Harry Shum Jr., Mike O'Malley, Darren Criss, Iqbal Theba, Chord Overstreet, Ashley Fink, Lauren Potter, Max Adler, Josh Sussman, James Earl, Dot Jones, Lamarcus Tinker and Jonathan Groff. Look for guest appearances from Kristin Chenoweth, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cheyenne Jackson, Charice and Carol Burnett.

GLEE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON ($70) comes to Blu-ray in a four-disc set that features the following twenty-two episodes that were aired during year two: Audition, Britney/Brittany, Grilled Cheesus, Duets, The Rocky Horror Glee Show, Never Been Kissed, The Substitute, Furt, Special Education, A Very Glee Christmas, The Sue Sylvester Shuffle, Silly Love Songs, Comeback, Blame It On The Alcohol, Sexy, Original Song, A Night Of Neglect, Born This Way, Rumors, Prom Queen, Funeral and New York.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made all twenty-two episodes that comprise GLEE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Like the preceding season collection, the 1080p presentations contained in the GLEE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON Blu-ray set are infinitely superior to their 720p broadcast versions. Topping the list is the fact that all of the artifacting and other peculiarities associated with the over-compressed network feeds are nowhere to be seen on these Blu-ray incarnations. Image sharpness, clarity, fine detail, texturing and dimensionality are all very, very good. Close-ups produce the most finely detailed images, with makeup and blemishes on the actors’ skin becoming evident. GLEE is a bright colorful show, which the Blu-ray presentations have no problem faithfully reproducing. Blacks appear very deep, while the whites are crisp and stable. Contrast and shadow detail are usually just a fine for a television level production, but like the preceding set, there are moments where shadow detail drops off into the abyss. There are no noticeable defects in the source materials. Some grain/noise is present in the image, with some instances appearing heavier than others.

All of the episodes that comprise GLEE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. Like season one, the lossless soundtracks are what one will enjoy most about this set. The wonderful musical numbers contained in the episodes really benefit from the lossless encodes and sound quite marvelous- full bodied and full of life. No doubt fans will be cranking up the music. And again, like season one, the music tends to be the only element to take full advantage of the lossless encode. When the music stops, the sound designs fall back into the talky comedy-drama mode. As expected, the sound is front heavy during the talky passages, but becomes more enveloping whenever there is music and singing. Speaking voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard episode selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. For those enamored with the music, this Blu-ray collection once again offers a Glee Music Jukebox. Featurettes and other programs include: The Making Of The Rocky Horror Glee Show (seven minutes), Building Glee’s Auditorium With Cory Monteith (six minutes), A Day In The Life Of Brittany (six minutes), Shooting Glee In New York City (eleven minutes), Guesting On Glee (eight minutes), Stevie Nicks Goes Glee (four minutes), Sue’s Quips (two minutes), Santana’s Slams (two minutes), The Wit Of Brittany (two minutes), Getting Waxed With Jane Lynch (six minutes; no worries, nothing Brazilian here) and Glee At Comic-Con 2010 (fifteen minutes) .

Despite evidence of sophomore slump in terms of the writing and character development, GLEE remains one of the most highly entertaining shows on television. The Blu-ray presentations look and sound great. Recommended.

 
GLEE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON 


Glee: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] (2011)

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DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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