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Returning for a third season of episodes, does GLEE recover from its sophomore slump? I would have to say yes and no- the melodrama of high school life for its characters is less intriguing than it was during its freshman and sophomore years, but the levels of fun and joy that the series generates during its musical numbers has lost none of its ability to captivate an audience and imbue them with the exuberance of those performances. In its wisdom, GLEE recognizes that its characters are growing up, growing older, with many students in their senior year- thus making this year is a year of transition as they prepare to graduate high school and prepare for the next phase of their lives and or musical careers.

For the non-Gleeks out there, and those that missed seasons one and two, here is a little breakdown of what GLEE is about... The series serves up 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 was 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, but by the time he returned as a teacher, Glee was at the bottom rung of the high school social strata. Renaming the Glee club (which now competes as a show choir) to "New Directions," it is Will’s greatest hope to restore the school’s show choir/Glee club to the position it held during his glory days.

Unfortunately, even with competitive success and recognition outside William McKinley High School, the show choir remained at the bottom of the school’s social strata. Even adding some of the more popular kids from the football team and cheerleading squad couldn’t overcome the stigma of glee being the refuge of the school’s social outcasts. During the third year of his tenure over the show choir, Will and "New Directions" continue to face a number of challenges, the greatest of which is Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), the cutthroat head coach of McKinley High’s "Cheerios" cheerleading squad, who has expanded her personal vendetta against Will and "New Directions" to include all arts in schools- making it a prominent plank in her congressional campaign.

At the start of season three, 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 joined glee as a means of overcoming her shyness and insecurities. Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) is the fallen head cheerleader, who has had a series ups and downs... hitting a new low as season three begins. Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris) comes to "New Directions" from cheerleading, while Noah "Puck" Puckerman (Mark Salling) hails from the football team. Santana Lopez (Heather Morris) finds herself named co-captain of the "Cheerios" and on the out from "New Directions" after committing an act of disloyalty. Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) transfers to William McKinley High School to be with his boyfriend Kurt and becomes the newest addition to the school's show choir. The season three cast of GLEE also features Jayma Mays, Harry Shum Jr., Chord Overstreet, Grant Gustin, Lauren Potter, Mike O'Malley, Max Adler, Josh Sussman, James Earl, Dot Jones, and Jonathan Groff.

GLEE: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON ($70) comes to Blu-ray in a four-disc set that features the following twenty-two episodes that were aired during year three: The Purple Piano Project, I Am Unicorn, Asian F, Pot O' Gold, The First Time, Mash Off, I Kissed A Girl, Hold On To Sixteen, Extraordinary Merry Christmas, Yes/No, Michael, The Spanish Teacher, Heart, On My Way, Big Brother, Saturday Night Glee-ver, Dance With Somebody, Choke, Prom-asaurus, Props, Nationals and Goodbye.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made all twenty-two episodes that comprise GLEE: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Offering a similar appearance to the previous two seasons, the 1080p episodic presentations for GLEE: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON are infinitely superior to the over-compressed 720p network feeds seen on my local cable system. Sharpness and detail are very strong across the episodes, as is the overall clarity, depth and levels of fine detail and texturing found in the image. GLEE remains a bright and very colorful show; hues are very warm and richly saturated, with appealing flesh tones. Blacks are deep, whites are stable, plus the levels of contrast and shadow detail are just what one should expect from a television level production. There are no noticeable defects in the source materials. Shot on film, there is grain present in the image, with darker sequences showing more than those that are brightly lit.

All of the episodes that comprise GLEE: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. No surprises here, where these soundtracks really shine are during the musical numbers, which of course, really benefit from the lossless encodes. The musical numbers sound terrific- rich and full of life and well worth amplifying. Outside of the musical numbers, the sound designs for the episodes fall back into the talky comedy-drama mode. During the talky passages, the sound is front (and center) heavy but becomes more enveloping whenever there is music and singing. Dialogue maintains complete intelligibility and speaking voices sound natural. 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: Glee Under The Stars (eight minutes), Glee Give A Note (eight minutes), Glee Swap: Behind The Scenes Of "Props" (six minutes), Meet The Newbies (thirteen minutes), Saying Goodbye (fifteen minutes), Ask Sue: World Domination Blog (six minutes) and Return Of Sue's Quips (three minutes). Some Deleted & Extended Scenes close things out.

Despite the soapy melodrama of high school life, GLEE remains one of the most highly entertaining shows on television. The Blu-ray presentations look and sound great. Recommended.


Glee: The Complete Third Season [Blu-ray]


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2012 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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