2.5 The Rocky Horror Glee Show
There are few films that really can be called cult classics, but if you were to compile a top ten list then The Rocky Horror Picture Show would surely be somewhere among the top three.
A staple of pop culture, Rocky Horror is still enjoyed and watched as much as it was thirty-five years ago, so it’s no surprise that another new staple of popular culture has decided to pay homage to it. But even after two viewings, I’m actually not sure what to make of this episode of Glee.
In a bid to try and impress Emma, who has found a love of the musical thanks to her new boyfriend Carl, Will decides to put on a production of The Rocky Horror Show, enlisting Emma’s help to do the costumes and to spend more time with her.
The Glee club throw themselves into the production, with Rachel and Finn taking the roles of Janet and Brad, Kurt appearing as Riff Raff, and Sam as Rocky. And due to lack of characters, Quinn and Santana share the role of Magenta, while Brittney and Tina share the role of Columbia. After Mike drops out as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Mercedes takes over the role, as she has always wanted to play a lead.
As the rehearsals continue, Sue is approached by two network executives (Meat Loaf and Barry Bostwick in fantastic cameos) to film an exposé. Certain she would be a shoo-in for a local Emmy, she takes on the project and acts as narrator.
When Carl comes in and takes the role of Eddie, Will’s jealousy gets the better of him, replacing Sam as Rocky, while claiming it is unfair for him to be more-or-less naked on stage. He uses this excuse to get even closer to Emma, but realises that Carl is best for her at the moment, and finally leaves them to get on with their relationship.
When Will finds out about Sue’s real motives, he shuts the production down, but lets the Glee club perform just for themselves.
As I mentioned earlier, I have watched this episode a couple of times now, and I am still not 100 per cent certain if I like it or not. This may seem a strange thing to say, but there are some moments that work so well in this episode, and some that just come crashing down.
So, the bad news first. Rocky Horror was and is still a completely insane, unique and somewhat shocking piece of cinema. The fact that it catered and focused on an audience that already felt like outsiders in society should be the perfect fit for a show like Glee, but it really was just too sanitised. I understand that it is going out on primetime American television, but there was no shock value at all, which really is the lifeblood of Rocky Horror.
A prime example of this is the casting of a female to play the role of Frank-N-Furter. Although it’s trying to keep up with the times and throw convention on its head, it just doesn’t really work, and although Amber Riley puts a new, soulful spin on the song, it’s just lacking that magic the original had, and the episode is the worse for it.
Secondly, there is the major shift in Emma’s character about half way through the episode. I for one have been a fan of the Will/Emma will they, won’t they relationship since the first season, and I’ve been enjoying watching her grow as a character.
However, she seems to throw all her neuroses out of the window when she performs Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me with Will, and I refuse to believe she would be that uninhibited, no matter how much she loved Rocky Horror.
Finally, there’s the male body image storyline, which I felt was sort of thrown in at the end just so there was some sort of lesson that could be learned before the final credits rolled. The issue itself isn’t a problem – in fact, it’s refreshing to see a show tackle this rather than female body issues, which seem to be a staple in all teen shows.
However, it did feel a bit like an afterthought, and if they were going to tackle it, they should have made it a bigger part of the show, and not part of an episode which is more of a homage than normal.
So, onto the good news. The Rocky Horror Glee Show is actually pretty good if you ignore the majority of the story and just stick to the songs. The opening is in line with the original movie, and Naya Rivera does a great job of belting out Science Fiction/Double Feature, and providing the iconic lips which really sum up all that is Rocky Horror. Highlights have to be Dammit Janet and Hot Patootie, which features a surprisingly great performance by Uncle Jessie himself, John Stamos.
The star of the show, however, was The Time Warp, which was just brilliant, and once again I’m going to gush a bit over Chris Colfer who plays Kurt, as he was amazing as Riff Raff, and showed that he has a great vocal range and can really throw himself into a part.
I was also once again impressed by Dianna Agron, who really made a brilliant Magenta. I would like to hear a lot more from both of them during this season.
The Rocky Horror Glee Show isn’t all I hoped it would be, but if it gets a new generation into watching the original, who am I to argue with that?
Read our review of episode 4, Duets, here.
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