I'm not a big "Glee" fan, and with Ryan McGee regularly writing about the show (as he did for tonight's episode) for our Monkeys as Critics blog, I haven't bothered writing about it much this season. But I got to see tonight's episode in advance, and Dan and I already talked about it on this week's podcast, so I figured I would throw up a post with a few thoughts, coming up just as soon as I loan my germs to a comely candy striper...

When I finished watching "Silly Love Songs," I had two reactions: 1)This should have been the Super Bowl episode, and 2)If the episodes were more like this on a regular basis, I would likely watch and/or enjoy "Glee" on a more regular basis.

Sunday's episode was designed as a kind of "Glee" primer: lots of Sue being snarky and cruel, a rehash of the familiar jocks vs. gleeks theme, random song from Kurt and the Warblers, etc. The problem was that it wasn't a very good episode. The over-the-top stuff seemed as uninspired as Sue felt after watching the opening number, the "Glee" 101 material was fairly dull, and the only musical number I came away really liking was the jocks doing "She's Not There." (The "Thriller"/Yeah Yeah Yeahs mash-up was less interesting than the prison video it was copying.) If Ryan Murphy and company had really gone for something baroque, it probably would have annoyed me, but at least it would have been memorable. That was just dull.

"Silly Love Songs," meanwhile, was an example of a more down-to-earth "Glee," ala "Wheels" from last season or "Duets" from earlier this season. No Sue(*), which meant more time to focus on the kids and actually flesh out a bunch of the stories. A few of the subplots and/or jokes were undercooked, like Tina's breakdown during "My Funny Valentine," but other stories like Puck's obsession with Lauren(**) or the Kurt/Blaine/Gap guy triangle felt like fully-developed stories with somewhat interesting characters. Santana more than capably filled the Sue slot of designated troublemaker while still feeling like a part of the same show as the other characters, the musical numbers were mostly well-done (I enjoyed Mike Chang getting his Michael Jackson on), and even the rehashing of the Rachel/Finn/Quinn triangle wasn't too terrible because Rachel was a human being and not the insufferable monster she's been for so much of this season.

(*) Just as she was absent from "Duets," and much as I love Jane Lynch I don't think it's a coincidence that the show seems to work better without Sue these days.

(**) I've actually been really impressed and/or surprised by how they've written Lauren since she joined the glee club. While Murphy tries to preach tolerance a lot more than someone like, say, David E. Kelley, he does have a weakness for creating characters on the margins who are just there to be even stranger, more pathetic and easily-mockable than his main characters (like Jacob Ben Israel), but Lauren actually seems like a person. It's not a joke that Puck has a crush on her - well, it's not entirely a joke, because you can see how he would be drawn to her personality even if she looks a lot different than Quinn or Santana.


"Glee" isn't likely to ever be my exact cup of tea, but every now and then they'll present an episode like this one in which I can at least see the outlines of the show so many people I know are obsessed with. And though it didn't have a football subplot, I suspect this would have won more converts from the borrowed Super Bowl audience than "The Sue Sylvester Bowl Shuffle."

What did everybody else think?