Midseason report card: Did Adam Lambert or ‘Funny Girl’ story help ‘Glee’ season 5?

Going into “Glee” season 5, it was understandable to have concerns about whether or not we’d still have a pretty good show. You were coming on the heels of the devastating death of Cory Monteith, and the challenge was to try to come up with a show that still felt positive and not hopeless and despondent.

In some ways, the shadow that Cory’s death left makes it a little harder at times to really even review or offer up criticism on a show that clearly was dealing with some emotional stuff off-screen. But, what we will say is that when the show was honoring its late co-star, it was at its best and provided us with some of the most raw, authentic moments of the entire season.

What worked – “The Quarterback” was the hardest episode to watch of the entire year for just about any show, and that is no slight to its quality. Instead, it was just heart-wrenching to watch, but this marked Matthew Morrison and Mark Salling’s best performances in years, and everyone across the board delivered the right mixture of emotional gravitas and staying true to their characters.

In moving away from the tragedy, it felt like “Glee” did a nice job at times this year of utilizing the fun. Adam Lambert’s guest-starring role has brought some levity and great performances, and the “Puppet Master” episode was a nice dosage of silliness on a Thanksgiving night. It’s almost ironic that the best episode of the five following the baseball break was the one in retrospect that the fewest people watched live.

Also, the Lea Michele – “Funny Girl” story has promise. We don’t need the show to become “Smash,” but we’ve enjoyed what we have seen from production so far and we wouldn’t mind more.

What didn’t – The largest issue for “Glee” this season is mostly that for whatever reason, the writers don’t care about logic anymore. You have that Christmas special that was an ultimate cash grab and just plain useless, and then you also have the incorporation of modern songs that did not exist in the spring of 2013 when this season is set. We’ve always suspended belief enough that the characters could find out about “We Are Young” or “This Is the New Year” before most other people … but they didn’t know about “Wrecking Ball” and “Roar” that early on. Out of the last five, we’d say that only “Puppet Master,” “Moving Out,” and the New York parts of “A Katy or a Gaga” really delivered.

In mentioning New York, we have to comment again that McKinley just isn’t working. It’s not even the fault necessarily of some of the actors, who we believe are doing their best. The stakes have just changed, and we no longer care about whether New Directions wins Nationals or if Jake and Marley get together. Our time and attention is more with Rachel, Kurt, Santana, and even some character who we are not seeing often. We do still care about Sam, Blaine, Artie, and Tina, but save for some period moments they haven’t had enough to do to plan for their future.

Overall – “Glee” has come dangerously close to being the show it used to satire. It no longer feels innovative or fresh as a look at high school, and it would have been better suited to just completely move away from high school after season 3, and let some of the other students join the show when they could. Instead, it’s stretched itself too thin, and the only real reason we give the show a passing grade is because four out of the eight episodes so far were either very good or excellent. The others are ones we’re better off forgetting. Grade: C.

What do you think about “Glee” season 5 so far? Let us know in the comments.

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