Glee: 103, “Acafellas”; September 16, 2009

This episode has a surprising amount of guest stars for being the third ever episode of a tv show.

Oh hey The Bob Newhart Show premiered on September 16 in 1972. Yeah I think I’m going to drop this “on this day” feature. Not even the “on this day in music history” stuff is interesting. Bah.

Last time on Glee: Terri found out she’s not actually pregnant, Quinn and two others joined the glee club which is good because Schue needs 12 members for the group to compete at Regionals which he’d know if he’d ever bothered to read the show choir competition manual, Rachel and Finn bonded by Rachel felt betrayed and used when Finn stayed with his girlfriend after cheating on her with Rachel, and Emma decided to stop pursuing Schuester and go out with Ken Tanaka. If only all of my reviews were that short.

Will and Terri are having dinner with Will’s parents, and Will announces that Terri’s pregnant. Since only Terri knows she isn’t pregnant, she’s not super pleased about this, but plays along.

Also Will’s parents are Victor Garber and Debra Monk.

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Five years later and it still makes me really angry that they never sang on the show. Victor Garber’s been in tons of tv shows and movies, and is a Broadway and musical veteran, having appeared in the original cast of Sweeney Todd, played Jesus in the movie version of Godspell, and played the mayor of River City in Disney’s version of “The Music Man”, which also featured Debra Monk and upcoming Glee guest star Kristin Chenoweth. Likewise, Debra Monk has also been in a ton of tv shows and is a Broadway vet. And they not only never sing on this show, they don’t even get names, and never show up again after this.

Will and Will’s dad have a heart-to-heart about how Will’s dad is sad he never had the guts to do what he really wanted in life, which was to become a lawyer, and yeah raising a kid is scary but don’t let that hold you back from doing what you want to do. I think that’s what Emma was trying to say in the first episode, but it’s better phrased here.

Their clothes look like a crayon factory exploded on them.
Their clothes look like a crayon factory exploded on them.

Rachel objects to Schue’s terrible choreography (we learn through a short flashback that Quinn put her up to it). They want to hire Dakota Stanley, who “understudied as the candelabra in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway.” Schue says just because he understudied doesn’t mean he ever actually performed, and Quinn is all “Did you ever perform? Did you ever even try?”

I’m not sure why being an understudy for an inanimate object would make you some great choreographer for a high school show choir, but okay. Actually a good point here is – why doesn’t Quinn manage the choreography? She’s the head cheerleader, seems like she oughtta know something about choreographing.

Actually this raises another, weird point – in a lot of shows (like Degrassi), the extracurricular activities have NO teacher input. In the 13 years Degrassi: TNG has been on air, they have never once referred to having a cheerleading coach, and in fact the head cheerleader is the one who is in charge of literally everything – fundraising, getting uniforms, choreographing routines, coming up with cheers, etc. On Glee, though, they have a cheerleading coach who instead doesn’t seem to leave anything to the head cheerleader. Why is there a head cheerleader if she doesn’t really do anything? Why is that, Glee? Why?

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By the way, this has always bothered me: Why does the guidance counselor’s office have walls that are just windows? There’s literally no privacy for you in the guidance office. I hope the real school they originally filmed in and then based the set off of doesn’t have its guidance office in a room that is literally 3/4 windows.

Anyway Schue talks to Emma about how he always wanted to perform after high school, but never did, because of a lack of confidence or something. She says it takes more certainty than talent to be a star, citing John Stamos as an example. BURN.

Emma is disinfecting her plastic plants, also.

Sandy Ryerson, aka the former glee club teacher who was fired for allegedly molesting a student (or maybe he really did and Rachel wasn’t lying?), is visiting because his old friend Henri is back from the hospital. It seems Henri is the school’s shop teacher, and is also addicted to cough syrup, and he accidentally sawed off his thumbs.

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Henri is played by John Lloyd Young, who doesn’t have much in the way of screen acting credits, BUT played Frankie Valli as part of the original cast of Jersey Boys, and is reprising the role in the Clint Eastwood-directed movie version (yes, THAT Clint Eastwood is directing a musical based on the rise to fame of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. No comment.)

Terri sent Howard Bamboo to deliver the cake she was supposed to bring Henri.

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As Henri struggles to eat the cake with his hands all bandaged up, Schue says it’s nice hanging out, just the guys. Tanaka, Sandy, and Howard all lament their terrible lives – being lonely, and Howard being afraid of his vacuum – and Schue totes can relate to that because he doesn’t know how to dance.

Of course Henry wins by point out he doesn’t have thumbs, and they sing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” to cheer him up, I guess. Schue comments that they sound really good and then STARES AT US AND SINGS.

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Aaagh.

“This Is How We Do It” is sung by the guys as Schue says a few weeks ago he would’ve thought this was weird and lame, and the guys try to come up with a name for their group – Henri suggests Crescendudes, Tanaka comes up with Testostertones, but Howard comes up with Acafellas. Since that’s the name of the episode, I’m sure you can tell that’s what they went with.

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But he looks so sharp!

They kick Sandy out of the group because he’s creepy. Then Terri interrupts their singing, saying if she doesn’t get some sleep, she could miscarry.

Schue kicks the guys out, and internal monologues about how ever since Schue formed the boy band, Terri has been like all over him. They’re even having sex once a week now. In reality, Terri’s just trying to get knocked up for real, but failing miserably. Which begs the question – why doesn’t she just fake a miscarriage? Early term miscarriages aren’t all that unusual, it would take the pressure off her to conceive before Will starts getting suspicious, and it would also garner some sympathy from Will. We learn later on that part of why she wanted a baby so badly was because she was afraid of losing Will, and I think, if a real baby wasn’t an option to keep him around, pretending to have had a miscarriage would at least keep him for some time. And faking a miscarriage would be so easy, she could just wait and say it happened while Will was at work and she didn’t have an opportunity to tell him about it while he was working.

Now, PLEASE be advised, if you are not a fictional character, don’t fake a miscarriage to grab sympathy for your husband or other people. That’s just insane. Faking a pregnancy is also insane. If you’re doing either and you’re not some lonely little kid, you need to go to therapy, because that is just unhealthy. Incidentally, Terri also needs to go to therapy, so there’s that.

Well anyway.

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Rachel announces that Schue is coming to glee rehearsal. She tried offering him some homemade apology cookies, a variation on the kind she likes to make for the poor around Christmastime. Huh, if only she had remembered she does that in the most recent episode of Glee where she’s trying to start a charity case to boost her image.

Rachel's season 1 episodes were all so adorable, actually.
Rachel’s season 1 episodes were all so adorable, actually.

Schue says it’s fine, and actually thanks her. If she hadn’t kept pushing and pestering him, he says, he never would’ve started Acafellas. He tells her to go ahead and hire Dakota Stanley, and basically quits as glee club director.

Finn blames Rachel for everything, and is the only one who votes against hiring Dakota Stanley. He also threatens to quit if they do after the two have a conversation about zzzz I don’t even care. Feelings or something.

Sue holds a meeting with Quinn and Santana, where they gleefully [heyyo] dish that Schue’s barely a part of the club anymore. Sue says that’s not quite enough, and commands them to go after the other glee clubbers and take them down, one by one.

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Mercedes sadly watches some PDAs in the hallway and asks Kurt if he’s ever kissed anyone. Kurt hasn’t, but wants to. He says they’re at the bottom of the social heap, and that Special Ed kids get more action than they do. This plus the comment from last episode Sue said about only Special Ed kids being dumb enough to join glee club or something… Geez. Rude.

Kurt asks if Mercedes has anything picked out for their little field trip to Carmel High. Mercedes is like “Why, is there a dress code?” and Kurt says something about how you should always look your best or something. He leaves, and Santana and Quinn show up and says Mercedes should totally tap that. Kurt is totes into her, which anyone would assume given that he dresses like a woman half the time. Wait…

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The Acafellas perform “Poison” at some bar or something. We’re 1/3 of the way throughout the episode and so far, only the Acafellas have sung anything. They’ve also had CDs made, which Will’s parents are giving out. Figgins invites Schue to have the Acafellas perform at an upcoming PTA meeting. Apparently the parents have been very upset since they found out they’ve been serving prison food in the cafeteria. I know some prisons actually serve pretty decent food, whereas school cafeterias… don’t, so I don’t know what the issue is there.

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Sandy wants back in the group, and offers to get Josh Groban to show up at the PTA meeting if they do let him in. They’re allegedly pen pals. But Schue won’t take the bait, and refuses on account of them having standards. But Sandy says he knows Josh Groban is looking for an opening act, and the other Acafellas find this information intriguing. I can only imagine how well it would go over to have some acapella hip-hop group consisting of middle aged men opening for Josh Groban, but okay.

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The glee kids, minus Finn and Artie, have arrived to spy on Carmel High and to see if they can score Dakota Stanley. Kurt notably has a GIANT new car, which his dad let him have if he promised to stop wearing form-fitting sweaters that stop at the knee, exactly like the one he’s wearing in the screencap.

Mercedes is worried about getting laughed at, but Kurt compliments here, saying specifically that the outfit she’s wearing is amazing. She asks if he’d ever want to hang out. Kurt suggests they watch this Liza Minelli marathon that’ll be on AMC that weekend. Hey, maybe Kurt’s not gay and he’s actually just Buster Bluth or something.

Rachel spots Andrew Cohen [no relation to Tina Cohen-Chang, I guess] of Vocal Adrenaline, who was the star something or other at Nationals or something last year. She’s vomiting into a garbage can as another member of Vocal Adrenaline tries telling her she’s not allowed to leave rehearsal for any reason, including heat exhaustion or Crohn’s disease.

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Also the other one’s wearing a neck brace.

Rachel announces that they’re there to hire Dakota Stanley. Andrea tells her not to do it, because he’s a monster.

Vocal Adrenaline performs “Mercy”. I am so sick of hearing this song because they kept using it in promos for other shows ALL THE TIME a few years ago and ugggh everytime I hear it I just want to hit the singer with a sledgehammer and go “How’s THIS for mercy?!” This is called “over-saturation” and is not a good way to endear someone to your product, show, or song, by playing it ALL the time, everywhere.

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Dakota Stanley’s fee is $5000, plus an extra $3000 if they place at Nationals. That’s pretty stiff. Also the guy who plays Dakota Stanley is Whit Hertford, who perhaps you know as Walter/Duck-Face from Full House, or more recently, Officer Ross on Raising Hope. …Not the must illustrious career, I’m afraid, but as long as he’s happy.

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Howard Bamboo is quitting Acafellas, saying “it was never his dream.” And it turns out Henri overdosed on cough syrup again and Figgins insists he go to rehab before he’s let back in the school.

Schue puts an ad on Craigslist PlaceYourAd.com to fill the vacant Acafellas places. Finn talks to him about how he doesn’t want to be in Glee club because all the football players think he’s gay. Schue encourages him not to, and then has an idea.

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Huh. So I wonder if that thing I pointed out in the first episode was actually a calendar? But why are all the months pink? I think the heart is for Mother’s Day? Geez, set decoration should not be this confusing.

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Puck, surprisingly, wants to join Acafellas. It turns out he’s totally into older women, and wants to perform at the PTA meeting because it’ll be full of moms. That sure would’ve been interesting, if they’d had Puck enter a relationship with one of the other glee club members’ moms, and there’s like a part where Puck is teasing whoever it is and tells them he’s going to be their new daddy, and the kid is like “UGH NO I’M OLDER THAN YOU, SHUT UP.”

Rachel and Tina try to tell Mercedes that Kurt is probably gay, but Mercedes is like “you’re just jealous” and talks about how no one ever even looks at her, so what if someone actually seems to like her? I’m no expert, but I think this is… realistic? Lots of women are so pleased to finally have someone to be really close to, that they don’t even notice the guy is totally gay, or cheating, or just terrible in general. And it’s one of those things where sure you could argue “Dump that guy, there’s someone better out there for you!”, but the facts simply don’t stand up – how can you be sure there’s someone else out there when you’ve only ever had the one boyfriend? You’re not getting any younger.*

*I’m not trying to say you should stay with a terrible guy just because he’s the first guy who ever asked you out, I’m just trying to explain a common train of thought for women like myself who are batting zero in the relationship department.

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Sue got the Cheerios to put on a car wash fundraiser for the glee club so they can hire Dakota Stanley. Kurt invites Mercedes to go to sing-a-long Sound of Music with him later that day, and Mercedes asks if they can make it official that they’re dating since that would be their third date and all.

Kurt is like “What, no” and says he’s in love with someone else, looking behind her. Mercedes turns just as Rachel sticks her head up into frame.

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So of course she assumes Kurt’s in love with Rachel. Kurt looks confused for a second and then says “Oh yeah. For several years now.” Mercedes is too blinded by rage to catch this blatant lie, picks up a rock, smashes Kurt’s windshield, and SING IT, GIRL.

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She sings “Bust Your Windows” which I am declaring as the best song in this episode already, and one of the Top 5 for the whole season.

Great choreography, great story relevance, and DANG GIRL, SHOW US DEM PIPES. Seriously, Amber totally rocks this song.

Watch it at this terrible quality Hulu link.

When she finishes fantasy singing, Kurt says “You busted my window! How could you do this?!” Mercedes replies, “Well you busted my heart,” and finishes with an attitude-filled side head bob that let’s face only black women can pull off successfully.

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That expression is on my own face about 80% of the time.

They somehow raised enough money to hire Dakota Stanley. Let’s sit back and take a minute to wonder how a high school car wash raised at least $5000 on its own. Why doesn’t the school just hold monthly car wash events? It seems like that would sure help with the school’s budget woes.

Dakota hands out personalized menus to everyone, except Artie. Artie’s been cut because he’s not trying hard enough at walking. Mercedes is also cut even though Dakota made a menu for her (which consisted entirely of “coffee”). When Kurt objects, Dakota tells him to lay off the aerosol or he could burst into flames at any minute, tells the cheerleaders they’re perfect, tells Rachel to get a nose job, and calls Finn Frankenteen (which was actually the behind-the-scenes nickname for Cory), and goes on about how freakishly tall he is. Dakota is also fairly short, so that doesn’t help.

Finn has had enough, and quits. Tina, who even in being insulted is completely ignored, quits as well, followed by Artie, Kurt, and Mercedes. Rachel is torn, especially when Dakota asks if she wants to stay and be a winner, or not.

Rachel has a burst of brilliance, though, and mentions Barbra Streisand. Since all she says at first is literally just “Barbra Streisand”, no one knows what she’s talking about. She goes on to say that when Barbra first started her career, everyone told her to get a nose job. She refused, and that worked out well for her. [Interesting counter example – Jennifer Grey DID get a nose job, and her career suffered horribly afterwards. No one could remember her face after the nose job.]

Rachel continues, saying they’ll never be as good dancers as Vocal Adrenaline, and they don’t need to be. They’ll win just by being special. [Spoiler alert: No they won’t. You need talent to win a talent competition.]

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Mercedes, following Rachel’s lead, mentions that “they” said J. Lo’s butt was too big [to be fair, it is freakishly huge]. Artie mentions Curtis Mayfield, who became more successful after he was paralyzed [I’m viewing his Wikipedia page now and I’m not sure that’s strictly true? He got a lot of honors and accolades after he was paralyzed, but I think he would’ve gotten those anyway due to him being old at that point. I guess that counts as being successful, though.]

Finally Finn mentions “Jim Abbott, one-armed pitcher for the Yankees.” Finn, you have both arms, what are you even talking about. I’m sure Jim Abbott can still dance even though he’s missing a hand. He can sure as heck show up to tell 6th graders to consider getting an education alongside being a pro baseball player, though! And again Tina doesn’t get to say anything.

They fire Dakota. I sure hope that $5000 was refundable.

The Acafellas – now consisting of Schue, Finn, Puck, Sandy, and Tanaka,  because three middle-aged guys and two teenagers isn’t even creepier or anything – prepare for their performance. I was about to ask why the Acafellas would be performing instead of perhaps the glee club, but then I remembered that all the parents were complaining about their sexy pep rally performance from the last episode, so that makes sense.

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They sing “I Wanna Sex You Up”, which is definitely not creepy given the ages of all involved or anything. We get to hear Puck sing for the first time, though, so that’s cool.

The PTA loved the performance for some reason.

Then Josh Groban shows up.

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So many guest stars, wow. Josh Groban actually showed up to tell Sandy to stop calling him, sending him chocolates or lockets of his hair or sonnets. He’s filed a restraining order. Poor Sandy genuinely thought they were friends, but… nope. I mean Sandy’s a nut, but you can’t help but feel bad for the guy, thinking he made an actual friend.

Josh Groban compliments the other guys for a good show, and leaves.

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Actually he apparently stays and flirts with Will’s mother, who has been downing alcohol like no one’s business the whole episode.

Terri goes to find her, and Will and Will’s dad have a heart-to-heart in the parking lot. Will’s dad says he saw how Will inspired those glee kids, and that made him inspired to go after his dream of becoming a lawyer. I like to think he achieved his dream and went on to start the firm Eli Stone works at in the show “Eli Stone”. I mean other than both being played by Victor Garber and both being lawyers, there’s really nothing in common. Maybe he just changed his name, I don’t know. Sure he has a daughter on that show too, but I don’t know if we know for sure if Will is an only child or not. We never see his parents again and I don’t think any other family ever comes up.

Mercedes apologizes for breaking Kurt’s car’s window, and offers to pay to fix the damage. Kurt says it’s fine, actually his dad took his car away when he found Kurt’s hope chest full of tiaras. Mercedes wishes Kurt good luck with Rachel, hoping they have a lot of loud, talented babies together.

She starts to leave, but Kurt has something to say. He’s not in love with Rachel, he says. Actually, he’s gay. WHOA. Did NOT see that coming. I mean the Liza Minelli and musical obsession, the feminine fashion sense, the hope chest full of tiaras… Who’d have guessed?

For real, I wonder if anyone watching the show when it was originally airing found this shocking or surprising? I mean I don’t want to stereotype, but… come on.

Mercedes asks if he was just gay the whole time, why didn’t he just tell her? Kurt reveals that he’s never actually told anyone before. Mercedes encourages him to stop hiding who he is and tell people, especially the other kids in glee club. Glee is all about revealing who you really are or something, after all. Kurt says it’s just not that easy, and he’s just not that confident. All the other kids basically know he’s gay anyway, so it’s not like it’d be a huge deal. Unfortunately Kurt can’t hear my advice from 5 years in the future, and so he just walks quietly away.

Quinn and Santana have a meeting with Sue. She is not pleased that the glee club fired Dakota Stanley, Schue is back and working on a new number, and everyone is more confident than ever. She asks the girls to smell their armpits.

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That is the stench of failure. She tells the girls she’s revoking their tanning privileges, which makes Santana break into tears and walk away sobbing. I’m not sure if it’s poor writing or a joke that someone with naturally tan skin would be upset about losing tanning privileges, but I’ll go with it being a joke.

Quinn also gets up to leave, but stops in the doorway. She thanks Sue for giving her a very valuable lesson, and that lesson is that when you’re really confident in yourself, you don’t have to put others down. Hm. That is a good lesson. Future lessons on the show will seem to include things like “Stalk people relentlessly to get what you want!” and “If you keep catching breaks and getting everything you ever wanted, you can take as many risks as you want and literally nothing bad will happen.” But those are for another day.

Schue has the kids rehearsing some new steps. Rachel says they’re good. Here’s another thought – Rachel has apparently been taking dancing lessons since before she could walk. Why doesn’t Rachel choreograph? If Dakota Stanley can be some great choreographer because he was an understudy on Broadway, why isn’t Rachel a good choreographer because she’s been winning dance competitions for years?

[I think it’s because Les Michele is actually not a great dancer, even though Rachel is supposed to be].

Final Thoughts: Why don’t we ever see Will’s parents again? I get there was no reason for them to sing in this episode, and that’s fine. But there were plenty of episodes later on that they could’ve come back and sang something. Maybe after Will’s marriage falls apart, he finds out his dad dropped out of law school to care for Will’s drunken mother, and seeing his dad so miserable makes Will inspired enough to get out of his funk. Or something.

Best song: BUST YOUR WINDOWS. HANDS DOWN. BEST.

Worst song: Hm… all but one other song were by the Acafellas, so they’re all sort of equal… I guess I’ll go with “This Is How We Do It”, because it was pretty unnecessary? None of the songs were really standout awful to me, though, even that “Mercy” song which I hate.

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