There’s no question in my mind that Glee is the best new television show of the season. Hell, there are some days where I think it’s the best television show ever. So you can imagine my dismay when it was announced that next week’s fall finale would indeed be the last Glee we’ll see until April. Apparently Fox has some karaoke contest they insist on holding every year, a sad spectacle of Schadenfreude, and they’re clearing the Wednesday night schedule to make enough room for its bloated, gluttonous, frustratingly resilient corpse.
To call my initial outburst seismic would not be exaggerating. A cloying, avaricious, inexorably declining reality show is going to unseat the most deftly written, wonderfully performed, exquisitely produced, and consistently entertaining (not to mention most rabidly followed, most market friendly, and thus most highly profitable) scripted series in years to stake a claim on the network television landscape? As tonight’s excellent episode rolled on, my anger at the programming directors at Fox began to boil up within me again; but when all was said and done (and boy, was an awful lot said and done!), I found myself reevaluating my opinion.
Yes, a full 22 episode season of Glee would be heavenly…but only in theory. It comes down to quality vs. quantity. Given how much series creator Ryan Murphy and his team of writers have managed to cram into this season (Quinn’s pregnancy, Terri’s hoax, Emma’s engagement, Puck’s slow maturation, Will’s attempts to recapture his youth, Kurt’s coming out, Tina’s growing confidence, Sue’s endless schemes, and an innumerable number of crossed love connections), I’d be afraid that there simply wouldn’t be anything left to cover if the show kept up its locomotive pace. Nevermind exhausting the writers; the cast would be exhausted, too. The Glee gang must be in a constant state of rehearsal, prepping numbers for episodes two or three weeks in advance. That means learning choreography, recording the music, and putting it all together in front of the cameras multiple times so every usable angle can be captured. Nevermind exhausting the cast; the budget would be exhausted, too. The hours and material expended shooting your average episode of Glee must be double that of most other primetime programs. And can you imagine what the performance rights to the show’s largely contemporary pop music score cost?
In short, if Glee maintained the typical full season schedule of a primetime network hour-long, it would likely fall apart: exhausted minds behind the cameras, exhausted bodies in front of them, and exhausted pocketbooks behind the scenes. That’s why the show has to take a break and disappear until the springtime. It’s what’s best for the show, and it’s what’s best for its fans. The bottom line is that we have to take our Glee in small doses, just as we would some pot brownies from Puck; because like Puck’s pot brownies, episodes of Glee leave us feeling light-headed, happy, and hungry for more, but they are very costly to produce.