Gleecap: Michael Jackson Tribute a ‘Thriller’?

Glee (FOX)

My thoughts on “Michael,” this week’s Michael Jackson tribute episode of “Glee,” can be summed up in a series of letters to real and fictional people.

Dear Naya Rivera,
Do you have someone managing your campaign for a 2012 Supporting Actress Emmy? I humbly nominate myself for the position. I have virtually no skills that would be of use in the job, so you’d be doing most of the work yourself. Since you have a knack for stealing basically every scene or musical number you’re in, getting people’s attention shouldn’t be a problem. You should lobby for more songs with Darren Criss and Kevin McHale, a la “Bad” and last year’s “Thriller” mash-up, because your voices sound awesome together. You weren’t awkward or forced in “Smooth Criminal,” which is more than I can say for your dueling partner. If you need help writing an acceptance speech, I’d suggest throwing in the word “underboob” a couple of times. You say it with gusto.

Dear Harry Shum, Jr.,
More eyeliner all the time, yes! I totally thought you were Janet. It was good.

Dear writers and directors,
Recreating the “Vogue” video with Sue in “The Power of Madonna” was comedic gold. But in general, please consider that if you insist on doing a tribute episode (sigh), producing near-replicas of music videos, even though you have talented dancers, is uninspired. We can see the originals on YouTube. Numbers like Quinn’s “Never Can Say Goodbye” work because they provide an element of fantasy while reminding us how the character relates to the song (see also: last year’s “Firework”). It’s fun to see these kids reveal their souls in the songs, which to me seems more authentic in choir rooms and on stages than on mysterious spaceships and in shady parking garages.

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Dear Macauley Culkin,
Why didn’t you have a cameo in this episode? You could have lip-synced to Artie’s rap in “Black or White” like old times. I don’t know, maybe you could use the work.

Dear guys from 2Cellos,
I may have complained about the “Glee” gods copying videos, but it was pretty slick of them to bring you in to re-imagine the “Smooth Criminal” video that made you famous. Watching you play is addictive, but I’m sorry they combed your hair to make you look like prep school boys.

Dear Dianna Agron,
I know you’re not a writer for “Glee,” so your dialogue was not actually you talking, but I’m going to ask you anyway: Were you putting words in Quinn’s mouth about not anchoring yourself to your past as a way to break it to us that you won’t be back for Season 4? There’s been lots of chatter about Colfer, Lea Michele, and Cory Monteith, but no one’s saying anything about your character’s imminent departure. Is “Yale” code for “movie career”?

Dear Artie (and Schue and all the ND kids, really),
While I personally limit asking WWMJD to strictly sequin-related conundrums (because I like a little sparkle), you can keep applying this alarming peculiar question to whatever situations you prefer, I suppose. But as far as “Billie Jean” is concerned, I’m not sure MJ himself had a bold, courageous role in getting it on TV at all. According to the recently published oral history “I Want My MTV,” it sounds like that was more of an argument between a bunch of executives. Maybe read up on it before using the King of Pop as your moral compass.

Dear Rachel,
Oh, girl. When you told Kurt about your NYADA finalist letter, you clearly had forgotten that your fiancée should be the first to hear such news. Because you have a fiancée. I know you panicked because you have absolutely no backup plan for not getting into that one school you applied to, but… just don’t put a deposit down on a venue yet, okay?

Cheers to you all,

PS – Here are some more things to write home about:

Best musical number: I don’t suspect it will be a popular choice, but I’m sticking with “Never Can Say Goodbye.” Darren Criss also sang “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” really well, but the “Does all the Michael looks!” approach felt like a phoned in staging.

Best made-up cartoon character: Prancy Smurf

Best villain revelation: Scumbag Sebastian’s admission to putting rock salt in the slushie. We knew he was heinous, but at least now he’s not pretending to be otherwise.

Best rant: Artie was right to be angry and even—gasp—to forsake Regionals. The dig against the “It Gets Better” project was a little harsh, but a lot of teens feel that way, so it felt like an authentic outburst.

And stuff I’d rather not have to retell:

Worst musical number: “Ben.” It’s about a rat from a horror movie sequel. I know it was a huge hit and is sweet and all, but it’s weird.

Most missed MJ tune: I’m super sad “Earth Song” wasn’t included. Because seriously, what about elephants? I hate to think we’ve lost their trust.


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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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