Tuesday night's much-hyped episode of FOX's Glee was jam-packed with Madonna songs, references, and story lines. The show, which follows the misadventures of a high school "show choir," has earned an ardent fan base with a mix of teen melodrama, glossy musical productions, and a satirical take on "Brady Bunch" morality. (Watch "Glee"'s remake of Madonna's "Vogue" video.) Critical reaction to the Madonna-themed episode — which has already spurred rumors of a sequel — was mixed:
This was great television: "I'm just going to come right out and say it: This may be the most enjoyable hour of television of all time," says Bobby Hankinson in the Houston Chronicle. "The story was light and moved briskly," and performances improved on Madonna's own renditions. "Most importantly, the whole thing was just overwhelmingly fun."
The producers out-did themselves: "BEST. EPISODE. YET," raves Tim Stack in Entertainment Weekly. "In my mind, this was a game-changer for Glee. It took the show (and the cast) to a whole new level of awesomeness."
Did Madonna die? Or have we gone to heaven? asks Raymund Flandez in The Wall Street Journal. "This Glee episode feels, in some ways, to be a gratuitous, shameless, adoring, worshipful — yet gratifying — tribute to a great American musical icon whose televised funeral hasn't happened yet."
What's the fuss? This "sort of pointless...overhyped Madonna-centric episode seemed to exist without any narrative function whatsoever," says Meghan Brown in The Atlantic.
It was a disjointed addition: "I wanted to strangle the producers for having [Finn and Rachel] romp in the hallway amid students dressed up as Madonna — that was a bit more cheese than necessary, don't you think?" asks Gerrick D. Kennedy in the Los Angeles Times. "I loved the subtle references at the beginning (Brittany's bow, Santana's glove), but full-on garb from different videos that weren't even referenced was a bit much."
This might be the beginning of the end for Glee: "Episodes like this one make me worry it's heading in a direction that will bring it mainstream success but choke out what unique spirit the show had in the first place," says Todd VanDerWerff in the A.V. Club.