TV

Not Exactly 'Glee'-ful

You know, I didn't think I could hate Britney Spears any more than I already did.



Turns out, I was wrong.



After enduring all of last night's Spears-centric episode of "Glee," I no longer fear Hell. By the time Rachel (Lea Michele) was singing "Hit Me Baby One More Time," I really was wishing someone would hit me -- with a sledgehammer in the face, because that would have been more preferable than one of the worst TV episodes I think I've ever seen.



Jump the shark? 'Glee' ought to be subjected to PETA for torturing the shark. It made the series' Lady Gaga episode seem positively Shakespearean by comparison.



Unfortunately, some critics and I'm sure a lot of fans will think the episode was great, encouraging the writers to center even more episodes around a single pop star.



Not only is it bad writing, it's actually lazy writing. Because when the "Glee" writers are on the top of their game, they are pulling in a wide variety of music to fit into whatever the main theme of the episode is that week. Viewers might hear pop, swing, hip-hop, whatever, all mixed together to help tell that week's story.



But last night, all the writers did was have the kids get put under in the dentist's office and imagine themselves performing Spears songs while they were unconscious. The writers didn't even try to incorporate a theme to it. So not only did we have to listen to terrible music (I use that word in its loosest sense), but did so without a purpose.



There were plenty of "Glee" songs last year that I normally wouldn't like, but made sense in the context of the episode. I'm no Beyonce fan, for example, but one of the funniest sequences they did last year was have Kurt kick a football while the team danced to "Single Ladies." Not a great song, but a great sequence.



Not only that, but the writers would try to put different spins on various songs, so that they would be interpreted differently than we are traditionally used to. Take, for example, Quin's rendition of "You Just Keep Me Hanging On" set to a cheerleading routine. Clever, original stuff.



It's telling that "Modern Family," the show that beat "Glee" out of an Emmy, came back from summer hiatus at the top of its game. The cast and crew didn't rest on their laurels and instead attacked last week's premiere like they are still seeking audience recognition.



"Glee" seems to be still on summer vacation. I hope the cast and crew decide to get back to work soon.



WEDNESDAY'S BEST BETS: "Law & Order: Los Angeles" (NBC, 10 p.m.) debuts tonight in a new city but with the same format as Skeet Ulrich takes over as the lead detective. It follows a new "Undercovers" and "L&O: SVU" from 8-10 p.m.



Speaking of "Modern Family" (ABC, 9 p.m.) it anchors two straight hours of comedy before the new series, "The Whole Truth" at 10 p.m.



Making sure there are enough legal dramas to compete with the NBC and ABC 10 p.m. shows, CBS has a new "The Defenders" at the same time, following "Survivor" and "Criminal Minds."



Fox has two hours of "Hell's Kitchen" from 8-10 p.m., while CW has "Hellcats" at 9 p.m.



Hopefully, you caught Ken Burns documentary, "Baseball: The 10th Inning" when Part 1 aired Tuesday. Part 2 airs tonight on PBS from 8-10 p.m.



On cable, "Terriers" (FX, 10 p.m.) is new, as is "The Choir" on BBC America.

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