The Wonder Years S03E16 – Glee Club

I think I literally smiled the entire duration of this episode. This was a funny, kind of heartwarming, kind of dark, utter blast of an episode.

Kevin, Paul, and their motley crew of untalented comrades form the black sheep of RFK Junior High’s singing landscape. They’re okay with that, and their teacher is perfectly content not to mold them. That is, until Miss Haycock shows up.

Suddenly, she expects Kevin and the rest to actually try and sing. I did not object to this development, because every moment of this group singing nearly brought me to tears with laughter. Still, it seemed unlikely that this group of gangly, unmotivated teen boys would have any shot at pulling together anything presentable.

Kevin wins over Miss Haycock from the beginning by having “passion” in his audition, so he’s the only one who has the power to talk her down from her grand ambition of having the gorup perform. But, his new girlfriend Winnie Cooper pushes him to act more responsibly and support his teacher, even if this would end up being unwise.

With some persistence, the rest of the choir boys (minus the ever-enthusiastic Paul) are able to talk Kevin down from his support of the singing performance. So Kevin tells Miss Haycock that none of them really want to perform. I didn’t buy that she would get so upset; she seemed so unflappable that I had trouble believing this would be the thing that would break her.

Still, it resulted the absolutely fantastic reveal of Warren Butcher’s angelic voice. Tough guys tapping into their feminine side is always a funny brand of humor, and I was practically on the floor when I saw Warren belting out that beautiful note.

With this ray of hope, the group decides not to let down Miss Haycock. And this is where The Wonder Years’ defiance of the underdog story came in — much like at the end of Loosiers, the group stayed bad but gained something: a bit of self confidence, some sense of unity, and the pleasure of helping a young teacher come closer to achieving her life goal.

And everything goes worse than expected (though, I will admit, far better than expected from a comedy standpoint). Warren’s voice drops at the worst time, Paul relapses into the nervous sneezes that plagued him when Carla first courted him, and Doug Porter falls off the stage. It makes for brilliant, hysterical laughs — some of my favorite of the season. But Miss Haycock, who actually cares about the singing, is distraught that she wasn’t able to mold the kids at the rate that she did.

As someone who had to put up with lots of idealistic teacher types in the education department, I’m glad the episode both honored and mocked the passion and confidence of young teachers. Miss Haycock was an enjoyable character for me to watch. She reminded me of a dozen or so people I know personally.

There’s a hint of darkness in the way Miss Haycock completely implodes, but the way the episode defied the formula that any sports fan (including myself) knows by heart made up for it.

A few recaps ago, I talked about an episode of The Wonder Years can still work if it’s silly and shallow as long as its funny; this is a perfect example. Glee Club doesn’t really teach us much of anything about any of our characters. Still, it’s a fun romp full of hysterical scenes.

Other thoughts:

  • We’re supposed to believe that Kevin has been going to this club twice a week, and the show never thought to mention it before now?
  • I loved this use of Winnie. It showed us how their young relationship is beginning to affect the way he acts.
  • Paul’s singing was great, but that curly haired guy (what’s his name?) had the funniest voice.

Dan and Brian from Earn This now have a film review site and podcast:

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