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Culture Cafe

Movie, music, and television reviews from a select group of bloggers.

Seth MacFarlane hosted the 2013 Oscars ceremony. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Seth MacFarlane: Would he host the Oscars again? The comedian answers.

By Staff Writer / 02.26.13

However you felt about the performance of Seth MacFarlane as Oscar host, he certainly got everyone talking.

So will he be back for a second go-round?

The comedian’s answer was definite.

“No way,” MacFarlane tweeted in response to a fan who asked if he'd consider it. “Lotta fun to have done it, though.”

MacFarlane received mixed to negative reviews for his turn as host, with many offended by jokes that were perceived as racist, sexist or homophobic. There were a few that landed, but many felt his routine was dominated by objectionable humor.

He presided on a night where the film “Argo,” which focused on a little-known aspect of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis and was directed by Ben Affleck, won Best Picture. Actor Daniel Day-Lewis made history when he took home his third Best Actor statuette for the movie “Lincoln,” while first-time winners Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence won the Best Supporting Actress for “Les Miserables” and Best Actress prize for “Silver Linings Playbook,” respectively. Actor Christoph Waltz won his second Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for the movie “Django Unchained.”

MacFarlane came to the Oscar hosting gig as his animated sitcom “Family Guy” aired its eleventh season. Another of his shows, “American Dad,” is in its eighth season and the “Family Guy” spin-off “The Cleveland Show” is in its fourth. MacFarlane’s film “Ted,” which he wrote, directed, and starred in as the voice of a foulmouthed teddy bear, was a hit this summer, grossing more than $218 million in the US, according to Box Office Mojo. The film starred Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, and Wahlberg and the teddy bear Ted appeared at the Oscars ceremony as presenters.

A sequel to “Ted” has been rumored, and MacFarlane told Collider that nothing is certain yet but many on the original team are interested.

“It has not been officially signed off on yet,” MacFarlane said. “But it's very promising.”

Pentatonix released their first EP this past June.

A cappella group Pentatonix offers powerful vocals in their takes on top 40 hits

By Saba HamedyContributor / 02.25.13

From “cello beat-boxing” to an interactive audience sing-along, vocal group Pentatonix had no problem amping up the crowd at their recent sold-out concert at the House of Blues in Boston.

The five-person a cappella group, which was the winner of the third season of NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” are not your average YouTube sensation – they’re better.   

With Scott Hoying’s spot-on solos, Mitch Grassi’s unreal high notes, Avi Kaplan’s sultry bass, Kirstie Maldonado’s pitch-perfect diva vocals and Kevin Olusola’s beat-boxing/percussion perfection, the group is a unique mix of individual voices that beautifully blend into one.

It’s so perfect that it’s almost robotic, too good to be real – but it is.

What was once just popular among “choir nerd extraordinaires” (as Hoying called himself and some of his fellow group members during the concert), a capella music has transformed into a pop culture phenomenon, partially due to shows such as "The Sing Off" and "Glee" and even more recently with films such as "Pitch Perfect" (which made over $100 million in the box office) and ABC Family's "The Mistle-Tones." Pentatonix has scored YouTube hits in the millions and currently boasts about 230,000 Facebook fans and more than 71,000 Twitter followers. 

In a time where people glorify electronic beats and synthesized vocal chords such as those remixed by Swedish DJ Avicii - and synthesized vocal tracks - such as top-of-the-charts songs like Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" – Pentatonix offers a refreshing twist to top 40 hits.

With little choreography and only some minor light effects (different colors for different songs, spotlights on individual group members, etc.), the group stayed away from a flashy routine and kept the performance simple but still fresh to avoid simply replicating their YouTube videos.

Highlights of the show:

– The combination of Kaplan's hilarious jokes/one-liners and body roll dance moves (seriously, how did he move his legs like that?) was highly entertaining, not to mention when he sang a song originally from “The Hobbit" titled "Misty Mountains Cold."

“I don’t know what I was doing in Middle Earth at the time, but I’m sad I missed out,” Kaplan said to the crowd.

– Olusola's "cello beat-boxing" was also a standout. Olusola is beyond talented – he's a Yale graduate, fluent in Chinese and can literally provide a beat for anything, even a cello. Hoying said they got Olusola on board after seeing a YouTube video of him cello beat-boxing, which is basically playing the cello while simultaneously beat-boxing. Yes, it’s as impressive as it sounds.

– Pentatonix proved they have more than covers up their sleeve by performing a new number, “Peaceful World,” written by Kaplan. The song showcased all of the group’s amazing ranges and vocal talents – it was a little slow, but it left me wanting more of their originals. Here’s to hoping some of the originals include Olusola’s amazing cello beat-boxing.

– An 'N Sync medley was one of the best parts of the show. While I’ve watched Pentatonix’s Youtube rendition before, seeing it in person brought my inner 10-year-old to life. 

– Olusola and Kaplan said audience participation is their favorite part about every concert because they love getting the crowd to sing along. First they divided the audience into three sections – Team Scott, Team Kirstie and Team Mitch. Then the less musically talented were assigned clapping roles. Everyone had a part to play. Then Olusola and Kaplan beat-boxed and dropped the bass. I have to say, we didn’t sound half-bad. Maybe Pentatonix should take us on tour as their back-up singers. (Just kidding, they don’t need back-up anything.)    

– After the band “ended” their show with Nicki Minaj’s “Starships,” the crowd started chanting “PTX” to get an encore. After a few minutes, the group came back on stage and performed their last few fan favorites. First came Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over,” with Grassi hitting some impressive high notes. Then came a YouTube favorite, a cover of fun.'s “We Are Young." Pentatonix's version has over 7 million hits.

Now that the concert is over, I am eagerly anticipating the group’s new album. Until then, I’ll have to keep my inner acanerd occupied with YouTube covers.

Saba Hamedy is a Monitor contributor.

Seth MacFarlane (center), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (l.) and Daniel Radcliffe (r.) perform a dance number at the Oscars. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Seth MacFarlane: The reviews of his performance and the moments we actually liked

By Staff Writer / 02.25.13

Oscars host Seth MacFarlane drew mixed to downright negative reviews for his first time in the gig, with many finding most of his jokes offensive.

“The oddness of the hire — middlebrow frat-boy hero emcees Hollywood's glitziest night — was only heightened by MacFarlane's unpleasant demeanor,” The Atlantic writer Richard Lawson wrote of MacFarlane's performance. 

USA Today writer Richard Blanco agreed.

“One longed for [MacFarlane] to drop the meta-jokes about the fear that he'd be an inappropriate host and get on with the job of actually hosting, which means keeping the train running, making your guests comfortable, and making the evening more about them than you,” he wrote. “Awash in self-indulgence, neither he nor his 3-hour-and-35-minute show ever seemed to hit a comfortable, confident stride.” 

Even the more positive reviews rated his performance a mixed bag, with Huffington Post writer Michael Russnow writing that “when he played it straight, he was great – poised, handsome and charming. But on occasion he spewed classless material, which I'm sure he thought was very funny.”

However, despite the more off-color jokes that offended some viewers, there were some routines from MacFarlane that landed. Here are our five favorite moments from the Oscar host, in no particular order.

1. In detailing the plot of “Argo,” for which Ben Affleck famously lost out on a Best Director nomination (despite the movie eventually winning Best Picture), MacFarlane said, “The film is so top secret that the film's director is unknown to the Academy.” He added a moment later, “They know they screwed up.”

2. "Family Guy" viewers knew already that MacFarlane loves movie musicals, especially the 1965 film "The Sound of Music." He demonstrated that when "Music" actor Christopher Plummer, the winner last year for the Best Supporting Actor prize, was announced to present the Best Supporting Actress award. MacFarlane then acted out the climactic scene from "Music," when the von Trapp family is announced multiple times and fail to appear (they'd fled the auditorium to escape from the Nazis). MacFarlane even had someone appear in uniform to shout, "They're gone!" like a Nazi soldier does in the movie. (Plummer, of course, eventually appeared.)

3. One of MacFarlane's best jokes was also one of his earliest. Moments after appearing onstage, he quipped of the famously taciturn actor, "And the quest to make Tommy Lee Jones laugh begins now." He did indeed get laughter from Jones for that one.

4. MacFarlane's routine about acting out the Denzel Washington film "Flight," about an alcoholic and drug-addicted pilot who manages to fly a malfunctioning plane to safety, with sock puppets was indeed odd. But the moment where he simply showed the puppets being thrown around in a dryer was pretty funny.

5. One of the most pleasant and surprising moments of the broadcast came early on, when MacFarlane participated in two song-and-dance routines. For the first, he sang Frank Sinatra's "The Way You Look Tonight" as actors Channing Tatum and Charlize Theron did a beautiful dance routine. "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe and "Looper" actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt then joined MacFarlane for a skilled soft-shoe number as the trio sang "High Hopes," a song which became popular through Sinatra.

Carrie Fisher (second from right) and Mark Hamill (r.) starred in the original 'Star Wars' trilogy. (Fred Prouser/Reuters)

Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill are 'talking' with 'Star Wars' insiders about appearing in new movies, says Hamill

By Sandy SchaeferScreen Rant / 02.22.13

It wasn’t long after Disney announced its acquisition of Lucasfilm, and intention to produce more Star Wars movies beginning with Episode VII, that Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (that’s actor Mark Hamill, for all the non-SW fanatics reading this) was pressed for information, with regard to insider knowledge he possesses. At the time, the geek-favorite turned revered voice actor revealed that George Lucas had indeed told him ahead of time about plans for a new trilogy - though, apparently he left out that little detail about selling his mon$ter company to the Mouse House.

Since then, new rumors have been popping up around the clock, concerning which veterans of the series are coming back for Episode VII and beyond. ET Online was interviewing Hamill about his direct-to-DVD release, Sushi Girl, when he provided the following about him, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford playing older versions of Luke, Leia and Han Solo:

“They’re talking to us. George [Lucas] wanted to know whether we’d be interested. He did say that if we didn’t want to do it, they wouldn’t cast another actor in our parts – they would write us out. … I can tell you right away that we haven’t signed any contracts. We’re in the stage where they want us to go in and meet with Michael Arndt, who is the writer, and Kathleen Kennedy, who is going to run Lucasfilm. Both have had meetings set that were postponed — on their end, not mine. They’re more busy than I am.”

We recently broke down the scenario of Hamill, Fisher and Ford returning for an Episode VII that draws inspiration from the Star Wars Expanded Universe - in particular, the “Legacy of the Force” storyline that picks up 40 years following the events of A New Hope, allowing the new trilogy to pick in real-world time from a story perspective. Hamill expects the film to take a similar approach (ie. focus on the older characters’ offspring, like Han and Leia’s daughter Jaina) with Luke being a mentor to them like Obi-Wan Kenobi was to him. He playfully added:

“… When I found out [while making the original trilogy] that ultimate good news/bad news joke – the good news is there’s a real attractive, hot girl in the universe; the bad news is she’s your sister – I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to wind up like Sir Alec [Guinness]. I’m going to be a lonely old hermit living out in some kind of desert igloo with a couple of robots.’”

J.J. Abrams is directing Episode VII and expectations are he’ll construct the Star Wars universe using the same techniques from his Star Trek reboot and its sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness – namely, combining practical sets and props with CGI effects on the grand-scale shots and effects-heavy sequences, as opposed to the heavier reliance on digital imagery and tools in the prequel trilogy.

Hamill, for his money, is championing as much old-school technique as feasible:

“I hope they find the right balance of CGI with practical effects. I love props, I love models, miniatures, matte paintings — I’m sort of old school. I think if you go too far in the direction of CGI it winds up looking like just a giant a video game, and that’s unfortunate. … If they listen to me at all, it’ll be, ‘Lighten up and go retro with the way it looks.’”

For more from Hamill (including, which Star Wars character spinoff movies he wants to see), head on over to ET Online.

Sandy Schaefer blogs at Screen Rant.

'Downton Abbey' finished airing its third season in the US on Feb. 17. But the buzz has already begun about the casting for next season. (Nick Briggs/PBS/AP)

'Downton Abbey': 10 of the best tweets about the shocking finale

By Staff Writer / 02.19.13

The UK import 'Downton Abbey' aired its season three finale (an episode that was broadcast as the Christmas special in the UK) last night on PBS, and a last-minute twist left many viewers distraught.


Only a few episodes after beloved younger sister Sybil died giving birth to her first child, main character Matthew Crawley died (presumably) in a car crash in the last few minutes of the episode, shortly after his wife Mary had given birth to their son.

Many "Downton" fans were none too pleased with this latest death on the show and turned to social media to vent their frustrations and discuss other recent plot developments. Here are 10 of the best tweets about the finale and the third season as a whole.

--"So is Downton Abbey secretly written by Joss Whedon?" --@kevahearn (Sci-fi TV show creator and "The Avengers" director Whedon is notorious for killing off beloved characters.)

--"Just saw the Xmas Special of Downton Abbey. If that is their idea of a Xmas Special, then the producers must be some sick, sick people." --@Amj_Singh

--"Wondering why all the newspaper guys on Downton Abbey are sleezy. First Mary's older man, now Edith's. Where's Clark Kent?" --@EmilyRodmell

--"Wanted to cancel an appt. today, but don't think they will waive the fee based on my excuse 'I am traumatized over the Downton Abbey finale'" --@JenniferVanDahm

--"Ugh, just finished watching Downton Abbey, which must be British for If You're Happy You Must Die." --@la_florecita

--"Now I get it, Julien Fellowes is just setting us up for 'Downton Abbey: The New Class'" --@kristakitty

--"Thank you, Downton Abbey, for making me terrified of childbirth and of my husband driving. Ugh." --@jen_librarian86

--"Such a great, satisfying ending to Downton Abbey, I had to step out for the last couple minutes, but I'm sure it all ended well" --@pohlmike

--"Forced to choose, I'd prefer to live in The Walking Dead world over the Downton Abbey world. #BetterChanceOfSurvival" --@AaronWymer

--"And the lesson to be learned from tonight's Downton Abbey is: Don't drive happy." --@Steve_Edwards_

Sources claim Khloe Kardashian was fired from 'The X-Factor,' but Fox representatives say no decision has been made. (Danny Moloshok/Reuters)

Was Khloe Kardashian fired from 'The X Factor'?

By Staff Writer / 02.19.13

Has reality TV star Khloe Kardashian been asked to leave “The X Factor”? 

Kardashian joined the show as a co-host with entertainment personality Mario Lopez partway through the second season of the show, in October 2012. Before Lopez and Kardashian took on hosting duties, Pussycat Dolls lead singer Nicole Scherzinger and UK TV presenter Steve Jones served in the positions. (Scherzinger later became a judge when former judge Cheryl Cole left and the show needed a replacement.)

The New York Post reported that Kardashian isn’t being asked back for season three, quoting an anonymous source.

“They are asking Mario [Lopez] to come back, but not Khloe,” a person named as an “insider” told the Post.

But a spokesperson for the reality competition told the Post that nothing was decided yet.

“The producers have not yet made the talent decisions for this year,” the representative said.

Kardashian first became well-known on the reality program “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” which first aired in 2007 on the E! cable network. The show led to other spin-offs, including one that focused on Khloe Kardashian and her husband, Los Angeles Clippers player Lamar Odom, titled “Khloe & Lamar.” Kardashian has also worked as a fashion designer and has written a novel as well as a book about her life with her sisters Kim and Kourtney.

“The X Factor” is an American version of the British show of the same name, which, like its US counterpart, was created by former “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell. The show airs on Fox and follows aspiring singers, either as a one-person act or in a group, as they try to win a contract with Cowell’s record label. Unlike fellow popular singing competition “American Idol,” judges take on contestants for mentoring, offering them advice about singing and performance style.

“Factor” has already experienced some judging and hosting turnover, with judges and hosts being replaced for the show’s second season. Original season one host Paula Abdul left “Factor” after one season, while judge Cheryl Cole only lasted two audition rounds in the first season before she left and was replaced by Scherzinger. Singers Britney Spears and Demi Lovato came on as judges for season two, with L.A. Reid and Cowell remaining from the first season. Spears and Reid have already stated they won’t be coming back to the show for its third season.

'Beautiful Creatures' stars Alden Ehrenreich (l.) and Alice Englert (r.). (John Bramley/Warner Bros. Pictures/AP)

'Beautiful Creatures' and other young adult adaptations will fill 'Twilight' void – for better or for worse

By Staff Writer / 02.18.13

With the release of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2” (did you forget how long that title was?) last November, the Twilight movie series, adapted from the books by Stephenie Meyer, officially came to a close.

We assume, that is. Brooding vampires could be coming back to a cinema near you if Meyer writes more stories or a movie-only narrative is cooked up.

But movie executives noticed the overwhelmingly successful box office grosses reaped by the story of ordinary girl Bella Swan and the melancholy vampire she loves, and those craving a young adult series fix over the next year won’t be disappointed. For better or for worse, every movie adaptation based on a young adult novel with similar themes will be compared to “Twilight” – whether they’ll be able to come out from that shadow remains to be seen. 

One out now, the movie “Beautiful Creatures,” adapted from the 2009 book by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, follows a boy, Ethan, who falls in love with a teenage girl named Lena who belongs to a family of witches. Lena is approaching her sixteenth birthday, on which she will be “claimed” by either the forces of good or evil. The book is the first in a series.

“Creatures” director LaGravanese told Newsday that the two stars of the film initially passed on the movie because they didn’t want to invite “Twilight” comparisons, an apprehension he also shared.

“My own hesitation about doing this was fear of getting lumped into this sort of 'Twilight' world,” LaGravanese said.

Actor Alden Ehrenreich, who plays Ethan, said he was uninterested at first by the pitch he got (which he said was “Twilight meets Romeo and Juliet”), but he was immediately won over when he read the script. 

“Whenever you're pitched something that sounds like it's just a rehash of other things that were successful, it's not very exciting,” he said. “Because you assume that means it's not somebody's personal vision, just a meld of certain tropes and conventions… within three pages I knew I wanted to do the film, because this character that I got to play I just identified with so much.”

The film was released yesterday but has suffered in reviews, currently holding a score of 53 on the review aggregator website Metacritic. Monitor critic Peter Rainer gave the movie a C+, writing, "[LaGravanese] outsmarts himself by playing everything too straight. (Mustn’t mess up the franchise.) A dash – only a dash – of Tim Burton ghoulishness might have helped."

But some were won over. Writer Meriah Doty titled her article for Yahoo! Movies “Beautiful Creatures is not Twilight (and you might like it better).”

“The love story in "Creatures" is decidedly relaxed, cerebral, dare I say more authentic and charming than the heightened, over-the-top passion between Bella and Edward,” Doty wrote.

Others are coming down the pike as well. The movie “The Host,” which is scheduled for a March 29 release, is based on the novel of the same name by “Twilight” writer Stephenie Meyer. “Host” is the story of Earth after aliens known as Souls inhabit the planet and start living in the bodies of humans. A Soul named Wanderer takes over the body of a girl named Melanie, who is in love with a boy named Jared, and Wanderer and Melanie struggle to coexist.

Actress Saoirse Ronan will play Melanie and “Red Riding Hood” actor Max Irons will play Jared, with actor Jake Abel of “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” playing Ian, a man with whom Wanderer falls in love.

And the adaptation of the first book in the supernatural young adult series “The Mortal Instruments” by Cassandra Clare is scheduled for an August release. “Mortal” follows a girl named Clary who discovers she has powers to fight evil demons. She is forced to try to reconcile her feelings for a boy who also battles evil creatures with the love her childhood best friend feels for her.

“Mortal” will star “Mirror Mirror” actress Lily Collins as Clary and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part One” actor Jamie Campbell Bower as Jace.  

Harrison Ford (l.) is the subject of rumors that he's officially signed on to return for the seventh 'Star Wars' film. (20th Century-Fox Film Corporation/AP)

Harrison Ford rumor: Has he signed on for 'Star Wars 7'?

By Ben KendrickScreen Rant / 02.15.13

Star Wars fans had a lot of questions when it was first announced that Disney was set to purchase Lucasfilm – with the intention of producing an entirely new trilogy in a Galaxy Far, Far Away. However, one of the biggest questions surrounding the future of Star Wars is where the story would go in Episodes 7-9. Would the new films continue the narrative established in the original six installments and bring back fan-favorite actors (now 30 years older) to reprise their characters or would Lucasfilm clean the slate and center the trilogy around entirely new faces?

Now, we’re getting unofficial word that Harrison Ford has signed-on to reprise his role as Han Solo in Star Wars: Episode 7 – lending credence to hopes that the film will directly continue storylines from the prior trilogy – while introducing new characters too. Of course, if the rumor turns out to be true, it would likely mean that other high-profile casting announcements are also in the pipeline.

Now that director J.J. Abrams is officially helming Episode 7, Star Wars-related rumors and reports are at an all-time high. Joining the chorus of unconfirmed reports on the production, Latino Review took to the Fox News Latino airwaves and announced that, according to their sources, Harrison Ford has officially signed-on for a “significant” appearance as Han Solo in Episode 7. Not entirely a big surprise, given that Ford has previously stated he’d be open to returning – if the story would allow for it. When pressed for further information, Latino Review admitted that there scoop was limited to the signing of Han Solo and anything beyond the casting itself would purely be speculation at this point. Latino Review has a relatively successful record with their scoops – so there’s more than enough reason to believe that there’s at least some truth to the report.

So what role will Han Solo play in Michael Arndt’s upcoming Star Wars: Episode 7 story? Assuming that use of the word “significant” was deliberate (and accurate), it’s safe to say that Harrison Ford won’t just appear in a flashback or be viewable shooting a Rodian (first) in the background of a future cantina scene. Where Lucasfilm intends to take the character down the line (for Episodes 8 and 9) is still up in the air but, for Episode 7, it’s pretty safe to say that Ford will have a central role – especially if the film deals in some way with Han Solo and Princess Leia’s children (Jaina, Jacen, and Anakin Solo) as many have speculated.

A lot of fan-favorite Star Wars Extended Universe fiction centers around the Solo children and, even if Episode 7 doesn’t directly follow any one specific storyline (i.e. possible female protagonist – aka Jaina), they could serve as a smart jumping off point for a new trilogy – not to mention provide an excuse for the return of other familiar faces: their mother, Leia (Carrie Fisher), Jedi Master Uncle Luke (Mark Hamill), and Wookie Uncle Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew).

Early reports of the Disney purchase indicated George Lucas sat down with Fisher and Hamill ahead of the final acquisition – mentioning the possibility of Episode 7, 8, and 9. This led many fans and industry insiders to speculate that he might have been putting out feelers to see if they’d be open to returning. As a result, the Han Solo rumor (and possible story implications) makes all the more sense.

Of course, this isn’t the only Han Solo-related report that we’ve heard in the last few weeks. Disney has confirmed that in addition to the core trilogy event films, we’ll also be seeing regular standalone movies set in the Star Wars universe – with spin-offs possibly involving Boba Fett, Yoda, and a Seven Samurai-like Jedi movie from Zack Snyder. A Han Solo standalone film (a prequel) was also mentioned and has quickly become the most talked about option among fans who are eager to see the smuggler’s early days – or at the very least, see him make the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs.

Harrison Ford in Star Wars: Episode 7 is a strong probability but Lucasfilm has yet to officially announce the casting. So, as with all unconfirmed reports, take this news with grain of salt for now.

Ben Kendrick blogs at Screen Rant.

Actor Darren Criss's fictional counterpart, Blaine, was one character who attended the 'Glee' wedding on the show. (Adrees Latif/Reuters)

'Glee' wedding leaves fans shocked on Valentine's Day

By Staff Writer / 02.15.13

(Watch out – spoilers follow...)

“Glee” fans were shocked on Valentine’s Day by an episode in which a planned wedding between high school teachers Will and Emma didn’t happen, but many other twists occurred.

The Feb. 14 episode was supposed to feature the wedding between glee club teacher Will and guidance counselor Emma, but Emma ended up fleeing the wedding beforehand. Meanwhile, former glee club member Rachel, who is now attending the fictional New York Academy of the Arts on the show, found out that she may be pregnant.

Emma was panicking before the wedding after having been kissed by Finn, her former student, who was filling in as glee teacher while her fiancé, Will, was away. The guidance counselor ended up leaving before the wedding, but Will decided to hold the event’s reception anyway, which was attended by the former and current members of the glee club. 

Cast members had teased that there would be several huge plot developments in the episode.

“I literally yelled at the script!" cast member Kevin McHale, who plays Glee club member Artie, told E!."I finished it and was like, ‘Noooo! It's crazy.”

Actress Lea Michele, who plays Rachel, tweeted to fans to expect something big to happen.

“So excited for #Glee tomorrow,” the actress tweeted on Feb. 13. “The episode is gonna blow your mind! HUGE shocker at the end!!!”

Glee” is currently airing its fourth season on Fox, which featured many of the original glee club members leaving for work, college, and other pursuits after having graduated at the end of season three. While many shows based around high schools struggle with how to integrate graduation into the show, “Glee” has been praised for how it’s handled the transition, with equal show time being given to the remaining glee club members in high school and the members who left.

“I was most pleasantly surprised how the episode managed to tell an Ohio and a New York story while making both feel connected,” Time writer James Poniewozik wrote of the season four premiere.

My Bloody Valentine's newest album, 'm b v,' was released on Feb. 2.

This Valentine’s Day comes but once every 20 years

By Monitor Contributor / 02.14.13

The last time alternative rock band My Bloody Valentine released an album, Michael Jordan was on his way towards leading the Chicago Bulls to the second of six NBA titles. A Bush occupied the Oval OfficeGeorge H.W. Bush – and gas cost just a little over a dollar per gallon.

Such a hiatus explains the joy My Bloody Valentine devotees felt when the band announced they were at work on a follow up to 1991’s "Loveless." It is why, on Valentine’s Day 2013, indie music fans have an entirely different kind of Valentine to cherish and love.

The band’s unforgettable 1991 album pioneered a hypnotic musical style called "shoegaze" for the doubled-over pose its practitioners assume when playing their instruments. "Loveless" evoked a “wall of sound," burying whispered lyrics under layers of heavy, rambunctious guitars.

In "Loveless," distortion is not merely an effect applied with the click of a pedal. It is instead the center and the circumference of the album’s sonic landscape. Guitars are tools used to forge a sound so large it might as well occupy physical space, a tone dense enough to send forth some semblance of gravitational pull. When it was released in 1991, the album embodied a logical conclusion of rock and roll music.

Twenty-two years have passed. Michael Jordan is now nearly half a century old. Still, the sheer sonic force of "Loveless" remains unmatched.

That’s not to say nobody has tried. "Loveless" has had an enormous influence on a generation of musicians, including the Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, and just about any indie rock band to play music post-1991.

Even Kevin Shields, the band’s enigmatic frontman, has trembled at the prospect of following an album that often ranks towards the top of “greatest albums of all time” lists.

"I lost it,” he told The Guardian in 2004 on comparisons people have made between Shields and Brian Wilson, Syd Barrett, and other brilliant-musicians-cum-obsessive-recluses. “I lost what I had, and I thought, ‘You know what? I'm not going to put a crap record out.’"

Radio silence endured for a pair of decades, apart from Shields occasionally contributing to one project or another. Rumors of a follow-up to "Loveless" never quite seemed to disappear completely, and Shields dropped tantalizing hints throughout late 2012.

The patience paid dividends. On Groundhog Day 2013, a new My Bloody Valentine album finally became a reality.

It’s difficult to overstate just what that means to followers of this virtually mythical band.

“For those of us whose relationship to music and maybe even the act of hearing has been changed by 'Loveless,' it's hard to believe,” writes Mark Richardson in the influential indie music site Pitchfork. “I'd grown comfortable with the idea that there would never be another My Bloody Valentine album. Even as recently as two months ago, I figured it would never happen.”

But happen it did, and "m b v," the band’s third full-length album, is arresting. From the opening chords to its growling conclusion, it makes big noises, flush with seemingly impossible chord progressions and sounds you thought you’d never hear.

It most resembles the hazy dawdling of "Loveless," but makes use of the post-punk from My Bloody Valentine’s first full-length album, "Isn’t Anything." Bombastic drums undergird the track “who sees you.” A sulphurous guitar, distorted beyond recognition, shudders violently through “only tomorrow.” At points, it peaks, threatening to split the sound wide open.

The song “if i am” serves as a centerpiece, and is My Bloody Valentine at its finest, at once loud and quiet, harsh and soft. Dreamy “oohing” swirls on flirty guitar lines, over buried, pulsing drums. The serenade culminates in a melody that begins simple and sweet enough, and proceeds to collapse in on itself, tying a knot that requires innumerable listens to pick apart.

This is big music; "m b v" demands to be played at ill-advised volumes. It is not an easy album, and it is unlikely to spark a revolution on par with "Loveless." But it guarantees mesmerization and is singular in execution.

It might be it, this time – the end of My Bloody Valentine’s grossly important contribution to alternative sound. But, then again, that’s what they said about "Loveless." Between that album and the band’s latest opus, the apotheosis of rock music is contained somewhere within.

David Unger is a Monitor contributor.

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