Let's get this out of the way up-front — The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let's Do the Time Warp Again is as awful as its title. Which is to be expected, because this a "family friendly" musical in the vein of Grease: Live and The Wiz, however Rocky Horror is anything but. In this iteration, the subversive, raunchy musical has been stripped of its shock factor and turned into a slick, shiny TV production. And it's extra offensive because this is the second time in six years that Fox has bastardized Rocky Horror. In 2010, they aired probably one of the worst episodes in Glee's existence: "The Rocky Horror Glee Show." Is Fox’s latest iteration even worse than that episode? I had to revisit Glee to find out which is a greater crime against the original 1975 masterpiece.
Glee: The singing is one of the better parts of this episode. In the fifth episode of the second season, Glee had some really talented performers who, when given good material, knocked performance after performance out of the park. When they were given awful material, they did what they could. Lea Michele, on the other hand, is generally flawless (don't fight me) and she hits all of Janet's songs (which is not to say that she’s good in the part). Amber Riley plays Dr. Frank-N-Furter and belts her way through the episode, which sounds great on a soundtrack.
Rocky Horror 2016: Um ... well ... people sound ... adequate. Laverne Cox, bless her heart, can't truly sing, but she’s having fun. And anyway the role of Frank-N-Furter doesn't really require you to sing well. Tim Curry couldn't, after all. Victoria Justice is a good singer, but she's no Lea Michele. Ryan McCartan is a better singer than Corey Monteith, obviously, so he has that going for him. Overall, though, I can say I've listened to the Glee Rocky Horror soundtrack before. And I am definitely never listening to this 2016 one again.
Glee: As good as she sounds, Amber playing a transvestite makes no damn sense. The part should've gone to one of the male characters on the show. Otherwise, what's the point? Lea plays Janet like she's auditioning for A Star Is Born, so she's not really that great as Janet either. Still, she and Corey work together well. The other castings are pretty inconsequential since we only see bits and pieces of the show, never a full production. I will say that there's no point in casting Chord Overstreet as Rocky if we're not gonna SEE THAT BODY.
Rocky Horror 2016: Laverne Cox as Frank-N-Furter is INSPIRED, even if my mind did get exhausted trying to figure out if the production was making a "statement" by casting a transgender actress in the role of a transvestite (it's not; the production has zero relevant statements to make at all, actually). Victoria and Ryan are fine. Christina Milian, former social media correspondent for The Voice, is actually one of the funniest parts of the show (she's SO overeager and her random accent at the end had me cackling), so kudos to her. Adam Lambert as Eddie is much better than John Stamos as Eddie, even if John Stamos is one of the sexiest men alive. The Rocky in this production does not wear a speedo so I don't even know what we're doing here.
Winner: Rocky Horror 2016
Glee: Glee, even when it was bad, was a well-produced television show.
Rocky Horror 2016: The show isn't actually live, but it feels live. What's the point in making a non-live musical and shooting it on a soundstage like you're doing a fucking production of Paint Your Wagon?
RESPECT FOR THE ORIGINAL
Rocky Horror 2016: DOES NOT OPEN WITH THE LIPS SINGING "SCIENCE FICTION DOUBLE FEATURE." Tim Curry shows up, presumably because someone off-camera is pointing a gun at him. There are cuts to an "audience" watching the show like it's a midnight showing that will make you want to throw your television out the window.
Glee: Barry Bostwick and Meatloaf show up for no reason, but at least the episode OPENS WITH THE LIPS SINGING "SCIENCE FICTION DOUBLE FEATURE." There are quite a few jokes about how the second act of Rocky Horror drags and makes no sense (this is very true).
WHICH IS WORSE?
This new mess is much worse than the Glee episode, but honestly, neither of them are good. Just make sure you're drunk, whichever one you watch.
HOW DRUNK DO I NEED TO BE TO FIND THIS FUN?
Glee: Moderately drunk.
Rock Horror 2016: You will die of alcohol poisoning.
Winner: Not your liver