So, I realize that this show doesn’t really come out until this fall and that it’s not really fair to judge a show on the merits of just one episode, but when it’s the pilot episode and, more importantly, a pilot episode for a show that is being pimped out as hard-core as any show I’ve seen in the last ten years, I think those rules get chucked. Let me back up. For those of you that have some deathly fear that you are going to catch swine flu from the germs on the power button on your T.V. and remote control, the show I refer to is “Glee”, the new comedy from Fox. To start, I’ve got to admit that I’m a little confused as to Fox’s strategy here. I get the idea behind giving this pilot the money slot behind Part One of the American Idol finale. That is the recipe that made Fox’s other big new hit, “Lie to Me” as successful as it has been. I also get their plan to shove their promo for the show in your face on every channel, regardless of whether it is a part of Rupert Murdoch’s evil empire or not. It had just enough comedy to it to make you interested. Add to that a soundtrack that has everyone’s favorite Karaoke tune and Journey power-ballad “Don’t Stop Believing”. (Though, come to think of it, aren’t all of Journey’s hits power-ballads?) What I don’t get is the fact that they are going to put this out there, and then sit on it for a good 2-3 months before they do anything with it. Are the song rights that expensive that this show seemed like a financial risk? Maybe the Powers That Be just like to watch what happens with the bloggers and crappy reviewers like myself do with such fodder. But anyway, I digress. On to more pressing matters – namely, the show itself. As we open up, we are introduced to the key (or perhaps, off-key) players. For some reason, unbeknownst to me, every show or movie has to start with the cheerleading squad. Set to the backdrop of the squads super-peppy beats (note the hint of sarcasm?), we meet Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison). Judging by his car, which is dragging a muffler bad enough to catch the attention of any cop, and his longing look at some old dead fat lady’s picture in the school’s trophy case, it is made painfully apparent that Will’s life sucks. A lot. We also meet Finn (Cory Monteith) and his posse of football jocks picking on Kurt (Chris Colfer), who we get to know better down the road. Finn, we learn, either has an appreciation for mid-level fashion or a conscience when he allows the already-highly effeminate to take off his designer jacket before being pitched into the dumpster. By this time, we finally make our way into the school, where the head of the Glee club is inappropriately touching a student. We later find out that he is not above dealing out his medicinal marijuana, making him the paragon of morally upright behavior. Apparently, the script writers want to make it clear that only people that can be involved in the Glee club are either girls or gay. Let me just take this chance to state that I am trying to take a cheap shot at the homosexual community here. In fact, I feel like it is the total opposite. I think that perpetuating stereotypes of the homosexual community only leads to poor understanding and relations. Stereotypes like gay men’s undeniable attraction to show tunes, evidenced by Kurt’s rendition of “Mr. Celophane” from “Chicago”. Even when the characters are straight, they can only be so many degrees removed from someone who is gay. Like Tina, who sings about making out with another girl for her audition in “I Kissed a Girl”, or Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) who is the genetic creation of two gay men and serugates chosen specifically for their physical beauty and IQ. But enough with that rant. Because there is a vast ocean of stereotypes that “Glee” dives head-first into with reckless abandon. The most heavy-handed would have to be the general high school hierarchy. Between the constant berratement from the head of the “Cheerios” or her menacing pose with cheerleader cronies in tow as they watch the final number from some random scaffolding, it is made almost too clear that the cheerleaders are “The Enemy”. We also get the “silhouetted in the back of the auditorium” pose from Finn’s football buddy, Puck in the same scene, giving much of the same vibe. I am going to go out on a limb and say that somewhere down the road, it these writers are as into the stereotypes as this pilot suggests, we are going to see a
“How can we help each other to bring them down” scene between the two powers. And that is unfortunate because if I wanted to see that, I would duct tape my eyelids open long enough to torture myself through a viewing of “High School Musical”. With all of these rants, you would think that there are no redeeming qualities for “Glee”, and if you leave this review thinking that, then I have done the show a disservice. You might actually crap yourself when you read this, but I actually am looking forward to the future episodes of this show. One reason, right off the bat, that this show is appealing is because of the broad spectrum of colors from the musical pallet that “Glee” lays at the viewer’s feet. You get everything from the Broadway standards like Chicago and Les Miserables to contemporary pop like Drunky McDrunkerson’s … I mean Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” and rock classics like the aforementioned “Don’t Stop Believing” and REO Speedwagon’s “I Can’t Fight This Feeling”. And whoever is doing the arrangements for these songs to glee-ify them needs to be given whatever they damn well want, right down to the producer’s first born child. These songs sound fresh, alive and exciting coming out of the mouths of these high schoolers. From the commercial advertising the show’s return in the fall, we find out that they are even willing to take on Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” and other such oddities in the glee club circuit. Also, given the show’s apparent propensity for going with rock classics, the music promises to be the best part of the show. And there is redeeming quality in the acting and it comes in the person of Matthew Morrison. Everyone he interacts with, even the stereotypical high schoolers, all seem to go to a better place, artistically, when he interacts with them. And there is one point in the episode where his character has to make a pivotal decision (Don’t want to ruin too much for you). But in that moment, I truly believed that this group and the kids involved really meant something to him and the actor truly disappeared into the character. So let’s recap the score here. Steroetypes = bad. Matthew Morrison = good. Classic rock ballads = AMAZING! With a little more character development and a little less heavy-handedness in telling the audience who we should like and who we shouldn’t, this show might just be a hit.
For this and all of my reviews, I shall sign, Unfriendly Fool