Thursday, May 21, 2009

'Glee' - Review

To quote some of my friends, "I think I just Glee'd a little."  What are we talking about?  Imagine that 'The Breakfast Club', 'American Pie', 'Revenge of the Nerds', 'Mr. Holland's Opus' and 'High School Musical' (but with talent) collided at warp speed and melded..'Glee' would be that result. 'Glee' is the story of teacher Will Schuester who was a star in the high school choir in his teen years.  He's now teaching Spanish but jumps at the opportunity to take over the glee club.  Of course, this is after their original leader is accused of making a pass at a male student.  This accusation came courtesy of Rachel Berry (played fantastically by Lea Michele) who was passed over for a solo.  But we'll get to her and the rest of the students later.  Will believes that by taking over this club, he can not only re-live his glory days, but also take the students (and maybe the school) to a level that they don't expect.  Of course he'll have his obstacles, including a student body that doesn't care, a principle that doesn't care, and a competition cheer coach (hilariously played by Jane Lynch) who only cares about her team winning and being seen on cable.  

Now let's get to the students.  They have done a great job of casting this group.  We have the female rebel, the large diva, a guitar playing boy in a wheelchair, the male who's sexuality is questionable, and the female who wants/expects to be a star.  During their audition scenes each of them sings a song that you will always hear at school auditions, but it's something more. Every song that they sing is telling you something about who they are.  'Mr. Cellophane' from 'Chicago', to Rachel's rendition of 'On My Own' from 'Les Miserables'.  We now know who they are down inside.  We are also introduced to the character of Finn, the football quarterback, who is kind of a cliche in that what he really wants to do is sing but is afraid to tell anyone.  Well he gets his chance when Will blackmails him into joining the glee club.

After seeing who their competition will be at Nationals (and isn't always Nationals in every high school competition story?) they realize that doing songs from Grease just is not going to cut it.  When personal issues begin to arise for Will he decides to move on from teaching, this of course leads to a realization not only for him but everyone, about doing what you love at all costs.  Sure, it sounds like what we see all the time in shows and movies, but there was something very real about this.  Seeing the students understand this for themselves reminded me of conversations and experiences in my life.  This leads to the finale song of the episode.  To say they leave Grease behind is an understatement.  They perform an inspired version of Journey's 'Don't Stop Believin'.  So inspired that it is currently the number one downloaded song on iTunes.  Ha!  Suck it American Idol!    

I have to say that this has been my favorite show so far this year.  The actors play the perfect line of sincerity and over the top characterizations.  The creators of this show were incredibly smart to cast actors who could sing.  Being a Broadway vet (Les Miserables, Spring Awakening), Lea Michele over powers everyone, but the rest of the cast does give some great support. Hopefully they'll have a chance to shine in future episodes.  As great as the show is, 'Glee' is not perfect.  It still does not know what it wants to be.  Is it a comedy, is it a teen drama, is it a soap opera, is it a musical? Hopefully this will all be ironed out when the show does begin airing new episodes this fall.  The one thing working for it, and against it, is that it has a great pilot that the rest of the new episodes have to live up to.  Hopefully they will and we'll begin seeing some Glee renditions of some other favorites.  How about a 'Glee' rendition of 'Enter Sandman'?

If you missed the pilot when it aired this week, you can take the jump over to iTunes to download it for free.  Or just watch it here:


Journey 10!!       

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