Saturday, September 18, 2010

Glee - Season 1 Review

US Airdate: May 19th 2009- June 8th 2010

When a Spanish teacher tries to man the Glee club, little did he know how much his life would change as a result.

Don’t Stop Believing – I actually have to give FOX their dues. If you’re going to nab a writer to creator a hit show, Ryan Murphy in a lot of ways is a perfect choice. He’s hardly going to give you something you’ve seen before. After all, hits like Popular and Nip/Tuck themselves have actually added something new to the respective genres/target audiences they were aimed for and while both of them were hits, neither of them became as explosive as this one.

Every year, there’s at least one breakout show and for the 2009-2010 season, it had to be Glee. Why, you ask? Musicals are hardly something new but apart from the odd TV show experimenting with the genre and mostly getting it wrong, Glee actually managed to get it so right, which is a good thing considering that the premise of the show is about a Glee club being ran by a hopeful teacher so therefore musical numbers are expected per week.

The songs themselves are largely contemporary numbers with the odd musical added here and there and with episodes dedicated to Journey, Madonna and Lady Gaga as well as funk music and songs that are so bad they’re good, the show definitely does its level best to experiment as best as possible to try and keep everyone entertained.

For the most part though, this works. Some of the music numbers are amazing, some are less so and the same can be said about the characters/actors and their vocal performances, depending on the episode/ditty in question. Rachel herself can excel with something like “I Dreamed A Dream” and then hit a bum note with “Poker Face” the next week but every episode at least has one or two songs you’d happily want to listen to again.

But it’s not just about the songs with this show. Sure, they’re a big asset in setting this show apart from virtually everything else on television and they’re mostly used as part of a theme within Will’s lesson plan (respect women, finding your soul, etc) but its the characters that are also important as well and while they all fall in obvious categories, they’re all for the most part an engaging bunch.

Rachel’s ambition to be the best can be both understandable and annoying in equal measures but sympathy can be generated for her when she’s betrayed by rival club member/ex-boyfriend Jesse or rejected by her own birth mother. Similarly Sue Sylvester embodies the whole meaning of playing a cartoon villain but Jane Lynch’s consistent performances and Sue’s quieter moments with her sister or stopping Figgins from disbanding Glee are nice and surprising moments to counterbalance her unabashed ruthlessness in wanting to take Will.

Will himself is a character who can be very annoying most of the time, even though he’s the good guy wanting to encourage his kids into sticking with the club while popular kids such as Quinn, Puck, Finn, Santana and Brittany have their moments along with Kurt and to a lesser extent, Artie, Tina and Mercedes. No-one’s ever good or bad on this show all the time but unlike Murphy’s last show, at least people aren’t having organs stolen from them either.

The 22 episodes in this first season are a fantastic rollercoaster of madness. The Glee club goes through peaks and troughs, having moments of great support and moments where it seemed destined to be dropped and while the finale went the predictable route of having New Directions lose out at Regionals, it’s certainly not the most disappointing or eventful of things to happen in the first season.

This is a season alone that saw Will’s marriage collapse and his attempts of being with OCD Emma blow up in his face, a season where Rachel found and was spurned by her own birth mom, where Quinn gave birth and gave up a baby, where Kurt being gay and proud had both positive and negative times for him, Artie dealing with the reality of being stuck in a wheelchair and also, it was a season where Sue Sylvester made so many obscene one liners in regards to Will’s hair and unpopular Rachel was bouncing between Finn, Puck and Jesse at different times in the show.

Love it or loathe it, Glee has quickly become a television show that it’s inescapable. Originality can be argued left, right and centre but at the same time, I’d rather have a show like this on television that pull the likes of Kristin Chenowith, Neil Patrick Harris, Olivia Newton-John and Joss Whedon than another bout of boring medical/cop/lawyer dramas on my screens.

As for my favourite songs, there are certainly way too many to choose from but most of the groups take on things such as “Like A Prayer”, “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Bad Romance” are certainly up as well as Finn/Puck’s “Loser”, Mercedes/Santana’s “The Boy Is Mine” as Jesse’s blindingly brilliant version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and thankfully most of the bad numbers (“Poker Face”) are few and between.

EXTRAS: The full season DVD just got released this month and the extras were certainly keeping all Gleeks amused. There’s a Sing A-Long Karaoke, as well the full “Audition Pieces” with the cast, “Unleashing The Power Of Madonna” delves into that particular episode while other features look into the clothing of the characters, making a showstopper and a rather nice interview with Jane Lynch.


1x01: Pilot = 8/10, 1x02: Showmance = 8/10,
1x03: Acafellas = 7/10, 1x04: Preggers = 8/10,
1x05: The Rhodes Not Taken = 9/10, 1x06: Vitamin D = 9/10,
1x07: Throwdown = 8/10, 1x08: Mash-Up = 7/10,
1x09: Wheels = 9/10, 1x10: Ballad = 7/10,
1x11: Hairography = 9/10, 1x12: Mattress = 8/10,
1x13: Sectionals = 9/10, 1x14: Hell-O = 6/10,
1x15: The Power Of Madonna = 9/10, 1x16: Home = 8/10,
1x17: Bad Reputation = 7/10, 1x18: Laryngitis = 8/10,
1x19: Dream On = 7/10, 1x20: Theatricality = 7/10,
1x21: Funk = 8/10, 1x22: Journey = 9/10.

Season 1 is currently available on DVD.

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