Before I begin my Glee review let me say this: I was extremely excited about this show before it aired. “Don’t Stop Believing’” by Journey stuck in my head after every promo. Starting with this mentality can be a curse or a blessing. It may make the expectations too high, or conversely, help to overlook the flaws that come with any new program.
Know this: Glee is not for everyone. In the end, it may not be for enough people and those it targets could lose interest quickly. You must know some things going in (and I realize being an apologist this early is not the best sign): The students are far from realistic, the dialogue is a bit forced and the moments can trend towards the cheesy side.
All that being said, I really, really liked Glee. I was going to say it hit all the right notes for me, but thought would be the height of cheesiness so I decided to just throw it in there to make fun of myself. In many ways, Glee does the same thing. The show knows what it is: A high school musical dramedy (has such a thing ever been made for primetime television?) with ridiculous characters and premise. But Glee hits the proverbial nail on the comedic head when a character says, “There’s nothing ironic about show choir.”
Will Schuester takes on the task of reforming the once-award winning high school Glee Club. Few adults want to see him succeed. Schuester’s wife is a self (and Pottery Barn) obsessed impediment to his dreams who questions him at every turn. Sue Sylvester (played by the hilarious Jane Lynch) coaches the uber-successful cheerleading squad and wants no part in seeing Glee Club steal her spotlight. And the principal basically sees Glee Club as a means to getting Schuester into free detention duty.
Meanwhile, the students are so caught up their own egos they can’t get beyond their supposed talent. The actual club is riddled with stereotypes: the jock, the goodie-two shoes, the punk, the nerd, the weirdo and the Beyonce-wannabe. I was worried about this show working out to be Schuester taking some hapless, no-talent, tone deaf kids and performing some kind of choral miracle in making them all great singers. Not the case. The kids have talent from jump street. What they needed was someone to put it together and believe in them.
Where the writing could use some tweaking and characters could all tone it down a bit, Glee does lots of little things right. First of all, it’s funny. At times hilarious. Some jokes are overt like Coach Sylvester asking her prissy cheerleaders, “You think this is hard? Try being waterboarded. That’s hard.” While other moments are more subtle: While Schuester openly blackmails a football player into joining Glee club, a sign on his wall extols the importance in helping each student.
In addition, the editing and production value is high. Quick camera cuts and overlapping story frames add a sense of movement not seen in many other shows. At the risk of reverting back to elementary English here: It’s fun to watch. It’s also fun to listen to. Beyond the songs the clubs actually perform, imbedded in the soundtrack are a capella versions of popular songs that lend to the Glee Club theme.
I don’t know if Glee works long term. Like I said, the format is not for everyone and if you are looking for faults, it isn’t difficult to spot them. The premise and format are risky, but I appreciate the effort here. I want Glee to work because it offers something different than your run-of-the-mill high school drama or comedy and it seems to thrive on the comparison. Or should I just say... hits all the right notes?
Glee has a spot on Fox's 2009 Fall TV schedule, airing Wednesday nights following So You Think You Can Dance. If you missed the premiere, Fox promises to have it available for viewing on Fox.com all summer.