"GLEE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5 stars)
Matthew Morrison as WILL SCHUESTER
Jane Lynch as SUE SYLVESTER
Jayma Mays as EMMA PILLSBURY
Lea Michele as RACHEL BERRY
Cory Monteith as FINN HUDSON
Chris Colfer as KURT HUMMEL
Mark Salling as NOAH “PUCK” PUCKERMAN
Dianna Argon as QUINN FABRAY
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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At the fictitious William McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio, Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) inherits the fledgling glee club. Intent on restoring the club to the former glory it was when he was a student, Schuester brings together kids of various walks of life – from jocks and cheerleaders to nerds and geeks. At odds with the power-hungry cheerleading captain Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), Schuester and his club sings and dances their way to show choir gold. Oh, and a lot of popular songs get covered for iTunes downloads.
WHAT I LIKED
Back in the late 1980s, I was in my high school’s show choir... and it was an Ohio show choir, no less. Even more so, several the members of the show choir were also members of the football team. So slushees to the face and being tossed in a dumpster wasn’t exactly commonplace in my high school career. But still, there’s an odd connection I have with this movie.
Showrunner Ryan Murphy may be best known for the medical drama “Nip/Tuck,” but he was also in charge of the quirky and fun teen dramady “Popular” about ten years ago. He draws more from the “Popular” experiences and storylines as he puts together “Glee.” Like “Popular,” I like the way “Glee” has a hyper-real irreverence and silliness.
The best character by far is Sue Sylvester, who is the high school teacher villain that you love to hate. Jane Lynch brings so much to the role that no matter how cheesy an episode may get, her mere presence makes it tons of fun. The lady won an Emmy for her work on the show, and she totally deserved it. No one can deliver deliciously hateful lines like she can.
At least when the show started, I enjoyed it for being a high school story with some music peppered in. The first half of the first season was more about telling the story of the crazy people in high school and the bizarre drama of their life. Similarly, the first half of the season existed outside of a squeaky-clean existence. There was high school bullying, kids getting high on cough syrup to win auditions and even a characters that sold pot brownies in order to raise money for the glee club.
For this reason, the first half of the series is superior... before the show became self-aware. After that, well, read on...
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
At this point (and starting with the second half of this first season), “Glee” suffers most from its own success. At the mid-season break, it seemed like Ryan Murphy didn’t know where to take it. He started recycling storylines in the show, either from this series or his old “Popular” series. Some of the glee members make the Cheerios squad only to quit later. (We saw that happen when Carmen Ferrara joined, then quit, the Glamazons in “Popular.”) Plus, there are only so many male-female hook-ups you can make in this show, and it burns through most of them by the end of the season.
Once the show became too popular, it started to do themed shows, the most notorious being the out-of-place and ridiculously masturbatory Madonna episode, spending too much time gushing over her than actually having the characters act as they were set up.
By the end of the first season, “Glee” has become more about selling iTunes downloads with famous covers than it is about telling a story. Plus, it gets a bit preachy. It’s “Glee,” people. It’s meant to be light-hearted, silly and not minorly inappropriate.
The Blu-ray of season one is packed with features that are custom-made for the Gleek. Each disc includes sing-along karaoke and a musical jukebox of the music selections. There’s a visual commentary with the cast and crew of the pilot episodes as well as a featurette giving a tribute to the Madonna episode.
Included on the final disc are full-length audition pieces, a way to learn dance moves with “Staying in Step with Glee,” a look at the characters’ fashion in “Bite Their Style, Dress Like Your Favorite Gleek” and “Making of a Showstopper” about the “Bohemian Rhapsody” production number. Finally, there’s video diaries and a spotlight on the brilliant Jane Lynch.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Ex-glee club kids and people who are really into jukebox musicals.