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The cast of Glee

Musical Comedy Show on Fox

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Bumpy Ride

  • Jan 12, 2010
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Glee has a wonderful premise for a show, and it happily lives up to the promise of that premise much of the time. Its combination of wicked humor, talented performers, the fertile setting of a high school glee club should make a show that can't miss, right?

Well, mostly. When it plays for farcical laughs, Glee is great, and when it adds songs that play off that energy, it's fantastic. However, most of the time, it doesn't do that. Glee has a big problem: it can't decide if it's Arrested Development with songs or Desperate Housewives with songs. There is a lot of melodrama. An excess of melodrama. Mostly involving babies. For several episodes in a row, the main plot was something involving one character's pregnancy. It's not terribly funny, and because we don't really know the characters, it's not terribly moving. It's like the Simpsons quote: "There is no moral, it's just a bunch of stuff that happened."

Glee is occasionally praised for its insane energy with regard to plots and subplots, but in the first season of a show, that can often mean burnout. It's occasionally compared to The O.C. and Grey's Anatomy, two shows that lost a lot of their drive early on, but it reminds me most of Battlestar Galactica. That too had a sensational pilot and first thirteen episodes, but it just moved so quickly that it forced the writers to come up with more and more outlandish things as the show moved on, eventually resulting in a near-complete collapse. Glee is moving faster and doesn't have as much of a core. At the rate it's going, it could be a disaster by the middle of the second season.

There is some hope, though, but only if the writers manage to pull it together. Glee focuses on the teachers and adults as people more than its teen-aged students, who only occasionally move beyond one-dimensional stereotypes into, well, two-dimensional stereotypes. If it takes some time and turns them into people instead of Wheelchair Guy or Asian Kid and Other Asian Kid, it should be able to take a deep breath and improve its quality. In roughly the same number of episodes, Freaks and Geeks managed to make its student characters three-dimensional and likable - Glee can too.

Second, Glee's music choices vary wildly, and they represent two different visions for the show. The first vision is of Glee as musical theater. This is when the show takes itself literally. A kid who's sad decides to sing a sad song. The plot exists to provide a vehicle for the characters to experience emotional swings, and sing about those swings.

I tend to get tired of Glee when it goes in this direction. The serialized nature of television, combined with the melodrama required to make the musical theater work, seems like it contrives to make every episode end on one character gazing longingly at another/into the distance, singing about how sad they are, while the energy required to maintain the melodrama simply cannot last. The songs also tend to be montages, and decidedly unrealistic in a way that musical theater just can't do.

The other version of Glee is a a comic show about musical theater. Much of the time, Glee works this way. The music is diegetic and, in order to work within the show, it has to resort to absurd and farcical situations. The best example of this is, of course, "Single Ladies:"

Making the show about a musical theater troupe, instead of musical theater itself, also allows for the occasional take-the-brakes off number, where hey! This cast is talented. Let's let them show just how damn talented they are, in exactly the kind of competition that glee clubs do. The final episode of the first 13, "Sectionals," finally allows Lea Michele and the rest of the cast to show off just how well they can sing.

I hope that Glee's show-runners get together and figure out just what kind of show they're doing, and go with it full-force. But that's just a hope. I expect that it'll burn out within a year or so. Which is unfortunate. Still, it's fun now, and it should be fun for a while.

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January 19, 2010
nice review and I liked your rating. Saw a few episodes but I just can't connect with this type of shows anymore ( just isn't my thing). I think this show is overrated.
January 13, 2010
To be honest with you I've never seen this show until last week. I don't think the storyline is that great but as far as the music, let's just say they had me at the Thong Song.
January 13, 2010
Me neither - I just blasted through the episodes once the DVD came out and made it easier.
January 13, 2010
Thanks for adding the clip from the oe episode that I've missed and have heard the most about! What I enjoy most about the show is when it goes over the top and employs the farcical elements you talked about. Sue is one of the most diabolical villains ever to hit the tube. You're right though, it does have to decide whether it's fish or fowl if it's going to survive. I can't handle too much angst be adolescent or adult.
January 13, 2010
I mean, I can take the angst if it's good. Early Buffy? Good. Freaks and Geeks? Good. This...not so good.

I had a much longer bit about the comedy of Glee and talked about Jane Lynch, but it really didn't fit the rest of the review. So here's possibly my favorite Sue line in the show:


The only other contender -

Quinn: "And I can get my boyfriend back."
Sue - "I don't care so much about that."
January 13, 2010
And then there's bad angst like mid to late Xena and mid to late Buffy. But at least Buffy kept pulling out enough good to keep you coming back. Xena just got pathetic with only one or two good episode per year. Sue just has too many good lines to count.
More Glee reviews
review by . December 24, 2010
This isn't so much a review, as much as it is a ranting about a good tv show. I know this is somewhat out of place, Glee being a TV show and all, but I really do like this show, so I felt it necessary to review it. I'll include some stuff about the second season too, because the second season is much better. When I first watched the show, I thought it was mediocre, but it had just enough to keep me watching. As I kept watching, it kept getting better and better, and it transformed into one …
review by . December 02, 2009
Singing the Praises of Glee
With a seemingly endless buffet of vacuous reality TV shows (Keeping up with the Kardashians is still on?!) and horrible remakes of old favorites, a la 90210 and Melrose Place, Glee provides a refreshing and needed change in TV land. If "American Idol" and "The Office" had a love child, its name would be Glee. Catchy, emotional song and dance numbers provide the thematic arcs for the show, which discusses REAL issues that teens face, unlike say Gossip Girl, where the latest struggle …
review by . May 25, 2009
Glee cast
glee  n. 1. Jubilant delight; joy.       Cashing in on the popularity of movies like "High School Musical" and the American public's growing love of dramedies, Glee may be Fox Network's next big hit. And why not? With sky-rocketing unemployment rates, the economy in turmoil and continuing war throughout the world, we're jonesin' for some jubilant delight, even if it's just on television.    Glee brings a cast of characters that are interesting, vulnerable …
review by . October 15, 2009
I'm really torn about this show. I like the premise and love the singing and musical numbers (especially last week's mashups - Halo!), but wow, this show is really, really, REALLY problematic.      There is a lot of diversity in the cast, including the background characters, but all too often those characters (including those in the main cast) just serve as window dressing for the straight, white, (often male) ablebodied characters who are the show's focus. When I first started …
review by . October 13, 2009
I think it's partly the economic environment and partly the fact we've ploughed through the Netflix instant pile, but we've started watching an episode of Glee every night on Amazon Video on Demand. I really enjoy musicals but really hate American Idol and any other type of talent competition, so I wasn't sure what the expect out of this show.      It's centered around a fairly typical high school where the jocks beat up the nerds and the nerds all belong to a music club called …
Quick Tip by . August 08, 2011
This is my guilty pleasure. Great voices singing songs that bring me back to my high school days.
Quick Tip by . April 18, 2011
Hmm.  The inspired li'l show that debuted in the first season has really veered off into some nasty territory in Season 2.  No longer content to just be a show about kids and their talents, now GLEE has openly embraced strong political messages, and perhaps it's the worse for wear.  That's not to say that the show doesn't still have strong reasons to tune in each week; it's only to underscore that you have to tune out the politics if you don't agree with 'em. …
review by . September 30, 2010
I watched my first episode of Glee this season. The first show was hysterical with Sue and Will trying to take down "The Beast." The second show was all about "Britney" - yet it was missing the humorous stuff. I convinced my husband to watch it with claims that it was a great show, only to find that we turned it off after about 10 minutes. Being a Jane Lynch Super Fan, I will probably watch it sporadically - assuming there is nothing else on. But, it won't be one of my "too …
Quick Tip by . October 09, 2010
Goofy and irreverent, this show is just plain fun.
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2010
I am a gleek- a glee, geek- and I just thought that it is similar to the concept of finding common ground. Although the methods are not always the best practices to be promoting, there are instances of revenge and blackmail, etc, in the end they always see the errors of their ways and it is the glee club that grounds them and brings them together despite all their other differences of interests and personalities.
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About this tv show


Glee, a one-hour musical comedy, follows the life of an optimistic high school teacher as he seeks to transform and inspire the schools Glee Club, a group of amateur performers, to compete in the National Competition.

Once at the top of show choir, McKinley High School's Glee club has lately become home to misfits, social outcasts and scandals. Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), a positive young professional takes on the heroic task of restoring the Glee Club to its former glory, alongside fellow teacher Emma Pillsbury (Ugly Betty).

Challenges to restoring the club include nerdy soprano Kurt (Chris Colfer), the diva Mercedes (Amber Riley), geeky guitarist Arty (Kevin McHale) and the awkward, stuttering Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz).

Will's only hope lies within the true talents of Rachel Berry (Lea Michele, "Spring Awakening"), a perfectionist who is confident in show choir being her ticket to stardom and Finn Hudson,  (Cory Monteith, "Kyle XY"), the popular high school quarterback with good looks and a perfect voice.

Throughout the story, Will is challenged with battling the negative influences in his life to prove that the Glee can beat out the competition. Produced by Ryan Murphy Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television, Glee features a soundtrack of hit songs from past and present.

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