Glee-Full Anticipation

E: Did you hear that blast of harmony? It’s the publicity juggernaut for the critical smash Glee, fast approaching. So far this show has been, perhaps, the victim of it’s own hype: last spring’s debut, after the finale of American Idol, was as plum as a time slot as you can imagine for any show, let alone a high school musical. The critics sang like angels, but the public, it did not come.

Or not to the show, anyway. “Don’t Stop Believin’,” the ubiquitous first single featured in all its commercials, hit number one on the iTunes singles chart. And lots of people ARE excited about the show – I’m one of them. I love the idea; the idealistic young teacher trying to give his students the same magical experience he had as a member of a National Championship Show Choir, the star-crossed lovers (multiple sets), the high school infighting, and a mean Jane Lynch. It’s all good. Family favorite Needle-Nose Ned Ryerson even makes an appearance. (Points to any non-sib who knows who I’m talking about! M: Watch that first step, its a doooooosey!) I may be a victim of the hype myself, however, because I didn’t flat-out love the pilot the way I expected to. So far most of it’s all a bit expected. The music is joyous, the snark is snarky, but I’m waiting for the appealing characters to flesh themselves out a bit.

Thus far, I’m a bit annoyed with the glib characterizations. Sexual orientation isn’t so easy to tell as TV shows would have us believe (I know they were going for people who are clearly outcasts here). And how do we know the head cheerleader is Christian? No, it’s not because she’s nice. She’s not. At all. It’s because she prays ostentatiously. And she won’t sleep with her boyfriend. Seriously, could one Christian on television actually live out a Christian life? No? (M: No, actually, because most of Hollywood has no interest in portraying Christianity in a positive light. See Studio 60, and everything else with “Christian” characters.) Maybe that’s a fresh take on a stereotype, maybe not, but still, she’s not yet a person and that’s what I really want to see. Same goes for the black girl, the Asian girl, and the nerdy looking kid in the wheelchair. Who are they? I hope we get to find out soon. Maybe that was too much to expect from a pilot?  (C: Too much to expect that a pilot give some glimmer of the characters’ humanity and individuality?  I don’t think so.  Watching the trailer, I wondered if we were supposed to find it absurd that they’d distilled the obligatory nerd, minority, overweight, and disabled “outsiders” down to only two characters.)

I think they will transcend these shallow outlines, though. I hope so, certainly. Of course, that was my problem with the pilot itself. It doesn’t explain why people didn’t watch in the first place, or whether the saturation of “Don’t Stop Believin'” will change that. (C: Not gonna lie — hearing them sing that in a commercial made me want to watch!)

None of this will stop Fox from putting its most frantic marketing foot forward, however. As far as I can tell, they’ve just invented something they’re calling the “tweet-peat,” in which the cast will live blog along with the repeat of the show, all of which will be featured in a streaming feed on the bottom of the screen. That’s something MTV has been doing for ages, though not necessarily via Twitter. (M: Lost has been doing “pop up video” on its reruns for a couple years now, too, and Fringe will be ‘tweet-peating’ as well.) If the idea isn’t new, the name seems to be. Next week they’re going to repeat the repeat again, this time as a director’s cut with deleted scenes – which, clearly, is the one I’ll be watching.

They’ve also announced the incredibly exciting list for the first soundtrack album, including “Somebody to Love” and “Gold Digger,” already heard in commercials.  The rest look exciting too:

  1. “Don’t Stop Believin’”
  2. “Can’t Fight This Feeling”
  3. “Gold Digger”
  4. “Take a Bow”
  5. “Bust Your Windows”
  6. “Taking Chances”
  7. “Alone”
  8. “Maybe This Time”
  9. “Somebody to Love”
  10. “Hate On Me”
  11. “No Air”
  12. “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”
  13. “Keep Holding On”
  14. “Bust a Move”
  15. “Sweet Caroline”
  16. “Dancing with Myself”
  17. “Defying Gravity”

I am hopping up and down in anticipation of some of these. What true Bostonian and Red Sox fan wouldn’t thrill to the strains of “Sweet Caroline”? I’ll admit it, I don’t know all of these (I understand there’s some Rihanna here?) but I’m really excited to hear “Bust A Move,” “No Air,” “You Keep Me Hanging On” and “Dancing With Myself.” And words cannot describe how much I adore “Can’t Fight This Feeling” – that song holds all the longing of a 13 year old girl desperately longing to be swept away by an epic romance (M: and was epically covered by The Hoff!). I’m bemused to remember that “Defying Gravity” is one of the biggest numbers in the Broadway musical Wicked; if the creators of the TV show Defying Gravity were making a reference then I really am the target audience for that show! (How many other melodrama/sci fi/musical lovers are there out there, though? And I’m still watching it. Lame, I know. I was thoroughly pissed off by the start of this week’s episode, with the would be profound narration blathering on about how surgeons only remember the patients they lose. As if there can’t be any drama when things go wrong, but you still find a way to save them? I can give you the number of at least one doctor who disagrees. Sorry, I digress.)

(C: I saw somewhere that the radiant Kristin Chenoweth is going to guest-star on Glee; that could be the reason for the Wicked nod.  Also appearing?  Victor “Kicks Ass, Takes Names, and Sings” Garber.  Two more reasons I’ll be giving this a chance!)

To sum up: I am excited about this show, and am hopeful that it’ll get deeper. I’m sure I’ll be buying the soundtrack either way – I’ve yet to hear even a snippet of song that wasn’t fantastic. I’ll definitely watch next week’s repeat for the deleted scenes. And I’ll be tuning in when the second episode airs, September 9th at 9pm. Will you? We should talk!

This entry was posted in Music, TV.

3 comments on “Glee-Full Anticipation

  1. Shannon says:

    I’m too excited to write anything coherent or smart, so YAAAAAAAAAY!

  2. C says:

    Just got finished watching the pilot on Hulu. First thoughts:

    You’re right, it’s unclear how such caricatured characters are going to carry this show through a whole season or multiple seasons. Everything is done in very broad strokes here. When they hit, they really hit; some of the jokes were quite funny, and the music – the big draw, obviously – is exhilarating. But I’d worry that they’re painting themselves in a corner with all the obvious stereotypes and gags. Satire is amusing, but it’s hard to make people invested in it.

    I also get annoyed with certain cliches that show up in high school stories so often that writers don’t seem to notice how utterly unbelievable they are. In real life, plenty of people do sports and arts. Many of the popular kids in my high school got good grades and did band or chorus as well as a sport. The football boy might be teased for doing show choir, but not for being musical. A girl like the glee club starlet would be popular. She’s very pretty and talented. Can you think of any beautiful, talented girls you went to high school with who were unpopular? Can ANYONE think of one? It’s completely unbelievable.

    Of course, I realize that something like High School Musical – and by extension, Glee which is spoofing that kind of thing – doesn’t have believability high on its list of prerogatives. But that’s where I see the problem with this as an ongoing series. If a show is to succeed the premise can be outrageously contrived, but the people can’t.

    • E says:

      Yes, you’ve said that so well – I think that’s exactly my problem with the series. The music is spectacular, and I LIKE the snark. It just can’t come at the expense of characterization. Will strikes me as the only fully realized character they’ve got so far; on the one hand, that may just be because it’s the pilot, but on the other, it seems to be their style. I guess time will tell – but as you say, they could be painting themselves into a corner.

      I think things may be different in larger high schools, btw, where there’s a more obvious delineation between groups. We were lucky enough to be able to try lots of things; someone had to be the lead in the show and some on the track team and there just aren’t that many kids.

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