I dunno. I thought that the pilot for Glee was pretty good, I guess. It certainly had its moments (the grass-spraying guy from “Emerald Dreams” was amazing, the A Cappella music cues were killer), but I also thought that a lot of the writing felt forced and that the pacing was BANANAS.
Example time – I love Jane Lynch to death, but the waterboarding joke? A) Didn’t make sense, B) Was, I thought, a little bit tone-deaf and C) As a result of A and B, came off as the writers trying too hard. Which was a major bummer, since it was the first line of the show. Fail.
For every enjoyably wonky character grace-note (“Don’t go in the christmas closet!”) there was at least one played “Grey’s Anatomy is for pussies” or “Sassy black girl wants to be Beyonce” joke. People, we have all seen Arrested Development. We also watched Pushing Daisies. We can do better.
As for the pacing – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pilot that required such a dramatic “reset” after its climax. At the episode’s end, suddenly every character has found the courage to follow his or her dreams, the show choir went from sounding merely surprisingly good to being balls-out fantastic (they clearly invested in a good reverb unit and an auto-tuner) while accompanied by their amazing wheelchair-bound guitarist friend and his ridiculously burning studio (whoops, I mean, “Student”) jazz band. And their final performance took place while every single person who said they couldn’t do it (the coaches, the football player, etc.) happened to be watching them… did I miss something? Where did all that come from? Where are we going to go now?
I think that part of the problem is that they haven’t made up their mind on the nature and elasticity of the show’s reality. Hear me out – basically, there are three clear influences at work in Glee, each with its own distinct laws and reality. Towards the more reality-based end of the spectrum are “Election” (grim realism masked by darkly whimsical curlicues) and, slightly closer to the center, “Bring it On” (basically rooted in reality, though with heightened banter). Firmly to the “fantastical” side rests the third influence, “High School Musical” (characters sing and dance in the middle of their everyday routines). Most of the pilot felt like “Election,” which I really liked, but the entire last fifteen minutes felt totally Efron-tastic, and that made things confusing.
Are they really supposed to be that good, or was that final performance a sort of “Musical Moment” of heightened awesomeness? If it was, the show needs to be clearer about it. And if they are actually that good, then what, exactly, does their coach need to teach them? I mean, they weren’t just “much improved,” they were perfect! What fun is it going to be to watch studio-perfected, autotuned singers and a jacked-up, overproduced band play the part of the scrappy underdogs?
Okay, okay… crap, I’m totally sucking the fun out of life, and don’t want to sound like I hated it or something, since that’s really not the case. It was fun, and I’ll watch it in the fall (I’d watch it for Jane Lynch alone). But I did think that there were some significant problems. I swear my heart isn’t made of coal (I loved Pushing Daisies! So much!), and I was ready to totally love Glee, too – It just came across as unsure of its tone and a bit of a tryhard.
Last thing – I must protest the egregious manner in which Fox gave away practically every scene of this episode the ads running up to the premiere. Seeing so many scenes dozens of times robbed them of their charm, which is rough, since I’m doubtless being far harder on the show as a result. What’s worse, Fox went and did the same thing again at the end, showing practically the entire first season in the post-episode teaser!
‘TF, Fox? That was beyond the pale – I mean, show some funny jokes, sure, but you gave away some huge plot points, and for what? Grrrr. That does not make me feel gleeful.