To Glee Or Not To Glee?

19 May

...that is the question.

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?

Bring it On

Are we here?

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.


...or here?

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.


8 Responses to “To Glee Or Not To Glee?”

  1. TheSoniaShow May 20, 2009 at 7:45 am #

    I agree that the first episode wasn’t perfect, but I thought it laid the ground work for what I hope will be a really enjoyable show.

    I laughed out loud several times, and I really enjoyed the musical numbers (“Rehab!”).

    The clips from the upcoming episodes make me think it’s going to lean more toward “Election” than “Bring It On.” Also, the man behind “Glee” also did “Nip/Tuck,” which is a dark, nasty show with really unlikable characters. I wouldn’t be surprised to see “Glee” get a little dark.

    There are very few shows that completely blow me away in the first episode (“Lost” comes to mind), but I think “Glee” is off to a great start.

    • Kirk May 20, 2009 at 8:20 am #

      Yeah, I totally agree, actually. I’m not sure why I was drinking the hatorade last night. I mean, all of the points I raised in this post stand, but whatever, it was totally fun, and it’s almost surely going to be good! Plus, how harshly can one really judge a show based on its pilot?

      I think that I was reacting to the over-hyping, which was hard to avoid. That and the fact that the episode felt like a whole season smushed into one hour. But just looking at the raw ingredients, yep – it’s got a better than average chance of being totally awesome. So, yay!

  2. David May 20, 2009 at 8:46 am #

    In general, I am a hater, but Glee intrigued me. One thing that stood out to me was that it had a small level of quirk, but not over-the-top “we’re funny because we are quirky and self-aware of our quirky quirk nature.” I think you took that as the show not knowing what kind of a show it wants to be yet. To quirk or not to quirk.

    Right off the bat we know that the characters are interesting and that they did really well with casting. I am looking to seeing it in the Fall.

    I am also looking forward to that Journey song to leave my head.

    Oh, about Idol: Is the grand last performance finale that dull usually? None of the songs stood out at all. Adam continues to cabaret phone it in and the other guy was fine, but forgettable really. He did remind us how awesome Sam Cooke was.

    • Kirk May 20, 2009 at 8:56 am #

      I agree – the quirk wasn’t forced, and that was nice. Living as we do in the age of “new quirk” on TV, it seems like a guideline should be that quirkiness must be balanced out by an equal amount of dark humor.

      Like, as much as I loved Pushing Daisies, sometimes the quirkiness on that show could get out of hand. But as long as people were getting killed in bizarre, funny ways, it equaled out in the end.

      I wrote a thing about Idol this morning. I am like some sort of TV critic! Now that all my shows are done for the summer, I can finally go back to writing about music.

      I agree, it wasn’t the best night ever, – Lambert’s performance of “Change” did make me get out “Night Beat” and give it a spin. Sam Cooke. Damn. The voice on that guy! There will never be another.

  3. Kat August 28, 2009 at 12:36 am #

    Point-out-stupidity-and-deafness-time – Jane Lynch’s line was “try being waterboarded” – nothing there about waterboarding.

    Ever tried looking it up? It’s a form of torture.

    Got that?

    • Kirk August 28, 2009 at 8:13 am #

      Wha? Maybe I don’t follow… that’s what I was talking about. What I was saying was that the joke felt forced/off to me.

  4. ER Streaming Online February 3, 2010 at 9:04 am #

    Hey this is a great website!

  5. Judi Coppler February 28, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

    I really love this show.. I have watched all episodes and I can’t wait for the next one…!

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