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Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Fox premiered the pilot for the show Glee last night, and having nothing better to do, I watched it. And though the show is a musical about a glee club, I actually really enjoyed the show. Honestly, I shouldn't have underestimated the show. It does come from Ryan Murphy, who created and produced Popular and Nip/Tuck, so I should have known that the show would be a hilarious critique of high school culture and would have great characters. But one of the main things I loved about the show was that it didn't contain any actual songs in its soundtrack. Instead, it had a capella, glee-club versions of both famous songs and the score. Strangely, this feature added to the humor of the show. The songs from each episode are also now available on iTunes thanks to a deal between Columbia Records, Fox, and Apple.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about, this is the a capella version of "Don't Stop Believing." And dare I say, of all the TV shows and movies this song has been in, including The Sopranos, this may be my favorite rendition:

Check out Ken Tucker's review from EW:

Has there ever been a TV show more aptly named than Glee? It both embodies and inspires exactly that quality. Yet if I tell you the show is about a high school glee club and features bursting-into-song musical numbers, you might react as I did initially: I wanted no part of that. I'm not a musicals kinda guy.

But this comedy from creator Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck) is so good — so funny, so bulging with vibrant characters — that it blasts past any defenses you might put up against it. Glee will not stop until it wins you over utterly. It's the story of Will (Matthew Morrison), a high school Spanish teacher who takes over a pathetic glee club filled with misfits.

Murphy takes what could have been moldy, cliché figures — such as Rachel, the persecuted girl (Lea Michele), Finn, the football hero who really wants to croon (Cory Monteith), and teachers like cheerleading coach Sue (the wonderful Jane Lynch) — and brings fresh details to them. Rachel asserts, ''Being anonymous is worse than being poor…. Fame is the most important thing in society.'' At first, you want to barf at a sentiment like that, but then Glee makes the battle to overcome anonymity seem like a higher calling.

That's surely the case for Will, who's trying to distance himself from his high-pressure, baby-craving young wife (Jessalyn Gilsig, wonderfully tightly wound). Will is inspired by recalling the one time he was truly happy — when he sang in his own high school glee club. In a healthy way, he's going to channel his nostalgia into making the club, called New Directions, glow: ''There’s no joy in these kids…. That’s why they all have a MySpace page,'' he says. Glee is all about sparking ambition, getting kids off the sofa and doing creative things. But it also has a healthy dose of sarcasm and skepticism to offset its peppy interpretations of Journey hits. The production numbers show the sweat and constructive criticism that goes into good performances.

The series is getting a big push from Fox, which is premiering the show in what would seem an ideal spot for its core audience, right after American Idol. But Glee is still the little musical-comedy-drama that could...bomb. As terrific as it is, it's a risk. Why? Because there’s nothing else like it on TV. Because regular episodes won't begin airing weekly until this fall. (Future musically adept guest stars will include Pushing Daisies' Kristin Chenoweth.) And because lots of folks may feel as I do, that Idol has pretty much ruined young-people-singing-passionately for me. But I was persuaded by Glee's cagey little mind as well as its big, throbbing heart. I think you will be too.

The show didn't get the best ratings last night, even though it followed uber-trash American Idol, but Fox has made the pilot available on hulu and fox.com for the entire summer, so that everyone can watch the show before it premieres in September. I've embedded it below, so check it out.

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