There’s a lot of singing, a lot of dancing, and a lot of teen drama on TV these days, so perhaps it shouldn’t be a big deal when a new show comes along that combines these all together. However, when I watched the preview episode of Glee on Fox last week, I was more excited about it than any episode of American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, or Gossip Girl could make me (which actually isn’t saying that much since I don’t watch any of those shows). Writer/creator Ryan Murphy, the guy behind Nip/Tuck (but more importantly the criminally underlooked high school dramedy series Popular) has now spawned this new show about a high school Spanish teacher (Mr. Scheuster played by Matthew Morrison) and a cast of fresh-faced unknowns trying to bring new life to the school’s glee club.
OK. For the most part, the landscape is nothing new (in fact it’s downright cliche) with the jocks hating on the nerds and theatre geeks; the cheerleaders being snobby ice-queens; and amidst the hostile social climate of high school, a bunch of misfits come together to find themselves, find each other, and really blossom. Well, that’s all blah on paper, but it’s what shows up on screen that has me excited. If you were one of the few supporters of the aforementioned Popular, you’ll know that a Ryan Murphy high school show is seriously tongue-in-cheek. Its satirical tone is quite overt (think of that classic movie, Heathers), using voiceovers, flashbacks, and other tricks to poke fun and peek inside the characters. It’s this ironic tone that also makes the show enjoyable. When the glee club members go on a field trip to check out their competition, they witness a super-slick Broadway-quality number. Dressed in matching 50s shirts and dresses, the other school’s performers go from a sedate acapella opening to a splashy American Bandstand style rendition of (get this) Rehab by Amy Winehouse — it’s sinfully delicious!
Granted, to enjoy this show you’ve also got to love song-and-dance numbers (but I would offer that this shows is challenging, “Who doesn’t love song-and-dance numbers?”). Getting a few fun performances each week is definitely a big draw of this show for me (I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I have rewatched those bits a dozen times by now). But without an interesting character aspect, I’m not sure the show would keep me interested (I mean, I never got into any of the High School Musical movies at all). I’m looking forward to rooting for this underdog team as they work up to the Show Choir competition that they’re going for. I’m hoping that with Ryan Murphy at the helm there will be some dramatic surprises along the way as well (from what I’ve heard happened on his other show, Nip/Tuck, that’s probably going to be a given). All in all, Fox was really clever to tease us with a taste of this new show. I’ve heard some good buzz already and it’s already at the top of my most-anticipated list for fall (right next to the lizards of the new V). Check it out on Fox’s web site if you missed it (and you’re in the US). Oh, and check out this other review of the show as well: Glee, “Pilot” | TV | A.V. Club