Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Glee, "Pilot": Just a small town girl...

As I wrote yesterday, I wasn't very fond of "Glee", but I also recognize that I'm not really in the show's target demo. (At the same time, other series have been known to overcome my demo-inappropriateness, like "Gilmore Girls.") But as I imagine some of you will really enjoy it, or at least want to discuss it, I'm setting up this post.

What did you think?

62 comments:

T.J. Hawke said...

The pilot was kind of the complete opposite of the Joss Whedon style where the first six episodes are basically the pilot. Here it seems like we have gone through about a season's worth of storyline arcs in one hour.

Chaddogg said...

Wow. Just wow.

I don't know that I've been this psyched about a pilot since....well, the pilot of Lost.

"There is nothing ironic about show choir."

I think this pilot gets permanent "do not delete" status on the DVR. SOOOOO much they can do with this show, and the talent of the cast. I can't wait for them to color these characters in a bit more, making them more human/real rather than the occasionally broad archetypes they are now....

But talk about a joyous show -- what an incredibly beautiful/wonderful idea for a show. And if Fox doesn't team it with a reality show (America's Best Show Choirs?) when it becomes a hit, they're missing a sure thing....

WAY TO GO GLEE!!

Will Eidam said...

Agreed, T.J., but I'm hoping the show just wanted to cram in a lot of the cliche high school stuff and get it out of the way so it can expand into broader stuff when the show returns in the Fall.

And even if it does stick with the cliches, I'm going to stick with it for a while as I'm a fan of Musicals, and Lea Michelle (Spring Awakening babe who I can't keep my eyes off of when she's on screen). Plus, was it just me who heard a random rumor that at some point Kristin Chenoweth would be on the show for a guest appearance? Pushing Daisies redemption, anyone?!

And getting back to Lea Michelle, do you think she watched a few too many showings of "Election" to prepare for her role? I love her, but...very Flicky.

Hyde said...

Highlights:

1. The kids really can sing a little, although the male lead is a bit tepid. Lea Michele is pretty close to awesome.
2. Jane "I'm doing a phoner" Lynch will never not be funny.
3. The sight gag about Rachel's fathers.
4. As mentioned in the earlier Glee post, the more Jayma Mays, the better.
5. I live in Ohio, and it felt right (even though the real Lima is about 50% African-American, I believe). The high school hierarchy here really is football first, and everything else a distant tie for last.

Problem areas:

1. The emerging Schuester love triangle. Too much, too soon. And how are we to buy Schuester and the Jessalyn Gilsig character ever falling in love to begin with?
2. The kids are pretty stereotypical. Rachel is an obvious copy of Tracy Flick down to the un-selfaware voiceovers, and the Sassy Black Girl made me cringe a few times.

I'll look forward to it in the fall.

Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm. Matthew Morrison.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J--8RD6ddDA

Rose said...

I didn't give it my full attention, but I kind of liked it. Enjoyable, but not original. In a way, it reminds me of Friday Night Lights. Each season will probably culminate with a big performance or contest. Sometimes they'll win, sometimes they'll lose, but they'll always do it with heart!

Anonymous said...

I'm a high school teacher, and I found some elements rather caricatured. I'm also a sucker for high school shows and movies, and at least this one has potential for amusing yet true social commentary: "Being anonymous is worse than being poor. Fame is the most important thing in our culture now." Excited to see where this one goes in the Fall.

Yet another anonymous said...

You know, I had a lot more fun than I thought I would. Don't know if it has more than a season or so in it, but I think I could enjoy most of it.

I do understand what you mean, T.J. Hawke - you kind've wonder how it will feel slowed down, during the real season.

I'll be back in the fall, though. Especially since there will be little else I'll be watching on network TV given the upfront news today :)

AmericanPatriot said...

I was afraid this was going to be a episodic version of "High School Musical." Well, after three movies, is that considered episodic? I have to say though, I was pleasantly surprised.

The writers have some room to grow, figure out if this is a comedy, a drama, or an avenue for a scripted talent show. It felt like it could go any of the three directions but didn't make a commitment any which way. Maybe that'll pay off later down the road. But one thing's for sure; the music was great, those kids have some pipes! The talent is on screen to make the show a hit, hopefully the writing staff and directors will put some meat on the show too.

JD said...

The show has a few faults, mostly in the desperation the show wants us to like it as Alan mentions in his review, but I loved it and can't wait to see the show in the fall. I expect the show will flesh out most of the characters later on, but I like what I've seen so far.

Wordnerd said...

Definitely has potential. "If you think this is hard, you should try waterboarding"? Gold.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this really left me completely cold. I'm a fan of musical theater and of Ryan Murphy's other shows and was really expecting to like this, but it just felt like a mixture of bad David E. Kelley quirk and characters ripped straight from Election and American Pie. I'll give it a couple of more episodes in the fall, but I actually kind of hated the pilot.

audie said...

i really liked the pilot and can't wait to watch it in the fall. But i'll have to agree with the others, lea michele's character was very "election" but hopefully her character will come to her own. She was amazing when i saw her in Spring Awakening and i absolutely adored the musical numbers.

Ashley said...

Loved it. Unabashedly. They've totally got me.

Linda said...

Loved it. As I knew I would. The music -- not just the numbers, but just the score, with all the use of vocals -- is so very cool.

Mike said...

I gotta say, it was pretty meh, but I really enjoyed the a cappella music in the background the whole episode. I'm a sucker for it.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I never post but I just can't believe the responses. I thought this show was really bad.

So many jokes felt flat to me. The hemp dealer who gives out calling cards. Two gay dads. One black and one white, and for some reason one looks normal while the other looks like a science nerd. Isn't this a bit over the top? Do you really need to think that outside of the box to find humor about high school life. Wouldn't it be better to create funny scene that everyone can actually relate to instead. Wouldn't that better fit the purpose of the show?

None of the mean-spirited teachers seem real to me either. I know it is supposed to be satire but their behavior is so overdone at times that it seems to lose all base in reality. Any principal like that in real life would not have his job for long.

The young characters are a hard sell too. I know there are some "sympathy" scenes to make us emphasize with these characters but those scenes are so trite and cliche that I just find myself not caring. It was like they took the teens from the stupidest teen movies and placed them in a series. It's like Saved By the Bell except everyone is a variation of Screech. Nor were any of them really original, or was it hard to figure out where there "stories" are going. How about a curve ball to actually keep me interested.

The editing was bad too. Like the shower scene where Will watches that guy sing. Will is narrating a serious emphatic conversation to the audience while at the same time were watching an idiot sing in a shower. WTF. Another example is the first big sing and dance (Way too many cuts that it destroys the shock and awe that were supposed to feel because they are so supposed to be so good) And yes, stuff like that does matter. Just look at the season finale of House this year and you can see how important editing is in conveying mood or getting ideas across in a scene. The way everything was shot seemed really amateurish to me and only helped to rob scenes of emotion in this case.

Kelly said...

Just finished watching the pilot and loved it. Like I knew I would. Made the husband watch it with me and he liked it as well. Mostly because of Jane Lynch I think. Have I mentioned our love for all things Jane Lynch-ie?

Cameron Hughes said...

Well, That was different.



Aside from the many many nods to Election(The blatant Tracy Flick character) and the weird narration that came randomly, and the supposedly edgy jokes(90% of Jane Lynch's lines, the glee teacher's line about Myspace and loneliness) that were just lame, I enjoyed that. It made me..happy. I'm sick of the different clique's in High School that hate each other(Never happened in my High School)cliche, so its obviously not Freaks and Geeks/Friday Night Lights level, and the cripple character is a bad stereotype, but I enjoyed that a lot.


Oh, and I cringed when Sassy Black Girl screamed "HELL TO THE NAW!"

Anonymous said...

This reminded me a little of Miss Guided.

Peter said...

Wow, I'm still smiling after watching that. One of the better pilots to come along in quite awhile. Can't wait for the fall!

Kirk said...

Hmm. I didn't love it, though I thought that I would. The pacing was just too wonked, and it felt as though the show couldn't decide how grounded in reality it wants to be.

I mean, that performance at the end... they went from lame performers to auto-tuned, killer studio-band perfection overnight... was that supposed to be real? I couldn't tell. Will it really be fun to watch a group of pitch-perfect pros play the scrappy underdog?

I wrote more about it here, but suffice to say, I expected more. For every good joke, there was a lazy one. And the previews showed way too much, and were so ubiquitous over the past month or two as to be unavoidable. I'll watch in the fall, but I'm little bummed.

Viva Lima said...

I hate to say it, but I did not enjoy the pilot. I wanted so badly to like it, since I like musicals, as well as some of the actors here, but the show has a bit of a complex about its subject matter. Like some of its characters, the show comes off as smug and insecure, self-loathing and defensive, and a bit manipulative.

Glee seems to want to have its cake and eat it, too. That overlong "Rehab" number is a good example. As much as we're supposed to laugh at the ridiculousness of it, they obviously want us to enjoy the performance on a sincere level, too. The problem is that the show doesn't seem to actually have that sense of humor about itself.

I lost count of how many emotional moments they loaded in this episode, but none of them felt earned.

And for a show that has singing as such a major selling point, the use of Auto-Tune really ticked me off. The mix in general was off-putting: the lips sometimes weren't in sync with the words, and were a bit overproduced to the point where I often couldn't make out the individual voices.

I will say this: Jayma Mays was a surprising bright spot for me, and I think there's potential in the dynamic between her Lynch. Too bad Stephen Tobolowsky is only a guest star.

This was only a pilot, and many of my complaints are fixable, particularly with production and editing, so I will give it a chance in the fall. But I experienced far less glee than I was hoping for.

bsangs said...

Loved it.

When Rachel said everybody hated her and Schuester looked at her and asked, "And you though Glee Club would help?" we were hooked.

And being honest, I'd watch Jane Lynch read the phone book. She is comic gold.

As an aside, has any song in history benefitted more from its placement in a TV episode? I swear, since "The Sopranos" finale Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" gets more play than it did during its first go-round in the 80's. Journey must be collecting some serious residuals.

Kattie said...

One of the things that bothered me about this show was the stylistic trick of having characters move very quickly and then slow down. It might have been effective once or twice, to open the episode, but over and over? It just made me feel like calling the cable company to replace my DVR.

However, I disagree with those who thought the last musical number was "perfect." Yes, they sounded good and had some decent choreography, but they were not in the same league as the "Rehab" school. Laugh if you want at the bizarreness of the staging of that song, but the production reminded me more of band/drill/cheerleader competitions, and if that's the world they are going to be competing in, then five misfits in red tshirts and big hearts and voices still have a long way to go before taking home a trophy.

I will also be very disappointed if the lead girl - who I agree is insanely talented - gets to sing lead in every single song. The "I'm Beyonce, not Kelly" girl was also very talented and should have her turn in the spotlight. I loved "Camp" and in that film, different musical numbers played to different kids' strengths, and it was so much more interesting that way.

ameliaheartsu said...

i agree kattie. everyone should get the chance to be the lead. almost every promo i've seen featured rachel or finn. and that's going to get real tired, real fast - and just another thing to make it more like HSM.

nikki said...

I'll be watching in the fall. I'm glad that I'm able to just watch a show and not nitpick about all of the technicalities as several of you did. My life is stressful enough so usually when I watch TV I just take it at face value.

Do remember that this is just the pilot and chances are most things will improve.

Besides if it improves too much Fox will probably cancel it.

LoopyChew said...

This is one of those shows where I could simply turn in my man card and float away on butterfly wings and hearts. Jane Lynch is as awesome as I expect her to be, and very admittedly I'm a sucker for musical anything, but the presentation is fantastic. I loved the A Capella background music and am wondering if it's meant to be both stylish AND budget-slashing (presumably it's easier to get an A Capella group to cover songs than it would be to license them outright). It hit the right notes, it struck a chord, and I'm having trouble coming up with other musical puns so I'll stop.

Very, very much looking forward to this show in the Fall, and it'll help me through my lack of autumntime Chuck.

Anonymous said...

No one quits a teaching job to get better benefits. At least here in Michigan. Starting pay around
$40K and benefits to rival the UAW. But I did miss what happened right after the last commercial. Why did Schuster come back? DId he find out his wife was tricking him that fast? This show moves quickly, but I only missed about 3 minutes!

LoopyChew said...

Also, I agree with kattie and amelia--it'll be nicer if they manage to get each member of the choir to have a chance at the lead, for different kinds of songs. Hearing them say that they have no idea what Tina (the lesbiazn)'s strength in makes me think she's going to be some kind of Chekhov's Gun, and I hope they use it in a good way. Mercedes (the Beyonce) has her strengths established quite quickly, Arty ("Wheels") will hopefully get to sing more (I did love the irony of him leading "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat"). I have no idea what they'd do with either him or Kurt vocally, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

CJ said...

Quitting teaching for better benefits is quite believable here in Ohio. And while I agree with a lot of the comments about its flaws, the pilot still had my husband and me both laughing out loud at several points. I think the combination of ridiculousness AND accuracy sell it for me. I went to high school in Ohio and now I teach high school in Ohio, and the show oddly makes a lot of sense.

Mike said...

"Laugh if you want at the bizarreness of the staging of that song, but the production reminded me more of band/drill/cheerleader competitions, and if that's the world they are going to be competing in, then five misfits in red tshirts and big hearts and voices still have a long way to go before taking home a trophy."

The Bad News Bears on line 1 for you.

Ron said...

I very much enjoyed the pilot, as did every musical theater geek I am friends with, not surprisingly. Hope this is a big enough audience to merit it sticking around.

K J Gillenwater said...

Oh, I loved it. I'm a sucker for a cappella singing. I'm so there.

It had a few laugh out loud moments, and I'm sort of glad there were just a few....because I don't think this is supposed to be a laugh-a-minute show. My favorite, when the teacher was pressuring the football player to join Glee and told him he would 'lose his scholarships." The football player says, "I had scholarships?" Hilarious.

Just like I would buy a CD of all the barbershop quartet songs from "Scrubs," I would do the same with their version of "Don't Stop Believin'."

Looking forward to this next fall.

Karen said...

We enjoyed it, and I was laughing out loud at some of the jokes. (Especially the aforementioned-in-the-comments line about the girl who thinks the glee club will turn things around from everyone hating her.) I loathe that Journey song, but enjoyed this rendition of it, so go figure. We didn't even mind the fact that there seemed to be way more vocal sound, especially way more male vocal sound, than the number of people in that group seemed capable of producing. We'll be back with it in the fall. (And for what it's worth, we do not watch American Idol - left the sound off until Glee began. So we weren't being led in by the lead-in.)

Carrie said...

Auto Tune is a blight upon the world. Pop music just isn't the same, and never will be. Stop using Auto Tune on good singers, producers!

Despite that...I loved it. It was an uneven pilot, but it just left me feeling GOOD at the end. So few shows have that magic these days. I just hope Ryan Murphy can keep a lid on the camp, because this show could easily get campy and ridiculous and I don't think that would be a good tonal fit.

Abdul said...

I think the pilot is inconsistent (like Viva Lima said earlier) because it's set in high school. Who doesn't simultaneously feel good and bad about high school? Anyway, I don't know if the inconsistency is intentional or if it's accidental, but it's very Ryan Murphy.

I'm a bit impressed but more so because I didn't expect much rather than because I was entertained. I'm still not going to watch this, though.

Abdul said...

And though I really liked the last song and dance number, I was a bit miffed that the underdogs were already that good. They could just take that awesomeness back, like 30 Rock and Arrested Development do. I don't know, maybe the Mr. Schuester could have asked, "How did you all get this good?" and the glee members would say they've seen footage of the rival school Carmel's last year's entry and that they're doing the same exact production or something like that.

Anonymous said...

"Laugh if you want at the bizarreness of the staging of that song, but the production reminded me more of band/drill/cheerleader competitions, and if that's the world they are going to be competing in, then five misfits in red tshirts and big hearts and voices still have a long way to go before taking home a trophy."

Former high school show choir member here -- that's actually not too off for what show choir is all about (although I did wonder about the liklihood of a school letting the choir sing "Rehab"). We had a back up band, and a professional choreographer. This stuff is big in Ohio, and especially Indiana.

Billiam said...

I sometimes like Jane Lynch, but I hated her character here. I really hope no high school teacher would really say the things they said. And why does she want to "crush" the glee club? Because she's evil, I guess.

Kelly said...

But I did miss what happened right after the last commercial. Why did Schuster come back? DId he find out his wife was tricking him that fast?Anonymous, the teacher that has a crush on him sat him down and made him watch a video she found in the library of him performing in his own glee club when he was in high school. She pointed out how much he loved it and that it was the happiest she'd ever seen him. When he protested that he was going to have a baby and needed to provide for his family she gently asked him what was a better lesson for his child to learn. Paraphrasing here - but it was basically is the better lesson that money and wealth are the key to being happy or that doing something you love and find joy in is the key to happiness. Then he watched the kids sing their "Journey" song and that made the final decision for him to go back.

Also, I sort of feel like a dork here but can someone explain to me what exactly "Auto tune" is? I have what I thought was a fairly extensive knowledge of music but I've never heard of this and I'm feeling like a noodle for not knowing! Thanks!

Carrie said...

Possession is eight tenths of the law? Come on, that is fantastic. What I love about this show, and what may be its undoing, is that the messages all seem to be aimed directly at adults. It's almost as if the kids are extraneous, necessary only to move the grownups along toward something (or cement what they already are, in the case of the cheer coach).

jana said...

I liked the show a lot, except that with every shot of Jessalyn Gilsig, I expected her to say, "Hello, a**hole," from Nip/Tuck.

Carrie said...

Kelly: Auto-Tune on Wiki

Kelly said...

Very interesting. Thanks Carrie!

Kirk said...

Yeah, re: the amazing quality of the final performance... there are any number of ways they could hit a "reset" button in episode 2 - Abdul, I like your idea (partly because it makes me think of "Bring it On").

I actually re-read my own blog post on it in the harsh light of morning, and think I was too tough on it... I mean, on the whole, it was really fun. And I don't want to judge a show too harshly on its pilot.

But then again, when its shown in a vacuum, and with months before the next episode, what else are we to do? I also think that the over-hyping detracted.

But yeah, it was still pretty good times, and will hopefully stay on the darkly funny, "Election" side of things and not go all Efron-y on us.

Liz Coopersmith said...

Loved it. Loved, loved it, bought their version of "Don't Stop Believing" on itunes two seconds after the credits rolled. My one problem was, as much as people "hated" her, there's no way teenage boys are throwing drinks in the face of a girl that pretty. Not happening.

CJ said...

The pecking order in high schools like this can be brutal, and even if a girl is pretty, she won't believe she is pretty or be treated as pretty if she has made the wrong "peer group" choices. So, yeah, I think the drink in the girl's face is likely--also if it was more that he did not really even see her there, and was not necessarily aiming at her face (more the wall or simply out of his way). Girls like that are essentially invisible to guys like that.

Anonymous said...

AARRRRGGGHHHH American Idol! Does anyone have a link to the last couple minutes that my DVR did not record because the morons producing American Idol went over time again? Thanks in advance!

Lora said...

To the Anonymous directly above me (and anyone else who's interested, for that matter)- the pilot is available for free download on iTunes.

purpletoonlink said...

Well, what can I say? I loved it. It was just.. fun. Nothing harmful, nothing mind-boggling. Just something we could sit and enjoy. Now, I'm not savvy with American TV - but am I right in thinking we only get the first episode now, and have to wait until September for the rest? How awfully silly.

Anonymous said...

While "Don't Stop Believin'" has gotten incredible mileage from the Sopranos finale, it's not the all-time champ.

I'd give that to "At This Moment" by Billy Vera and the Beaters in the "Family Ties" episode where Michael J. Fox got together with Tracy Pollan.

As for "Glee," it's hard to imagine either the show or the audience maintaining the pace necessary for a weekly musical series.

Using Broadway names in future guest roles sounds like a lot of fun for those of us who watch the Tonys--but you know how those ratings are.

I do think Lea Michele's agent has to feel pretty good about the future.

Kattie said...

The Bad News Bears on line 1 for you.Exactly! My comment about them having a long way to go was only in response to those who thought they were so perfect in that end performance that there would be little to do for the rest of the series. My point was that they still have work to do to get to the level of their competition - but, yes, like the scrappy Bears, I am fairly certain they can pull it off. And we'll get to see it... well, in the fall.

fgmerchant said...

The show was definitely good enough that I will check it out again in the fall. But I did find Lea Michele (who has an amazing voice) having some difficulty transitioning from stage acting to film acting.

I haven't seen High School Musical myself, because I thought it would be too cliché (and I still do), so comparisons between HSM and Glee are water under the bridge for me.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to mock it 'cause that's what I do. But I couldn't! It just refused to take itself too seriously, it was funnier than I thought it would be and Jane Lynch is always...delicious.

Matt said...

"Don't Stop Believin'" had a trio of things:

1. "Family Guy"--a long karaoke scene of most of the male supporting characters doing the song.
2. "Laguna Beach"--The final episode had a big party scene in which the song was prominently featured.
3. "Sopranos"

Apparently, it's also been in "Twilight." The Journey version has been a fixture in the Top 100 of iTunes for several years now.

Kattie said...

Ha! I realize I wrote something ridiculous here that no one picked up on - the bit about the characters slowing down and speeding up in and out of scenes. Nope, that wasn't "Glee." Right after I watched it, I fell asleep watching "Green Wing" on hulu (a british hospital comedy - anyone else watching this?) and mixed them up in my head when I wrote this the next morning.

But... I also came back to say that this show needs to have Idina Menzel guest star as Rachel's biological mom.

Anonymous said...

My daughter, a HS freshman, absolutely loved this show, and said that everyone was talking about it (and singing "Don't Stop Believing") in school the next day. I think it definitely hit its target audience, and I'd be surprised if it wasn't a big hit for Fox in the fall.

Rachel said...

The cast is way too talented for this show. I would watch nearly every person in the cast do anything - except sit through that pilot again. Lazy jokes + desperate to impress = not a good time, and I'm a musical theater junkie.

Abdul said...

@Kirk: Thanks. :D Those were my first comments here in Sepinwalllandia and I was shocked to see someone actually liked what I had to say. I've read your blog, and yeah, Bring It On is so much better than Barf School Musical.

@Kattie: Oh my god and Buddha as well! That is genius! Lea Michelle DOES look like Idina Menzel! And their names rhyme! I wonder if a song can be made out of their names...

Rachel said...

I'm, sorry, but for everyone who is dissing Glee... try listening to Lea Michele's voice. There is simply no other way to describe it other than AHMAZING!!!! Her fantastic belting hooked me from the start. Go Lea, you rock!!

olucy said...

I liked this much more than I expected to.

But am I the only one kinda appalled by the teacher roping the jock into joining by planting pot in his locker (or whatever)? I mean...WTF? Sure, he admitted he felt guilty...but he still did it. Now my feelings about the teacher are compromised by thinking he's a complete ***hole. I really wish they hadn't taken that path.