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Monday 10 April 2017

Are you a Gleek?

Posted in: Television
By Andrew Grear - 5th November 2009

Don't stop believin': The cast of Glee

OK, I'm going to admit it. My name is Andrew, I'm 25 years old and I love Highschool Musical. I love it, the movies, the singing, the dancing. It's great. The only problem is, it's Disney. It's all a tad too shiny and kid-friendly to swallow.

Enter Glee. It's a little like Highschool Musical for grown-ups, and it's awesome. Chances are, unless you've been living under a rock for the past few months you've already heard about it, and if the various Facebook updates of so many of my friends are to go by, you have probably even watched the first few episodes. But for the sake of the rock dwellers, Glee is set in McKinley High School, where Matthew Morrison plays the school Spanish teacher Will Schuester who takes over the running of the glee club after the slightly nefarious ousting of its current head.

Mr Schuester has no easy task ahead of him. It's made very clear to him early on that the glee club kids rank as "sub-basement" in the levels of popularity. He starts off with only five kids to carry out his glee club dreams ("and one of them's a cripple!"): Mercedes Jones, the diva with a big voice who refuses to be the Kelly Rowland of glee club. Kurt Hummel the fashion conscious homosexual. Tina, awkward and reserved and unable to complete a sentence without stuttering heavily. Artie who doesn't let being confined to a wheelchair stop him from some rocking out the electric guitar. And Rachel Berry, the demanding star of glee club, who signs her name with a star and posts daily videos to her MySpace.

Virtually everyone is against these kids, and against Mr Schuester, including his wife (a vapid ex-cheerleader played brilliantly by Jessalyn Gilsig) with his sole sympathiser being Ms Pillsbury who has more than singing on her mind in regards to him. It all seems to be about to end before it begins, until, through chance and a little blackmail, Mr Schuester convinces the football captain, Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) to join up and take the lead male vocals.

The pilot treads some fairly familiar ground and you feel a little like you're watching a cut down version of a movie that never was... party because you are. Glee was originally destined to be a movie and you can see the cliché story details there. How will glee club survive? Popular jock joins. Popular jock has mild identity crisis and is torn between football and singing. Popular jock defies convention and decides to do both. Happy smiles ensue. Thank goodness it was saved from this. As a TV show this could blossom into something a lot deeper and indeed based on characters alone we have here the beginnings of a great satire. Everyone is played slightly larger than life. From Rachel's desperate obsession for stardom (played superbly by Lea Michele, a veteran of Broadway), to Ms Pillsbury's OCD cleaning tendancies, to the absolutely brilliant performance from Jane Lynch as Sue Sylvester as the cheerleading coach who has an office full of trophies and takes no prisoners ("you think this is hard, I'm living with hepatitis, THAT'S hard!").

Of course a large part of the show revolves around the singing... and it certainly delivers. There is some great vocal talent here and while all the songs are given that tween-friendly treatment, there's a wide variety. In the first episode alone we get selections from musicals (Les Miserables), to classic rock (Don't Stop Believin'), to more contemporary hits (Rehab). Two soundtracks are planned for release - one in the next week or so, and the other in early December.

Glee is off to a great start in the states, and hopefully its popularity won't wane as so often happens with great satirical TV shows (remember Popular, or Grosse Point?). It's got everything a gay could want, biting humour, grandoise musical moments, gratuitous eye candy. So I'll ask once again...

Are you a Gleek? If not, you should be.

Glee begins on TV3 this Friday 6 November at 7:30pm. An awesome clip of the cast doing Beyonce's Single Ladies is shown below.

Andrew Grear - 5th November 2009

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