(Mondays, E4, 9pm)
by Paul Stephenson
The chances are that by now you will have made your minds up about the latest US smash drama to hit the Uk’s airwaves, and a large amount of you will have discounted Glee as I very nearly did. Let’s face it, on the surface the prospect of yet another High-School set melodrama that borrows heavily from the ‘High School Musical’ school of razamataz does not initially seem like the sort of thing that would have the average metalhead, more used to Sci-Fi, horror and the like, glued to the screen.
Well thank the benevolant Zombie Jesus then that the excellent word of mouth had me strapped in for the Pilot episode of Glee, because this show’s sharp tongue, refreshingly real characters and general love of music have kept me thoroughly glued so far. For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, Glee focuses on one small group in an average high school, and their teachers attempts to mold them into a singing group. So far, so Dawsons, but what sets this apart are the forces aligned against them. Chief amongst these is Judd Apatow alumnus Jane Lynch as the brutally acerbic Cheerleading coach who has it out for the Gleesters. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that every line that comes out of her mouth would feel right in place in Anchorman, and the deadpan delivery from Lynch and the rest of the adults is compelling.
As for the music, of course it’s a mixed bag. Sometimes you get Journey, reworked (pretty bloody well it must be said) and you obviously get a mix of showtunes and contemporary pop. Obviously there’s not a Today Is The Day cover to be seen, nor any Behemoth being busted out. But what really makes Glee so watchable is that no matter what the music is, it’s a show at its heart about loving music itself, being driven by it to make something of yourself. Couple that to a phenomenally funny script that always undercuts the pomposity of the subject matter with zeal, and a grown up cast that are every inch more interesting than the high-schoolers themselves and it’s no surprise that this show has taken off wherever it has landed.
As well as the music and the humour though, there are some top notch storylines, all revolving round the type of soapy silliness that have made Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty so popular. But bear with me, because this is actually a good thing in this case, because the soapy elements aren’t the whole reason for the show, but rather a level of window dressing that cloaks everything, in much the same way as Joss Whedon’s Buffy and Angel were always so good at doing. And besides, these soapy plotlines have more in common with the dark satire of Heathers than they do with the residents of Wisteria Lane
So yes, some of the music is terrible, and yes, it’s cheesier than Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jason Donovan having a fight in a cheese factory but the simple truth is that if you cannot get into this glittering gem of a show then you are dead inside. That’s right, dead inside. It shouldn’t work, but it does. So go and watch the pilot now, and if you don’t feel a little swell at the Journey-laden ending, then you may as well kill yourself, because there really isn’t any point in living.