Glee: Season 1, Episode 2
When Glee premiered last May to a flurry of promotion, I was unsure where to stand going into episode one. The previews (which were played ad nauseum during the last season of 24) left me divided: on the one hand, they sang "Don't Stop Believing" a cliché that I think is so awesome as to be un-killable, and Lea Michelle's Rachel endeared herself to me from the first line, but on the other, I felt there was a lot of overdone high school tropes to shift through before this show could find success. However, the pilot completely won me over, and I have been excited for episode two ever since.

As this is the first episode we're officially reviewing, I'd like to go through the things I like and don't like about the show as a whole, focusing less on the issues of the episode itself. For starters, some things to like: All of the performances on the show are especially earnest and winning (the award for best goes clearly and continuously to the always hilarious Jane Lynch), they work within the genre of musical and the genre of high school story while leaving the feeling that they could go further, they seem to have coherently created their own universe and the show is exceedingly funny, often in very surprising way.

Some issues I take with the show right off the bat: While I think they have set up some excellent character archetypes to work in (and I realize that every high school show must start there to some extent), I also feel there are some characters that come off as still to clichéd and tedious. For starters, Mercedes (Amber Riley) is the "Sassy black girl" character that seems to pop up everywhere and very rarely comes across as original or even particularly funny (though the girl has some pipes on her). Also, Will's wife Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig) is a character that I have ranted about on this blog before: She is a totally unsympathetic evil shrew of a woman. In short, her character is completely unrealistic. No woman is that one dimensionally shallow and evil, and if one such woman were to exist, no man (much less a sensitive, charming man like Will) would marry her.

That being said I was relieved to discover her pregnancy is hysterical, then once again underwhelmed when she predictably failed to inform Will that she is in fact not having his child. The main focus of this episode revolved around the discovery that the Glee club will need to double its numbers in order to qualify for regional's, and if the team doesn't make it there, they will be shut down to return their funding to the cheer team (the hilariously named Cheerios, who can no longer send their uniforms to be dry cleaned in Europe because the Glee Club needs new uniforms). In order to recruit new members, Will (Matthew Morrison) decides to put on an assembly, at which the kids are to perform "Freakout""”the song that took his team to nationals in 1993 (because "people love disco!"). To save the club from humiliation at the hands of a cruel, unfeeling teenage mass, Rachel steps in and the gang performs "Push it" instead.

Unfortunately, the act is too sexually explicit, and now the kids are limited to performing only songs approved by the Principal's pastor (which leads to Rachel's winning question, "what's a luftballoon?"). In other news, Rachel joins the Celibacy group to get closer to Finn, only to discover the boys and the girls are separated for the first half, during which the girls talk about "teasing, not pleasing" and the boys discuss how far they can get with their girls (a subtle and hilarious shot of one of the boys sniffing his fingers feels a bit edgy for network TV, but I'm happy it escaped the censors). Meanwhile, Will has taken a job as the night janitor, which leads to more flirting between him and Emma (Jayma Mays). The potential couples of Will and Emma (who get huge adorability points for the scene in the classroom when he wipes chalk off her nose) and Rachel and Finn (who get huge hilarity points when an abortive make out ends in Finn's premature ejaculation, despite his attempt to think about a car accident to delay it) are enough to keep me interested in this show for now"”they are cute, theyre interactions are filled with tension, and the people keeping them apart are generally so annoying I want to scream.

As for the musical portion of the show (which, considering the show is billed as a musical, must be discussed), the songs tonight were all handled incredibly well. The cover of "Gold digger" by Kanye was excellently executed, and Quinn and her cheerleader's rendition of "Say a little prayer" was an excellent reveal that yes, we are in a musical and because of this everyone has an excellent singing voice.
I feel some reservations about this show after its first two episodes. Some of the events tonight felt like they might have fit better as mid-season occurrences (like Will and Emma's classroom scene) and one even felt to me like a season finale worthy moment (the whole school is giving these outsiders a standing ovation after two episodes?), but I'm hoping this just means the writers are getting the cliché out of the way early to move on to the good stuff. The show is also occasionally cheesy and its efforts to be quirky often show, yet I find that every moment is played with such earnestness by the cast and such gleeful exuberance by the writers that I find myself hopelessly endeared even when I would normally be cringing. With some trepidation, but mostly flat out excitement, I look forward to the coming weeks and the chance to review the show that, if nothing else, leaves me smiling at the end of each episode.

Grade: B


-Watching the "popular music" featured in tonight's episode reminded me just how unhip I am. Sam had to remind me that "Gold Digger" was by Kanye (also, the last two songs to play on my ipod were David Bowie covering The Beach Boys, and...Kermit the Frog singing "The Rainbow Connection"). These new fangled artists and their popular songs!

-This show has literally too many hilarious one liners to recount, so I'll pick just a few of my favorites:

-"Last time I looked, you only had five and a half. Cripple in the wheelchair." Not only does she only count him as half a kid, Sue actually explains the joke after. Jane Lynch is brilliant.

-"I don't have a gag reflex." "One day when you're older that'll come in handy." -Rachel and Emma, in another joke I'm surprised they got by the censors.

-"Gay parents encourage rebellion. There are studies on this." Jane Lynch, again being the highlight of the show

-Terri, Will's wife, literally reduced the grade I gave this episode by at least one notch, maybe more. I HATE that type of character.

-More on the Jane lynch love: She suggests hobbling the children for using her copy machine, and has seen an elementary school production of Hair.

-The pamphlets behind Emma in her office, including "Wow! There's hair down there!"
Tags: Glee
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