Most people who actually know me can say that I do love to sing. Much of my singing is relegated to a combination of karaoke and Xbox 360 games (Lips/Rock Band). But a long time ago, I wasn’t very comfortable with my singing. Had I been comfortable, I might have joined my school’s glee club. Fast forward a few years and we have a show about a high school glee club. Its funny how you can miss an experience you have never had.
William McKinley High School is in need of a new director of their glee club. The last one was a bit too handy and had to be dealt with. Luckily, there is a Spanish teacher named William Schuester (played by Matthew Morrison) who wishes to take over the position. Principal Figgins (played by Iqbal Theba) lets him know they have almost no budget but he still must place them in regionals for them to continue.
So Will puts up some flyers and gets a few students to join. There are only five students in total who want to join the glee club. First you have Artie Abrams (played by Kevin McHale) who is unfortunately confined to a wheelchair. Next you have Tina Cohen-Chang (played by Jenna Ushkowitz), an Asian student with a speech impediment. Also, among the students is Mercedes Jones (played by Amber Riley). She’s a diva and doesn’t like to back up singing.
Then there is Kurt Hummel (played by Chris Colfer) is a little bit on the flamboyant side and regularly gets dumped into a dumpster by the football team. Finally, Rachel Berry (played by Lea Michele) is perhaps the most talented person to join the team initially but is repeatedly shunned by other students. However, she has to learn how to get along and work with the team.
Eventually, Will recruits another member: Finn Hudson (played by Cory Monteith) who is the star quarterback of the football team by tricking him into joining. Even though Finn risks alienation from his fellow team members, he keeps with the glee club and turns into the stand-out member. Unfortunately Finn also faces issues with his girlfriend, Quinn Fabray (played by Dianna Agron) who hates Rachel and believes that Finn is going to hook up with her.
There are other issues rising including Will and his wife, Terri (played by Jessalyn Gilsig) who feels threatened by the club. She wants Will to give up Glee and teaching and become an accountant. Furthermore, she’s insistent on having a baby and a brand new house to take care of that baby. She also has the personality of somebody half her age when it comes to getting what she wants.
Rounding out some of the cast, we have Emma Pillsbury (played by Jayma Mays) who is the school guidance counselor with a very big OCD when it comes to cleanliness. She also has a crush on Will. Of final mention is the coach of the Cheerios (cheerleading squad), Sue Sylvester (played by Jane Lynch) who rules the squad with an iron fist and absolutely loathes the glee club because it takes away from her budget which could be better used for dry cleaning and color copies.
Sue eventually convinces a few of the Cheerios to infiltrate the Glee squad as she tries to crack them from within. Will has to figure out a way to get the Glee club up and running so they can produce quality performances. Eventually a few more students join and the group becomes better than ever. The real question however is whether or not they can place in regionals and keep the dream alive.
When I first received this blu-ray set, I was ready to blast it five ways to Sunday. It’s the popular thing to do with Glee. But after I watched a few episodes, I realized that this is a show about how many of us felt in high school for one reason or another. A misfit. (I’m still a misfit at the tender age of thirty-five). It has this naïve sense of the world and they do their best to excel with the gifts they are given. I did notice this getting lost as the season carried on but it was good to see it crop back up when the show needed it.
The comedy is also top notch. While a lot of the comedy comes from the misfit perception of the students, it can also come from almost every character in the cast. Jokes are frequent and some of them don’t hit you at first either waiting for you to catch it later on at twice the strength. Much of the laughter (sometimes nervously) comes from the cheerleading coach played by Jane Lynch. She’s playing a character she’s known for but plays it to the exact perfection of what you would expect.
There are some tiny problems in Glee land though. One is the sheer amount of characters contained in the series. I mentioned most of the main cast, but there are easily a dozen more I could have mentioned that have some influence from each episode. It is such a problem that various favorites can get lost in the shuffle if they aren’t mentioned for most of the 45 minutes. Therefore, the stories can be all over the place and while we know the overall goal (Regionals), we can forget it along the way.
Also of note is that the show can be sexual in nature and explore some risky subjects. It doesn’t offend me since I’m a very open-minded person but I could easily see how some would view the material as overtly sexual. I would recommend that this not be watched by anybody younger than a teenager but I have a feeling that there are a lot of kids who will be lured by the song and dance nature of the show. Consider it a naughtier version of High School Musical with better jokes.
The video is in 1.78:1 widescreen presentation in 1080p resolution. While Glee is set in Lima, Ohio at a fictional high school, it is actually shot at the Paramount Studios in Hollywood. The show looks quite good, you have dozens of students running around and the color never misses a beat. Surroundings look great and this is a very crisp and clear video presentation. When you can see subtle color variations in Emma’s hair, one knows that the detail is at the forefront. Excellent overall.
For the audio portion, we get a 5.1 English DTS-HD track. If one were to expect the best here, they would not be disappointed. I’ve done a few reviews on musical blu-rays but I believe this tops them all. The sound is crisp, full and loud. When these students sing, it feels like they are standing right next to you.
That’s how rich it is. All speakers are used and surround isn’t spared for a second. Dialog is clear and this is one of the best audio tracks I have heard. There are a variety of subtitles including English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish.
- Disc One-Four
- Glee Music Jukebox: Do you have a favorite musical number from the show? This special feature is on each disc and will hyper jump to that scene. There is even a shuffle option. Nice feature for those who really dig the music from the show.
- Disc One
- Behind the Pilot – Visual Commentary with Cast and Crew: A lot of Visual Commentaries are hit and miss but this one is pretty decent. It includes most of the main cast and Ryan Murphy, the show creator serves as moderator. There are some genuinely funny moments but it seems dryer than I thought fourteen people would be in the same room together.
- Disc Four
- Glee Sing Along Karaoke 10:21: Includes “Alone”, “Somebody to Love”, “Keep Holding On”, and “Don’t Stop Believing”. Basically if you fell like singing along, now you can if you forgot the words.
- Staying in Step With Glee 6:19: Some of the dance choreography with the Vocal Adrenaline (rival glee club) dancers. Don’t expect to learn much, but then again I have two left feet and no rhythm.
- Bite Their Style: Dress Like Your Favorite Gleek 8:52: The costume designer Lou Eyrich goes over the various styles of the main characters while shopping in a clothing store. Rachel has a lot of socks, Kurt is a bizarre fashionista, and Mercedes has a healthy dose of attitude among others.
- Unleashing the Power of Madonna 10:36: They talk about the “Madonna” episode where everybody had to come up with a song by the pop legend. A lot of fun numbers are highlighted here and they break down the episode with how they worked it out. It’s awesome how they had lots of different Madonnas in the background while they sang the songs.
- Making of a Showstopper 17:22: This featurette goes over the Bohemian Rhapsody number and how amazing it was. As we know, this is an amazing song and they are lucky bastards for being able to perform it on television.
- Welcome to McKinley 5:07: Principal Figgins with the ole eighth grade video introduction to the school. It’s corny and full of fun PSA-type moments. He has a lot of brass birds, a ton actually. Funny stuff.
- Glee Music Video 2:42: Set to “Somebody to Love” with cast in all sorts of going-ons. I would imagine they played this during commercials of other shows for promotional purposes.
- Full Length Audition Pieces 4:11: Rachel’s and Mercedes audition numbers are provided. What, no Tina? I’m disappointed.
- Fox Movie Channel Presents: Casting Session 12:03: Once upon a time, they had to cast the right people for the show. Fox really didn’t want to make a musical TV show at first, but I’m pretty sure they are glad they took a chance on it now. Interesting note, Ryan Murphy also created Nip/Tuck, that’s a slightly different animal. It’s a promotional bit, you get what you expect.
- De-Constructing with Ryan Murphy 2:50: Ryan Murphy again, this time he talks about the show and is in full on selling mode.
- Dance Boot Camp 3:12: More choreography fun and more promotional fluff. I wish they would have left a couple of these featurettes on the cutting room floor.
- Jane Lynch A to Glee 0:50: Apparently Jane in school played the “A” in Candle. We get a clip about her and that’s about it.
- Meet Jane Lynch 1:03: We meet Sue Sylvester and get some more clips. Funny bits, but hardly enough.
- 5 Things You Don’t Know About Jayma 0:39: Yep, I’m starting not to care and I like the show. 5 Things about Emma. She like cats and country music, the old type.
- 7 Things You Don’t Know About Cory 1:00: This is getting silly. Seven things about Finn. He likes blue, hockey and basketball and he cries like a little girl.
- 6 Things You Don’t Know About Amber 0:58: Make the madness stop. Here is Mercedes, a ton of shoes and this better be over soon. Or else I will whack somebody with a fish in New York City and bury their face in pizza before hitting them over the head with an Atari 2600.
- 7 Things You Don’t Know About Chris 0:41: Kurt is last, thank god. He has freckles, loves llamas, and can’t stand blue cheese.
- Video Diaries 17:10: The last slew of featurettes that has some handheld camera diaries including Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Kevin McHale, Amber Riley and a whole bunch of other people. Way more than I care to know about Shrek, the Musical which somehow everybody can see from their hotel room. Whew, I’m done, now I need a drink. Hard liquor perhaps, I appreciate the extras but goodness can we get fewer with more meat. This is drivel.
As mentioned, Glee is a lot better than I expected. It is a fun musical show that throws in a lot of good jokes and some rather decent storytelling to sell the audience on a glee club of misfits. There are a ton of characters to keep up with and it might be a little bit too risqué for some younger kids but there is a lot of good fun here.
The discs have exceptional production value, sporting great video and unbelievable audio. The extras will make you hate the idea of extras but on the plus side there is a ton to go through. I actually do recommend this set and think that anybody who loves music will love these episodes. Hopefully, future seasons don’t lose the innocence of this one.
The Rhodes Not Taken
The Power of Madonna
Journey to Regionals
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