Review: ‘Glee the Complete First Season’
[[[Glee]]] is frothy, delightful television that is as prone to being over-the-top as it is to be emotionally powerful. That it can successfully veer from one extreme to the other is one of the more impressive aspects of the Fox series, created by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan. The show burst into the public consciousness with the clever airing of the pilot in the waning days of the 2008-2009 season and got people excited with something fresh and seemingly original (at least for prime time; no doubt Fox saw its potential after Disney’s success with [[[High School Musical]]].
When the show arrived last fall, it proved it was able to blend soap opera, music, and dance with an oddball assortment of characters with several vying for breakout status before Jane Lynch’s Sue Sylvester captured pop culture’s heart. The plight of the misfits that find themselves forming a glee club at Ohio’s William McKinley High School is the overarching theme as the team grows from a sextet to a full squad and prepares for sectionals and then regionals. As a result, we see them working on numerous pieces and with the show’s ratings climb, they stuffed in even more musical numbers which has neatly resulted in several soundtrack CDs already available.
When the show took an extended hiatus, Fox Home Entertainment released Glee, Volume One: Road to Sectionals to tide fans over. Now, in time for the premiere of season two this evening, Glee; The Complete First Season is out in both standard DVD and Blu-ray sets.
The show revels in its absurdity and doesn’t once try to make us think any of these characters are real or that the high school is really a place for learning. After all, we never see the kids in any academic class nor is homework ever a factor. Apparently, few of them need jobs or when they do can take them without breaking a sweat. We know there’s a faculty because we see them in the lounge where some of the more embarrassing adult shenanigans get discussed.
Where the series fell down was properly making us care for the dilemma Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) faced with his ditzy, desperate, deceptive wife Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig). Her fake pregnancy sub-plot was totally wasting time for other stories and her expulsion from the marriage seemed pre-ordained and yet, she remains attached to the show like a barnacle that won’t go away.
While Sue Sylvester has stolen the headlines and screen time, the most
poignant sub-plot has been the evolving relationship between Kurt Hummel
(Chris Colfer) and his father Burt (Mike O’Malley), perhaps the best
parental portrayal on prime time last season. O’Malley deserved the Emmy
he was nominated for and maybe this season he’ll win it.
The other nice thing about the series is that the characters are growing
and deepening, changing as circumstances have forced the students to
confront their budding adulthood. This was best evidenced by “Puck”
Puckerman (Mark Salling) going from shallow cougar-bait to someone
seeking a real relationship and wanting to take responsibility for the
child he fathered with Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron). Quinn’s evolution,
though, was for me the best part of the series. She went from head
cheerleader to social outcast who found true friendship and support from
the Glee club and in turn, literally becoming the mother figure to the
I suppose we should address the music, which is phenomenal. The mash-ups
and full-fledged songs and dance numbers remain riveting, introducing
us to new artists while revisiting old favorites. There’s energy in
every number and the duets between Lea Michelle and guest star Idina
Menzel makes me want to see them tour together.
In addition to the full 22 episodes, there are two hours of additional
material capped with the Blu-ray exclusive “Behind the Pilot: A Visual
Commentary with Cast and Crew”, a strong feature but one requiring the
very latest in firmware for Blu-ray players. This splits the screen
between the pilot and features Murphy and crew offering on camera
commentary which is enlightening. Having some of the cast here would
have been ideal.
All the extras from volume one are repackaged here (in standard format)
such as the promo clips about the series and its cast. There are also
music videos, Sing-a-long Karaoke, a Glee Jukebox and the full audition
pieces from Michelle and Mercedes’ (Amber Riley), and the Fox Movie
Channel special covering the casting. “Deconstructing Glee with Ryan
Murphy” “Dance Boot Camp” round out the repeat features.
New are a series of too-short-to-matter video diaries from Lynch,
Michele, Morrison, Cory Monteith, Kevin McHale, Riley, Colfer, and
Agron, during their New York trip to introduce the series to
advertisers. More interesting is the featurette “Making of a
Showstopper” which deconstructs how “[[[Bohemian Rhapsody]]]” was produced for the finale and runs the unedited number. There’s also “Unleashing the Power of Madonna” which examines how the performer-centric episode came about, a gimmick that will no doubt be repeated this season. The set also includes “Bite Their Style: Dress Like your Favorite Gleek” with Costume designers Lou Eyrich and Jennifer Eve showing the thought going into dressing only four of the students.
There’s little doubt this is a fun show and the bonus-filled DVD is
worth having to enjoy the series again and again. It’s silly, it’s
heart-warming, it’s outrageous, but never dull.