Saturday, October 17, 2009

Glee: TV Review

Property of The Daily Gamecock

Fox’s new comedy-drama “Glee” arrives with almost transcendental freshness. The best show about high school since “Freaks and Geeks,” this zany, perfectly pitched send-up of high school’s social absurdities and entanglements is one of the best new TV shows of the season.

Matthew Morrison leads the show’s exceptional cast as Will Schuester, a Spanish teacher at William McKinley High School who decides to revive the school’s glee club — think choir mixed with dance team. Assembling a bizarre cross section of the high school hierarchy, Will struggles to inspire and guide his students in competition and, as any good high school mentor, in life.

The concept is not necessarily original or striking at first, but its execution is nothing short of brilliant — bolstered by standout acting from the entire ensemble. Particularly effective is Jane Lynch (“Role Models”) as Sue Sylvester, the cheer squad coach who is determined to destroy the glee club to prevent it from stealing her athletic funding.

Lynch is a true wildfire, a venomous master of plucky dialogue who gladly chews on anything handed to her.

The other shocking standout is young Chris Colfer. As Kurt Hummel, the club’s flamingly gay showman, Colfer comes armed with perfectly articulated physical nuance, but he has the range to make Kurt a perfectly identifiable and richly developed character.

The characters on “Glee” are clichés — the jock, the cheer captain, the know-it-all, the cool teacher. But with a perspective that’s scathingly derisive while still shamelessly rooting for these underdogs, the stock characters are used as the springboard for humor and subplots that favor exploring their limits as types and tropes.

But what really makes “Glee” stand out above other new comedy shows is its dive into expertly staged and performed musical numbers. The glee club takes stage at least once each episode, with most weeks also having side numbers complementing the narrative.
These covers of popular songs, ranging so far from Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” to Kanye West’s “Gold Digger,” the cast of “Glee” has vocal range to stretch and choreography to back it up.

As splendid as the show is when it’s functioning as a finely tuned dissection of stereotypical high school life, it’s when the first chords of a song spring up that the show booms into stratospheric heights.

“Glee” is that weird instance where a show’s title actually does tell you exactly what it’s about. Though the glee club is what binds its plot strings together, it’s not about the club so much as the emotion.

“Glee” is about experiencing unfettered joy through music, relaxing the complex stress of daily life in favor of reveling in the intensity of performance. By brushing away high school’s social cynicism, “Glee” opts instead to sing waves of joy through the rafters. It’s the most enjoyably addictive show premiering this year.

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