“There are very few days that you can walk up and down the halls of the studio and not pass an office where someone’s watching the dailies. Just to be entertained!” Anyone who hasn’t seen Glee might be forgiven for thinking 20th Century Fox chairman Dana Waldon, speaking here on the excellent ‘Casting Session’ featurette, is several sandwiches short of a picnic. After all, cynical studio executives downing tools to watch a bunch of teenagers singing and dancing?
Anyone who has seen Glee, however, will instantly relate. Winner of Best Television Series – Musical Or Comedy at this year’s Golden Globes, this tale of the 12 youngsters who make up a High School Glee Club (that’s choir to us Brits) and the teachers helping/hindering them along the way is anything but the High School Musical spin-off it might appear to be on paper.
For starters, these kids are losers. Then there’s the subject matter. Forget securing a date for the prom, the pupils of William McKinley High have their hands full dealing with homosexuality, teen pregnancy, disabilities and bullying. And yet, somehow, despite these gritty storylines, Glee still manages to be incredibly warm and funny – in a kooky Christopher Guest kind of way.
As cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (a character not a million miles away from her Sturdy Wings founder in Role Models), Jane Lynch steals every scene she’s in. “You think this is hard?” she bellows at her beloved Cheerios during one of their stupendously complex routines. “Try living with hepatitis, that’s hard!”
But what really makes Glee the best new show on television are the song and dance numbers and the unbelievably talented crop of actors performing them. Alternating between show tunes (Wicked, Cabaret) and new and classic chart music (Journey, Madonna, Billy Idol, Beyoncé), everything is carried out with such gusto that you constantly find yourself wanting to stand up and applaud.
“I felt very strongly that I wanted a lot of new, fresh people,” explains co-creator Ryan Murphy of his dazzling cast on the brief but fun ‘Deconstructing Glee’ featurette. “A lot of big names were pitched, but I said, ‘No’, I really want to find these kids!”
Music videos, audition pieces and some very cute video diaries round out the fluffy but somehow fitting extras on this 13-episode set. If you’re not a Gleek yet, you soon will be.
A breath of TV fresh air, Glee will warm the cockles of your heart, while also leaving you laughing like a drain. Great extras, too!