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I'm Joining The Glee Club

September 22, 2009

It flummoxes and somewhat heartens me that Fox can be such a reactionary media network (at least from a news and commentary perspective) yet still manages to produce some amazingly progressive and engaging programming. My latest obsession is the new fictional comedy series Glee, which follows the fortunes of a bunch of misfit high school students and their teacher as they struggle to take the school's all-singin', all-dancin' glee club to the top.

The pilot and first two episodes of the show have all been snappily written. The performances are smart and funny. I especially like Jane Lynch (a Christopher Guest mockumentary stalwart) as the snarling, self-important trainer of the cheerleading team, Sue Sylvester, and Matthew Morrison's happy-go-lucky turn as Spanish teacher and glee club coach, Will Shuester. The characters are all well-rounded and I like the fact that you can't really predict how they'll grow as the series progresses. I've been surprised on several occasions already about the twists in the characters' reactions to situations. I've found myself becoming unwittingly attracted to characters that initially got on my nerves (eg Jayma Mays' Emma Pillsbury, a cleanliness-obsessed school counselor.) And I even find myself sympathizing with characters who genuinely do make my toes curl, such as Terri Schuester (played by Jessalyn Gilsig) the troubled and irritating wife of the show's hero, Will.

What's best about the series, though, is it's celebration of the performing arts in a grassroots way. Even the jocks and the cheerleaders in the school can give Justin Timberlake and Pink a run for their money. What this communicates is that using your voice and moving your body in time to the rhythm are not -- contrary to what most people think -- activities just for choir geeks and ballet nerds. The musical arrangements by Roger Emerson and Mark Brymer of such cheesy pop hits as "I Want to Sex you Up" by Color Me Badd, Amy Winehouse's "Rehab", Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" and "Mercy" by Duffy, are without exception, captivating. I'm definitely buying the series album, parts of which are already available on iTunes. You can even by the sheet music for the choral arrangements on the show's website. I hope that the series encourages more high schoolers to get into music and dance.

Can't wait until the next episode, which airs tomorrow night, Wednesday, at 9pm. I'll be catching it shortly thereafter via Hulu.

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