Sunday night Australian time, Channel Ten will air the pilot episode of the FOX network USA’s promising new musical-dramedy Glee; an infectious and charming affair set amidst the everyday dramas of high school, and the fledgling efforts of the once glorious but now misunderstood Glee Club. A decidedly American tradition, a Glee Club is somewhere between a choir and a dance troop, an all-singing, all-dancing mini-Broadway musical in every performance. After learning that the previous Glee Club supervisor has been fired (for somewhat scandalous reasons), Spanish teacher Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison), one of those rare teachers who teaches purely for the love of it, and with the hope and faith that he can make a difference, decides that a rebirth of the Glee Club might be the very thing he has been looking for to help inspire the all-too-jaded teens, and perhaps infuse some joy in them along the way.
Rachel Berry, the Glee Club’s leading lady, is a dramatic over-achiever who is all too aware of her talent and wants nothing more but to perform. Thanks to her gay fathers, Rachel has been instilled with a love of musicals from a very young age, and posts a new MySpace video every day performing a favourite Broadway classic. Lea Michele is an inspiring and exciting casting choice in the role of Rachel, having originated the female lead in the critically acclaimed rock musical Spring Awakening—(Michele won the role when she was 14, developing it through several workshops and off-Broadway performances until finally, at age 20, the show made its Broadway debut)—the belting tunes are left in more-than-capable hands. Finn (Cory Monteith) is Rachel’s male lead, the jock that is conned in to joining the Glee Club by Mr. Schuester—by some not-so-savoury means. Finn represents the every-guy, the guy who’s just trying to fit in, but who in a moment of passion, realises that singing is what he loves, regardless of whether his football team-mates think it’s cool or not. Other notable characters include: Sue Sylvester, the aggressive and driven high school cheer squad coach played to perfection by Jane Lynch, most recently notable for her hilarious turn as a cater-waiter in Party Down; Emma Pillsbury, the school guidance councillor with a phobia for germs, played by Jayma Mays most recognisable for stand out guest starring roles in Ugly Betty, Heroes, and Pushing Daisies; and Kurt Hummel, the obviously gay musical-theatre nerd who is resigned to the fact that the jocks will beat him up, just allow him time to remove his Mark Jacobs jacket, played by relative newcomer Chris Colfer.
Glee represents a marked change for executive producer Ryan Murphy, (who co-created Glee along with Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan), his most famous credit being creator and executive producer of the daring, controversial, and highly sexualised Nip/Tuck. Glee may appear to be worlds away from the happenings of Nip/Tuck’s plastic surgeons with their physical perfection and highly dysfunctional personas; yet, Glee too shows signs of the quirky originality and edgy self-awareness that initially made Nip/Tuck stand out. These qualities, coupled with the infectious enthusiasm of the Glee Club members, and the myriad of guest stars already lined up to take turns in Glee including Kristin Chenoweth, Victor Garber, Eve, and Josh Groban, all point to Glee being an exciting, intelligent, entertaining, and delightful edition to Channel Ten’s line-up. The first season of Glee debuts in the U.S on September 16th, and will air here in Australia shortly after. Don’t miss Sunday night’s preview episode, 9:30pm on Channel Ten.