by Harry Earle
“There is nothing ironic about show choir!”
No, nothing at all Rachel. But it is damn entertaining...
Hello Again, Hello
So here we are - back to where it all began. A phenomenon that swept the world, selling over 40 million digital singles and 11 million albums. As you may have already realised, gentle readers, this review has been written in 2012 not 2009, so while I will do my best to avoid major spoilers, if you’re discovering Glee for the first time, you’d better beware. Also, how did you manage to not watch Glee until now? Did you just come out of a coma? If so, I am very sorry for your lost time and for my flippancy... you lucky lucky thing. Just think of all the amazing TV you’ve got to catch up on. Now, if you Are up to speed with Glee, I hope you take this review as an opportunity to remember what made you fall in love with the show and as a perfect chance to re-watch all three seasons before Glee returns this autumn... in less than two weeks!
Getting to Know All About You
The Pilot episode of Glee does a good job of showing off its ensemble cast, but focuses mainly on Will Schuester, a Spanish teacher who dreams of recreating the golden days of his show-choir who won Nationals in 1993 and who were presumably pretty popular. The same is not true in present day McKinley High, where as Sue Sylvester tells it, being in glee club is pretty much social suicide. That might explain why Will only manages to get 5 initial sign-ups for the newly created New Directions. Thankfully, he does manage to attract some real talent.
Get Ready For Me Love, 'Cause I'm a Comer
Enter Rachel Berry, the other cornerstone character of Glee. This is a girl who wants to be a star so badly she puts one next to her name. More importantly she’s got the talent and ambition to actually become a Broadway sensation. Unfortunately she’s also intensely annoying and pretty cutthroat when it comes to furthering her dreams. Rachel’s conversation with Will on the bleachers built more on our initial impression that this is a girl who will do anything it takes to reach the top. As we watch Rachel audition for glee club with On My Own, the montage of scenes including being slushied by Puck and having her Myspace performances ripped to shreds by Quinn and the other Cheerios shows us what Rachel has to endure on a day-to-day basis, and goes quite a way to explaining why her dreams of Broadway mean so much to her – they’re all she has.
Sing With Me, Sing For the Year
Will realises that even with Rachel on board, New Directions won’t be a success unless he can find someone to for her to duet with, ideally someone with social pulling-power. Emma Pillsbury (who has OCD, and seemly a massive crush on Will) helps him realise that he needs someone on the football team to join glee club. When he hears the team captain, Finn singing in the shower, he turns to blackmail in order to convince him to join the show-choir, setting up a guilty secret that is paid off very nicely way down the line. All would be fine and dandy at this point, were it not for Will’s gloriously shrewish wife, Terri, who is both pretty lazy and crazy, and who doesn’t want her husband following his dreams if it means staying longer after school. Terri wants Will to become an accountant so that she can buy a big house and more glue guns for her craft-room. When she reveals to Will that she is pregnant, his priorities realign and he decides to get a better paid job (“come on, accounting is sexy!”) to support his family. Emma helps Will realise that he will set a better example following his passion by staying on at McKinley and coaching New Directions, and conveniently she won’t have to say goodbye to him either!
I will do the next section in the style of Serena Yang who reviewed the rest of Glee's first season, where everything good or bad about the episode adds or deducts points, then I tally the score... but I have a feeling this one is going to come out ahead!
* The opening with the Cheerios’ routine giving Sue the setup for the first of many wonderful Sueisms +15
* Kurt being worried about his new Marc Jobs coat being ruined when he’s about to get tossed in a wheelie bin. +10
* Topless Will – specifically disrobed in order to hook us in the first episode. Worked on me! +5
* RESPECT by Aretha Franklin – the perfect 10 second introduction to Mercedes Jones. + 5
* Rachel’s little smile as she dabs her eyes after she exposes Sandy Ryerson. Evil! +2
* Slushies! Specifically the slushies as Rachel sings On My Own. After the mean comments of Quinn and Co. on Rachel’s Myspace upload, Rachel’s flashback to getting slushied by Puck gave the montage a poignancy that we wouldn’t have gotten from the performance alone. +5
* Looking at a photo of Rachel’s two dads, one black and one white Rachel: “…To this day we don’t know which one is my real dad, which I think is pretty amazing.” +5
* Rachel: “I am not homophobic. In fact, I have two dads! See, I was born out of love. My two dads screened potential surrogates based on beauty and IQ. Then they mixed their sperm together and used a turkey baster.” – This is hilarious, and it’s also exactly how the perfectionist control freak inside me would want to have kids… +20
* Boys locker room signup sheet: Gaylord weiner, buttlunch, penis. +5
* Will staring in awe at Finn naked in the shower: “What I did then was the blackest moment of my life!” Cue Will and Finn slash fiction... +10
* Will: “Terri rides me, hard!” Cue Will and Terri erotic fan fiction... +1
* Finn singing Can’t Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon while his talent was discovered by Will had a nice synchronicity as it was Cory Monteith’s audition piece for Glee. +10
* The Swingle Singers Songs: Beautiful and unique acapella versions of classics – in this episode we hear A Fifth of Beethoven, Soul Bossa Nova, Flight of the Bumblebee, Moonlight Sonata, and Golliwog’s Cakewalk. You can find the full versions on Youtube. They’re spectacular, and they make a powerful contribution to the atmosphere of Glee. I will always think of angry Rachel when I hear those bumblebees. +25
* Don’t Stop Believing – I love everything about this. The poppy, Gleeful reinterpretation is very well done, Lea Michele and Cory Monteith do a fantastic job with the lead vocals and the clunky dancing is offset by how Rachel and Finn (as well as the others) are obviously having the time of their lives performing the song. Don’t Stop Believing did very well in the charts both in the US, where it reached 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and internationally. What’s more, it became irrevocably associated with Glee - bringing new viewers to the show who otherwise might not have given it a chance. As the season goes on, Will is revealed to have a slight obsession with Journey, further embedding the song as the essence of Glee. +50
* Shameless plug for the Fox owned Myspace – Rachel would be posting her performances on YouTube, duh. -25
*Mr Cellophone and I Kissed A Girl – I don’t see how these are good introductions to Kurt and Tina. Kurt gets bullied every day (see dumpster scene at the beginning of the episode) which isn’t the same as being invisible. Rather, it’s the first, painful step in his journey to becoming a happy and highly visible Notorious Homosexual. I Kissed A Girl, replete with thigh-slaps doesn’t quite seem the right fit for Tina’s goth/punk style or her shyness, which we discover more about as the season continues. -20
* While the steel drum band sounded amazing, they were pretty random, and their peaceful notes took all menace out of the scene where Puck and his friends paintball Finn. Maybe that was the intent, but I would have liked something scarier. The steel drums don’t return apart from briefly in Season 2, which is a shame as they’re so atmospheric. -10
* The Reach To Nowhere, made infamous by Serena (and explained properly here). Ever since she started pointing out every time New Directions used it in their choreography, I can’t help but notice and laugh at it. What are they trying to reach? However in this episode, it’s kind of endearing when it’s first used, during Don’t Stop Believing – it wouldn’t be realistic if they had great choreography from the get-go, so no points deducted.
Total: -55 - and that was me being harsh!
Quotes for Gleeks
Sue: “You’re sloppy, sloppy babies! It’s just disgraceful. And I want the agony out of your eyes!”
Sandy: “My long distance girlfriend in Cleveland nearly broke up with me.”
Rachel: “Being a part of something special makes you special, right?”
Sue: “You think this is hard? Try being waterboarded! That’s hard!”
Rachel: “Nowadays, being anonymous is worse than being poor. Fame is the only thing that matters in our culture now”
Mercedes: “Oh, HELL to the no! Look, I'm not down with this background singin' nonsense. I'm Beyoncé, I ain't no Kelly Rowland.”
Sandy: “You’re the one who is coaching those tone dead acne factories...”
Sue: “Highschool is a caste system.”
Kurt: “You and your friends threw pee-balloons at me. You nailed all my lawn furniture to my roof.”
Rachel: “I know what I’m talking about – I won my first dance competition when I was three months old!”
Sue: “You think this is hard? I have hepatitis. That's hard!”
Will: “I need to provide for my family.”
Emma: “But provide what exactly? The understanding that money is the most important thing? Or the idea that the only life worth living is one that you’re really passionate about Will.”
Here at billiedoux.com we sometimes don’t rate pilots as they tend to serve a different purpose to the following episodes and it’s hard to know how good an introduction is without seeing the rest of what you’re being introduced to. So, I can safely say that both initially, and with hindsight, the Glee Pilot is great television! It did a stellar job of setting up both the characters and the tone of the show, while leaving many possible directions for the sub-plots to continue.
I’d say it deserves four out of four slushies.
And with that, I must bid you adieu, for this is my last episode review for Glee. But never fear, Gleeks of billiedoux.com (now Doux Reviews), for we are looking for a new writer to cover Season 4. If you want some more info on writing for the site, go here, and feel free to express your interest!