Posted by: Paul | January 13, 2010

Thinly disguised “Glee”

Glee is an odd beast. Ostensibly a sort of High School Musical which also caters for grown-ups, it has garnered rave reviews since both its US debut last year and Monday night’s appearance on E4. But I couldn’t make up my mind whether I liked it or not. It’s a bit of a contrast of styles – for me the darker humour was at odds with the saccharine schmaltz of the songs and performances of the High School Glee Club around which it is based. And make no mistake – it is schmaltzy.

I admit I was expecting something slightly harder edged throughout. Jokes about waterboarding and child abuse sit alongside plaintive, heartfelt renditions of musical numbers like “On My Own” from Les Mis – a deeply weird combination. At times I laughed heartily – at times I was carried away with the uplifting nature of certain songs and performers, especially unconventionally attractive leading lady Rachel. But I felt it was an odd mixture of tones to experience in close proximity and it ended up with me feeling neither here nor there – not especially amused, nor especially uplifted. And is it me, or does obsessive-compulsive Guidance Counsellor Emma (played by Ugly Betty’s Jayma Mays) permanently look as though someone’s just stamped on her kittens?

Interesting enough to carry on watching though, I think. For now. But I wish they would do a better job with the sound – at times the dialogue was so quiet I could bearly understand what was being said – and it is of the West Wing / Studio 60 school of machine gunning you with information and so I felt I missed much. I also would prefer them to take a more naturalistic approach over the singing – less overdubs, more real rehearsal room sound. Probably not going to happen though, they need to shift soundtracks…and I am also a bit put off by the fact that they are planning an X-Factor style show to recruit 3 new cast members for the second series. As if the world didn’t have enough shitty reality TV singing contests…

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