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Glee, Vol. 1: Road to Sectionals (DVD Review)

Content Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B

US Release Date: 29 December 2009
Not Rated

When the pilot episode premiered months before the show’s actual season would get underway – scheduled to coincide with the “AMERICAN IDOL” finale and pull in what studio execs may have assumed would be its core audience – it was unclear whether “GLEE” would be the musical dramedy that could succeed where others couldn’t.  (“VIVA LAUGHLIN” or “COP ROCK”, anyone?)  But a bajillion* downloads of “Don’t Stop Believin’” and 13 episodes later, and it seems creator/executive producer Ryan Murphy (“NIP/TUCK”) has found the magic formula.

“GLEE” follows a misfit group of high school kids who come together when high school Spanish teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) takes the reins of the defunct glee club.  The musical numbers (ranging from classic rock to hip-hop to country to Broadway and back again) are slickly produced, but not overly so; and I dare you to not have one song or another stuck in a giddy loop in your head after watching just one episode.  But it’s the broad strokes and the slowly revealed intricate details of the cast of characters that keeps you coming back and, most importantly, takes the song bursts past gimmick and plants them firmly into the category of storytelling device.

There’s Rachel (Lea Michele), the star of the glee club, the one with the biggest voice and the biggest personality, but an off-pitch way of dealing with those around her.  Finn (Cory Monteith), is the school’s star athlete, whose hidden talents aren’t hidden anymore when he joins glee.  Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig) is Will’s wife, who ends up faking a pregnancy throughout most of the season (a storyline that comes crashing to the ground just past its overdue date), because she’s afraid of losing him.  And rightly so, since school counselor Emma (Jayma Mays) is crushing hard.  Jane Lynch steals the show as Sue Sylvester, the cheerleading coach who will stop at nothing to destroy the glee club and the threat its very existence makes against her own program’s budget.

Notable guest stars include Stephen Tobolowsky, Kristin Chenoweth, Eve, Victor Garber, and Josh Groban.  (Groban referring to himself in the third person and stating, “Josh Groban loves a blowsy alcoholic” was, quite frankly, kind of outstanding.)

Nine remaining episodes for the first season will air this spring.

* Statistic entirely made up.  But it was downloaded a lot, I’m sure.

Extras:

  • Welcome to McKinley!  Hosted by Principal Figgins, this welcome video is designed for all incoming freshman.
  • “GLEE” Music Video.  Music video for the Gleeks’ version of “Somebody to Love”.
  • Full length audition pieces.  Full versions of Rachel singing “On My Own” and Mercedes singing “Respect”.  These are the scenes you see clips of (with voiceover) during the audition sequence in the episode “Pilot”.
  • Fox Movie Channel Presents Casting Session.  Behind-the-scenes interviews about finding the cast.  You can also view on Hulu here.
  • Deconstructing “GLEE” with Ryan Murphy.  Behind-the-scenes interview with creator/executive producer Murphy.
  • Dance Boot Camp.  Behind-the-scenes with choreographer Zach Woodlee.
  • Jane Lynch A to “GLEE”.  Lynch played an “A” in a second grade play.
  • Meet Jane Lynch.  Otherwise known as the brilliant actress behind Sue Sylvester.
  • 5 Things You Don’t Know About Jayma
  • 7 Things You Don’t Know About Cory
  • 6 Things You Don’t Know About Amber
  • 7 Things You Don’t Know About Chris
  • Video Diaries.  Members of the cast were given handheld video cameras to record their time at up fronts in New York.  There’s a lot of video of them taking video of each other.  Includes Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, Cory Monteith, Kevin McHale, Amber Riley, Chris Colfer and Dianna Agron.
  • Disc One Previews: “DEFYING GRAVITY SEASON 1”, FAME, FLICKA 2, FREE STYLE
  • Disc Four Previews: NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: BATTLE OF THE SMITHSONIAN, MY ONE AND ONLY
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February 14, 2010 - Posted by | DVD review | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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