Written by Senora Bicho
It is interesting that during a time of massive cutting of liberal arts programs in many of our schools, a television show about a high school music club is enjoying great ratings and critical success even winning the Golden Globe for Best TV Series (Comedy or Musical). Glee illustrates all of the benefits and rewards that many kids will be missing out on.
The series follows a group of high school students who have come together to form a show choir. Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) takes on being the director of the club in hopes of returning the program to its old glory and helps the kids to find themselves along the way. Schuester has an uphill battle from the start in getting members, funds, and respect, especially from his nemesis, award-winning cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch).
The choir includes a wide range of students from football players and cheerleaders to outsiders trying to fit in and avoid slushy facials. Not only does "Glee" offer amazing musical numbers and lots of laughs, but there also were many serious issues addressed over the season including homosexuality, teen pregnancy, bullying, disabilities, single parents, and adoption. The guest stars gracing the screen in season one included Kristen Chenoweth, Josh Groban, Olivia Newton-John, Neil Patrick Harris, and Molly Shannon.
All of the actors provide great performances but Lynch is the standout; she is hilarious and deservedly won the Best Actor Emmy for her role as the tough-as-nails coach. The performances, storylines, and depth of the characters would be enough to make this series special but the musical numbers put it on a whole other level. The strength of these musical numbers and the singing ability of the cast are additionally evidenced by the success of the CD releases and iTunes downloads. I have no problem admitting that I have several songs on my iPod. One of the marquee episodes was based on Madonna songs and due to its popularity Season Two will offer similar episodes featuring other music stars.
The Blu-ray set presents 22 episodes across four discs. The video is presented at 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The picture has strong colors with consistent fleshtones and rich blacks but struggles in other areas. Sharpness can be intermittent. Noise pops up as does banding and aliasing. The audio is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. As expected for a TV series, the soundtrack is front heavy. The ambiance is minimal but the surrounds and subwoofer kick into gear during the musical numbers.
In addition to all "Gleek Edition" offers over two hours of special features to the pleasure of any superfan. "Behind the Pilot: A Visual Commentary with Cast and Crew" is a Blu-ray exclusive. There is also "Deconstructing Glee with Ryan Murphy", "Unleashing The Power of Madonna", "Making of a Showstopper", "Dance Boot Camp", "Jane Lynch A to Glee", and "Meet Jane Lynch" are all featurettes highlighting different aspects of the series. "Glee Sing-Along Karaoke" and "Glee Music Jukebox" separates out the musical numbers and provides the words onscreen for audience participation. "Staying in Step with Glee" has the choreographers teaching the viewers some of the show's dance moves. "Bite their Style: Dress like Your Favorite Gleek" highlights the costume designers. "Welcome to McKinley High" stars Principal Figgins in a comprehensive introduction to the school. There are also music videos, auditions, casting sessions, video diaries, and you-don't-know lists for some of the actors.
Glee is a breath of fresh air that never fails to put a smile on my face and often a tear in my eye. It is funny, heartwarming, and tackles real relevant issues while teaching acceptance and the understanding of differences. I can't recommend this show strongly enough; it offers a little something for everyone. Season Two premieres on September 21st.
Article first published as Blu-ray Review: Glee - The Complete First Season on Blogcritics.