It’s a shame that Glee creator Ryan Murphy didn’t have more confidence in his viewers, many of whom are doubtlessly a mix of fanboy-or-girl gleefulness and culturally-aware hipness. If he had had more confidence, he wouldn’t have hammered home the theme of Episode 3’s Acafellas until my ears nearly bled. As it was, we got — but didn’t need — the theme in dialogue reminders about as frequent as this show’s multitude of music cues.
I got it! All anyone needs, from nerds to superstars, is CONFIDENCE (or, in men, what’s sexistly called “guts”). Of course, that very self-doubt is the darkly comic flaw of Glee cheer-coach-from-hell Sue Sylvster (Jane Lynch). Details, details.
You see, I’m already carping about Glee. Can’t help it. I got paid by newspapers to do this for too many years. And besides, I carp because I care — and I care about this show. Glee is the best show on television (there — how’s that?), but that doesn’t mean it can’t be even better. Like Will says, it’s a 9. We want a 10.
And 10s are what we’ve had for most of three episodes so far. Not bad for a newbie on the network block. In fact, Glee has been so good, so fast, that it’s spoiled me — already. I expect each episode to end with a stirring (Take a Bow) or rousing (Don’t Stop Believin’) show-stopper of fervent, belting beauty — and Acafellas did not have it.
Oh, it did have some fine musical moments — especially the pounding group dance for Mercy by Vocal Adrenaline, and the sorrow-with-sass pop of Bust Your Windows by Mercedes (powerhouse Amber Riley). But in each case, we heard only brief versions on screen, not the full-bore music that’s available online if you look. And both are sensationally better songs in full than in their abbreviations. (Bust Your Windows is set for Glee’s first soundtrack Nov. 3, but not Mercy.)
Then again, isn’t that what we’d call a nice problem to have? Glee is so good that we want to hear — and see — even more. We also know what’s in store, via promo or grapevine glimpses of Taking Chances by Lea Michele (already hearable online); Money, Money from Cabaret; It’s My Life/Confessions by the guys; and — the one I’m really stoked for — Queen’s Somebody to Love by the group.
When you add such coming-uppers to Glee’s spree of sounds so far and realize you’re awash in a proverbial embarrassment of riches, you must say to yourself: Has there ever been as strong a show musically in the history of TV? And I, for one, would have to answer: No, not to my knowledge.
No, it’s Glee — the funny, edgy, sweet, sexy, sunny, soulful Glee, a show with a shrewd, ardent mix of newly invigorated, old and new, famed and obscure, pop, rock, hip hop, Broadway and even folk songs (don’t forget who once sang Leaving on a Jet Plane — PP&M’s Mary Travers, now gone but not forgotten). And those songs are performed by an incredible new cast of fresh faces — people who truly embody their characters, and who sing their songs so persuasively and so much from the heart.
Yes, Glee is it. Glee is that show. It’s not callow kids with scant performing chops but ample entitlement and naive ‘tude expecting to be coddled for their mediocrity on another Fox show we won’t name (oops — I think I just did). And it’s not any number of other musical TV shows, from Fame to ancient variety hours to, yes, even Rock Star INXS. No, that single greatest musical TV show is right here, right now. And it’s Glee.
So there you have it. I’m not even gonna talk plot this week. You know it. You don’t need recaps. But you might like commentary, such as how burst-into-song Bust Your Windows was jarring at first — that’s not how Glee is done — but acceptable as a fantasy, especially considering how great it looked and sounded.
Besides, busting into song, too, is a valid form of musical-theater expression. Just don’t overdo it — not when the characters are singers who already sing as part of their life, like those in the aforementioned Cabaret. In such vehicles, the music is so much stronger by being organic — and besides, you’ve gotta love show-biz sagas about gotta sing, gotta dance folks like these, for whom music isn’t just a passion. It’s at the core of their spirituality.
So thanks again, Ryan. You’re pleasing a hard-to-please guy enormously, and I believe in your show — I belieeeeeeve.
Say, I feel a song coming on too. And as that song says . . .
Oh, do I have to say it? Those who love Glee, you know.
Ready now? From the top!