Idol Chatter

“Glee” is a show built on cliches–the teacher who will do anything for the kids, the jock who’ll give up popularity to pursue his dorky dream, the talented gal who dreams of becoming a star–but the sum of its parts is anything but cliche.
Ryan Murphy populates his latest creation about a dedicated Spanish teacher’s attempt to reinvigorate the glee club/show choir at an Ohio high school with such wonderfully eccentric characters–Jane Lynch’s (“Best in Show,” “The L Word”) demented media-whore drill sergeant of a cheerleader coach, the head cheerleader who’s president of the chastity club–and so much heart that it’s hard to believe that Murphy is the man who brought us the decidedly dystopian world of “Nip/Tuck.” But Murphy is returning to his roots in a way, bringing back the quick wit and sharp social commentary of his WB classic “Popular,” a show that humorously, but unflinchingly explored the high school caste system. It’s no mistake that the FOX page for the show features two definitions of the word glee: 1) great merriment; 2) malicious satisfaction.
In fact, Rachel Berry, one of the social pariah glee club members, could be “Popular’s” Mary Cherry from the other side of the popularity tracks. Channeling “Election’s” Tracy Flick, she is determined to share her gift with a teen ecosystem that takes great pleasure in mocking it. As she posts daily videos to her MySpace page (no Facebook here, the show is on FOX, after all), Rachel correctly intones that “[i]n this culture being anonymous is worse than being poor.”

To paraphrase an engraving seen on a Glee Club plaque honoring a former director, Glee Club is all about joy and this show doesn’t let you forget it. In fact, it’s similar to being hit in the head with a 2 x 4 of joy: Mr. Schuester really doesn’t want to become an accountant like his money-hungry wife suggests, but wants to stay and mentor the kids; the quarterback is following his singing dream and still playing football; the dorky kids belong to something special. Yay, underdogs!
At times it’s a bit overdone, but, gosh, even the most cynical viewer will smile after being slapped with that 2 x 4. Plus, these kids can sing. I have a feeling that, over the first few episodes beginning this fall, “Glee” can crescendo into a great show and hit the perfect note.
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