From producer Ryan Murphy, of the demented and immensely pleasurable show, “Nip/Tuck,” comes a tamer but similarly satirical show, “Glee.” This new show – which comes across as a “High School Musical” you’d actually enjoy watching – focuses on a group of high school kids’, and their teacher’s, love for the school’s glee club, which he is determined to take to Nationals. Featuring a roster of comedically talented up-and-coming actors, “Glee” is an infectiously fun show that will make you want to sing along (and provide some much-needed laughs to elevate your spirit after suffering through the show’s high-rated lead-in, “American Idol”).
The show’s premise, a drastic departure from the graphic and salacious “Nip/Tuck,” seemed an odd fit at first for Murphy, but the show’s admirable execution serves as a testament to the producer’s diverse talents. In the pilot self-titled episode, Will Shuester (Mathew Morrison), a high school Spanish teacher and head of the school’s glee club, is given an ultimatum: In order to retain the school’s auditorium for its practices, he must take them to Nationals and win. The rag-tag team, which consists of a diva, a perfectionist, a jock and a punk rocker, has a lot of work to do, especially since the group’s greatest competition seems to have come from Broadway to high school rather than vice versa.
“Glee” has received a lot of attention for its casting decisions; many of the show’s actors have backgrounds on Broadway. Lea Michele, who plays Rachel, one of the club’s soloists (and the most-hated girl in school), made her Broadway debut in 1995 in a production of “Les Miserables,” and went on to garner a Tony nomination for her role in “Spring Awakening.” Other Broadway alums include the show’s star, Morrison, who is best known for his role as Link in the John Waters production of “Hairspray,” as well as Kristin Chenowith of “Wicked” (and the popular-but-cancelled TV series, “Pushing Daisies”). These actors prove to be equally in their element on the small screen, utilizing their singing and dancing talents while at the same time developing impressive comedic timing. The show’s scripts, complete with well-rounded and interesting characters, don’t hurt the show’s success either (though this should be no big surprise, given Murphy’s track record).
I predict this show will have no trouble finding an audience; the pilot has all the elements needed to sustain a successful series. The nuanced comedy, replete with impressive dancing and singing, has found the perfect pitch. Tune in to the show’s premiere next Tuesday, May 19 at 9 p.m., right after “American Idol,” on Fox.
— Sara Weitz