Glee has found a following unlike any other TV show has ever found. Fox was clever enough to air the pilot episode directly after the season finale of the highest rated season of American Idol, targeting the coveted young audience. With that one pilot episode, and with a rousing rendition of “Don’t Stop Belivin'” by Journey, America was hooked.
The show was developed by Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck) and is a rare comedy/drama/musical hybrid about a failing glee club at McKinley High School. Spanish teacher Will Schuster (Broadway’s Matthew Morrison, “Hairspray”, “Footloose”) was a member of glee club during his years at the high school and volunteers to direct the club – calling it New Directions – in the hopes of competing in regionals thus earning enough money to keep the program alive. The school’s award winning cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (played by the scene-stealing Jane Lynch) is jealous of the funding that the glee club receives and schemes to sabotage the group throughout the season by placing cheerleader spies in the glee club. Mr. Schuster receives help from the school’s counselor Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays, Paul Blart: Mall Cop) and the two develop feelings for each other despite the fact that Mr. Schuster is married with a psychotic wife (Jessalyn Gilsig, Boston Public, Heroes).
The kids who join glee club include Rachel Berry (Broadway’s Lea Michele, “Spring Awakening”), a perfectionist who aspires to be a star, high school starting quarterback Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith, Final Destination 3), gay diva Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer), African-American diva Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley), the quiet-yet-punk with a speech impediment Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), and paraplegic Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale). Along the way, they add football player Puck (Mark Salling) and cheerleader captain Quinn Fabray (Dianna Argon), and a few others. Like any high school, this club has drama. Quinn is pregnant by Puck, but has convinced her boyfriend Finn that the baby is his. Rachel is in love with Finn, but also has feelings for Mr. Schuster. Before Kurt officially comes out of the closet, Mercedes declares her love for him (in one of my favorite, most underrated performances on the show “Bust Your Windows”). Artie and Tina have a fleeting moment together, but Artie ultimately turns her down.
And then there are the cameos! Hip hop star Eve makes an appearance as a choir director from a rival school. Michael Hitchcock (Serenity, Waiting For Guffman, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind) plays the choir director from another rival glee club…from a school for the deaf. Kurt’s dad is played by Mike O’Malley, most recently from the Time Warner Cable commercials & from ESPN, but also from TV’s Yes, Dear, and Leatherheads. The most notable and buzzworthy guest was Broadway superstar Kristin Chenoweth, most known for her role as Glinda in “Wicked”, her role as Olive Snook in TV’s Pushing Daisies, and her role as Marian in the television production of The Music Man.
Throughout the summer, the cast toured the country with an old-fashioned mall tour to gain viewership. The show has become one of the most talked about, blogged about, twittered about show in…well, ever. The show airs on Wednesdays, and each week the songs from the show are released on iTunes the day before the show. The downloads have broken records. By the time the 8th episode aired, downloads of the Glee covers had already reached a staggering 2.5 million.
But it’s not just the catchy, well arranged covers that attract the viewers. It’s the sharp script (nominated for a Writer’s Guild Award for Best Comedy and Best New Series) that is able to transport everyone back to high school for an hour every week. There is a special chemistry that comes from being in the fine arts, and although they may have slushies thrown in their faces, those kids have a bond that cannot be replicated in any other program in school. Glee is able to bring that chemistry and the love for the arts to the rest of the country.
1. Pilot – Director’s Cut – An extended cut of the pilot, in which all the characters are introduced. Rachel’s version of “On My Own” from Les Miserables is particularly great, as is the performance of “Mr. Cellophane” from Chicago by Kurt. The finale is the famous “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
2. Showmance – The glee club performs in front of the entire school hoping to gain more members. And they perform…”Push It” by Salt-N-Pepa?
3. Acafellas – Mr. Schuster and members of the faculty start their own boy band and New Directions tries to raise money by holding a car wash, where Mercedes performs “Bust Your Windows.” This is also the episode in which Josh Groban shows up to play himself.
4. Preggers – In which we find out about Quinn, and Kurt comes out of the closet. Kurt also gets a spot on the football team as the kicker, and the football team performs a dance to Beyonce’s “Single Ladies.”
5. The Rhodes Not Taken – This is the episode with Kristin Chenoweth, and she sings a duet with Lea Michele. This episode ends with the inspiring version of “Somebody to Love” by Queen.
6. Vitamin D – Mr. Schuster gives New Directions an assignment – they have to break up into boys and girls and then arrange and perform their own mash-up. The resulting songs are two of my favorites: a “Halo”/”Walking On Sunshine” mash-up by the girls and a “It’s My Life”/”Confessions” mash-up by the boys!
7. Throwdown – In her attempts to break down the glee club, Sue Sylvester forces the kids to compete against each other. The final song gives me goosebumps, their version of “Keep Holdin’ On” by Avril Lavigne.
8. Mash-Up – Puck and Rachel go out on a date and Emma gets her own song in this episode.
9. Wheels – The episode featuring the Artie/Tina romance, and a fantastic version of “Proud Mary” – with the entire glee club in wheelchairs! This was also the episode with the much anticipated duet with Rachel and Kurt singing Wicked‘s “Defying Gravity.”
10. Ballads – Mr. Schuster breaks the club into pairs and has them perform a ballad. Quinn and Finn also have an awkward dinner with her parents.
11. Hairography – When the club is distressed by a competing show choir’s dance moves, Mr. Schuster reassures them by telling them that they didn’t do anything but fling their hair around. They perform a mash-up of “Hair” from Hair and “Crazy In Love” by Beyonce & Jay-Z.
12. Mattress – It’s yearbook time at McKinley High, but due to lack of funding, the glee club won’t get a picture. They do, however, get to perform in a local mattress company commercial and they choose “Jump” by Van Halen.
13. Sectionals – Due to an unexpected consequence of the mattress commercial, Mr. Schu cannot accompany New Directions at sectionals. They also find that Sue’s backstabbing has no limits, but ultimately put on a fantastic performance due to Rachel’s “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” and everyone’s version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones.
Presented in a 1.77:1 aspect ratio, preserving the original television experience.
Welcome to McKinley – An introductory video by Principal Figgins (played on the show by Iqbal Theba) for incoming freshman, giving us a tour of the school. Pretty funny. (5:03)
Glee Music Video – This is new footage of the cast done to their version of “Somebody To Love.” (2:46)
Full Length Audition Pieces – Rachel’s performance of “On My Own” from the Pilot (3:18), and Mercedes performance of “Respect” from the pilot (0:59).
Fox Movie Channel Presents: Casting Sessions – Ryan Murphy talking about pitching the idea of the show to Fox and casting the show. (12:00)
Deconstructing Glee with Ryan Murphy – Just a few questions with Ryan Murphy. This could be longer, he’s got a lot to say about the show. (2:50)
Dance Boot Camp – Behind the scenes with the choreographer Zachary Woodlee. (3:13)
Jane Lynch a to Glee – This is a travesty. Having an extra starring Jane Lynch where she is candid and in her make-up chair (she can’t escape!), and it’s only a minute long?? Shame on you! (0:54)
Meet Jane Lynch – Once again, she doesn’t say anything that we don’t already know, and it’s only a minute long!! Make use of your resources! (1:05)
5 Things You Don’t Know About Jayma – For each of these pointless extras, I’ll give away one. Jayma Mays has a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day. (0:41)
7 Things You Don’t Know About Cory – He cried at Equus. (1:01)
6 Things You Don’t Know About Amber – She loves shoes. (0:59)
7 Things You Don’t Know About Chris – He hates Bleu cheese. (0:43)
Video Diaries – The cast goes to New York City for a promotional tour and they all get Flip cameras. Let the silliness commence! (total run time 17:12)
Trailers – Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, My One and Only
The extras on this release are a little disappointing, but the episodes more than make up for justifying the purchase. Even if you’ve bought every song on iTunes, if you’re a fan of Glee, this DVD set is a must-own and will get you through until new episodes begin in April.
20th Century Fox presents Glee Season 1 Volume 1: Road To Sectionals. Directed by: various. Starring: Matthew Morrison, Jane Lynch, Lea Michele. Written by: SCREENWRITER. Running time: 580 minutes. Rating: NR. Released on DVD: December 29, 2009. Available at Amazon.com