I swear to god if I read one more opinion piece / review of anything musical that feels the need to use the disclaimer...
I'm not really a musicals guy/girl...I'm going to...
Well, I'm going to ... bite my pillow!
How about we drop this foolish bias and twittering nervousness about anything show-tuney or theatrical. Let's just admit that it was out of fashion for about twenty years -- roughly the years in between the genre's final 70s classic All That Jazz (1979) and its masterful rebirth Dancer in the Dark (2000) / Moulin Rouge! (2001) -- and two decades is a lot of time to train people to believe that a particular genre is "uncool" or "gay" or "only meant to be in animated movies" and that they're not supposed to like it.
Stop being sheep opinion-makers! Why the disclaimers? It's like many bloggers, talking heads and critics are worried about being seen as uncool. And that's so, well, high school. Stop worrying about what's cool and enjoy anything that's passionately created, well executed and joyfully performed. Enjoy anything that is glad to be what it is. There are so many joyless money-making exercizes out there. [*cough* Wolverine... seriously? I think everyone involved needed major injections of anti-depressants]
Glee is certainly glad to be what it is. The first episode is funny, mostly well cast (yay Jane Lynch. Never can get enough Jane Lynch), moving and bursting with promise. It was also just casually adorable. That light touch was particularly surprising given that musicals are more prone to tilt towards the charm offensive. Not that there's anything wrong with that: if you've got it, flaunt it and whatnot. Glee doesn't whip out its razzle dazzle into the rousing "Don't Stop Believing" finale, but by then you're already a believer. B+/A-
My only quibbles: Why no singing from Matthew Morrison in the lead role as Will Schuester? I've seen him thrice on stage (Hairspray, The Light in the Piazza, 10 Million Miles) and his voice is beauteous. As is the rest of him.
Glee did manage to sneak in one beefcake shot of Morrison in bed but no singing to stamp it with an exclamation point. For a while Broadway and Off Broadway were combining his hunk quotient with the killer voice to great effect: shirtless for the romantic highlight in The Light in the Piazza (the unbelievably gorgeous "Say it Somehow" --god, that show was so fab), Broadway Bares 18, extra pumped-up and wife beater clad for most of 10 Million Miles (the show wasn't so hot but the music was super. You really can't go wrong with Patty Griffin, now, can you?),
<--- Matthew with puppy. Awwww
When Glee returns there will supposedly be guest appearances from other glittery musical theater types like Kristin Chenoweth, Cheyenne Jackson, Victor Garber and John Lloyd Young. But given the show's concepts (which seems to only allow for the high schoolers to be singing ... how are they going to give all these giant voices their own musical numbers?). Either way, this show will be a much better rent-paying option for Broadway stars than Law & Order (their previous cash cow) sine though none of them ever got anywhere close to a musical number on that procedural. They usually just got a paycheck for delivering some exposition as victims, criminals or witnesses. Snooze.
Two videos: Matthew Morrison and Zooey Deschanel in Once Upon a Mattress and "Don't Stop Believing" from Glee (though I'd advise watching the whole show first. It's more moving that way)
In conclusion: September/October can't come soon enough. Summer is my least favorite season, anyway. Let's skip ahead to fall. That way we get the new TV shows, falling leaves, Oscar buzz and prestige movie season.
I'm totally into time travel this month, huh? 1984, Fall 2009, Terminators 91. How to stay in the present tense?