Fox has high hopes for a “High School Musical”-esque show called “Glee.” In an unusual strategy, the network aired the pilot after the “American Idol” performance finale show last night. But it won’t air another episode for four months.
It hopes to gain buzz online and through other marketing strategies for a big fall splash.
I think the show has potential. It has some good laughs and is well written. Matthew Morrison, who plays well-meaning Spanish teacher Will Shuester with charm and warmth, wants to revive the once vaunted glee club, now considered less cool than the chess club. He’s married to an annoying spendaholic while guidance counselor Emma (played with wide-eyed sweetness by Jayma Mays from “Ugly Betty”) secretly longs for him.
The breakout star, though, is Jane Lynch (think “Best in Show” and 8,000 guest roles on various TV shows). She plays the head of the cheerleading squad with a snobbishness becoming of being top dog-ess. And she’s simply hilarious no matter what she says.
The actors playing the students aren’t as good as the characters they play. The quarterback guy Finn (Cory Monteith), for instance, reminds me a bit of Chris Klein from “American Pie,” minus the goofy charisma. And the “I wanna be a star” glee club gal Rachel (Lea Michele) lacks an inherent feeling of desperation given that she seems too pretty to be scorned by the usual “mean girl” cheerleaders.
The end of the episode, when Will quits the glee club after his wife gets preggers, is predictable. Emma shows him a YouTube video of him in glee club 16 years earlier and convinces him that fixing the current version would fill a gap in his soul (a gap she can’t fill in one sense because he’s married.).
The over-used Journey song “Don’t Stop Believing” ends the show and no, not in a “Sopranos” way. The club performs the song with exuberant “glee,” and Will show up to say he’s staying after all.
btw—This is not “High School Musical” in one sense because people do NOT break out in song when they aren’t supposed to. That’s a good thing.