Wednesday, September 9, 2009


The Fall Season has finally arrived. Hooray! There are quite a few programs I am looking forward to, both new and returning, and I would like to share my instant opinions after the first episodes debut.

First up: Glee!

Alright, so this is technically the second episode that aired tonight. I thought Fox did a brilliant job of creating buzz for this program by airing the pilot after part one of the American Idol finale. There have also been preview videos available on iTunes. Normally I don't go out of my way to check out promo stuff on iTunes, but I recently got a new computer that doesn't grind to a halt when playing videos so I decided to check them out. I think this may have been a mistake.

The video I saw was the "Gold Digger" rehearsal sequence. I like how the show worked the song into the story -- juxtaposing it after the house tour sequence and using it as a foil to "Le Freak". However, I found the sound quality in the sequence incredibly distracting. Part of the problem is that the audio does not match the environment, which makes it quite apparent that the cast is lip synching. I think this is where the single-camera format is actually hurting the show -- if the music sequences were shot in multicam, then the audio quality would match and create the feeling of a live performance. However, switching formats could greatly alter the overall aesthetic of the show, so I'm not sure if this is a viable solution.

There are other audio issues that can be more easily addressed. The audio for the "Say a Little Prayer" sequence did not match up at all. The acoustics were wrong and it sounded like more than three people were singing. There is no reason for such a mismatch and I worry that this will be a recurring issue on the show. Case in point: "Take a Bow". There are a number of noticeable breaths in this version of the song -- breaths that the character Rachel is not demonstrating. Again, the audio makes it sound like someone just hit "play" on a CD and told the cast to lip synch as best they can. It is not as bad as Viva Laughlin, but I am still concerned.

In terms of story, I thought this was a good second pilot for the show. Characters are still being developed and conflicts are starting to get a little fleshed out. I'm still not 100% sold that there is enough meat for a long-running series, but there is certainly potential. My hope is that the show will avoid the trap of ending each episode with a relevant pop song ("Don't Stop Believin'" and "Take a Bow") to wrap up everything in a bow. It smacks of Dawson's Creek and other late 90's teen drama and it seems somewhat cliche at this point.

What I do hope sticks around is the "mailman in the windshield" metaphor. It would be great if that just pops up in episode nine and the audience is expected to remember what that means.

Overall, I'm giving this episode a solid B and will keep this on the TiVo for now.

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