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GLEE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Mark Wiechman
Technical Specs by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Mattew Morrison, Jane Lynch, Lea Michelle, Dianna Agron, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley
Director:  Various
Audio:  DTS HD 5.1
Video:  Color Widescreen
Studio:  20th Century Fox
Features:  See Review
Length:  974 Minutes
Release Date:  September 14, 2010

Sue Sylvester: “I’m having a really difficult time hearing anything you have to say today because your hair looks like a briar patch. I keep expecting racist animated Disney characters to pop up and start singing songs about living on the bayou!”

Show ****

I rarely watch Fox’s American Idol but the whole world knows that the Fox network has been looking for a possible replacement, or at least a show that would be popular enough to anchor the network for an evening.  The coming fall of 2010 season is already in trouble since almost all of the principal judges are gone, and the prior season’s singers were just not the magical ones we have come to expect.  But as with all networks, Fox was thinking ahead and knew that someday a different show would be needed, and against all odds, Glee was not only a huge hit that ran nine episodes longer than originally expected.  Its record nineteen Emmy nominations and fantastic Born to Run salute with Jimmy Fallon cemented it as one of the most popular and acclaimed new comedies of our time.

“I'll often yell at homeless people, Hey, how's that homelessness working out for you? Give NOT being homeless a try!"

How did this happen?  I originally avoided the show because I assumed it was an even sillier version of Fame, but I found it to be full of outstanding vocal performances of many great pop tunes, many very difficult to sing and yet performed in pitch-perfect harmonies that in some ways improve on the originals.  And the whole “loser” angle will remind every viewer of those awful moments in high school.  Somehow Glee manages to combine hilarious situations with characters that suddenly find themselves in completely believable and real situations, and deal with them in moving and realistic ways. Having several breakout stars express themselves in music just as so many young try to when they sing along with the radio makes the show worthwhile.  Lea Michelle, already a Broadway veteran at a young age, plays the siren-voiced Rachel, who radiates youthful sexuality even as she bosses her fellow singers around like Lucy Van Pelt.

Puck: “When I woke up, I knew it was a message from God. Rachel was a hot Jew and the Good Lord wanted me to get into her pants.”

Even when they get silly, like singing Van Halen’s “Jump” while trying to sell mattresses, the vocals are so amazing that you can even turn of your TV and just enjoy the music. 

Sue Sylvester: "I will go to the animal shelter and get you a kitty cat. I will let you fall in love with that kitty cat. And then on some dark cold night, I’ll steal away into your home and punch you in the face."

It introduced many great tunes from the Big 80s to a young audience, such as Hello, Hello I Love You, Don’t Stop Believin’, and even Ice-Ice Baby.

But maybe best of all, Olivia Newton-John comes in and re-does her Physical video the right way, with Sue Sylvester of course as her co-trainer!

“You know, for me, trophies are like herpes. You can try to get rid of them but they just keep coming. Sue Sylvester has hourly flair ups of burning itchy highly contagious talent.”

Video  ***

The high definition transfer is nice, but not quite up to the level of some other shows on Blu-ray such as Mad Men or True Blood.  The colors are vibrant and natural-looking throughout, but overall, the images show just a bit of noticeable softness and some graininess. 

Audio ***

The DTS HD mix is nice, and of course, really comes to life during the musical numbers.  There isn't a lot of rear channel usage, but the bass really drives the songs home and serves up the dynamic range.  Spoken words are cleanly rendered and balance nicely against the music.

Features ****

The jukebox plays most of the tunes from the series back to back with an optional shuffle, but not quite all of them, for that you can plunk down $100 on iTunes for the whole soundtrack.  The karaoke feature is better, you just click the audio button on your remote to turn the vocals on and off, and of course the words scroll along the bottom.  It has “Alone”, Somebody To Love, Keep Holding On, and Don’t Stop Believin’ which are all great but definitely not the easier tunes to sing, even for pros!!!

“Staying in Step with Glee” of course goes over some choreography, which restores some glory to the hard working dancers, begins with some simple steps and then moves on.  Blu-ray is great for this since you can repeat over and over or just skip back briefly to go over something.

“Bite their style: Dress like your favorite Gleek” is…probably only for actual Gleeks.  Though it cannot be denied that wardrobe defines many characters, especially the very attractive but fashionably hopeless Rachel.

“Unleashing the Power of Madonna” was the first Glee episode that I saw, and I think it may have been a breakthrough episode since she is such a fashion and musical icon.  It probably also went a long way to show what a great singer Jane Lynch is.  Her rendition of “Vogue” was very authentic, and hearing her tunes in harmony with many voices imitating some of the keyboard parts is very innovative.  Schoolmates got to dress as all of the various incarnations of Madonna.  It has been done before, but not with a great young cast. It also works because the show itself, like Madonna, thrives on being over the top and fun.  “Making of a Showstopper” introduces us to the producers, and Jonathan Groff discusses the excitement of doing Queen and other tunes, even learning the real piano part despite his lack of piano experience.   

The other features are slightly less interesting and self-explanatory:  “Welcome to McKinley,” “Glee Music Video,” “Full Length Audition Pieces,” “Fox Movie Channel Presents Casting Session,” Deconstructing Glee with Ryan Murphy,” “Dance Boot Camp,” Jane Lynch A to Glee,” “Meet Jane Lynch,” 5 Things you don’t know about Jayma, 7 Things you don’t lknow about Cory, 6 Things you don’t know about Amber, 7 things you don’t know about Chris, and Video Diaries.   

Summary:

I was already in love with the show, but ending the season with a Journey medley just confirmed that music television has changed forms many times but lives on.  Don’t EVER stop believing!!

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