Even with all the problems the much-hyped Glee pilot for FOX had, if you "open yourself up to joy" even a little bit, it's hard not to walk away smiling from this introduction. First and foremost, there's lots and lots of music, and more importantly, there's nobody bursting into song -- a fear I'm sure plenty of the musical-phobic had coming in. (Scroll below for full episode.)
Ryan Murphy had lost a bit of goodwill of late with where he's taken Nip/Tuck, so my fears were double going in, and many of the plot problems that he conveniently ignores in other projects are present here (the character Mercedes seems the most egregious so far -- "Hell to the Naw!"). Series "heroine" Rachel (Lea Michele of Spring Awakening fame) serves as a sort of voice for Murphy, and her monologues try a bit too hard, perhaps, to make his point for him, like this line: "Nowadays being anonymous is worse than being poor. Fame is the most important thing in our culture now." And even if you didn't see her as Tracy Flick from Election, the soundtrack pushes you back in that direction, cleverly using "Flight of the Bumblebee" repeatedly with her on screen to remind you of that famously bee-laden film.
That a cappella version of the Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov classic was done by The Swingle Singers, whose voices are sprinkled liberally throughout the pilot. Their other clever a cappella interpretation that gets repeated use is the whimsical Quincy Jones classic, "Soul Bossa Nova," which serves here as a theme for Will's own glee derived from the New Directions group.
Elsewhere, the character Finn (Cory Monteith) provides a non-theater background to the mix, giving those of us not enamored with musicals a character to identify with -- allowing us to still stand in the back with arms crossed (and nod with approval). Murphy, for his part, seems conscious of us slackers in the back and pulls a bit of glee from us by having Rachel exclaim at one point, "There is nothing ironic about show choir!" UPDATE: Music from the series debuted on iTunes today at #2. Nothing ironic about that.
Favorite line comes from the football coach: "Last time they held down one of their teammates and shaved off his eyebrows because he watched Grey's Anatomy."
Playlist: Glee - Pilot (Ep 1.01)
1. "Let Me Be" - Josh Gabriel - cheerleaders practice
2. "Shining Star" - Earth Wind & Fire - opening
3. "Where is Love" from musical Oliver! - glee club rehearsal
4. "Flight of the Bumblebee" - The Swingle Singers - used several times throughout as a Rachel theme
5. "Soul Bossa Nova" - The Swingle Singers - Will picks a name
- used several times throughout as a Will theme
6. "Respect" - Aretha Franklin - Mercedes' audition
7. "Mister Cellophane" from musical Chicago - Kurt's audition
8. "I Kissed a Girl" - Katy Perry - Tina's audition
9. "On My Own" from Les Miserables - Rachel's audition
10. "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat" from Guys & Dolls - glee club first rehearsal
11. "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" - 101 Strings Orchestra - Will brings sandwich
12. "A Fifth of Beethoven" - The Swingle Sisters w/ Shlomo - a cappella score
13. "Can't Fight This Feeling" - REO Speedwagon - Finn singing in the shower
14. "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'" - Journey - flashback w/ groundskeeper
15. "You're the One That I Want" from Grease - glee club rehearsal w/ Finn
16. "Chewing Gum" - Annie - Rachel flirts w/ Finn
18. "Don't Worry Be Happy" - Bobby McFerrin - Steel Drum band
19. "Allegro (From Sonata No. 14 - Moonlight Sonata)" - The Swingle Singers - Rachel begs Finn to stay in Glee
20. "Don't Stop Believin'" - Journey - Greenskeeper / revisted at end w/ New Directions rehearsal
21. "That's the Way" - KC & the Sunshine Band - '93 glee club championships
Compiled then double-checked against Avalon's official listing posted on niptuckforum.com