Glee is one of the surprise American hit TV series of the season, but there was a time not too long ago that the show was predicted by some American publications to be a series that would fail before it had even aired its first episode. ‘Nobody is talking about this show’ noted one American journalist, and he was right.
When pilot season was announced last year which is a time when all the US Networks announced their new shows Glee seemed to fly under the radar, buzz was surrounding news shows such as Flash Forward the remakes of V and Melrose Place and the Courtney Cox sitcom Cougar Town, in fact so much was being written about these shows that the Glee crew must have been nervous.
In a clever move though the network showed the Pilot Episode months before the rest of the season aired, it was a way to test the water, see if people were ready for an all singing and dancing prime time new TV show. The last show which contained so many kids singing for an hour a week was the 80s show The Kids From Fame a spin off from the impressive Oscar Winning film, but whilst the TV series became a worldwide success the show was cancelled in the states midway through its 2nd season (it would run for 7 seasons around the rest of the world).
On May 19th in the states, the Pilot Episode aired and scored great numbers for the Fox Network, not amazing but great, but after that episode people started talking, Glee began to show signs of life. The 1st season began on Sept 9th and within only a few weeks the network ordered a whole season, Glee had arrived.
Message boards, Twitter, Facebook etc. became a breeding ground for new fans of the shows calling themselves 'Gleeks', a cast album of the songs from the first half of the season sold huge amounts with singles from the show charting all around the world, and then came the icing on the cake for the show when it walked away with the Golden Globe Award for best TV series (Musical or comedy).
The young stars have become overnight sensations but the show is not without criticism. People have complained that the pre recorded and over effected vocals in the show are distracting, ‘These people can sing can’t they, so why can’t we hear them do it for real?” said one fan on a message board. And indeed the cast can sing and are singing on the show. Leah Michelle came from the Broadway show Spring Awakening and Matthew Morrison is also a Broadway baby after starring in shows like Hairspray, if I’m honest I have to agree that sometimes it would be nice to hear their voices on the episodes not sounding so pre recorded....(lay off the vocal effects please)
This however is irrelevant though as the fans in America can get to hear their favourite cast members live when they take to the stage on tour (reminiscent of the Kids From Fame.)
So is the future bright for Glee and what do we have to look forward too when it returns to our screens for the second part of season 1? As of yet, in America the ratings have not slipped, and whilst your all reading this thinking ‘what do the US ratings matter, we are in the UK’ they matter a lot as its the American ratings which determine it’s future. Glee averages around 8 million viewers a week in America which is not a runaway success (say like NCIS Los Angeles which gets around 18 million) but it’s a big enough success to see it have a bright future.... as long as they can keep the US markets attention, and they are pulling out all the stops to do that.
In the next few weeks we will be treated to a whole episode devoted to the queen of pop that is Madonna, yes the rumours are true Sue does perform Vogue complete with huge conical bra, whilst the rest of the kids belt out her hits Like a Prayer, 4 Minutes and Hung Up amongst others. Lady Gaga has also given permission to use her songs (unlike Coldplay bah humbug) and we can expect guest stars including Idina Menzel (Wicked, Rent) and Olivia Newton John singing Physical with Sue.
So, right now the future looks bright for the Glee kids of McKinley high and the UK Gleeks are still begging for more and I for one could not be more happy. It may not be a work of art but it’s sure as hell fun, its blend of childish innocence and satirical biting adult humour has had me entertained from the beginning and has become my favourite new show of the season (along with Melrose Place), yes I’m proud to say I’m a Gleek.
And in an ironic twist, the TV shows that everyone was talking about instead of Glee are now all facing being cancelled after one season (except Cox’s Cougar Town, although the ratings have plummeted meaning it too could struggle).
So get ready for the shows return on April 19th and strike a pose with the New Directions, I know I will be.
- Craig Hepworth