Quick Thoughts On GLEE

What I think of the show, I don’t know yet, but here are three points that I think are worth making:

– Music costs are going to be a problem for this show. According to Todd VanDerWerff, whose AV Club review of the show is worth a read, there are already rumours that the show is running into issues about how much it can spend on music and which songs it can use, but this problem is not going to go away even if the show becomes a success. It is, as you’ve no doubt noticed, an attempt to do a scripted drama series that incorporates elements from two very popular franchises: American Idol and High School Musical. But Idol is a variety show, meaning that it doesn’t have a lot of costs apart from the music, and it doesn’t need to worry about re-running and re-exploiting every episode; Glee is layering in music on top of an already-expensive show, and it needs to clear every song several times over. And High School Musical uses songs that Disney owns. Based on the incredible number of songs in the pilot — and remember, Broadway songs are often harder to clear than pop songs, not easier, so they’re all pretty expensive songs — this could turn into a budgetary nightmare.

– The look of Glee seems to be an attempt to combine the look of a typical one-hour scripted show with the splashy colours of High School Musical; it’s a candy-coloured world shot as if it were House. It works pretty well so far.

– Ryan Murphy already created a high school show, the cult flop Popular, that has certain similarities in style and approach to this one. It’s not uncommon for showrunners to do something similar to one of their flops, but more relatable and/or crowd-pleasing. Of course it doesn’t always work out; Undeclared was supposed to be Judd Apatow’s more popular take on Freaks and Geeks, but it managed one fewer episode than F&G.

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