Sometimes you just have to wonder if certain television shows are just destined for greatness. That their pathway to success must be written in the stars and that we, as viewers, should just allow the creative genius to wash over us. One such television program currently making waves with the public has also manage to confound industry executives as it has, as of yet, only aired as a pilot. How can a show already be a national phenomenon when people have only seen one episode?
The show in question is called “GLEE” and it aired on the FOX network right after the “American Idol” finale back in May. While some may claim that any show would succeed if it was aired after that episode, history has proven time and time again that FOX rarely manages to get viewers to stick around after an “American Idol” episode ends. Adding to the improbability of anyone watching “GLEE” was the fact that it was running against one of the final episodes of “Dancing with the Stars.”
So what the heck is “GLEE” about? Again, as a television concept this show relies on few of the usual “boob-tube” standards that so often seem to guarantee ratings success. First off, it isn’t about lawyers, cops or a hospital. None of the cast is famous. And lastly, it tells the story of a fledgling High School glee club-a group so chock full of misfits and freaks you find it hard to believe that the public at large found them so endearing. If you think back to your own High School days you must remember how little respect the glee club got. Even the band geeks beat them up.
“GLEE” is the brainchild of the Ryan Murphy, the subversive creator of “Nip/Tuck” on the FX Network. Why is that important? Because it should give you an idea of how “GLEE” manages to tell such a sad tale (some of the cruelty levied against the club members is downright hard to watch-but that’s High School, right?) yet can also within the same episode make the viewer laugh and be deeply touched by the bravery exhibited by these glee clubbers. For countless seasons “Nip/Tuck” has usually also managed the difficult high wire act of being at times entertaining, ridiculous and heartwarming all in equal measure.
Apparently as a result of this creative supernova orchestrated by Mr. Murphy, the “GLEE” pilot episode premiered to 10.75 viewers. Unfortunately for viewers, though, this episode was merely aired as a teaser for the 13 episode season of “GLEE” that FOX has planned for fall. As if the summer didn’t seem desolate enough-what with there being no new TV and only impending cinematic catastrophes like Will Ferrell’s “Land of the Lost” and “The Transformers” sequel on the horizon-we are now also being forced to accept the fact that there won’t be another “GLEE” episode until September.
Suffice it to say this turn of events did not make newfound fans very (pardon the pun) gleeful. But instead of tuck its tail in between its legs like it usually does when it makes a huge mistake, FOX made the clever decision to release a song featured in the pilot on ITunes. What song, pray tell, was released on ITunes and by some miracle has now become a top five hit in this country without the benefit of even a video or radio airplay? The song in question is, appropriately enough, a cover of “Don’t Stop Believin'” by 1970’s arena rock band Journey.
While any viewer might be left to wonder if the cast of “GLEE” had ever heard of the song “Don’t Stop Believin'” prior to recording it, the result is undeniable. While summer hits like “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas and “Poker Face” from Lady GaGa are keeping booties shaking on the dance floor, only this unlikely cover of a song that hasn’t been popular for decades manages to display even a modicum of heart. Although the words are familiar, it is the orchestration and the sentiment that marks it out as truly unique in this artificial day and age. The most important thing to remember, though, is that “Don’t Stop Believin'” as rendered by the “GLEE” cast is just a whole lot of fun. And isn’t that what summer is all about?
For those of us who are fans of not only the hit song but also the impending hit FOX TV show, we have little to do but wait for the premiere. FOX has said that it might release another single from the show before the premiere (rumored to be a cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” or Queen’s “Somebody to Love”), the full soundtrack that will feature every song from season one won’t be seen until “late fall.”
If you were unlucky enough to miss the first episode of “GLEE,” you needn’t despair as you can now watch it in its entirety on the FOX website. To be honest, I missed the majority of the premiere when it aired on TV and only watched it online after friends told me how amazing it was. As I had only seen snippets while trying to watch the “Dancing with the Stars” finale, I honestly didn’t feel like I “got it.” The “GLEE” premiere is so clever and quick witted that it does demand all of your attention so if you didn’t feel like you “got it” do give it another shot online.
The single for “Don’t Stop Believin'” is currently only available on ITunes.