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Category:    Home > Reviews > Musical > Backstage > Teens > School > Glee – The Complete First Season (2009 – 2010/Fox Blu-ray)

Glee – The Complete First Season (2009 – 2010/Fox Blu-ray)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C     Episodes: A-



Recently it feels as if the second half of 2010 has shaped up to be the ‘best of’ television on Blu-ray.  With Dexter: Season 4 taking the best suspense/drama and Always Sunny taking best comedy, Glee: Season 1 must be best musical/variety show.  Other series over the years have used music to their advantage to add atmosphere or add a funny or touching moment, but not many have gone all out to make a full musical series.  Glee was a breakout hit for FOX that managed to quickly garner a huge fan base before FOX could put it on the chopping block.  Anyone remember Firefly or perhaps the Family Guy incident?  Anyhow, Glee embodies everything creative as its hilarious stories, lovable characters and fantastic music choices have captured the attention of audiences all over the world.


The series pilot set the mood for the rest of the series with its ingenuity and heart.  Glee starts with Spanish teacher Will Schuster (Matthew Morrison) resurrecting an element of his past by starting a glee club at the High School where he teaches.  Mr. Schuster has fond memories (from the 80’s) of when glee club ruled the school and took Nationals.  But in 2010 times have changed and Mr. Schuster is about to find that if you want something bad enough you will have to fight for it.  Glee gathers a cast of lovable losers, prima donnas, jocks and cheerleaders.  Each character is unique in their personality and presence; and the cast surly has presence.  The jocks and losers all have their troubles, all dealing with the ups and downs of High School life in a very different ways.


Outside of the normal troubles that we all have, these characters have ousted themselves in to further loserdom or been knocked down a peg (in the jocks cases) by joining glee.  Teenagers are cruel and look at any opportunity to attack like rapid wolves; glee club being the newest target.  If it wasn’t bad enough that the glee club had to watch their backs among their peers, but they must guard themselves against the faculty as well.  It seems that cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (played by the brilliant Jane Lynch) also has it out for The New Directions (glee clubs name) as well.  She finds their diversity and upbeat spirit in the face of adversity appalling (not to mention them taking some of her huge cheerleading budget) and will stop at nothing to bring them down.  Outside of the great music and talented cast, it is Jane Lynch’s Sue Sylvester that steals every scene she is in with her off beat/dark humor and over the top attitude.  The array of personalities creates a host of various subplots that are interesting and engaging.


With music from the likes of Journey, Queen and Madonna how could you go wrong?  The cast is abundantly talented as each lyric comes from their mouth.  The only problem I would have with the series is its tendency to lean toward the melodramatic.  Each episode has a life lesson of sorts that is a little too preachy and whereas I can agree with the drama-edy (drama + comedy) aspect the series has embraced; at times they lean too far towards drama.  All I can say is for Glee to keep up the good work.  It is amazing series that has years left in it, as long as they don’t break up a working formula.


The technical features are not as amazing as I would have hoped for this First Season on Blu-ray, but they are good enough.  The series 22 episodes are SQUEEZED onto 4 Blu-ray discs that make the show that was once brilliant on HD TV, appear compressed and lifeless at times in this 1080p 1.78 X 1 AVC @ 18 MBPS digital High Definition image throughout each show.  The picture often appears flat and the colors are not as vibrant as they should be for this “show choir,” very enthusiastic series.  Black levels, as well as skin tones are nicely rendered.  The needless choice of squeezing Season 1 on 4 discs, however, has left the series plagued with banding, grain and aliasing throughout that is overly noticeable at times.  The one area where this Blu-ray should be perfect IS NOT as the sound (like the picture) lacks the life and has seemingly stripped away an element of enthusiasm from this soundtrack.  The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio appears to have suffered from the 4-Disc treatment as well (why not put it on 6 discs?) as almost everything comes from the front.  The dialogue is nearly perfect, but when you expect the soundscape to kick in for a big music number the rest of the speakers are left lifeless.  I would even venture to say that the sound is in fact a 3.1 mix and not the 5.1 the box would lead you to believe; sad to say.  I wanted to be singing along to the music, not worrying about why it wasn’t delivering.


The extras have the nice feature of Glee Jukebox that allows the viewer to re-experience all of the songs from the 22 episodes.  I found this feature to be very abrupt as it jumps from one song to the next, with no gradual opening or close, as it often times chopped of first and last notes/words.  Other features include Glee Karaoke, Staying in Step with Glee, Bite their Style: Dress like a Gleek, Unleashing the Power of Madonna, Making a Showstopper: Bohemian Rhapsody, Welcome to McKinley, Glee Music Video of “Somebody to Love,” Full Length Audition Pieces, Fox Movie Channel Presents Casting Session, Deconstructing Glee with Ryan Murphy (all too short 3mins), Dance Boot Camp, Jane Lynch A to Glee (an odd 1minute of nothing), Video Diaries and finally several “Things you don’t know about” segments about 4 different cast members.  There is an HD bonus feature entitled Behind the Pilot, which is a split screen video commentary with a ton of cast and crew.  It was not extremely insightful and also it felt very tense as the plethora of personalities in the room canceled each other to the point most were silent.  The extras were mostly short tid bits of nothing, with only the Video Jukebox being worthwhile.


I was disappointed by the picture, sound and extras, but I am glad to have the whole season on Blu-ray.  It is an amazing show, with an amazing cast that seems to only be getting better.  Whereas I would say hold off and wait until a more audio/visual stunning disc set is released, I don’t think that will be happening anytime soon.


I suggest embracing the phenomenon and become a Gleek.



-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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