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By the beat: a non-fan chronicles the return of ‘Glee’

Nick Anderson | Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Scene section is written by volunteers. It may be hard to believe, but we’re not paid for our efforts; we write because we like writing, culture and deep down, we believe we have good taste. The articles reflect this: They are usually about subjects we love or hate. To combat this, I’m writing about a show I’ve never seen but is hugely popular, “Glee” on Fox.

On Tuesday night, it returned for the second half of its first season. I wrote in real time as I watched in an effort to make the most honest record possible of my reactions.
 

9:27 Ryan Seacrest ended American Idol with “Glee out!” I can’t say it excites me.
 

9:28 The show gives a recap of the season so far. They talk fast and make things appear more dramatic than they actually are.
 

9:30 Sue, the resident wicked witch, makes an appearance. She’s well-written and performed. I’m going to miss her when she’s not on screen. The editing reminds me of a Dan Brown novel: There’s a lot happening and it’s presented in the choppiest and most confusing way possible.
 

9:35 The first romantic sub-plot (other than a pregnancy) comes in for Will. I can’t honestly tell if the characters are charming or creepy.
 

9:37 Reflecting on it, I don’t think I’ve ever watched a show about high school other than “Freaks and Geeks.” There’s been more drama in 10 minutes of “Glee” than my entire high school career.
 

9:38 First song: The Doors, “Hello I Love You.” I’m hugely unimpressed. It fits into the story with only a bit of stretching. Finn, wandering the halls singing like he has a message to covey, reminds me of an 80s music video. As much as the decline of MTV is maligned, it may be for the best if these are the videos we’d be left with.
 

9:43 A break-up comes from Finn while referencing his “inner-rock star.” This scene produces tears. It’s only been 16 minutes. I do not miss high school at all.
 

9:45 Rachel sings All-American Rejects. The singing, dancing and lip syncing is the worst not only so far on the show, but also since Ashley Simpson’s SNL performance. Luckily there is an inappropriate break-dancer present to try to redeem the scene.
 

9:49 A rival singer appears, singing Lionel Richie and wearing all black. I’ve fully accepted the campiness of the show. It’s slowly becoming more vaudevillian and entertaining.
 

9:52 At the second commercial break, I realized why this show is so enchanting to our generation: Disney movies defined our childhood. Why can’t we keep watching them, but with more sex appeal?
 

9:58 “Hello Again” by Neil Diamond is playing in the background. Will takes time out of acting to explain why this is an appropriate song choice. The writers don’t seem to think much of their audience’s intelligence.
 

10:06 This is, depending on how you count, the second instance of cheating on the show. This whole show has a strange mixture of evil, wisdom, honesty and high school clichés. If nothing else, it’s unique.
 

10:09 Admittedly, I’ve only seen 31 minutes of the series but many of the characters play straight into stereotypes.
 

10:13 The “Old Maids’ Club.” This may be the best-written scene on the episode. It’s pure absurdity with just a small bit of malevolence added in. It’s close to how high school boys imagine how high school girls work.
 

10:17 I think these people go to high school inside a Taylor Swift song.
 

10:23 The Beatles “Hello Goodbye” makes a predictable appearance. It’s much worse than the original, but then again, every Beatles’ cover is.
 

10:25 Sue performs Madonna’s “Vogue” as a commercial for next week’s episode, complete with cone bra. I’d call it gimmicky, but that would imply the rest of the show isn’t. The show didn’t quite feel complete as the credits rolled.
Final thoughts: It’s a strange time for Glee to be on the air. Television is currently in a golden age of drama but this show bucks the trend. It’s fun, but there’s little substance and the only substantial difference from a soap opera is the music. I can’t say I’m eagerly awaiting another episode, but I’ll probably give the show another chance when Neil Patrick Harris guest stars.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
Contact Nick Anderson at nanders5@nd.edu