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Glee: Encore DVD cover art - buy from Amazon.com Glee: Encore (2009-10)
Show & DVD Details

Creators/Writers: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Ian Brennan

Featured Performers: Lea Michele (Rachel Berry), Cory Monteith (Finn Hudson), Matthew Morrison (Will Schuester), Dianna Agron (Quinn Fabray), Chris Colfer (Kurt Hummel), Amber Riley (Mercedes Jones), Kristin Chenoweth (April Rhodes), Mark Salling (Noah "Puck" Puckerman), Jonathan Groff (Jesse St. James), Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina Cohen-Chang), Naya Rivera (Santana Lopez), Kevin McHale (Artie Abrams), Jayma Mays (Emma Pillsbury), Jane Lynch (Sue Sylvester), John Autry (Deaf Choir Soloist), Heather Morris (Brittany S. Pearce), Harry Shum Jr. (Mike Chang), Dijon Talton (Matt Rutherford), Brad Ellis (Brad)

Featured Songs: "On My Own", "Don't Stop Believin'", "Gold Digger", "I Say a Little Prayer", "Alone", "Somebody to Love", "It's My Life/Confessions Part II", "No Air", "You Keep Me Hanging On", "Defying Gravity", "I'll Stand by You", "Don't Stand So Close to Me/Young Girl", "Lean on Me", "Imagine", "True Colors", "Smile", "Don't Rain on My Parade", "You Can't Always Get What You Want", "Gives You Hell", "Hello", "Vogue", "Like a Virgin", "Like a Prayer", "Fire", "One Less Bell to Answer/A House Is Not a Home", "Beautiful", "Run Joey Run", "Total Eclipse of the Heart", "Jessie's Girl", "Rose's Turn", "Bad Romance", "Beth", "Faithfully", "Any Way You Want It/Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'"

Running Time: 77 Minutes (34 performances) / Rating: Not Rated (series TV-14 on air)

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Closed Captioned; Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Suggested Retail Price: $14.98 (Reduced from $26.98) / DVD Release Date: April 19, 2011
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9) / Clear Keepcase
Season 1 Airdates: May 19, 2009 - June 8, 2010
Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($16.99 SRP; reduced from $29.99 SRP)

Buy Glee Encore from Amazon.com: DVD • Blu-ray

Buy Glee: Season 1: DVD • Blu-ray / Season 2: DVD • Blu-ray / Season 3: DVD • Blu-ray / Season 4: DVD • Blu-ray

If you love the song and dance of "Glee", but aren't so crazy about the comedy, drama, and storylines, "Glee": Encore is the DVD for you. This new disc strings together 34 performances from the hit Fox dramedy's first season for a 77-minute all-musical feature presentation. The packaging claims this is "for Gleeks of all ages", but any true Gleek already owns The Complete First Season
and knows that half of the DVD and the entire Blu-ray offer playback of individual songs, along with shuffle and continuous modes. Perhaps the back of the "Glee": Encore case should then read "for Gleeks of all ages who don't need it all and don't want to have to deal with changing discs."

If you're at all familiar with the show, then you know that 34 songs from a 22-episode run barely skims the surface. Hardcore Gleeks might even know that Season 1 featured over 120 musical performances (131 by my count of Wikipedia, although there is some leeway), meaning you get about one out of every four First Season songs on this DVD. A dual-layered DVD can comfortably hold three hours of content (as many "Glee" discs do), so there must have been a conscious decision to only offer a small taste of the available material. The problem with that is how many fans will be completely happy with what comprises this seemingly random taste and how many will be bummed to find some of their favorites missing? I'm guessing the latter would outnumber the former. Before we lament what hasn't made the cut, let us cover and appreciate what has.

Always there when you need him, choir accompanist Brad (Brad Ellis) tickles the keyboard atop his piano as go-getter Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) drops a syllable from the assignment and sings "Gives You Hell." Briefly out of her signature track suits, Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) frames her face in a recreation of Madonna's "Vogue" music video.

An instrumental part of "Glee"'s widespread appeal has been its varied musical tastes. While teenagers may be directly targeted and comprise a significant part of the audience, giving them just new renditions of music that finds them on the radio and other avenues would severely limit the series' reach. Wisely, "Glee" instead opts to supply a little something for everyone, broadening cultural awareness and horizons in the process. Even if it underserves some of the show's common leanings (neglecting for instance, the soft spot for '90s hip hop evidently possessed by Matthew Morrison's decreasingly idealistic glee club moderator Mr. Will "Schue" Schuester), this disc's selections do demonstrate the show's winning sense of diversity.

From the start, the early 1980s rock of Journey has been emblematic for the show and its honorary theme "Don't Stop Believin'" is one of three performances covering the band. More respected and historical acts are represented in John Lennon's "Imagine" (started by a deaf school, whom our heroes of McKinley High's New Directions join) and The Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Much of the playlist can be classified as popular tunes of the 1970s and 1980s. Among them, Kiss' "Beth" (performed by the male students, as their chosen alternative to the girls' Lady Gaga picks), Lionel Richie's "Hello" (from an episode centered on the word "hello"), Rick Springfield's "Jessie's Girl" (which I suspect was the reason for a recurring character being named Jessie), Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart", and Queen's "Somebody to Love."

The much-discussed Madonna tribute "The Power of Madonna" is one of just three episodes from which three performances are pulled, preserving "Vogue", a rare song by tracksuited cheerleader coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), the sexually-charged "Like a Virgin" (which kills the kid-safe version of "Glee" some parents expect this DVD to be), and the fittingly rendered choral "Like a Prayer."

Mr. Schue (Matthew Morrison, right) simultaneously displays his rap, dance, and youth leadership skills with a sanitized cover of Kanye West's "Gold Digger." Everything's coming up Kurt (Chris Colfer), as he puts his spin on "Rose's Turn" from "Gypsy."

Not every song predates the average audience member. Among the modern hits on which the students put their spin are Kanye West's "Gold Digger", Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance", Usher's "Confessions Part II" (which mixes with Bon Jovi's turn-of-the-millennium "It's My Life" in one of the show's oft-employed mash-ups), and The All-American Rejects' "Gives You Hell."

Thanks largely to overachieving protagonist Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), "Glee" has frequently dipped into Broadway's well. Here, her character auditions with "On My Own" from Les Misιrables and engages in a diva-off with the effeminate Kurt (Chris Colfer) on Wicked's "Defying Gravity."
Kurt picks "Rose's Turn" from Gypsy for a showy solo number. Another of Rachel's inspirations is Barbra Streisand, whose "Don't Rain on My Parade" (from Funny Girl) is performed at sectionals and whose Burt Bacharach & Hal David medley "One Less Bell to Answer/A House is Not a Home" is one of three performances here featuring soon-returning, Emmy-nominated 2-episode guest star Kristin Chenoweth.

As you can gather from the song count and runtime, the average performance runs a little over 2 minutes, a bit shorter than the average pop and stage composition. Some of these are quite brief, lasting no longer than a minute. Few cover the songs in their entirety. Numbers sometimes begin and end abruptly, cutting out after just a couple of claps. There are no preceding or concluding clips to give the performances context, nor is there any dialogue in cases where performances are stopped and resumed. That makes this disc as musical as possible, though someone unacquainted with the show may be lost at the story and character significance of shots and verses. Of course, I see little reason for the unacquainted to be dealing with the DVD. It seems like appreciation of the show and its musical stylings are prerequisites to enjoying "Glee": Encore.

And yet, even if you love the show and specifically the music, the lure of random and continuous music-only playback will have to be considerable for you to see the value of spending around $13 on "Glee": Encore when The Complete First Season (with four times as much music and twelve times as much content) currently sells for $28 on Amazon.

A roller rink duet of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire" is one of three performances by Will's alcoholic high school classmate April Rhodes (Tony winner Kristin Chenoweth). The Cheerios, led by pregnant head cheerleader Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron), bring their football field rendition of The Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On" to a close.

Since it's not like three out of four "Glee" songs are duds, "Glee": Encore inevitably leaves off many fine and popular performances from Season 1. There are none of the memorable contributions from guest stars Neil Patrick Harris, Olivia Newton-John, and Idina Menzel. There is not a single tune from Mr. Schue's Acafellas group. No two fans' most disappointing exclusions lists will be identical, but among the more distinctive covers whose absence I noted were the wheelchair-bound Artie's (Kevin McHale) "Dancing with Myself" and "The Safety Dance", Finn's (Cory Monteith) amusing news-breaking "(You're) Having My Baby", the club-bonding "Ride wit Me", MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice songs with "bad reputations", the mattress commercial featuring Van Halen's "Jump", Rachel's bedside duet of U2's "One" with the paralytic Zack Weinstein, the unifying episode-closer "Keep Holding On", Vocal Adrenaline's regional-winning "Bohemian Rhapsody",
and the season-ending numbers from the students ("To Sir with Love") and Mr. Schue (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" arrangement).

It's tough to find any common trait unifying the song selection. Most of the 34 featured songs have been released on the show's best-selling soundtrack albums (but then most of the show's covers have been brought to disc). There is no indication that "Glee": Encore is a first volume in a new DVD line, but I see no reason why it wouldn't be if sales are good (and with both the DVD and Blu-ray editions currently in Amazon's Top 100, sales are clearly good).

By default, the 34 songs here play by order of their appearance. There is also a Shuffle Mode, enabling them to play in random order. Either way, after the 77½ minutes of featured presentation, we get an astonishing 30-minute reel of highly detailed credits, identifying everything from backup vocalists and the dates of cast recordings to the percentage breakdown of credit for songwriters. All cast and crew members are listed for all 17 excerpted episodes (five Season 1 episodes are untapped). It's insane and unlike anything I've ever seen before. I do not envy the legal department that has to figure this stuff out and determine how much royalties go to each invested party. I'm impressed that this show is popular enough to be profitable at such a low price with so many different individual interests at stake.

Mercedes (Amber Riley) and New Directions join in a deaf school choir (led by John Autry) for a moving ASL-powered performance of John Lennon's "Imagine." Finn's mother walks in on him (Cory Monteith) serenading his supposed Ultrasound with The Pretenders' "I'll Stand by You."


As on the "Glee" season and volume DVDs, the songs here are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. I assume the segments were pulled from the same source as the earlier DVDs (Chenoweth and Morrison's duet of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire" retains the opening credits text) and therefore the quality is plenty satisfactory. There are a few instances of slight artifacting, but nothing pronounced enough to bother anyone who is still content with standard DVD today.

The soundtrack does make use of the full 5.1 sound field, but there is only so much that could be done with song audio. For the most part, the lead vocals originate from the front and center channels and the rears lend instrumental and choral reinforcement. It's all sufficient, if not quite a house-rocker, even though the overproduced sound rarely blends perfectly with the picture (that a weekly show can get it this right is a huge achievement itself).

Notably, subtitles are provided in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. That means you get the lyrics, enabling kind of an unadvertised sing-along mode, as well as three foreign language translations. Other studios refrain from even letting the hearing impaired know what is being sung, so this is impressive and appreciated (if easy enough to transfer from the episode DVDs offering the same).

Rachel (Lea Michele) leaps in front of one of her lovers (Cory Monteith) in her short film intended to repair the bad reputation of David Geddes' teenage tragedy song "Run Joey Run." The photo-loaded "Glee" Encore DVD menus place presentation over ease.


Given the logic of this DVD, there are unsurprisingly no bonus features here, not even trailers for the season and volume sets.

Access to the thirty-four songs is divided across 5 menu pages, the first of which is joined by some of the show's a capella score music. The DVD's producers could have easily fit the whole playlist on two pages. This way makes accessing a favorite a bit more of a chore than it should be, but at least the static screens are chockfull of cast photos.

"Glee": Encore is packaged in a clear keepcase, the inside of which lists all featured songs and the episodes they come from. Inserts promote Season 1 and 2 "Glee" albums and the newly-released "Glee" Karaoke Revolution Volume 2 for Wii. Oddly, the peeled corner of the front cover is actually a sticker.

McKinley High's glee club bonds with a group performance of Bill Withers' "Lean on Me."


Requesting "Glee": Encore for review was a no-brainer for me. It would be fast, easy, and different to review and,
being part of the "Glee" universe, certain to be noticed by readers. From that standpoint, I appreciate this disc. From a consumer's point of view, though, I'm not sure I see the value in a selective collection of Season 1 musical highlights. It is no substitute for the Complete First Season set, which currently sells for twice as much but in time is sure to be even closer in price. And I'm not sure how, if at all, this beats the Glee Music Jukebox feature on there. Maybe if it fit all of the season's numbers on one disc. As is, who's to say most Gleeks will be pleased with the quarter of the performances chosen here? But then, if the sales numbers are strong (and as of now, they definitely are), who can dispute the demand for and therefore supply of such a release?

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Buy The Complete First Season: DVD, Blu-ray / Buy The Complete Second Season: DVD, Blu-ray

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Reviewed April 21, 2011.

Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2009-10 Brad Falchuk Teley-vision, Ryan Murphy Productions, 20th Century Fox Television, and 2011 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
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