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"Glee" The Complete First Season DVD Review - Page 2 of 2

Glee: The Complete First Season DVD cover art - buy from Amazon.com Glee: Season One (2009-10)
Show & DVD Details

Creators/Writers: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Ian Brennan / Directors: Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Elodie Keene, Paris Barclay, John Scott, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Regular Cast: Dianna Agron (Quinn Fabray), Chris Colfer (Kurt Hummel), Jessalyn Gilsig (Terri Schuester), Jane Lynch (Sue Sylvester), Jayma Mays (Emma Pillsbury), Kevin McHale (Artie Abrams), Lea Michele (Rachel Berry), Cory Monteith (Finn Hudson), Matthew Morrison (Will Schuester), Amber Riley (Mercedes Jones), Mark Salling (Noah "Puck" Puckerman), Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina Cohen-Chang), Naya Rivera (Santana Lopez), Heather Morris (Brittany)

Recurring Characters: Iqbal Theba (Principal Figgins), Patrick Gallagher (Ken Tanaka), Mike O'Malley (Burt Hummel), Jonathan Groff (Jesse St. James), Harry Shum Jr. (Mike Chang), Dijon Talton (Matt Rutherford), Josh Sussman (Jacob Ben Israel), Idina Menzel (Shelby Corcoran), Kristin Chenoweth (April Rhodes), Stephen Tobolowsky (Sandy Ryerson), Bill A. Jones (Rod Remington), Romy Rosemont (Carole Hudson), Max Adler (Dave Karofsky), James Earl (Azimio), Olivia Newton-John (Herself), Josh Groban (Himself), Molly Shannon (Brenda Castle), Eve (Gracie Hitchens), Charlotte Ross (Judy Fabray), Lauren Potter (Becky Jackson)

Notable Guest Stars: Victor Garber (Mr. Schuester), Gregg Henry (Russell Fabray), Sarah Drew (Suzy Pepper), Zack Weinstein (Sean Fretthold), Neil Patrick Harris (Bryan Ryan)

Running Time: 974 Minutes (22 episodes) / Rating: Not Rated

1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French, Portuguese
Closed Captioned; Extras Not Captioned or Subtitled
Release Date: September 14, 2010; Season 1 Airdates: May 19, 2009 - June 8, 2010
Seven single-sided, dual-layered discs (DVD-9s); Clear Keepcase with Cardboard Slipcover
Suggested Retail Price: $59.98; Also available on Blu-ray Disc ($69.99 SRP),
in Gleek DVD Giftset with Journal ($59.99 SRP), and in Season, Volume 1: Road to Sectionals
and Season 1, Volume 2: Road to Regionals DVDs ($39.98 SRP each)

Buy Glee from Amazon.com:
Season 1 DVD • Season 1 Blu-ray • Season 1 DVD Giftset with Journal • Season 1, Volume 1 DVD • Season 1, Volume 2 DVD • Season 2 DVD • Season 2 Blu-ray

 
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For their first real date, Will and Emma (Jayma Mays) spend the evening dancing in Will's living room. Olivia Newton-John and Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) get physical for a remake of Olivia's signature '80s hit.

Disc 5

14. Hell-O (45:52) (Originally aired April 13, 2010)
Rachel takes a liking to Jesse, the lead singer of a rival group. Will and Emma start their new relationship on some rocky ground.

15. The Power of Madonna (45:01) (Originally aired April 20, 2010)
Sue's devotion to Madonna gives Will the idea to theme their week around the artist. Rachel, Finn, and Emma all face dilemmas in their respective relationships.

16. Home (44:57) (Originally aired April 27, 2010)
To get closer to Finn, Kurt attempts to get his father and Finn's mother together. Will runs into April again, which has both positive and negative effects on his life and the club.

17. Bad Reputation (43:55) (Originally aired May 4, 2010)
When a list of the Glee Club's most promiscuous members surfaces, Principal Higgins demands either the culprit expelled or the group disbanded. A private video of Sue's ends up online and makes her a laughingstock.

Shelby (Idina Menzel) and Rachel (Lea Michele) express their common anguish over fighting for their life's goals in "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Miserables." The season comes full circle with New Directions finally performing Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" for an audience at Regionals.

Disc 6

18. Laryngitis (43:56) (Originally aired May 11, 2010)
Rachel begins to have a meltdown after discovering that she's losing her voice. Puck decides to date Mercedes in order to climb back up the social ladder.

19. Dream On (Originally aired May 18, 2010)
A high school rival of Will's turns up as a member of the school board and threatens to shut down Glee Club.
Rachel confesses what her dream actually is and makes up her mind to get it.

20. Theatricality (43:56) (Originally aired May 25, 2010)
The musical theme for the week is Lady Gaga, which the guys (other than Kurt) aren't too thrilled about. Kurt's efforts to get closer to Finn hit a major roadblock.

Disc 7

21. Funk (42:32) (Originally aired June 1, 2010)
Vocal Adrenaline harasses and pranks the group, which inspires varying responses from each member. Will uses flirting tactics on Sue to bring her down.

22. Journey to Regionals (43:56) (Originally aired June 8, 2010)
The showdown between New Directions and Vocal Adrenaline has arrived, but not without its share of drama. Sue is revealed to be one of the judges, and Quinn goes into labor that very day.

Sue (Jane Lynch) gets a Madonna makeover and the chance to perform "Vogue" for Kurt and Mercedes' project. The New Direction girls (and Kurt) perform "Bad Romance" for their Lady Gaga theme, something the other guys aren't too keen on experiencing for themselves.

VIDEO and AUDIO

"Glee" comes to DVD in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio of its high-definition broadcasts. The transfers on display here are very good. The show features a bright, saturated color scheme that's replicated well. A few shots with colored lighting exhibit some noise, but these are infrequent. Sharpness is relatively strong throughout, with only a bit of softness spotted in some medium shots. Compression artifacts are kept to a minimum, and the image is expectedly clean. The transfers aren't excellent, but they're pretty rock solid.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks likewise satisfy. The series starts off relatively timid, focusing mostly on the front of the sound field even during musical numbers. As Season One progresses, though, broader and more directional mixing is implemented that better gives off the feeling of being surrounded by music in a concert hall. Dialogue is clear and intelligible, though sound effects are pretty muted. It's about as good as one would expect from a television series, perhaps a bit better thanks to the later mixes of songs.

Principal Figgins (Iqbal Theba) welcomes you, naοve and unsuspecting eighth grader, to the seemingly perfect McKinley High. Artie gets his rock on with the help of giant keyword lyrics in the "Somebody to Love" Glee music video. The entire one-take performance of Mercedes' (Amber Riley) "Respect" glee club audition is presented on the DVD.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The first bonus feature is "Welcome to McKinley!" (5:02). Here, actor Iqbal Theba reprises his role as Principal Figgins in an introductory video aimed at eighth graders planning on attending McKinley High.
It's an amusingly stilted and whitewashed presentation of the school compared to how it really is on the show, making this a fun piece.

Next is a "Glee Music Video" (2:45). This presents the group's version of Queen's "Somebody to Love" while large lyrics and promotional footage play out. The interstitials stitched together here do a decent job at marketing the different characters and their relationships, but there's little more to see here than that.

"Full Length Audition Pieces" contains two supplements, but they're not what you think. Instead of presenting actual audition pieces from the cast members themselves, this contains two unedited numbers from the characters in the pilot episode. These are Rachel's "On My Own" (3:36) from Les Misιrables and Mercedes' take on Aretha Franklin's "Respect" (0:58). While it's nice to see these numbers in full, actual audition footage of the cast members trying out for the show would've been far more fascinating.

Lea Michele's audition tape is among those briefly featured in "Fox Movie Channel Presents Casting Session." Creator/writer/director/producer Ryan Murphy discusses the purpose of songs in the narrative as we see B-roll footage of the actors rehearing. "Dance Boot Camp" features choreographer Zach Woodlee coaching the lead actors on how to move.

The closest we come to that is via "Fox Movie Channel Presents Casting Session" (11:58). Most of the main actors offer short sound bites on how they found out about the show and what they did to audition. Tantalizingly brief snippets of their audition tapes are shown between these and crew member sound bites. While some of the footage and tidbits are fascinating, most of the comments are pretty surface-level.

"Deconstructing 'Glee' with Ryan Murphy" (2:49) is a promotional piece with Ryan Murphy, who serves his creation as a triple threat (writer, producer, and director). Murphy discusses the genesis of the show and his goals, explaining some of the creative choices made the series. Despite the brevity, a few good notes manage to turn up here.

Another online promotional featurette arrives in the form of "Dance Boot Camp" (3:12). Choreographer Zach Woodlee talks about the rehearsal process while some of the actors reveal how much dancing experience they've had. There are some nice behind the scenes shots, but the glossiness of the remarks make this rather disappointing.

No, Jane Lynch isn't listing her favorite desserts; she's reciting her very first acting scene in "Jane Lynch A to Glee." We discover fact #5 about Jayma Mays: she eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every single day, which the producers helpfully illustrate for us. In Chris Colfer's video diary, he performs the "Glee" loser L for Kevin McHale since no poster was ever made of him with that pose.

"Jane Lynch A to Glee" (0:51) is a cute, quick blip with Lynch in the make-up chair recalling the very first lines she ever performed as an actress.

"Meet Jane Lynch" (1:04) has the actress speak briefly about her character Sue as she compares and contrasts herself to the role. It's too quick and rudimentary to really offer anything.

A series of "Things You Don't Know About..." clips follow. These include ones for Jayma Mays (0:40), Cory Monteith (1:01), Amber Riley (0:58), and Chris Colfer (0:42).
All present random facts about the actors in question straight from their own mouths. It's kind of a fun and diverting way to meet the cast.

The Disc 4 supplements end with eight "Video Diaries" (17:10). Among the participants are Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, Cory Monteith, Kevin McHale, Amber Riley, Chris Colfer, Dianna Agron. All take place during the cast's trip to New York as we get to see some of their busy schedules and other antics. While this is certainly a fluff feature, seeing the cast interacting with each other off-set is entertaining enough to make this the most memorable of the set's features.

The remaining bonus features appear on Disc 7 and replicate those found on the concurrently-released Volume 2: Road to Regionals set.

Choose to sing "Somebody to Love" with or without Rachel in the Glee Karaoke feature. In "Staying in Step with Glee," choreographers Zach Woodlee and Brooke Lipton break down Vocal Adrenaline's "Bohemian Rhapsody" dance. Costume designer Lou Eyrich holds up an ensemble she feels would suit Kurt perfectly in "Bite Their Style: Dress Like Your Favorite Gleek."

The disc's supplements start with "Glee Sing Along Karaoke" (10:19). While most DVDs call simple sing-alongs "karaoke", here we get the real deal. You can turn the vocals on or off while following the on-screen lyrics, making this a true karaoke and much more interesting than usual. The numbers included are "Alone," "Somebody to Love," "Keep Holding On," and "Don't Stop Believin'."

"Staying in Step with 'Glee'" (6:19) features choreographers Zach Woodlee and Brooke Lipton demonstrating a portion of Vocal Adrenaline's "Somebody to Love" dance routine. The two, along with two other pairs, break the dance down step by step, repeating them as they go. While a dance routine performed by the main cast would've been preferable, this is still a handy tutorial for those seeking to emulate Vocal Adrenaline.

Costume designer Lou Eyrich appears in "Bite Their Style: Dress Like Your Favorite Gleek" (8:52). She takes a look at the styles of Rachel, Kurt, Mercedes, and Quinn, explaining the character-driven wardrobe choices and demonstrating some examples. It's informative and surprisingly a lot more thorough than expected.

"Unleashing the Power of Madonna" holds comments from writer/director Brad Falchuk and others on the Madonna references scattered through the episode. Jonathan Groff and the rest of Vocal Adrenaline put on their best angry faces during rehearsals for "Bohemian Rhapsody."

"Unleashing the Power of Madonna" (10:36) takes a look at the Madonna-themed episode.
Most of the interviews merely mention what an inspiration Madonna is and what her songs really mean, leaving the featurette rather gushy. What helps save it are the useful comments that point out various visual and spoken Madonna references throughout the show.

The last feature on Disc 7 is "Making a Showstopper" (17:21), easily the meatiest supplement in the set. Breaking down the "Bohemian Rhapsody" number performed by Vocal Adrenaline in the season finale, crew members relay the creative process step by step. Everything from the recording booth to rehearsals to the actual filming is explained, and a surprising amount of honest notes (such as the accidents that occurred) make this compelling. Perhaps the only downside is that we see how much work goes into a Vocal Adrenaline song and not a New Directions one.

While not really a bonus feature so much as an alternate index, Discs 5-7 present Glee Jukeboxes. The option is given to access musical numbers on a respective disc individually, played consecutively, or in a random shuffle. Unfortunately, this playback feature was only just introduced, so a little more than half the set (the four discs taken from the Season 1, Volume 1 DVD) goes without. The Blu-ray, however, does go back and provide the feature on the first 13 episodes.

While the list of bonus features looks impressive, they really don't add up to a great deal due to their promotional nature. This would've been easier to forgive were it not for a glaring omission: deleted songs. Several songs recorded and later cut out appeared on various "Glee" soundtrack compilations. Among these are "Don't Make Me Over" by Dionne Warwick (sung by Mercedes), and "Hello Twelve, Hello Thirteen, Hello Love" from A Chorus Line (sung by Rachel and Jesse). Other songs like "The Impossible Dream" from Man of La Mancha (sung by Will) and Fergie's "Fergalicious" (by Kurt and Mercedes) are still listed in some episode guides from Fox despite their absence. It's unclear how many were filmed (there are eight numbers that either made it onto the soundtracks only or have yet to be heard, period). Even if these were all excised before filming began, including the audio would lend some value to the set, especially with intros putting them into context. Why none of these show up is anyone's guess, but it's certainly a missed opportunity.

Disc One opens with promos for Fame and Flicka 2 while Disc Two holds trailers for Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and My One and Only.

Each disc's main menu features rotating Brady Brunch-ish squares with colorful character headshots.

The main menus all feature colorful cast member portraits in individual boxes that constantly rotate to reveal other characters. The submenus show static promo images of character set against various McKinley High settings.

"Glee" comes in a clear keepcase with three swinging trays for the first six discs (disc seven in placed on the interior case itself). The clear nature of the packaging allows for the artwork to be double-sided, revealing disc breakdowns and promo images inside. Pamphlets for "Glee" merchandise are included, and a simple cardboard slipcover slips over the casing.

Sue (Jane Lynch) and Will (Matthew Morrison) are all smiles while in Principal Figgins' office, but the bloodbath will soon commence afterwards. Will's new a capella group, the Acafellas show off what they could do at the school's faculty meeting of all places.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

While it's surprising to see "Glee" connect with so many people, the show is certainly not undeserving of all the love it gets. The writing is sharp and unique, the balance of comedy and drama is even, and the many musical numbers are performed with gusto. Fox's DVD presents very good video and audio, though the fluffy nature of most of the supplements disappoint, especially without any deleted songs or commentaries (which the Blu-ray receives for the pilot). Still, Gleeks are encouraged to pick this up, and those not yet on the bandwagon are encouraged to at least rent it and see if any they find the show's enthusiasm contagious.

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Reviewed September 29, 2010.



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