So, watching this first episode takes me back. I know that's silly seeing as how it only aired 6 years ago but my god, the quality, the humour, the characters, everything is just great here and it just brings me back to the first time I watched it and how happy it made me feel. I watch a lot of different shows for a lot of different reasons but there are very few shows out there that just make me happy to watch them, where I'd get just pumped to see the next episode. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Freaks and Geeks were that for me when I was a teen (Dawson's Creek was more of a guilty pleasure for me), then I had Pushing Daisies which was unfairly cancelled, and then I had Glee. It was not a genius show, it was not a thought-provoking show, it was just a show that made me happy and I don't think that's anything to sniff at. It takes a lot of work and a lot of heart to make something that makes others smile and just genuinely give them a good feeling. So let's cue up some Journey and take a look at the very first episode of Glee.
The very first episode actually starts out with the cheerleaders doing an extremely gruelling routine and then the glorious Sue Sylvester, in her prime snark days bellows at them:
|I was hooked|
With that utterance, I was reassured, much like with the first scene of Freaks and Geeks, that this would not be your typical teen show and I was instantly in love. The vibe of this show was very much adult when it first began, this was not a show geared towards younger crowds (though younger crowds would watch) and was actually pretty dark.
We then cut to our main character (which will definitely change over the course of the show) Will Schuester or Schue as he's usually referred to by the kids. He drives up happily in his beat up car and obliviously walks by some kids who are bullying a smaller kid. (Heh, look at me referring to adults playing teens as "kids") The two main kids doing the bullying are Finn and Puck while the kid being picked on is Kurt. Of course Schue asks Kurt if he's making new friends before happily telling Finn that he needs his Spanish homework and then rushing off to his classes, leaving poor Kurt behind to be dumped in the dumpster.
Kurt complains that his brand new Marc Jacobs' blazer will get ruined and so Finn takes pity on him enough that he lets Kurt take off his blazer and hand it to Finn before the rest of the jocks toss Kurt in the dumpster. How very...cruel/kind of you Finn.
|At least he does look a bit upset that he's a tool|
We see a lot of weird cuts that show off a day in the life of the McKinley High students and teachers, including Mr. Schue looking at a plaque of the old Glee Club coach, a cheerleader (Quinn) doing splits mid-air, Mr. Schue teaching his Spanish class to a bunch of bored students, including Finn, then to a random male cheerleader doing something cheerleader-y, and then to Sandy Ryerson (HOLY GOD I MISS THIS CRAZY ASS CHARACTER!!) teaching a song to a male student (Where is Love? from the musical Oliver!) and touching him rather inappropriately while our other main character, Rachel Berry watches, ticked off.
|Words cannot express how much I love Rachel|
We then cut to the teachers lounge where football coach Ken Tanaka complains to will about the principal getting rid of the coffee pot. Enter Sue, the Cheerios (the cheerleading team and I was not aware Cheerleaders got to have team names before this show...or after. Is that a thing?) coach with a tray of lattes for everyone. Sue is at her best here, a little snarky but not the cartoonish over the top villain that she soon becomes. Guidance counsellor Emma enters and asks what's up with the lattes. Sue explains that she felt bad about Principal Figgins getting rid of the teacher's coffee pot so that her Cheerios could have a nutritionist. I don't understand how an old coffee pot that the school already had pays for a nutrition coach but whatever, this show works in a beautiful, snarky, satirical world of its own. Emma snarks about Sue's Cheerios so Sue leaves but not before letting everyone know just how awesome she is and her response to Emma's snark is the best:
|I miss old Sue|
I love that line. Anyway, Emma informs everyone that Sandy Ryerson has been fired. Will immediately expresses concern over this fact...no I'm just messing with you, he's just worried about who will run the Glee club.
Will then immediately runs to Principal Figgins to declare that he'd like to take over Glee Club. Mr. Figgins informs Will that he has to pay $60 a month to run it because...reasons. I thought maybe it was for costumes and the like but Figgins tells Will that he has to use the costumes they already have so...I guess to rent the room? I don't really get how extracurriculars are run in US schools or maybe I just don't get how they work on this show.
So Will has agreed to pay $60 a month to coach Glee Club which just sounds weird. Isn't it just a volunteer thing? Whatever. Will explains to us via narration that he is going to have a hard time hiding the fact that he's pissing away $60 a month to coach Glee from his wife but that lack of communication in his marriage is less important than coming up with a new name for the club. He excitedly sits up in bed as he thinks of the thrilling new name that is supposed to inspire students and get them to want to join:
Actually it's New Directions and we cut to a montage of the different kids signing up. We have our resident sassy black character, Mercedes, who auditions with (what else?) Aretha Franklin's Respect. Next we see Kurt, the kid who got dumped into a dumpster at the beginning, sign up and he auditions with Mr. Cellophane from Chicago. Then Tina signs up and auditions with Katy Perry's I Kissed a Girl. Judging from her audition, I thought she'd be a pretty fun character.
|I was wrong, she's not interesting at all. This is pretty much the|
most interesting that she gets
Then we get to my absolute favourite character and while I mainly still watch the show for her, I forgot just how much fun she was at the beginning and why I rooted for her so much. She is a blast, completely full of herself, but driven and hilarious. Rachel signs her name on the sheet and auditions with, of course, On My Own from Les Miserables.
While she's singing, we get to hear her inner monologue and it's glorious. Her first lines are:
|I love this character|
And I fell in love. She's just so crazily ambitious and over the top that it works. She's not necessarily a good person but she's damn interesting and driven as hell. She wants the solo and dammit, she'll get it even if she has to get the current Glee coach fired to do it. Though she steadfastly denies those rumours. She totally only did it because Sandy was being inappropriate with the kid earlier, named Hank Saunders. She sobs as she recounts what she saw to Principal Figgins.
|See? Totally honestly concerned for her fellow students|
To be fair, it did look like Sandy was being inappropriate with Hank so I think that's why she can get away with being so conniving about this and still be likeable, at least to me. She further explains that she's not homophobic because she has two gay dads. They basically found a surrogate and then mixed their sperm together so that they wouldn't know who the actual dad was.
|Can you guess?|
This joke is funny but Arrested Development totally did it first:
|I feel like Butters yelling "Simpsons did it! Simpsons did it!" but with AD|
She then goes on to say that her Dads basically groomed her from a young age to be a star, it even shows young Rachel getting over enthusiastic in dance class. She goes on about how being famous is the most important thing in our culture right now, which is so true, and that to keep her talent alive and growing, she posts videos of herself singing on her...MySpace account. Really? Does anyone use that? I've only ever heard it being mentioned on TV but I've never actually heard someone in real life say that they have a MySpace account. So, wave hello to our sponsors kids. Don't worry MySpace, maybe if you get mentioned on TV a few more times, people will use you. No, they won't. Stop trying.
Anyway, Rachel is clearly passionate about singing and dedicated to getting herself out there. Of course, when you put yourself out there, you open yourself to mockery. This is illustrated by Quinn and her Cheerleading friends mocking Rachel online after she posts her video.
|Rachel has a sad|
Our tiny original glee club, consisting of Rachel, Artie, Tina, Kurt, and Mercedes, are rehearsing Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat and Rachel stops everyone to say how much they suck. Will silently agrees but vocally insists that they will get better if they rehearse more. Rachel criticizes the fact that Artie, a boy in a wheelchair, is singing lead in Sit Down You're Rocking the Boat and Artie explains that Mr. Schue was probably going for irony.
|Did I mention how much I love this character?|
As Sue degrades and mentally tortures her Cheerios, Mr. Schue tries to talk Rachel into sticking it out with Glee Club. Rachel says she's tired of being laughed at and wants to leave her mark on high school. She demands that Mr. Schue find her a suitable male lead that she can sing with or she'll quit Glee. Mr. Schue then gets called to the principal's office.
In Mr. Figgins' office, Will learns that the auditorium is going to be rented out to AA meetings so he has to cancel Glee Club. Will protests but.
|I think I want to make a counter on this because my god, does this|
line ever get overused in the early seasons. It's hilarious
Will argues that if his kids place at regionals, they can stay and if they don't, he'll give up the auditorium. Figgins' hands become untied, I guess, because he agrees to the terms but tells Will he has to work detention for free. I don't get American schools, do teachers get paid for every little thing they do for the school? In Canada, teachers are salaried so pretty much everything they do is already paid for and extracurriculars are on volunteer basis. Detention is always on your own time so if you feel like doling them out to your students, you stay with them. We never had a detention hall that was run at a specific time with a random teacher supervising. That's just weird to me.
Will breaks the news to his overbearing wife that he has to work late for the next few weeks so that Mr. Figgins won't kill Glee Club. Terri responds by whining because it's what she's good at. I kid, I actually kind of love her character. Yeah, she's awful but she at least has the courtesy to be funny and entertainingly awful. She's a character you're meant to hate which is where the comedy comes from so I have no problem with her at all. Also, can we take a moment to appreciate the awesomeness of Howard Bamboo?
|He's amazing and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise|
Will bumps into Sandy who tells him that he's essentially a drug dealer now and is super not pissed that he was let go because he's making hand over fist selling medicinal marijuana. He gives Will a sample packet of his own which will come into play later.
Will talks to Sue, Ken, and Emma about how to get more kids to sign up. Sue tells him he's out of luck because Glee kids are the lowest on the high school popularity rung, Emma tells him that Sue's right but that nothing is set in stone and kids will follow whoever is popular in whatever they do, Ken agrees to let Will talk to the football team about joining up if he puts in a good word for him with Emma.
Will appeals to the football team to sign up. Puck says he can sing but instead of singing, he lets a fart rip. Will looks defeated, especially when he check on his sign up list later and finds that it is full of joke names like "Butt Munch" and "Penis". He thinks that Glee Club is over, until he hears a guy singing
Will evilly and ingeniously, uses the weed that Sandy gave him to black mail Finn into joining Glee. It is horrible and manipulative and hilarious because you know this is a world that is not to be taken seriously. Finn readily agrees to join so that the drug bust doesn't appear on his record and you do feel a little bad for him because of how adamant (and truthful) he is being about the pot not being his.
Finn explains in his flashback/voice over, that his father died when he was young and that he's close with his mother. He heard music for the first time (figuratively not literally) when he was helping some lawn guy paint their grass green and they sang Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' by Journey. When the lawn guy left his mother for another girl, Finn vowed to make his mother proud of him so that she'd feel her sacrifices were worth it. Not sure what that implies, possibly that lawn guy didn't want the baggage of a child? Whatever. We cut back to the office with Will explaining that he'll let him off the hook with the pot thing and keep it off his record, if he joins glee. Cut to:
Rachel's face through this thing is priceless
Mercedes interrupts to shout about not being a back up but then backs down when everyone says that they sounded better. Mercedes accepts her place as Kelly Rowlands and consents to run it again as a backup singer. She gave up that fight fast.
Will tells Terri that he wants to take his Glee Club on a field trip to see their competition perform. Terri says she can't because she had to pick up an extra shift at Sheets N' Things because they are living paycheque to paycheque. Will throws down that a lot of that paycheque seems to be going to her Pottery Barn credit card. She pressures him to get a job at an accounting firm as it pays more but Will is adamant that his passion is for teaching. Terri snaps back that his interest in the kids hinges on his wanting to relive his glory days but that they are not in high school anymore and it is time for them to grow up. As spoiled as she is being, she's not entirely wrong here. Will is chiding her for spending extra money, when he is doing the same thing and to keep a Glee Club running that doesn't interest her at all. That's not fair of him to ask her to live a shitty life so that he can run a Glee Club. However, it's also not fair of her to run up charges on a credit card buying useless junk while also only working part-part time at a linen store. In short, they are both awful in this relationship and they should not be together.
Meanwhile, Will posts a sign up sheet for an extra chaperone for his glee related field trip. Naturally, Emma eagerly signs up. Much to Ken Tanaka's displeasure.
Finn tells Ken about the field trip he's taking with Glee Club and Ken spazzes out. Puck tries to ask Finn what's going on but Finn lies about having to miss practice because his mother's prostate is engorged.
Ken yells at Will about stealing his quarterback. Will says that Ken hates football and asks what he's really angry about. We flash to Ken being super creepy and making a case for why women have to lie about the fact that they have a boyfriend as he keeps pressuring Emma to go out with him. She tries to politely decline his offer but when he persists, she tells him she's not interested because she likes someone else. He responds the way you'd think an asshole who can't take a simple no for an answer would:
Ken doesn't tell Will about this but gloats that the herd will take care of this issue, basically saying that the other football players will pressure Finn into quitting.
Rachel nervously gushes to Finn about his supposed talent and the fact that everyone, read her, expects them to become an item. Finn quickly says that he has a girlfriend, Quinn Fabray. Rachel sad faces about the fact that he's dating a cheerleader and the captain of the celibacy club.
|Remember when she was super religious?|
Will and Emma split a sandwich while they wait for the show to start and Emma gets the inside scoop on Will's marital problems. Will confesses that he loves Terri and he used to like that he rode her hard (not a euphemism) but that lately he's been wondering what she wants him to be better at and that he feels like she only cares about money and that they are not on the same page. The lights dim before he can say anything else and the Carmel Glee Club, Vocal Adrenaline starts to perform. They sing Rehab by Amy Whinehouse and are amazing.
|Everyone sad pandas|
Outside, Puck and the rest of the football team are waiting for Finn and paintball him for skipping practice to go to a singing concert. Puck now knows that women don't have prostates because he looked it up and then orders the team to open fire at Finn.
Terri tells Will that she's pregnant which makes him insanely happy but also makes him decide to quit teaching and get a job at the accounting firm she told him about. He breaks the news to the Glee Club and assures them that he will find them another teacher to coach them. As he packs up his things, he sings Leaving on a Jet Plane by John Denver.
Emma overhears that Will is leaving and that it's because his wife is pregnant. Now, this part has always irked me, she then tells Will to meet her in the career centre for guidance for her. Then she proceeds to talk him out of leaving his teaching job to work in accounting. Now, you can interpret this as her wanting him to do what makes him happy, which I did during my first watch but when I see this scene now, it just feels icky. His wife is pregnant and he's trying to earn more money to provide for his family, which means leaving the job where he works with Emma, and Emma convinces him to stay because she has a crush on him. That's kind of selfish and unhealthy of her to do.
Rachel tries to convince Finn to stay in Gee because he has "talent" but he won't because since Will is leaving, why the fuck would he stay? She tries to tell him he's better than that but Finn refuses to join back up. At football practice, Puck refuses to apologize for what he did to Finn but says that he is glad he's back and not doing Glee anymore. To welcome him back, he's trapped Artie in a port-o-potty and offers Finn the chance to be the one to tip it over. Since Finn is not a completely worthless person, he refuses and instead lets Artie out. Puck asks Finn if this means he's quitting football to join "Homo Explosion" but Finn says that he's going to do both because the football team can't win without him and neither can Glee. Pretty bold statement from someone who is kind of a subpar singer.
Finn walks into Glee rehearsals and pretty much takes over but the kids seem to be happy about it. He asks them all to do their part to get the club going, Artie is to acquire instruments and band members to play, Mercedes is to get super cool costumes for everyone, Rachel is to do choreography, Tina is to be useless (as is usual in this show), Kurt is forgotten about (for now), and Finn has the song.
Emma shows Will a video of the 1996 show choir Nationals competition to convince him to stay. Again, I'm iffy on this one but her message is nice. That he has to decide what he wants to show his child, that money is most important or that the only life worth living is one that you're passionate about. I get this message, I really do but let me tell you, when you're an adult and paying bills, you quickly realize just how important money can be.
Cut to the glee club, Nude Erections, singing their most iconic number:
I've got to admit, even though I hate Journey, I couldn't help
but smile during this performance
Will sees them perform and is completely convinced to stay. He starts giving them directions and they ask if this means he's staying. He tells them that it would kill him to see them win nationals without him and tells them to take it from the top. End episode.
That was the very first episode of Glee and my god, the feels! So many great characters that are no longer around, so many of the cast that has not been ruined for me. So much fun music that doesn't feel like it's halting the plot to show me a music video. So much plot. This literally took me forever to recap because of how much was going on, I couldn't believe how much information they stuffed into one pilot episode and so effortlessly. It saddens me what the show has become but that is for later recaps.
This show is at its best being a satiric black comedy about high school life and it is definitely at its best here. The writing is snappy, funny, and engaging. Even though the characters are shitty people, they are so entertaining and engaging that you just don't care. I look forward to recapping the rest of this first season because, despite its flaws, it is an extremely fun and enjoyable show. I still can't watch the earlier episodes without getting a big grin on my face.
Stay tuned for the next Glee recap, Showmance which includes the best performance of all time.
|Of all time!|