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GLEE ($70) was definitely one of the darlings of the 2009-2010 broadcast season- a new television series that was watched, talked about and hyped during its freshman year. Heck, the season one of the show even garnered an impressive twenty Emmy Award nominations- ultimately taking home four. So is GLEE worthy of all the hype and praise… that would have to be a resounding YES! A mixture of genres, GLEE is comedy-drama and musical all rolled into one smart little entertainment package. There really is a deceptive charm about GLEE; the series takes tried and true character types and situations and then places its own feel good spin on them, something that really pulls one into the series and leaves one looking forward to more.

GLEE is set at the fictional William McKinley High School in Lima, Ohio. After the former faculty advisor for the school’s Glee Club is let go, Spanish teacher and former alumni Will Schuester decides to take over the position. When Will was a student at McKinley, Glee ruled the school and he hopes to restore it to its former glory- however, Will faces a number of challenges. First of all, budget cuts leave him without the necessary funding to get the school’s show choir renamed "New Directions" off the ground. Second, Glee’s initial roster of talent consists of the school’s social outcasts, which makes it difficult to attract additional talent. Third is Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch), the cutthroat head coach of McKinley High’s financially successful "Cheerios" cheerleading squad, who will squash anyone the tries to steal her thunder… including Will and Glee.

McKinley High’s initial Glee roster consists of the following: Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) is the most driven member of the glee club, who sees the club as a stepping-stone to fame. Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) is the glee club’s male soprano, whose flamboyance makes him a target for the school’s football team. Mercedes Jones (Amber Riley) is a diva in the making, who has issues with singing backup in the glee club. Artie Abrams (Kevin McHale) is a paraplegic, but it doesn’t diminish his desire to perform. Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz) is the glee club’s resident Goth, who is trying to overcome a speech impediment with singing. Needing to expand the roster, Will uses a bit of chicanery to convince McKinley High’s star quarterback Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) to join glee, after hearing him sing in the shower. With the addition of Finn, and some other bits of wrangling, other students join the glee club much to the ire of Sue Sylvester. The season one cast of GLEE also features Dianna Agron, Jessalyn Gilsig, Jayma Mays, Mark Salling, Naya Rivera, Heather Morris, Mike O'Malley, Harry Shum Jr., Iqbal Theba, Dijon Talton, Josh Sussman, Patrick Gallagher, Max Adler, James Earl, Jonathan Groff, Stephen Tobolowsky and Idina Menzel. Look for a couple of wonderful guest appearances from Kristin Chenoweth, as a fallen member of the Glee Club from its heyday.

GLEE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON ($70) comes to Blu-ray in a four-disc set that features the following twenty-two episodes that were aired during year one: Pilot, Showmance, Acafellas, Preggers, The Rhodes Not Taken, Vitamin D, Throwdown, Mash-Up, Wheels, Ballad, Hairography, Mattress, Sectionals, Hell-O, The Power Of Madonna, Home, Bad Reputation, Laryngitis, Dream On, Theatricality, Funk and Journey.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made all twenty-two episodes that comprise GLEE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON available on Blu-ray Disc in 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentations that have been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. GLEE is a very, very good-looking show that comes with highly pleasing 1080p presentations, which are certain to tickle fans. Image sharpness and detail is usually very good, but some softness creeps into the image in places, giving the series a slight visual unevenness. Of course, some of it is related to stylistic choice, so the Blu-rays really can’t be faulted. Close-ups generally deliver the most finely detailed images, with makeup and blemishes on the actors’ skin becoming evident. Also the level of dimensionality waivers a bit, but is usually quite good. Color reproduction really shines, with many bright theatrical hues being perfectly rendered. Blacks are accurate and the whites are crisp. Contrast and shadow detail are usually just a fine for a television level production, but there are some moments where shadowy elements drop off into the abyss. There are no noticeable defects in the source materials. Some grain/noise is present in the image, with some instances appearing heavier than others.

All of the episodes that comprise GLEE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON are presented on Blu-ray Disc with 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. The lossless soundtracks are greatly appreciated on this set, as they enhance the wonderful musical numbers contained in each episode. Sonically, GLEE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON delivers musical goods and the high quality of the musical component will be of primary interest to fan. Of course, the music tends to be the only element to take full advantage of the lossless encode, as the sound design falls back into the talky comedy-drama mode whenever the singing stops. As expected, the sound is front heavy during the talky passages, but becomes more enveloping whenever there is music and singing. Speaking voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but English, French and Spanish and Portuguese subtitles are provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard episode selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off is Behind The Pilot: A Visual Commentary With The Cast And Crew (requires a Profile 1.1 player). For those enamored with the music, the Blu-ray offers a Glee Music Jukebox, plus Glee Sing-Along Karaoke. Featurettes and other programs include: Staying In Step With Glee (six minute), Bite Their Style: Dress Like Your Favorite Gleek (nine minute), Unleashing The Power Of Madonna (ten minute), Making Of A Showstopper (seventeen minute), Welcome To McKinley! (five minute), Fox Movie Channel Presents: Casting Session/Glee (twelve minutes), Deconstructing Glee with Ryan Murphy (two minutes), Jane Lynch A To Glee (three minute). Other features include Full Length Audition Pieces, Meet Jane Lynch, Five Things You Didn‘t Know About Jayma, Seven Things You Didn‘t Know About Cory, Six Things You Didn‘t Know About Amber, Seven Things You Didn’t Know About Chris, Video Diaries and Glee Music Video.

GLEE is the feel good charmer of the 2009-2010 broadcast season. Like the episodes themselves, the Blu-ray presentations are crowd pleasers. Very highly recommended.


Glee: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] (2010)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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