Monday, October 04, 2010

TV Guide's Matt Roush answers Glee fans' questions!

Some GLEE fans sent in a few questions this week for Matt and he answered some of them. Interesting read!

Question: In a hyperactive summer TV season, my favorite show has been The Choir on BBC America. Initially advertised as a "real-life Glee", it was nothing of the sort to me. The only thing it had in common with Glee was groups of people singing. It wasn't slick or flashy, and the teenagers singing weren't 20something actors playing teenagers. I have enjoyed all three series and was just wondering if this show has been received well enough in the U.S. for any producers and network execs to put plans in motion for an American version. I seem to remember some choir competition shows being aired before, but nothing like this that shows a choirmaster like Gareth Malone building choirs from scratch. I have teared up nearly every week watching these decidedly ordinary folks come together to amaze themselves, their families, their communities and schools, and us with their efforts and achievements. It has been hard to get back into the fevered show choir fantasy of Glee after this affecting look into the real world of choral singing. — Frank

Matt Roush: Let's not use The Choir to beat up on Glee, OK? Both live in very different TV worlds, and if there's any reason to compare them, it's because both are aspirational in nature (even Glee, if you can look past its gaudy and often aggravating excess). Both series are among the best things to happen to boost the image of arts education in ages. But The Choir is absolutely among the most emotionally affecting highlights of this TV year, and I'd love for everyone to experience it. (Hoping it will be released on DVD soon for those who don't get BBC America.) I haven't heard of any stateside producers adapting the concept, but if there's a Gareth Malone of our own out there helping some American community or school find its voice in song, I hope some documentarian can capture that experience with the same care and love the Choir filmmakers achieved. The Choir is more of a docu-series than an actual reality show, and took quite some time and effort to produce, so it's hard to know where in our current disposable reality climate this would fit in. (Given that channels like A&E and Bravo long ago abandoned higher culture in pursuit of ratings.)

Question: I want to state that I am a very patient, loyal and forgiving fan of a lot of shows, but I am very irritated with the new season of Glee. It seems like Ryan Murphy is going out of its way to alienate viewers just like he did with Nip/Tuck after a couple seasons. I watched all of the first season of Glee, and I understand that it was creatively inconsistent, but the show never bothered me until now. The Britney Spears episode seemed to really show everything that is wrong with Glee. The episode made little narrative sense, jumped from one tone to another, and continued to make characters more insufferable (Sue, Rachel and especially Mr. Shue). Sue's attempt in the premiere to derail the new football coach by accusing her of molesting Brittany was low even by Sue standards. And the whole "Toxic" auditorium scene was one of the most cringe-worthy Glee moments to date. Give me more Quinn and Puck! Thank you for letting me rant. — Adam

Matt Roush: Even at its recent worst — and I think the season opener's abuse of the new coach was among the series' low points — Glee has a way to go before it hits the depths of latter-year Nip/Tuck. I understand the frustration when the show fails to live up to the very high expectations of its hype, but for all the Glee backlash out there, I tend to throw back this question: Would you really prefer the TV landscape not to have a Glee in it? For all of its obvious flaws, I can't imagine the answer being yes. That said, I agree the first two episodes were not Glee at its best, and while I enjoyed some of the musical sequences in the Britney episode (and loved Heather Morris' work throughout), it was almost shockingly formless. But this week's episode, which tackles matters of religion and faith as the club rallies around one of its own during a personal crisis, is Glee at its best. It's manipulative to be sure, but cuts to the emotional core in the way only a musical can sometimes do. What I love about Glee is that it elicits such passionate responses, pro and con, from its admirers and detractors. No middle ground here. And from where I sit, there's too much middle ground on TV everywhere you look, so (this week anyway) God bless Glee.