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Glee - The Complete First Season DVD review

REVIEWS - TV

The show Aaron hates to love is back, all-new, next Tuesday. But for now, the story so far...

Glee: The Complete First Season

Last December, to capitalize on the runaway success of the first thirteen episodes of Glee, Fox released a boxed set containing those episodes and a chunk of extras. This money-printing machine was to tide the new show’s legion of fans over until April, when the back nine would broadcast, followed by second and third sets comprised of the remaining episodes and the whole season, respectively, poised for release a week to the day before the second season begins.

The result? No commentary tracks and a bunch of stuff we’ve already seen.

Discs one through four are exactly the same as last year’s half-season money-grab, just with new labels. I expected this, but since I never checked out that set, I didn’t know that 85% of that material was the promo stuff available for months on Hulu, gratis. Most of the people who would be interested in these shorts (and I mean shorts) have already seen them, making me beyond glad I didn’t bother with the first box. Disc seven redeems the set a bit in that I hadn’t seen any of this stuff and it was focused more on actual behind-the-scenes footage and information, rather than the sort of half-assed pre-air promo-mongering from the first go-around.

Disc Four

Principal Figgins!“Welcome to McKinley” - An in-universe clip featuring Principal Figgins, the school’s perpetually harried headmaster, welcoming incoming freshmen and giving them a quick tour of the few classroom sets the show uses. It’s kind of interesting in its purposeful stiltedness and high school a/v club-level production, despite this being made by the same club which would later turn out a professional-caliber recreation of the “Vogue” music video.

Glee Music Video” - A pre-season promo reel set to a short version of Nude Erections’ performance of “Somebody to Love” from episode five. It sets up the main romantic entanglements and features the club as it stood near the beginning of the series, functioning as a sort of trailer for the show.

“Full Length Audition Pieces” - I’m not entirely sure what they meant by “full length” since Mercedes’ clip only has about forty-five seconds of singing. These are the in-character auditions for Rachel (“On My Own”) and Mercedes (“Respect”). Strangely, Kurt’s note-holding on “Mr. Cellophane” and Tina’s version of “I Kissed a Girl” are missing from this section.

“Fox Movie Channel Presents Casting Session: Glee” - Another promo reel, this one featuring interviews with producers and execs about how the show came together, not just the casting, focusing on Rachel, Finn and Kurt. One of the better shorts on the set, and one I hadn’t seen already, it includes actual audition footage from the actors - what I thought the previous section was going to be. It’s interesting, seeing what these people did to get on what is now a massive success, but there should’ve been more of it.

“Deconstructing Glee with Ryan Murphy” - Yet another pre-air promo, retreading much of the information of the previous clip, but featuring different footage.

“Dance Boot Camp” - A promo clip about the importance of dance on the show with squirtlets of an interview with Zach Woodlee, the lead choreographer.

Jane Lynch in 'Glee'“Jane Lynch from A to Glee” and “Meet Jane Lynch” - Two particularly short promos more about Sue than Jane.

“Things You Didn’t Know About...” - A few of the online reels featuring Jayma Mays, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley and Chris Colfer listing facts about themselves into a camera at a promotional appearance near the beginning of the series. Conspicuously missing are the rest, since most of the cast did these and they were available for a decent stretch of time on Hulu.

“Video Diaries” - A collection of eight mini-docs shot by the cast members themselves on flip cameras while they went to New York for the annual Fox Fellation Fest. One of the more interesting extras, showing the actors, some of whom are coming home and others visiting the city for the first time.

Disc Seven

Glee Sing Along Karaoke” - “Alone,” “Somebody to Love,” “Keep Holding On,” and “Don’t Stop Believin’” with the lead vocals dropped out of the mix and the lyrics on screen, straight-up karaoke-style.

“Staying in Step with Glee” - A six minute dance tutorial for Vocal Adrenaline’s performance of “Rehab” from the first episode. Pretty cool if you’re into that sort of thing.

“Bite Their Style: Dress Like Your Favorite Gleek” - A design short with costumers Lou Eyrich and Jennifer Eve. Ostensibly designed to teach anyone who cares how to dress like Rachel, Kurt, Mercedes and Quinn, but really serves as an in-depth analysis of the costumers’ process for dressing the characters. None of the costumes they buy/build in this clip were on the show, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for them starting next week in season two.

“Unleashing the Power of Madonna” - Kisses Madonna’s ass pretty forcefully, but eventually goes into decent detail about the making of the show’s first single-artist episode.

“Making of a Showstopper” - A behind-the-scenes look at the work that went into Vocal Adrenaline’s performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody” from the season finale. Pretty good, but I would’ve liked if the last six minutes were the number without the intercutting of Quinn’s labor instead of just cutting and pasting the song straight from the episode.

Mama mia...

Discs five through seven feature a “Glee Music Jukebox” - the musical numbers from each episode in a list so viewers can watch just the performances. Actually pretty convenient if you’re looking for a specific song. The first batch of discs don’t have this feature because Fox chintzed out and recycled the previous boxed set, which is really too bad.

This being the DVD version of the set, the picture is quite good for what it is, and the sound is clear, but the surround weak - though the stereo mix is damn good, little comes from the back channels. The show itself is hit and miss, with very little internal continuity, extremely faulty logic, an uneven tone and a tendency to ignore its own rules. That being said, it adds up to a series unlike anything else on television and features Emmy-winning directing and acting (Jane Lynch and Neil Patrick Harris).

In all, the set is useful for its collection of all the episodes under one roof and the second batch of extras almost makes up for what is a cop-out in terms of content. If you’re a fan of the show and have no interest or capability to acquire the episodes digitally (i.e. through iTunes or Amazon), this set is a better deal than purchasing the two halves separately, which Fox is sure to do again this coming season.

Grades

Show: B
Picture: B+
Sound: A-
Disc Four Extras: D+
Disc Seven Extras: B

Glee: The Complete First Season is out now.

Glee at Shadowlocked

 

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