Sunday, September 06, 2009

TV: Ugly wallpaper

Is there anything worse than summer repeats? We honestly thought the answer had to be "just 'reality' TV." Turns out there was a great deal worse and we only had to check out Fox to find it.


No, we don't need to say, "Excuse us."


That is the term for what Fox aired last week. On Friday, we caught Glee's tweet-peat.

What's a tweet-peat?

It's a repeat. Made even more annoying via Twitter messages on the screen.

No, it's not like Pop Up Video -- though it owes a debt to that VH1 show. Pop Up Video still let you see most of the image. Not so with a tweet-peat.

And let's be clear that it wasn't just an annoying crawl at the bottom of the screen like you were watching CNN. No, this popped up all over the screen and was most irritating during Cory Monteith's big scene. Yeah, he was singing but that's not why anyone was watching. He was in the locker room shower. A network that doesn't have the brains to stop the annoying squares all over the screen during the big shower scene is a network that will most likely fumble teen appeal.

Teen appeal is really all the show has. There are a lot of freaks who will like it. The ones who thought, for example, that Joss Whedon showed real talent with an all singing episode of Buffy. Teen appeal means that Monteith plays high school quarterback Finn . . . despite the fact that he's 27-years-old. Apparently Jason Priestly was either already booked or else blew the audition.

Glee is yet another high school musical in a country you would think had had enough. Unlike the Disney franchise, these high schoolers only break into song when there's an audience around. That's supposed to pass for a more reality-based program. The creators like to tell everyone that the world is dark enough and they're just trying to bring a little razzle-dazzle into it. You'll have to take their word on it because this is a simplistic film stretched out into episodic TV. Translation, it's going to take many, many episodes for the gang to fix up the barn and Phil Silvers will have to wreck several of Judy Garland's tractors just to keep audiences awake between this Wednesday (season debut) and January.

Between song rehearsals, the characters attempt to ooze interest. Mainly they just come off wooden as if they're all working really hard not to upstage the production numbers. The adults have their conflicts. The kids have their pathos. If Peyton Place had been a musical, it would have been Glee.

Did we mention Finn's the quarterback? Did we mention his best friend Puck? Finn and Puck, pretty much like the entire student body -- or at least the ones with lines -- are White. Amber Riley plays large, African-American diva wanna be Mercedes Jones and Korean-American Jenna Ushkowitz plays Tina Cohen-Chang. Things are worse in the teacher's lounge where the only skin color is pale pink. America may have a bi-racial president but, on Fox, TV high schools haven't changed a great deal since The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

That show made Dwayne Hickman a star in 1959. Will Glee do the same with Cory Monteith?

Like Chad Michael Murray (already yesterday's faded pin-up), Monteith's nose appears to be missing its end point. So we really needed to see the bod. But we couldn't because we were stuck with these multiple balloons of text, filled with 'important' information, flooding the screen. Instead of being allowed to check out Monteith, we were forced to read ditherings like the following:

RT @ChrisColfer Paintballs hurt. Personal experience. #GLEE from web
RT @
Frankenteen @mrowjazz..on my break i'm learning how to surf and i like to go home and spend time in canada spend time with my roommates from web
RT @
MsAmberRiley One of the dancers got hurt and our choreographer had to stand in! #GLEE from web
RT @
ChrisColfer I'm pretty sure some of those dancer went to rehab after that dance. #GLEE from web
RT @
Frankenteen ohio knows how to dance! #GLEE from web
Isis_Nocturne DruidDUDE was here earlier for the east coast feed. from web in reply to Isis_Nocturne
RT @
MsAmberRiley I was dancing with them Waaaaay in the back, you just couldn't see me #GLEE

That's what makes it a tweet-peat and that's what makes it annoying as hell. The actors tweet brief little nothing strings of words that further distance you from an already non-engaging show.

Here's the reality on Cory Monteith: Not all that.

And "not all that" pretty much sums up Glee.

The show features the always worth watching Jane Lynch and, when it debuted last May, we heard so much praise for Lynch that we wrongly assumed she had an active role in the pilot. Blink and you miss her. The praise for Lynch's tiny role should be taken as an indication of how little the others offer.

Matthew Morrison is probably the most talented cast member after Lynch but he's saddled with a sad sack role and looks to be only a year older than his star pupil Finn -- in reality, Morrison is three years older than Monteith. If that doesn't have you rolling your eyes, Morrison's Will will. As the director of the glee club, Morrison's basically stuck with being 'inspiring' to his charges -- as though the producers were attempting to answer "Slap a penis on her!" to the musical question of "How do you solve a problem like Maria?"

When not 'inspiring' his charges, Will is in a troubled marriage with a woman who's maxing out their credit card at Pottery Barn. Apparently, avoiding that bad world the rest of us live in also means acting as though the country wasn't in the midst of an economic meltdown? Money is briefly a concern to Will when his wife tells him she's pregnant. At which point, he nearly gives up glee club to 'buckle down'. Hearing the kids sing "Don't Stop Believing" convinces him there are worse things in life than struggling for money and we're pretty sure that's been the case with nearly every Journey song.

Prince once sang, "Everybody wants to find Graffiti Bridge." If he'd been watching Friday's tweet-peat of Glee, we think he might have discovered it. He would not, however, have heard his own song. That's because despite ten songs being performed in the hour, none were by Prince or, for that matter, any person of color. When you add that together with the White creators and the miniscule number of characters of color in this public school it all sounds like "White Flight Tonight." Turn this crazy bird around.


"This Flight Tonight," which contains the lyric "turn this crazy bird around," is a Joni Mitchell song that first appears on her classic Blue album.
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