Good news on the "Glee" front. The show is definitely building on the promise of its pilot, which Fox sneak-peeked back in May.
And that's good news for Fox, which is putting everything it has into the launch of the series in September (regional screenings, contests, Internet vid-sharing sites, etc.).
Studio 20th Century Fox TV is eager to show off "Glee." So much so they invited a few dozen TV scribes to the lot on Wednesday for a screening of two more episodes. The segs went by quickly, complemented by a generous spread of popcorn, cookies and fruit salad.
Without giving away any plot points, it's great to see that the key characters are settling into their skin nicely, and the nifty production touches that made the pilot feel so fresh are still working, at least for me. And "Glee" deftly balances the soapy elements with laugh-out-loud moments.
At times the show can be downright saccharine, but somehow in the context of the material it mostly works. By the past standards of series co-creator Ryan Murphy, it's light and not terribly edgy, though there are signs that things may take a darker turn down the road apiece. The skewering of the holier-than-thou hypocrisy of the teen abstinence movement continues apace, with devilishly funny results.
A criticism so far is that some key characters are still pretty two-dimensional and verging on caricature.
Perhaps the show's biggest asset is its fresh-faced cast (they're good enough to overcome the fact that few of them look remotely high school age). Jane Lynch is the most well-known of the bunch, and needless to say she nails it every time she's on screen. And they're finding plenty to do with her character, the maniacal cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester who has it in for Matthew Morrison's Will Schuester, the earnest English teacher who dedicates himself to reviving the school's glee club, the source of his greatest triumph during his own years as a student at McKinley High School. (Lynch and Morrison pictured above at a "Glee" screening in May at Santa Monica High School.)
Lea Michele (pictured in purple with co-star Dianna Agron), who plays the over-achieving and ultra-ambitious Rachel Berry, continues to impress -- that girl can sing, as anyone who saw her in "Spring Awakening" can attest. Chris Colfer, who plays the music-loving closeted gay teen Kurt, gets a good showcase in an early episode, with Mike O'Malley as his dad.
The music selections in the upcoming segs are bouncy and fun -- including Kanye West's "Gold Digger" and Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)." Which means that Fox is not scrimping on the show. The music rights budget on "Glee" must be almost as much as the entire budget of some cable series.
The "Glee" express begins Sept. 16.