Glee: 101, “Pilot”; May 19, 2009

Ah, I always love a tv show pilot with the title “Pilot”. I hope the pilot of airport-set “Wings” had “Pilot” as its title. That’d be funny.

But, ah, Glee. Such a weird show when you come down to it. It started off with such promise – no one had seen anything quite like it before. It wasn’t a huge hit when it had an early premiere in May 2009, but the show’s single version of “Don’t Stop Believin'” became HUGELY popular, and the show ended up being very popular during its official premiere in September that year. It quickly got picked up for a full season order, Fox ordered two additional seasons, “Don’t Stop Believin'” was played on every radio station every 15 minutes for five years… It was golden.

But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show get so awful so quickly. Usually it’s not until season 4 or 5 that things start to go sour, get a little stale, or lame. This show managed to become abruptly terrible in season 3, although some would argue it started in season 2 (and some say it was always terrible, but who cares about them?)

But, well, let’s leave all that sourness for later, and just start with the show that made us all love and then hate Journey: the pilot episode of Glee.

Actually, first of all, there are at least three different versions of the pilot. One is the one that was originally aired in May. Second is the Director’s Cut version that’s available on DVD, which had some additional scenes and one extra song. Third is the REAL Director’s cut, which has yet more additional scenes. I don’t know where people find that one, and I don’t care to look.

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20th Century Fox has a really awful habit of cancelling well-loved shows but then they leave shows that no one likes on. I’m pretty sure by now they’re probably regretting their decision to purchase a 6th season of Glee since the 5th season they bought at the same time is averaging around 2 million viewers per episode. NBC cancelled Welcome to the Family and Sean Saves the World and those both were getting upwards of 3 million viewers per episode. NBC has higher standards than Fox. Fox is a bigger Butt Monkey on the Fox network than an actual butt monkey would be. And there was at least one literal butt monkey at some point.

I am getting off-topic.

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We begin with some cheerleaders we will never see again practicing to a routine. You’ll notice they are on a football field. This is important to remember for later when their coach demands use of the auditorium for them to rehearse in.

Baby face, you've got the cutest little baby face~
Baby face, you’ve got the cutest little baby face~

12 year old Kurt Hummel is being bullied by the cool kids in the middle of the day. Spanish teacher (teacher of Spanish, not a teacher from Spain) Mr. Schuester sees this and does nothing. That is very much representative of all the instances of bullying on the show – nobody does anything.

Okay, it's HALF, actually.
Okay, it’s HALF of the club, actually.

This is the current Glee club. I don’t know where they’re rehearsing in, because the choir room that the later Glee club rehearses in doesn’t look anything like this.

*scare chords*
*scare chords*

Meanwhile in the teacher’s lounge, there’s no coffee because of budget cuts. Budget cuts that went to pay for stuff for the cheerleaders. Doe-eyed guidance counselor Emma objects to this, but cheer-leading coach Sue Sylvester says that the cheerleaders (the Cheerios) were on Fox… sports net… something last year. Emma wonders since when are cheerleaders performers and Sue says her resentment is delicious.

But that’s a new one. Usually people say cheerleaders ARE performers and object to them being called athletes. I don’t know why Emma would ask why they’d be considered performers. Even if all they’re doing is cheering on the football field, they’re still performing to get the audience to cheer.

Sue leaves, and Emma puts on her plastic gloves to scrub the table before she eats lunch. She is a germophobe.

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Football coach Ken Tanaka asks why she wasn’t at the singles mixer the other night, and she pretty much flat-out says those things are for losers. She just called Ken Tanaka a loser. To his face. Emma’s a stone-cold beyotch.

She also mentions the glee club teacher got fired. Now all two people in the glee club will have no one to teach them how to be gleeful!

Will talks to the principal, saying he wants to take over Glee Club. Principal Figgins thinks this is suicide, and wants Will to pay $60 a month to fund the club. I don’t know why he had to calculate the amount, since if there was already a glee club, he should know how much it costs already. Also I’m not sure what the $60 is supposed to be going towards. If they rehearse at the school at the end of the school day, those lights are usually on anyway. And if they have to use the old props and costumes from glee clubs past, like Figgins tells him to… what is the money going towards?

Also, this question NEVER gets addressed: Does this school not have a choir/chorus class? There’s a choir room, but apparently the glee club is the only organization that uses it. They don’t have a school choir that uses it, I guess. The writers on this show don’t think things through.

Anyway, Schue wants to go through with it since he wants to find talent or dreams or something inside that kids never knew they had. By the time they graduate they all find out that their talent is being a diva, so good job, there, Schue. [Oh, if you’ve never seen the show, “Schue” is pronounced like the word “shoe” or “shoo”.]

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Mr. Schue thinks his first step is to change the glee club’s name from “glee club” to New Directions. He thinks up this homonym of “nude erections” while lying shirtless, perhaps fully naked, in bed with his wife. They ended up making Schue unintentionally creepy throughout the show. Or maybe it is intentional. Schue is an ephebophile. Actually considering he’s married to his high school sweetheart and he still thinks of her as the sweet high school girl he dated, that would actually add some layers to his character if he found himself attracted to his students. I guess that would warrant this show an MA rating or something, though. When Glee was going to be a cinematic movie, they WERE gonna have some teacher-on-student action, though. I may be on to something here.

Also, oddly enough, I’ve never gotten a hit on this blog from someone doing a search for “nude erections”. I have an uncomfortably high number of hits from people searching for “shirtless boys”, though. I’m happy to help if you’re just looking for art references or something, but if not… eesh.

Uh, anyway, auditions for New Directions begin. This begs the question – what happened to the previous Glee Club? Was it really just that black-haired guy and Rachel who I haven’t mentioned before? Were there other people in the club who got scared off when Sandy Ryerson was fired? Why did the kids who audition for glee club this time not join the previous glee club, besides Rachel? Why are there only 5 people in the entire school who want to join glee club? What happened to the black-haired guy from earlier??

Well, anyway, first to audition is Mercedes Jones, aka the only non-evil recurring character with dark skin on the entire show. I don’t count Alex Newell from season 5 because he is a terrible actor and I hate his character. I will explain why when he first appears, since we’ll probably get to him before the Degrassi equivalent.

Anyway, she sings “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”, and wails on the last note. She should not have done that, because now that Schue knows how good she is at it, he will make her wail on the last note in every song the glee club ever sings.

Baby face, you've got the - oh wait I did that joke already.
Baby face, you’ve got the – oh wait I did that joke already.

Next up is Kurt Hummel, the kid we saw getting thrown in a dumpster earlier. He sings “Mr. Cellophane” from “Chicago”. Then there’s Tina Cohen-Chang, who sings “I Kissed a Girl”. Artie Abrams also signed up for the club (curiously, his name on the sign-up sheet is in different handwriting from anyone else’s, but it looks like it’s written too high up for him to have been able to reach. Since he’s in a wheelchair).

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Finally, is Rachel Berry, the girl we saw earlier who I didn’t mention at all at the time. She goes into an internal monologue while she sings, and we learn she reported Sandy Ryerson for inappropriately touching black-haired guy, thereby getting Sandy fired, all because he didn’t give her a solo. I don’t know why he wouldn’t, since there was literally only one other person in the glee club anyway.

Rachel explains that she was born out of love – her Two Gay Dads hired a surrogate specifically to breed a little Broadway baby, and also they mixed their sperm together so they wouldn’t know which one was her biological father. These are her dads:

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Later in season 3 we get to actually meet her fathers, and neither of them look like anything like this. I was disappointed, one because it kind of ruined the joke that was set up here, and two because it ruined the joking theory that Rachel had killed both her fathers and was living alone and that’s why we never saw them.

Rachel claims the reason no boys want to date her is because of her MySpace schedule – she likes to post a video every day. In reality it’s because she’s extremely annoying.

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The Cheerios like to watch her videos and leave really mean comments, including “Please get sterilized.” I don’t know who’s the real loser here, the girl posting videos to MySpace or the girls who also have MySpace accounts and leave mean comments on there. It’s 2009, why do you all still have MySpace accounts?!

Oh, Rachel sings “On My Own” from the seminal Broadway classic, Les Mis. Rachel refers to everything as “seminal”. Also Lea Michele, who plays Rachel, sang that as her audition song for the show, and played Eponine on Broadway in Les Mis. Also, fun fact, Lea Michele appeared in the 2004 Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof with Alfred Molina, the lady who played Fantine on Broadway’s original run of Les Mis, and Molly Ephraim, who played the teenaged daughter in Paranormal Activity 2 and plays one of the daughters on that awful Tim Allen sitcom. Also Jenna Ushkowitz (Tina) and Matthew Morrison (Schue) are both Broadway vets as well, which makes the show getting stuff about Broadway horrible wrong later on extremely confusing.

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Tina’s arm is the only thing of hers in-frame. This is a metaphor for her character on the entire show.

The club sings “Sit Down, You’re Rocking The Boat” from the show ‘Guys and Dolls’. Rachel thinks it’s ridiculous to sing a song about sitting down to a kid in a wheelchair. Artie, the kid in the wheelchair, thought it was ironic and interesting. Rachel claims there is nothing ironic about show choir. So are they a glee club or a show choir? I mean, the phrases are sort of interchangeable, but they have different connotations in my mind. Like a show choir does the sorts of performances they do on the show, while a glee club mostly stands around singing public domain songs while smiling.

Rachel storms out. Schue somehow tracks her down and finds her on the bleachers watching the Cheerios practice. She’s tired of being laughed at. Schue tries to cheer her up, saying she’s smart and the most talented kid in the glee club (which is a whole different can of worms that will not be addressed right now), but Rachel counters with “Everybody hates me.” Schue doesn’t see how glee club will help that – and actually it seems to make it worse, in the end.

Rachel wants a male lead who can keep up with her vocally. I don’t know why, since she wants to sing solos all the time anyway. Plus, Artie was a great singer. They need to have Rachel and Artie do a duet on the show. Artie’s certainly better than the guy they bring up to be the male lead. Heck, Mercedes is a better male lead, and she’s a woman!

Rachel then utters a line that is oddly prophetic of the feelings of many viewers of the show.

I can’t keep wasting my time with glee. It hurts too much.

I am 11 minutes into the episode and this review is longer than an entire Boy Meets World recap.

Figgins wants to cancel glee club, because he needs the auditorium to host Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, because they get money from that and they can’t host the meetings in the gym or the cafeteria or any of the classrooms or just schedule it so the glee club doesn’t rehearse there while the AA meetings are being held. Schue makes Figgins keep the club on – if they place at Regionals or Sectionals or whatever, the club stays. But Schue has to host detention for free to make up for it.

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Schue visits high-strung wife Terry at Linens’n’Things. It sells linens and things. Schue runs into Sandy there. Sandy reveals that he gets medical marijuana from his doctor by claiming he can’t sleep, and he sells the stuff for a huge profit. He asks Schue if he wants some. I don’t know enough about Sheets ‘n’ Things to make a joke about drug deals going on there, or at its fictional equivalent.

Schue wants to take to the Cheerios about joining glee club, since they’re disciplined performers already. Sue refuses to let him, because of the high school caste system. Emma tells Schue if he can get one popular kid to join, the rest will follow. Schue turns to the football team, and Tanaka agrees to let Schue talk to the football players if Schue puts in a good word to Emma about Tanaka.

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These are the least exciting shirtless boys I’ve ever seen, except that one kid who’s leaning over a bit. Also I got excited and thought Stiles from Teen Wolf was there, but it’s not him. I guess he would’ve been too young to be on the show. I mean he would’ve been high school-aged, but that’s too young for the show.

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Schue is about to give up on glee club. He is not considering that maybe there really was a kid named Gaylord Wiener who wanted to be in the glee club. Schue thought it was a joke and now Gaylord cries himself to sleep every night because he couldn’t get in to the one club he thought would truly accept him.

Schue has some internal monologue about finding a talent inside a kid they never knew they had when he hears mediocre singing coming from the showers. Finn Hudson is in there singing “Can’t Fight This Feeling”. He is the only one in there. Why is that? Where is everybody else? Why is Finn showering alone in the locker room? Why is Schue so interested?

A+ awkwardly-timed screenshot.
A+ awkwardly-timed screenshot.

Schue calls Finn into his office, claiming to have found marijuana (which he got from Sandy earlier) in Finn’s locker. Finn denies ever having seen the stuff before. Finn can either be in detention forever or join the glee club. He’s lucky he’s not being arrested. It’s nice how hilariously uncomfortable this scene is now, because apparently Cory Monteith dropped out of high school due to drugs. And also died because of them (don’t mix heroin and alcohol, kids. It’s one or the other, or neither). I bet his friends can’t watch this episode because of this scene. Although actors don’t really like to rewatch the things they’re in anyway. And actually I didn’t even remember about all that while I was watching the episode anyway.

Finn goes into a flashback internal monologue. His mom is a single mom because “his dad died in Iraq when we were fighting Osama bin Laden the first time. That would make Finn at least 18 right now, but it turns out he’s a sophomore, like Rachel and almost everyone else. It’s not that unbelievable that Finn would’ve gotten held back a bunch of times, though.

Finn’s mom dates a guy who runs one of those businesses where they spray chemicals on grass to make them green, but he leaves her, and Finn becomes determined to always make her proud. Also, lawn spray guy is a fan of Journey.

Finn joins glee club and is put on the male lead for “You’re the One That I Want” from Grease, even though he is a terrible singer. Seriously. I just… ugh. He gets better as the series goes on, but right off the bat they treat him as the best male singer in the group, even though Kurt has a better range and Artie has a better soul to his voice, and both have better pitch and timbre. Finn always sounds like he’s straining really hard to hit any of the notes. He seems to do better on songs in a lower register, or that have a slower tempo, but he’s just generally awful right now, and we unfortunately have to put up with it – or at least, I do, if you’re not watching at home. I want to hear Artie sing the male solo on this song.

Um also Rachel scares Finn with how intense she is towards him, and she pushes Artie across the stage. This is the second time she’s pushed him while she’s singing. I think she knows he’s actually a very competent male lead, she just thinks it’ll be embarrassing to do a duet with a guy in a wheelchair. She doesn’t want to have to bend over to be on the same level as someone, and she’s pretty short already.

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Mercedes objects to being backup. Schue is just like “Come on!” and Kurt, who incidentally looks way shorter than he actually is, convinces her with “It’s the first time we’ve sounded kind of good.” It’s exactly the second song they’ve sung together as a club, and the first one sounded a lot better. Everyone on this show is a moron. Mercedes is just like “Fine” and doesn’t object anymore in this episode.

Later, Schue and his wife (Terry), have a fight about money. Terry also accuses Schue of trying to relive his high school years with his glee club, which, to be fair, is what he’s doing. It’s not so clear in this episode, but it comes up a few more times after this.

Finn has to miss football practice on Saturday because his mother is having surgery to have her enlarged prostate removed. I did not make that up. That’s a lie he tells fellow football player Puck to cover the fact he’s going with the glee club on a field trip to see another high school’s glee club showcase.

Meanwhile, Tanaka is mad at Schue for stealing his quarterback (Finn, that is; Schue did not pickpocket Tanaka. Haha, I’ll be here all night.), and also for not putting in a good word with Emma.

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Flashback to Tanaka talking to Emma at her car, saying he got them tickets to a monster truck show. Emma says that’s not her thing, but Tanaka is like “Come on!” Tanaka cannot take a hint. She explains that she’s been trying to be nice, but all the excuses she’s made before – like she’s always on her period, or allergic to nighttime – aren’t really true, and she just doesn’t like him. She likes someone else, but he’s married. We know of exactly one male character on this show who’s confirmed to be married, so obviously she means Schue.

Tanaka then says the other high school students will take care of the glee kids trying to be popular or something. Once I heard a story about a high school that had several of its football players also in the school’s marching band. They did the halftime show in their football uniforms. I forget where it was this happened, maybe it was Florida. Florida is ridiculous about its high school marching bands. My Florida high school’s marching band has been in like every parade ever. I mean it’s been in the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade a bunch of times, but our band director declared after the one year that they weren’t ever doing it again because you apparently have to wake up at like 3 am for those things, and they have you just standing out in the street in the cold New York air for hours, and there’s nowhere to go to the bathroom or sit down or anything. You aren’t even marching in the parade yet, you’re just standing waiting for it to start or for it to be your turn. On top of that, they only showed the band on the telecast of the parade for like 20 seconds.

…Anyway, I don’t know if it’s true in most high schools nowadays that the kids who are into music are the geeks and the jocks are the cool kids. The jocks always seem to be really mean in school and so nobody likes them, and the most popular people are the ones who are nice to everybody. Maybe things are just different in Ohio. Oh yeah, this show takes place in Ohio, by the way.

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Finn is a million feet tall. He is going to eat Rachel for a snack if they don’t have any Sour Patch Kids.

The glee kids have arrived at the other high school’s auditorium. It has a concession stand, even though usually high schools don’t want people bring food in because someone has to clean it all up. Rachel suggests she and Finn become a couple because they’re the leads, but Finn already has a girlfriend – Quinn Fabray, who is captain of the Cheerios and also in the celibacy club. Rachel is shocked by this, not understanding that being celibate means you can still date guys unless you’re a nun or something.

Emma, who is helping to chaperone the field trip, offers to split a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with Schue. Schue doesn’t eat peanut butter because his wife’s allergic. Emma says that’s sweet, to give up something because his wife can’t have it. Because she’ll probably die if it’s even in the house, Emma. Come on. Schue talks about Terry a bit – they’ve been married for almost 6 years, but have been together since high school. Which means they were dating for ten years before they got married. I think it would’ve made more sense all-around if they’d gotten married almost right out of high school – that would certainly contribute to why Schue still sees her as his high school sweetheart. Instead, they got married when they were like 28, so that’s weird that he doesn’t see her as an adult and didn’t get tired of her crazy in all that time.

Schue also mentions that Terry… or shoot, is it Terri? Hm. …Terry “rides him hard”, but he needs structure in his life, or something, so that’s okay.

Carmell High, the school they’re in, has lights and bells that go off to indicate the performance is about to begin. This isn’t the last time we’ll see that Carmell High’s glee club has a huge budget.

Schue and the kids assemble in the auditorium, in the middle instead of in the front or at the sides where the wheelchair seating would presumably be. Schue says Carmel’s Vocal Adrenaline is going to be the group to beat, but he believes they don’t have half the talent New Directions has. He’s saying this without ever having seen or heard Vocal Adrenaline perform. Schue is stupid.

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Vocal Adrenaline sings Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” to a full, cheering auditorium. The New Directions can’t even get their own parents to come to their performances later on.

Anyway, they do great, get a standing ovation, and the NDs are stunned that a group with thirty members that have presumably been rehearsing for more than a week are more talented than they are.

Check it out, McKinley High as a steel drum band!

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Why aren’t they getting bullied? Because steel drums are cool, everybody knows that.

Also Finn’s wearing the same outfit he had in the earlier scene. It’s still Saturday. Why is the steel drum band there on a Saturday? Why is Finn there? I know the football team has practice, but he said he had to miss it. So… why is he there?

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Terri’s pregnant. Schue decides to quit his job as a teacher to become an accountant because that makes more money, even though you need a special education to become an accountant. Maybe Schue double majored in teaching and accountancy and so it took him a while to graduate from college so that’s why he didn’t get married to Terry until he was almost 30.

The glee kids don’t know what to do without him. He’s done pretty much nothing so far besides bring them to together, but he says he’ll find them a great replacement. He doesn’t. Rachel takes over the club in his place. Schue leaves the auditorium and then is somehow on the auditorium’s stage to sing “Leaving on a Jet Plane” with a guitar that was just randomly out. If this school had a music teacher, he would be so angry that someone left an expensive instrument just laying out like that. It would be so out of tune, depending on how long it was out.

Finn says everyone in the town are losers. He’s not wrong.

Guest-starring Outdoor Toilet and Sweatstain.
Guest-starring Outdoor Toilet and Sweatstain.

Coincidentally, lawn spray guy is spraying the school’s football field, blasting “Don’t Stop Believin'”.

Finn comes to glee club rehearsal, says he wants to make something more of himself than being the guy who throws pee balloons and whatever. Finn has a plan. He reveals that Artie plays guitar, and asks if he can get the jazz band to help them out. I don’t know, does Artie play jazz guitar? Maybe he’s more of a classic rock acoustic guy. Maybe he’s just in the school’s guitar class. Or, wait, maybe only my school had one of those.

Finn asks Mercedes if she can design new costumes. I don’t know where Mercedes being a fashion designer came from all of a sudden. Also the “costumes” she ends up coming up with are pants with shirts. WOW. Also Finn doesn’t let Tina come up with something she’s good at, which is pretty much all you need to know about Tina until season 4.

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Emma shows Schue a video of the glee club he was in in 1993. It’s apparently the happiest she’s ever seen his, because he loved what he was doing. Schue says he hasn’t felt that way about anything since, until his wife told him she was pregnant. That’s a little harsh, saying he didn’t feel that happy when she agreed to marry him or anything.

But Schue still opts to change to a better-paying job with benefits. He needs to provide for his family. Emma provides this gem:

But provide what, exactly? The understanding that money is the most important thing? Or the idea that the only life worth living is the one you’re really passionate about.

Babies can’t survive on passion alone, Emma. They need food, and health care coverage.

Schue doesn’t know what to do, when he hears the dulcet “duh-duh-duh-duhhs” of the glee club. They’re singing “Don’t Stop Believin'”. I am so sick of this song by now, aren’t you? I bet the actors on the show hate it by now too. Also I like how the songs like this on the show always sound like there’s way more people singing. There’s only six of them but it sounds like at least 15.

These are the costumes Mercedes came up with.

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The school colors are red and white. I’ll bet she didn’t come up with those, it was just spirit day and they just had those outfits on already.

While they’re singing, Sue, Quinn, other cheerleaders, and Puck spy on them. Schue also comes in and appears moved by this display. He gives them some music director-y feedback and tells them to start from the top. Schue has decided that teaching a few high school kids how to sing is more important than feeding his baby and covering his wife’s medical expenses before the baby comes.

Or Schue is just mad that they put together the whole thing all by themselves. He doesn’t want anyone to succeed without his input. He would sell his wife if it meant he could look like he did something productive with the glee club. I don’t know what I’m saying anymore.

Best song: Pfff… I don’t know. “On My Own” was pretty emotional and pretty and stuff. I just don’t want to say Don’t Stop Believin. Anyway most of the songs in this episode were snippets, they hardly count.

Worst song: Eh… “Where Is Love?” by black-haired guy and Sandy Ryerson. Runner-up: Puck farting.

Final thoughts: Nice Valentine’s Day decorations, Schuester.

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Apparently they filmed this pilot episode in a real school, and probably filmed in February, so that explains that. Maybe they weren’t allowed to take the decorations down. Or their set/continuity person is an idiot. Or maybe Spanish-speaking countries just celebrate pink-and-purple hearts and Cupid day in September.

Also, I liked how all the audition songs, except Tina’s, were kind of the same theme. Mercedes sang about not getting enough respect, Kurt sang about not being noticed, and Rachel sang about being alone. That’s like what they all really feel! Whoa! Deep! Then there’s Tina, singing about how she kissed a girl and liked it.

In other news, I figured out a way you can save layers of a Photoshop document into different files without having to do “File>Save As>change PSD to JPEG or whatever>rename the file>Save”, so that’ll make doing the screencaps SO much easier. I usually put them all in one multi-layered Photoshop document and then save them all individually and it takes FOREVER and it’s AWFUL, but this is way better. Only problem is it saves them in the wrong order, but beggars can’t be choosers, I guess.

This is the longest review/recap on here ever. I think it’s mostly because Glee has way more scenes than Boy Meets World does, plus it’s twice as long as Boy Meets World. Also if I do say so myself, I think this is the best reviewcap I’ve ever done. I need a new desk, typing for so long hurts my back.


One thought on “Glee: 101, “Pilot”; May 19, 2009

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