Glee on Fox

2009, TV Show

Glee Episode: "Pilot"

Season 1, Episode 1
Episode Synopsis: In the pilot of this musical comedy-drama from Ryan Murphy ("Nip/Tuck") about the misfits who make up a high-school glee club, teacher and former glee-club star Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) must find a male singer to match diva Rachel (Lea Michele). Then he hears football quarterback Finn (Cory Monteith) singing in a shower. Meanwhile, Will's wife (Jessalyn Gilsig) wants him to get a better-paying job.
Original Air Date: May 19, 2009
Guest Cast Stephen Tobolowsky: Sandy Ryerson
Full Episode
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Season 1, Episode 1
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Length: 47:23
Aired: 5/19/2009
Also available on iTunes, Amazon Prime and VUDU
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Glee Episode Recap: "Pilot" Season 1, Episode 1

It's finally here, folks — Glee! Fox gave Ryan Murphy's dark comedy a plum, post-American Idol spot to show off its hot new property, hoping to generate some summertime excitement in advance of its fall debut. I've been pretty high on Glee's charms since I first viewed the pilot episode in January. Though it has been tweaked slightly since then, its inherent fun and goodness have remained intact. I'm very curious to see how all you respond to the story of one man's somewhat self-serving quest to revive a high-school glee club. I think Murphy has succeeded in his quest to create a show with heart, but not without sacrificing the subversive, um, glee, with which he usually operates (see: Nip/Tuck, Popular). So let's meet the Glee gang, shall we?

Will Shuester (Matthew Morrison) is a good-hearted Spanish teacher with a hole in his heart, and it can only be filled by taking over the glee club. He needs it so bad he agrees to fully fund the $60 monthly budget himself. "These kids all feel invisible; that's why they all have a MySpace page," he tells the principal.

Will is married to Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig), a shrill assistant manager at Sheets 'n Things who lives above her means with a Pottery Barn credit card and a bursting-at-the-seams craft room. "It is not a bad thing to want things," she tells Will when he finds three Balinese mahogany toilet brushes in Terri's "Christmas closet." Will and Terri are trying to get pregnant.

Rachel (Lea Michele), a Type-A striver, is the glee club's shining star, as demonstrated by the gold stickers she places after her signature. It's a metaphor for the star she wants to be. You would think the guys would "totally want to tap this," she says, but her single-mindedness has made her an outcast. Her only hope is singing success. "Being a part of something special makes you special, right?" she asks, hopefully. "There is nothing ironic about show choir," she barks when Mr. Shuester casts Arty (Kevin McHale), a boy in a wheelchair, to sing the lead in "Sit Down, You're Rocking the Boat."

Finn (Cory Monteith), a football jock, is an unlikely candidate for glee, but "Mr. Shue" catches him singing REO Speedwagon's "I Can't Fight This Feeling" in the showers and recognizes his talent. So Shue plants marijuana on him and blackmails him into joining. We learn that Finn's goal is to do whatever it takes to make his mom proud, though he is loath to admit that he also actually enjoys singing. He's dating Quinn (Dianna Agron), the icy president of the Celibacy Club and the head Cheerio.

Mercedes (Amber Riley), a plus-sized diva, belts out Aretha Franklin's "Respect" for her audition, making it clear that she's no backup singer when Rachel and Finn duet. "Aw, hell to the no," she says. "I'm Beyonce; I ain't no Kelly Rowland!"

Kurt (Chris Colfer) is a slim, stylish dude whose clear, high voice rings true when he sings "Mr. Cellophane" for his audition. He's the resident punching bag of the football team, but at least they're nice enough to let him remove his Marc Jacobs jacket before they toss him in the dumpster.

Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) stutters, except when she sings. Her hilarious, sexually charged performance of "I Kissed a Girl" wins her a spot in the club.

The Staff

Sandy (Heroes' Stephen Tobolowsky), the former glee club director, is fired amidst allegations that he has sexually harassed the male participants, which surely won't please his long-distance girlfriend in Cleveland. But don't cry for Sandy; he's glad to be rid of those "tone-deaf acne factories." After a brief nervous breakdown, he gets plugged into the medical-marijuana racket, and becomes a dealer, most significantly to...

Ken (Patrick Gallagher), the lumpy, stoner football coach, is initially hesitant to help Will recruit his guys for glee, especially since they recently shaved off a guy's eyebrows "just for watching Grey's Anatomy." But once Will halfheartedly agrees to put in a good word with Emma (Jayma Mays, who was also on Ugly Betty, Pushing Daisies and Heroes this season), the pretty, germaphobic guidance counselor who pines instead for Will, Ken is on board.

Then Christopher Guest vet Jane Lynch barges in and steals every scene she's in. She plays Sue, the high-strung, casually cruel coach of the Cheerios, the high school's popular cheerleading squad who has appeared on the Fox Sports Network. She thinks high school is a caste system, and the glee kids occupy the sub-basement. As such, she is given many of the best lines on the show. "You're sloppy, babies!" she screams at her squad. "Try living with hepatitis, that's hard!"

The Conflicts

Will takes the club on a field trip to see last year's glee champions, Carmel High School's Vocal Adrenaline. With matching outfits and choreography that would rival even my sweet dance-floor moves, they blow the roof off the place with a high-energy rendition of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab," and it's clear that New Directions has their work cut out for them.

Finn has lied to his teammates about joining glee, but soon enough they're on to his lame excuses, namely that his mother has had surgery and needs extra help around the house. "Chicks don't have prostates; I looked it up," his bud Puck (Mark Salling) reports. Finn's punishment: They paint-ball him.

Terri announces that she's pregnant, so Will decides to stop teaching and become an accountant to provide for his family. With Mr. Shue off the scene, Rachel takes over glee club, but is unable to convince Finn to stick with it once he's freed from his arrangement with Mr. Shue. His teammates reward him by letting him have the first push after they trap poor Arty in the Port-O-Potty. 

"We're all losers," Finn says, standing up to his teammates. "So you're going to quit the team to join 'Homo Explosion'?" Puck asks. No, he replies, he's going to do both because "you can't win without me, and neither can they."

Emma finds a YouTube clip of Will singing with the 1993 glee club at nationals, and he says it was the last time he knew who he really was. This inspires him to recommit to glee club — and his teaching career.

The Big Number

The newly committed team, now backed by the jazz band and dressed in snazzy matching red shirts, sings Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," and I dare you to think even once of The Sopranos' finale. Never mind that there are at least 10 extra voices on the finished track, it sounds great, and this number alone melted my cold, black heart. It works on Mr. Shue as well, as he decides to abandon his career-change plans to help New Directions find its wings and soar.

So, I'm dying to know: What did you think of Glee? Pilots are tough, as they have to slog through a lot of pesky exposition, but will you be on board for Episode No. 2 in the fall?

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It's finally here, folks — Glee! Fox gave Ryan Murphy's dark comedy a plum, post-American Idol spot to show off its hot new property, hoping to generate some summertime excitement in advance of its fall debut. I've been pretty high on Glee's charms since I first viewed the pilot episode in January. Though it has been tweaked slightly since then, its inherent fun and goodness have remained intact. I'm very curious to see how all you respond to the story of one man's somewhat self-serving quest to revive a high-school glee club. I think Murphy has succeeded in his quest to create a show with heart, but not without sacrificing the subversive, um, glee, with which he usually operates (see: Nip/Tuck, Popular). So let's meet the Glee gang, shall we?

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Premiered: May 19, 2009, on FOX
Rating: TV-PG
User Rating: (5,139 ratings)
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Premise: Musical comedy-drama about the misfits who make up a high-school glee club and teacher Will Schuester, the one-time glee-club star who leads them and must constantly protect "glee" from the malevolent schemes of diabolical cheerleader coach Sue Sylvester. A "High School Musical" with bite created by Ryan Murphy ("Nip/Tuck"), "Glee" was one of the breakout hits of Fall 2009.

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