So Fox has finally gone meta! It’s made a show about a show, and they showed it right before (or maybe right after) American Idol, which is a show that is a show. And by doing so, they showed us all.
I watched this while making what we will be calling Tinky Winky and Dipsy Finger Jell-O for a party this afternoon. I’d done the responsible thing and made a pan of what would retroactive be called Po Finger Jell-O, but it turned out that there was a teeny tiny hold in the bottom of the pan, and the liquid Jell-O leaked out the bottom. So it was another one of those recipes where I had to go to the store at the last minute to buy all new versions of the same ingredients and end up rushed and unprepared, even though I planned ahead and did all the right things in advance. I’m not usually in the habit of lifting up my baking dishes to see if any light streams through the bottom before I fill them up, but I am now. I actually don’t know how long that hole has been there, because I usually use that pan for baking chicken in our crappy stove, so even if some liquid did drip through you would never notice it in the crud, and the oven would char it to a powder.
There is a funny story in all this: During breakfast, as I was talking to Fella and Filly about how we had to go to the store to get more Jell-O and how they would get to pick the colors, Fella asked if this time I could go to the store by myself while he and Filly stayed home and play. It’s like he read my mind! He has no idea how many times I’ve wished I could just go to the store, which is less than a mile away, and come back before they even noticed I was gone. And then he went and thought it up independently? I am so impressed. It would have been a lot more fun for all of us. But coming home from the store we discovered some guys with an extension ladder installing new windows for the neighbors, so Fella got to talk to a guy with an extension ladder about the extension ladder, so it was all worth it.
When my friend recommended this show to me, I sort of ignored it, because I don’t really watch the same kinds of shows that he watches, and without ever hearing anyone talk about it, I just assumed that it was a show about a men’s choir. Partly, I suppose, because that woman from Best in Show is in it, and she’s with that crowd that would totally spoof a men’s choir, but partly because when I was little and my dad taught at the Naval Academy, we would go to the Naval Academy Glee Club performances. They stayed at the same lodgings as us that summer we spent in Virginia Beach, and they performed at the Wild Animal Park that time we lived in San Diego before. It was, at the time, a men’s choir. I always associate glee clubs with men, and the possibility that it would be about a high school show choir never occurred to me. Because I’ve blown through all the shows of the 2009 spring season, when I saw this on the computer while I was standing in the kitchen doing dishes so I could then make Finger Jell-O, I figured I’d watch it. I was confused, and then amused.
I was in a show choir in high school, you see.
There’s a funny argument online at the IMDb message board, filled to the brim with the requisite posturing and nitpicking and name calling, about whether this show qualifies as a “musical” or if it is a show about singers that has songs in it. After reading the thread, and carefully considering the arguments from both sides, I have decided that it is in fact a musical. Turns out that show choir people actually do burst into other people’s songs at random times, and there is a lot of singing going on.
There’s also debate over there about whether or not we’ve seen the “Pilot” or a “Show-Length” preview, and whether the “missing eleven minutes” made the show too choppy and difficult to follow. I had no idea there would be comprehension issues, and don’t think that it was overly jumpy, but perhaps my insider’s expertise gave me an advantage over those people who are experiencing show choir for the first time with this program.
First of all, I think the character off Finn is waaayyy too much like Chris Klein’s character in Election. It’s looks, it’s acting, it’s situation, it’s everything. He’s not as dumb as Chris Klein’s character, but he’s just as earnest. I like both boys, so it’s not a complaint, but it’s a replication. I can handle a replicated character in another show, especially if the Tracy Flick replicant–Rachel–is cast as his comrade and not his adversary. It’s interesting to watch what stock characters do with new motivations. I especially liked Finn’s relationship with his mother, who reminded me so much of my cousin that it wasn’t even funny, except that my cousin is funny. We were told that the two of them–Finn and his mother, that is–had a good relationship by the narration, but what we saw of them was pretty potent in its details if brief in its description. It said a lot that the two of them were willing to hang out with Dan from Emerald Dreams, and it said a lot about the mom when she threw the bottle of milk after his car. Dan from Emerald Dreams was pretty darn adorable, and I loved seeing him several years later still with his gal from the Piggly Wiggly. Finding out who played
Dan Darren from Emerald Dreams has been more difficult than I had hoped, but I will identify that actor. Oh, yes, I will.
EDITED 10:01 PM: Thank you, Debbie, for identifying Aaron Hendry for me!
I actually felt bad for his friend Hank (with the Mohawk Mullet). Finn and Hank have a friendship that Hank believed was based on shared interests and activities, and it looks like Finn has been phoning it in the whole time. Finn’s contempt for the pranks was easy for Finn to drop because he was never fully satisfied with them, but to go off on Hank like that over the portable toilet prank was a sort of betrayal. I’m not blaming Finn for going off on Hank and intervening–those boys were jerks–but when Hank was watching the show choir rehearsal at the end of the show, he got final confirmation that Finn had abandoned him. It’s a turning point for Hank. He’ll be worth watching. I am assuming that he’ll probably turn into Enemy #1, allied with the Celibate Cheerleader girlfriend who will get upset when Rachel and Finn move from associates to companions.
I didn’t mind the blatant caricatures of the teachers (except for Emma and Will) because they are villains and foils. I did dislike the blatant caricature of Will’s wife, Terri. He needs a real adversary at home, not a cartoon one, because that’s where the real tension of his character’s conflicts come from: music vs. family. The high school villains are just obstacles for our plucky hero to overcome, and it doesn’t matter if they don’t have any purpose outside of causing problems. The supporting cast of show choir kids was pretty blank. They were stock characters, too, but even they were given glimpses of depth. Tina (the Asian one) acted dumb when asked what her specialty was, but she did try out for the choir without coercion. Arty (the wheelchair one) plays the guitar! I also liked his sass when Finn was wheeling him out of the portable toilet and telling off the football players. He wasn’t embarrassed, he wasn’t fawning, he was playing around with his burn-hiss gesture as they rolled away. Kurt (the gay one) hasn’t stepped out of his stereotype, yet, but he has dignity. I adored Mercedes (the Black one). Her smile is so fetching, and her line “Hell to the naw!” was my favorite. I might try that out in writing online somewhere.
I’ve spent too much at the IMDb site looking up character names (I am notoriously bad at character names) to not have deduced that the choir will eventually attract more students (it has to to be competitive), but I’ll probably forget all about it until I see people talking about it on Facebook come Fall or whenever the rest of the show is supposed to air. But I liked it enough to be happy to contribute to the buzz, which I think was part of the promotional plan. Perhaps the fifty people who read this blog will tell fifty people each about the show, and so one, until we’ve taken over the world!
Show Choirs 4-EVR.