Friday, September 17, 2010

Glee: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review

Release Date: September 14th, 2010.
TV-Rating: TV-14
Region: A
Disc 1 Episodes:
  • Pilot – Director’s Cut
  • Showmance
  • Acafellas
  • Preggers
  • The Rhodes Not Taken
Disc 2 Episodes:
  • Vitamin-D
  • Throwdown
  • Mash-Up
  • Wheels
  • Ballad
  • Hairography
Disc 3 Episodes:
  • Mattress
  • Sectionals
  • Hell-O
  • The Power of Madonna
  • Home
  • Bad Reputation
Disc Four Episodes:
  • Laryngitis
  • Dream On
  • Theatricality
  • Funk
  • Journey to Regionals
The Video
Glee: The Complete First Season’ comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 video presentation for all 22 episodes. The show while generally looking sharp and vibrant was a bit of a disappointment and certainly below my high expectations.

Having seen Glee on television in high-def, I was always thinking ‘this will look fantastic on Blu-ray.’ Now the Blu-ray release is here and while I will say it looks generally impressive, there are quite a few flatter looking moments than I expected.

I think the show definitely looks high-def, I even have the DVD to compare and there is a notable improvement. I just think the show could have looked at least a little better if they made this a 5-disc set rather than a 4-disc set. The DVD release takes up 7 discs.

I know I am coming across as very negative, but I just expected some amazing levels of detail throughout. The show has an upgrade in clarity from standard-definition which I am very thankful for and many scenes do feature an impressive level of detail.

The video issues are not too serious, however I did notice what appeared to be banding during brief moments and noise does pop up on occasion. The show has a natural grain throughout which is more present during certain scenes over others, but it looks good and is unobtrusive to the experience.

There are moments where watching that I was impressed and amazed by the high-def quality, I just can’t rave about it completely like I was hoping I could. I think Glee could have looked at least somewhat better if given the space, but it is far from a worse-case scenario really.

Colors are strong, certainly rich and create many eye-popping sequences throughout. The details present at times are incredible and very revealing. The show certainly benefits from a high-def release and I find the presentation to be impressive overall.

Don’t let my negative aspects turn you off to the Blu-ray release. There is no comparing the DVD to the Blu-ray release; it is a noticeable improvement that viewers will certainly appreciate. I had to make note of the negative aspects as there are a couple, they just feel more highlighted because I expected reference level material from Glee at all times, not just sometimes.

Overall this is far from a bad experience; I just really had some high expectations. At the end of the day I am very grateful to be able to own Glee: The Complete First Season in high-definition as it has incredible benefits visually. The show may not be the reference material I had hoped it would be, but it certainly looks very good as a whole. 8/10.

The Audio
An English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is included for every episode. Optional subtitles include English SDH, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is something I was especially looking forward to with this release. Seeing the show on television I did not feel like the music had that much of an impact and I was really hoping the Blu-ray release would give it that added oomph to truly shine.

So how is the audio? Well it certainly isn’t all I had dreamed it would be, but it certainly is very clear. Upon the first episode I realized this show would be a front heavy experience. Whether it be dialogue or music, everything major and almost anything minor came from the front.

The show stays this way for quite some time and picks up a bit towards the latter half of the season. I think the latter-filmed episodes do sound a bit better; particularly the season finale as far as surround use goes. The musical numbers while still a bit front heavy, didn’t feel so limited and did expand ever so slightly to the surround speakers.

Towards the finale we do get some very notable surround use and I do think with season two we will be much more impressed with the audio experience. Glee is just front heavy unfortunately, I wish it was, but it just isn’t.

The audio itself sounds very clear and is always very easy to understand. The show sounds better with lossless audio than it does with the lossy audio found on the DVD release for Glee. I wish there was more surround use, but at least the clarity and upgrade is present to help make up for it a bit.

Like most comedies on Blu-ray, the mix is clear; it is just surround use which is lacking. Glee unfortunately fits into the comedy audio stereotype. The show does sound good; just don’t expect to get immersed into the music via your surround speakers. 7/10.

The Extras

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc) (43.9GB):

Glee Music Jukebox (HD)
Select this feature if you want to select a specific musical performance from an episode and don’t want to fast-forward through the episode. This feature is available across all four discs, however you can only access the songs from the episodes included on that specific disc.

Behind the Pilot: A Visual Commentary with Cast and Crew (48:39) (HD)
Watch the pilot episode with the cast via side-by-side video, presented in high-definition. This is very enjoyable and entertaining, fans of the show will certainly enjoy it.

Disc 2 (Blu-ray Disc) (45.0 GB):

Glee Music Jukebox (HD)
Select this feature if you want to select a specific musical performance from an episode and don’t want to fast-forward through the episode. This feature is available across all four discs, however you can only access the songs from the episodes included on that specific disc.

Disc 3 (Blu-ray Disc) (45.7 GB):

Glee Music Jukebox (HD)
Select this feature if you want to select a specific musical performance from an episode and don’t want to fast-forward through the episode. This feature is available across all four discs, however you can only access the songs from the episodes included on that specific disc.

Disc 4 (Blu-ray Disc) (45.8 GB):

Glee Sing Along Karaoke (HD)
Sing along with the songs ‘Alone,’ ‘Somebody to Love,’ ‘Keep Holding On,’ and ‘Don’t Stop Believing.’

Glee Music Jukebox (HD)
Select this feature if you want to select a specific musical performance from an episode and don’t want to fast-forward through the episode. This feature is available across all four discs, however you can only access the songs from the episodes included on that specific disc.

Staying in Step with Glee (6:19) (HD)
Choreographer Zach Woodlee and Asst. Choreographer Brooke Limpton teach viewers the dance steps for the song 'Rehab.'

Bite Their Style: Dress like Your Favorite Gleek (8:53) (HD)
Costume Designer Lou Eyrich talks about the characters and the clothing which defines them. She talks about what makes each character distinct from the others.

Unleashing the Power of Madonna (10:37) (HD)
The cast and crew all talk about working on the Madonna episode as well as why they are all inspired by Madonna.

Making of a Showstopper (17:22) (HD)
The crew talks about making some of the big dance numbers seen on Glee, including Bohemian Rhapsody.

Welcome to McKinley! (5:08) (SD)
In this feature Principal Figgins gives us a tour of the school to familiarize new students. This is a pretty dull feature, but the idea is nice.

Glee Music Video (2:45) (SD)
A Glee promotional music video which I believe aired on television before the show aired.

Full Length Audition Pieces (4:11) (SD)
The pilot featured the characters auditioning for the Glee club; however we didn’t see their auditions in full. The auditions for Rachel and Mercedes can now be seen in full.
  • Rachel – “On My Own”
  • Mercedes – “Respect”
Fox Movie Channel Presents Casting Session (12:04) (SD)
This Fox Movie Channel special features interviews with Ryan Murphy and others who helped turn the idea into the actual show.

Deconstructing Glee with Ryan Murphy (2:49) (SD)
Ryan Murphy talks about his idea for the show, casting the show and more.

Dance Boot Camp (3:13) (SD)
See the cast rehearse dance numbers seen on the show.

Jane Lynch: A to Glee (0:52) (SD)
This is a promo piece for Glee; this is also present on the Vol. 1 DVD release of Glee.

Meet Jane Lynch (1:04) (SD)
This is a feature from the Vol. 1 DVD release of Glee released last year; it is a feature in which Jane Lynch talks about her character Sue Sylvester.

Things You Don't Know About... (SD)
  • 5 Things you don’t know about Jayma (0:40) (SD)
  • 7 Things you don’t know about Cory (1:00) (SD)
  • 6 Things you don’t know about Amber (0:58) (SD)
  • 7 Things you don’t know about Chris (0:42) (SD)
Video Diaries (17:10) (SD)
  • Jane Lynch
  • Lea Michele
  • Matthew Morrison
  • Cory Monteith
  • Kevin McHale
  • Amber Riley
  • Chris Colfer
  • Dianna Agron
The extras on this release are certainly fantastic and very enjoyable. I loved the visual commentary for the pilot episode as well as the jukebox features and behind-the-scenes videos. The only thing I wish was done for the release would be audio commentaries for each episode, however I understand that takes a lot of time to do. Overall the bonus features are very solid and very entertaining. 8/10.
The Season
Glee: The Complete First Season' is now available on Blu-ray. It feels like just a few months have passed since the season premiere as my memory and thoughts about the show are still just as fresh. The series premiered in 2009 with a pilot episode that I thought was enjoyable, but ultimately forgettable.

I did find the closing performance of ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ touching, although a bit cheesy as well. However, having seen every episode of the season at this point I do consider myself a ‘Gleek.’ The show features one of the more talented casts on television (ahh, what a great year of television 2009 was).

The show stars the incredibly talented Lea Michele who plays lead character Rachel Berry, with a supporting cast that includes Matthew Morrison, Jane Lynch, Cory Monteith, Chris Colfer, Amber Riley, Mark Salling and Dianna Agron to name a few.

The season also gets a very impressive number of guest stars including Kristin Chenoweth, Idina Menzel, Neil Patrick Harris, Victor Garber, Olivia Newton-John and Josh Groban. The next season will also see a number of guest stars, but hopefully they don’t go overboard with celebrities wanting to be on the show.

Glee is very High School Musical in the sense that they do break out into song and dance at some random times, although this time more fitting and usually with more teen/adult themes. If High School Musical were realistic, Vanessa Hudgens’ character would have been knocked up by senior year while Ashley Tisdale’s character would find herself at an abortion clinic on a regular basis.

Glee is actually a terrific mix of teen themes with a bit of cheesiness included. The show can be quite family friendly, although not everything is intended for younger viewers. The show does put episode focus on sexually active teens, pregnancy, homosexuality, and weight/eating issues. However, I find them all subjects that tweens and teens should be comfortable talking about with their parents.

The show’s biggest message of all is unity and accepting people for who they are. Regardless of gender, race, weight, sexual orientation, etc, they are all accepted. The characters certainly have their issues within each other, but typical high school drama is usually the issue.

So let’s talk about the drama, I find the drama to be very stupid at times. However, many of these stupid issues are not stupid to those in high school. It certainly is believable drama overall. There is an episode which did bug me and it about Kurt and Finn. Kurt is a gay teen who is verbally attacked by Finn, by the end of the episode Finn apologizes after much scrutiny. That is great; however they made the episode so one-sided that it feels preachy.

Personally, I feel every person deserves equal rights and I loved that the show brings attention to homosexuality and acceptance. However, I am not a fan of things being so one-sided and in your face, it is very distracting and that is probably my biggest annoyance from the entire season.

The show’s music is fantastic. I have seen people call the music ‘Kidz Bop’ versions of the originals, however I actually disagree. To be honest, I think Glee’s cast made certain songs better or at least updated them well. The music is fun and it is hard not to get into the music, I’m sure most who have seen the show would agree.

Glee, the first season is a show which I plan to revisit many times again in the future. The show is best enjoyed from beginning to end your first time, however I have also found enjoyment from just watching random episodes throughout the season with my favorite performances and humor.

Glee is a great comedy, I think it can get a bit overly dramatic at times, but it never strays too far that it becomes non-enjoyable. The show is clever, fun and something I look forward to on a weekly basis as it airs. I’m certainly ready for season two, aren’t you? If not, pick up season one on Blu-ray and get ready! 9/10.

The Blu-news Summary
Glee is a fantastic show with a good Blu-ray release, the video and audio presentations aren’t always amazing but they easily improve upon the DVD release. The extras are fun and there are plenty to be seen. Overall the Blu-ray release is ‘Highly Recommended’ for the show alone.

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