Last night’s episode of Castle no doubt provided a massive squeal-inducing moment for Browncoats (that’s in-the-know speak meaning those with endless love for Joss Whedon’s defunct show Firefly and its feature film sequel Serenity) that tune in to the ABC series with the express interest in getting a weekly dose of Fillion. Even just a single scene of him in Captain Malcolm Reynold’s signature snug britches and duster certainly made this girl swoon and wistful for the spectacular space western that was taken from us far too soon.
This line, delivered with haughty tone and dramatic storm-out-of-a-room flair by choir (gold!) star Rachel Berry, aptly sums up why Glee has struck a chord (owning that pun) and is firmly at the top of my Must Watch list for the 2009 season. Equal parts musical, absurd comedy, underdogs-realizing-their-potential and coming-of-age high school stories, the mantra of the show is all about, as the definition of “glee” shown in the pilot states, opening yourself up to joy.
And what a joy it is. This is a show that deftly moves between campy (the use of a glee club sung instrumental score – “Flight of the Bumblebee” is especially amazing), wrongly hilarious (just after Rachel finishes narrating her many self-proclaimed exceptional accomplishments she gets a “drive by” slushie to the face) and sincere (embodied by protagonist teacher Will Schuester), and is instantly quotable, particularly anything coming from Jane Lynch (“You think that’s hard? Try being waterboarded, that’s hard!”) as coach of winning cheer squad the Cheerios and nemesis to our intrepid group of songsters. Most importantly it’s a show that cares enough to make its high school characters, most of which at first glance seem cherry-picked from the cliched outcast student roster – a big, sassy diva; the effeminate boy obsessed with fashion; an over-achieving prissy girl; the kid in a wheelchair – actually show signs of depth and potential for more than what they appear. There are moments where I cringed one second and felt endeared the next when introduced to each member of the ragtag group of singing misfits.
Originally premiering the pilot episode after the season finale of American Idol in May (a brilliant move with its core audience being amongst the rabid viewers to one of the biggest nights on television), I was worried that Glee would soon be forgotten, considering the next episode wasn’t set to air for another three months. However, FOX really surprised (and won major points with me, someone still smarting from un-nurtured, gone-before-their-time FOX shows like Arrested Development, Firefly and Wonderfalls) by deciding to heavily advertise throughout the summer, offer songs and videos from the show on iTunes and build a strong interwebs presence. Not stopping there, we’re also getting two encore presentations of the pilot this week, with a special Director’s Cut and a “tweet-peat” (Twitter synergized) episode. With Glee‘s official new episode return set for next week, Wednesday September 9th at 9/8c, it now stands as the most highly-anticipated and talked-about new show this Fall.
Dollhouse is showing more geek-love today with an official announcement that another from the Joss Whedon staple of actors will be joining his Fox show for its second season. Summer Glau, recently seen on Fox’s now-cancelled series The Sarah Connor Chronicles and most well-known for Whedon’s Firefly series and its film sequel Serenity, will have a recurring role opposite lead and Whedon darling Eliza Dushku for an as-yet unknown number of episodes. This news follows on the heels of other geekified additions in Jamie Bamber and Michael Hogan (teaming up with their old Battlestar Galactica co-star Tahmoh Pennikett) as well as Joss alum Alexis Denisof.
Being a staunch supporter of all Whedon works, I championed Dollhouse from the beginning even though it took a few episodes to completely hook me, but the show really started to find its voice midway through and provided an excellent payoff with its season finale which was one of the best hours of television this year, and if Fox had seen fit to air what was originally penned as the last episode of the season, “Epitaph One,” then I would be so bold to proclaim it one of the best season finales ever.
Referred to as the “lost” episode, I was one of the lucky attendees at Comic-Con to attend a screening of “Epitaph One” before its wide release with the season 1 DVD set last month (which has since hit number one on iTunes) and am now imploring all to move it up their viewing queue. Very much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the first season had its share of hit-or-miss episodes but ended on a stellar note and, when folding in “EO” as a part of that end, provided an amazing amount of plot possibilities for its season(s?) to come.