Fox feels the ‘Glee’ with hit new comedy

Tania Jachens

Imagine walking by a dark auditorium and suddenly hearing the beginning strains of Journey’s ultimate rock anthem, “Don’t Stop Believin’.” As you come closer, the music gets louder, the voices get clearer and your interest piques.

Once inside the auditorium, you realize that, though there is no one in the audience, the music soars and the small group of people on stage is dancing and singing its hearts out. You have just met the incredibly talented, though socially underappreciated, kids of “Glee.”

This new show tells the story of a group of misfits who band together in order to form a high school glee club. Under the direction of a young Spanish teacher, Will Shuester, played by Matthew Morrison, who hopes to return glee club to its former glory, these students must fight to keep their club from tanking and survive in a high school where they are placed at the very bottom of the social ladder.

While the pranks and teasing they have to endure might bring them down, you would never be able to tell by the awesome covers they sing of classic and contemporary pop, rock and hip-hop songs.

For those unfamiliar with the term, glee club is a form of show choir in which equal importance is placed on vocal ability and performance skills. Before you jump to conclusions, this is not just another version of Disney’s “High School Musical.”

Instead of falling into the same clichés of other high school shows, the best qualities of “Glee,” besides its musical selection, are its complete originality, sarcastic wit and disdain for political correctness. Brought to you by the creator of “Nip/Tuck,” this show is not afraid to walk the line of appropriateness, and while show choir may not be the most universally appealing topic, “Glee” proves otherwise.

While it presents archetypical characters and relationships, everything is presented in a fresh, if not controversial way, which breathes life into a dying breed of television.

Lea Michele, previously of Broadway’s “Spring Awakening,” plays the very talented, though socially outcasted protagonist, Rachel, whose two gay fathers started her in the performing arts at birth.

A more reluctant member of glee club is Finn, played by Cory Monteith, the school’s quarterback who harbors secret desires to sing and get to second-base with his ultra-conservative cheerleader girlfriend.

Other members of the club include Mercedes, the big-hearted diva with a voice that will give you goosebumps; Kurt, a boy who dresses better than you and is not afraid to point it out; Tina, a girl who escapes her stutter through song; and Artie, who doesn’t let being wheelchair-bound stop him from busting a move.

Jane Lynch, from “Role Models,” is a scene-stealer as cheerleading coach Sue, whose main objective is to bring the glee club down and raise a little Hell in the process.

Besides being laugh-out-loud funny, the show’s musical numbers will inspire the exact emotion the show is named after. From Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab,” to Kanye’s “Gold Digger,” to Rihanna’s “Take a Bow,” each new rendition of the song will have you tapping your feet and rushing to iTunes to download it.

The aforementioned version of “Don’t Stop Believin'” soared to No. 1 on iTunes’s download charts the day after the show’s premiere aired. Now even singers and musicians are paying attention. Josh Groban has already had a guest appearance, “Pushing Daisies'” star Kristin Chenoweth will stop by for a later episode, and Billy Joel has enthusiastically offered the use of any of his music. Other songs to look forward to include “Keep Holding On” by Avril Lavigne, “No Air” by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown and Sisqo’s “Thong Song.”

“Glee” is on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox. Even if you missed the first four episodes, all full episodes can be found online on Fox’s Web site.