I’m a sucker for 80’s nostalgia, especially anything set in the mid 80’s, a time when I came of age. Glory Daze, the new hour long comedy series on TBS, takes place in 1986, but you wouldn’t know it from the soundtrack. I swear, why does anything with 80’s attached to it feature new wave music from the early years of the decade?
Dear Mr./Ms. Music supervisor who was probably born two years after Glory Daze is set: in 1986, no heterosexual male danced in front of his dorm room mirror listening to Duran Duran, as a character does in the pilot episode. And if he did (but I swear he didn’t) he wouldn’t have listened to “Girls on Film,” which was released in 1981. At least get the rights to “The Reflex,” or better yet, since the character is in his underwear thrusting his pelvis, “Union of the Snake.”
The fact that nearly every song in the pilot is circa the early 80’s is just one of the problems with Glory Daze.
Set on an Indiana college campus, the show follows the misadventures of four freshmen trying to get through their first year of school. Joel (Kelly Blatz) is your average guy who wants to make his parents proud. He’s pre-med and plans to dedicate himself to his studies. Eli (Matt Bush) is a virgin who wants to be cool and get laid. Jason (Drew Seeley) is a preppy conservative who idolizes Ronald Reagan and has an uptight girlfriend who gave up Yale to go to the same school as him (as if that would actually happen). Brian (Hartley Sawyer) is a baseball ace who has a 95 mph fastball, but seems to care less about playing ball, even though his coach is played by the usually funny David Koechner.
These four guys become fast friends and decide to rush a fraternity. Faster than you can say Animal House, they’re at a party for the Omega Sigma. They’re welcomed by pledge trainer, Reno (Callard Harris), who takes a liking to them, especially Joel. Will they be good enough to pledge the biggest party house on campus? Come on, there wouldn’t be a series if they weren’t.
Everything about the pilot of this show you‘ve seen before, and much better. You could check out Animal House. Or, for a more well balanced series about college fraternities, I suggest ABC Family’s Greek, which is about to enter its final season. It’s a well written, well acted, smart program that features enough drinking and rowdiness to appease fans of college shows.
Of course, Greek also doesn’t feature a guy tossing his post masturbation sock across the room and it sticking to the wall like Glory Daze does; it doesn’t feature someone getting the Omega Sigma Greek letters seared into his ass like Glory Daze does; it doesn’t feature guys smoking dope, talking about bongs and girls boobs bouncing in slo-mo like Glory Daze does. In an attempt to capitalize on the young male audience tuning in to Conan each night, Glory Daze blatantly mimics Animal House, Van Wilder (which was directed by this show’s co-creator, Walt Becker) and yes, even Greek.
Glory Daze is well acted, I’ll give it that, and the characters are appealing. Blatz has an everyman charm about him that makes you want to root for him. Likewise, Bush is funny in his eagerness to please. The friendship between the four guys comes off as genuine; you wouldn’t mind hanging out with them for an hour each week, if only the writing didn’t fall way short and the jokes weren’t so forced (one example: “I’m going to class to learn about something called electronic mail”).
This being a basic cable show, the first season is guaranteed to air, regardless of ratings. I may tune in again to see if it gets any better. Part of me hopes it does because, like I said, I’m a sucker for the 80’s. The next time it’s on, if I hear Hojo, ‘til Tuesday, the Power Station, Glass Tiger or Crowded House, at least I’ll know the show’s making a little progress.
Glory Daze airs at 10 PM on TBS.