I'm not a member of the "Glee" cult, but I understand why many people are.
It's a funny, entertaining show and has a talented young cast. "Glee" is also a rare network showcase for pop music outside "American Idol."
But I do find its cartoonish unreality a little bit off-putting at times.
So I was happy to see the BBC's critically acclaimed "reality" version, "The Choir," finally made it to BBC America this summer. The first "series" concluded last week, with a reunion of the real group of working class British teens that choir master Gareth Malone whipped into shape to perform in an international choir competition in China.
That four-episode story is available on Time Warner Cable's BBC America On-Demand Channel 431 for digital subscribers. Check your on-demand options if you subscribe to a different pay TV service.
The second chapter in Malone's story, subtitled "Boys Don't Sing," starts tonight at 9, as he takes on some unenthusiastic boys at Lancaster School in Leicester and tries to turn them into a choir that can perform with other groups at the Royal Albert Hall.
I haven't seen that second series, but it's already plugged into my weekly viewing schedule after the experience of the first.
"The Choir" lacks the sex and scandal of "Glee," but more than makes up for it with its very real humor and emotion. It's about a teacher awakening dreams in kids who don't even know they have them.
Malone himself is an interesting character, a slight, boyish, somewhat nerdy young teacher who sees the choir as offering something more than just music to his youthful charges. Like the first series, the chapter starting tonight ends with a reunion a year or so later.
And, yes, "The Choir" does change lives.
Like "Glee," it can be funny and entertaining. Its young cast isn't uniformly talented. But they are real kids being offered a chance at doing something special.
And that makes for very special TV.
Here's a video clip from "Boys Don't Sing":
On TV: Speaking of "Glee," Fox released details of the coming season this. Expect Susan Boyle on the Christmas episode (she has a Christmas album coming out). And an episode with only original songs is planned for spring. Creator Ryan Murphy says he's received a "mix tape" from Paul McCartney, who wants his songs on the show. And Michael Ausiello reports Carol Burnett will play Sue Sylvester's mom.
- FX has ordered a second 13-episode season of Louie C.K.'s "Louie" for next summer.
- Now that he's won Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice," Bret Michaels will host Donald Trump's "Miss Universe" telecast Aug. 23 on NBC. Natalie Morales co-hosts.
- Stalking victim Erin Andrews debuts on ABC's "Good Morning America," Thursday morning with a story on stalking. "GMA" airs at 7 a.m. on Channel 12.
Taiwanese TV does it again: Have you seen those wacky computer-animated "news" re-creations done by Taiwan's NMA News.
This time, they've produced an animated version of the Sarah Palin saga:
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.