DISCLAIMER: There are *minor* spoilers in this review. If you don’t want to know any of the general plot plus some details in between, I suggest you watch and then come back!
Episode ONE: “THE AUDITIONS” HALF
“...After Today You're Family."
I remember seeing High School Musical for the first time when I was younger and genuinely enjoying it. So much so that I had the DVD on my shelf, even though I’d only return to it maybe once or twice after that first Disney Channel viewing. But when the second film came out, that was truly a huge deal. I remember it releasing in the dead of summer and making sure to see it on premiere. But soon after that… I don’t know, I kind of forgot about it; the story, the performances, and what made me so intrigued by it in the first place. (Quick Note: I still haven’t seen the third film.)
Now eleven years after the last film of the trilogy released on the big screen, High School Musical returns to the small screen on Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+. Instead of a film this time, we receive a television series, consisting of ten episodes… as of November 12th we only have the pilot episode to get some nostalgia starting, so let's see how it did and what the future may hold for the series.
High School Musical: The Musical - The Series (I hate that title), is set at the famous East High School where the film was supposedly filmed and set, with the school for the first time producing a musical based off of said film. We’re introduced to a small group of students, including the obvious versions of Troy and Gabriella of course, but the others are still up in the air as to if they’ll arrive. The show is taking a different stance, while being able to throw nostalgia in the viewer’s face once the songs start up.
Sadly the first episode, ‘The Auditions,’ is partially built on establishing characters with predictable, already diagnosed storylines, which at the moment all share a similar trait of not being likable. It’s not until the ladder half closes in that we welcome a familiar song, a romantic original, and a decent conclusion to lead the series forward.
As the show attempts to differentiate itself from the series of films, it follows a new format similar to the likes of THE OFFICE or PARKS AND RECREATION as many characters break the fourth wall to vent their feelings. This happens constantly and it feels much more like a gimmick in High School Musical: The Musical - The Series than any episode of the shows mentioned above (albeit this being the first episode of ten, so that may change). It’s safe to say that even if I wasn’t writing this I'll stick around for another go with this setting, however as a whole, this series needs to up the ante.