Premiering after “This Is Us” on NBC, “Rise” fails to rise up to the expectations its predecessor has set. The only thing new about this show is its release date as it recycles one of the most unoriginal and overused high school storylines film and television has seen—again.
The show follows a bored and uninspired English teacher, Lou Mazzuchelli (Josh Radnor) in a small football town in Pennsylvania as he takes over his school’s theatre department. Now here’s where it gets interesting: Mr. Mazzu recruits the star-football player, Robbie Thorne (Damon J. Gillepsie), to perform in the school musical after noticing Robbie’s hidden talent during his freestyle at the pep-rally. Groundbreaking.
This “High School Musical” meets “Glee” storyline has already been explored: throughout three movies and six seasons, respectively. In fact, those are just the high-profile productions that have utilized this plot. It seems as though there has not been an original idea about teenagers in high school since John Hughes.
Although this narrative could potentially be the most overexposed in cinema, that is not to say it will not be successful. There is a reason the same story is used over and over again, and that is simply because people like it. The small town high school offers an intriguing setting and combining that setting with the musicality of “Glee” and the athletic hype of “Friday Night Lights” presents the setup for a great show—if you are interested in watching it again.
Maybe creator Jason Katims even went in with that intention: to combine everybody’s favorite small town teenage narratives into a show that everyone will love. Time can only tell if the rest of the season will be as predictable as the first episode—and if that is a good or bad thing.
The only thing that can probably be established now is that Mr. Mazzu is no Mr. Schue. Characterized as a bit awkward and too timid, Mr. Mazzu is ironically written as the hero of this story. Despite a somewhat annoying protagonist, the high school cast offers more potential with their individual storylines.
Ready to attack problems such as sexual harassment, popularity, alcoholism, wealth and sexuality among teens, “Rise” has a lot of opportunity to take this show to the next level rather than let it play out as the underdeveloped production it seems to have started as.