As a self-proclaimed theatre nerd, I was intrigued after hearing the plot for the new show Rise and was all about to give them my money after hearing that it was connected to those who worked on Hamilton. So to say I had high expectations for the premiere would be an understatement. Created by Jason Katmis (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood), the show is based on the true events of a high school drama department in the working community of a rural town in Pennsylvania, where the football team is like the sacred cow and theatre is like your aunt’s famous duck pudding.
It reads like a great premise, and based off the trailer it could have been. The episode spends most of its time introducing the lives and complexities of each of the lead characters, as well as the one thing that disturbs the natural forces of the world–that one thing? The semester’s musical: Spring Awakening. The episode danced along the tightrope of being the middle child of Katmis’ previous creations and High School Musical.
Within the first ten minutes of the show I could guess the out turn of the episode and maybe even the series. Which for a Pilot episode, is a little disconcerting. Josh Radnor, plays the “inspiring” teacher, Lou Mazzuchelli, who is determined to bring the theatre department to its fullest potential, all the while juggling problems at home and at school. However, as the episode progressed I found myself waiting for some form of emotion or passion for what he was trying to accomplish at this school–everything felt monotone and flat, where his words said one thing, his face and body said another.
Now the show isn’t all bad, there are moments where I was enraptured; where the teens of the show made it real and I was pulled in, where the music sung took a meaning far deeper than just the words. Where I felt like this was different from every other teen drama.
But is that enough?
If you watched the premiere, did you think Rise bit off a little more than it could chew? Or do you think it still has the potential of becoming something more and something that the world needs to see?