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Fox's "Glee" Rides "Idol's" Coattails, Then Leaves Until Fall

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What's the next-best thing to following the Super Bowl telecast?

A. Following the climactic episode of American Idol, known in the TV industry as the Nielsen "Death Star."

So Fox must be pretty high on Glee, which gets a one-night audition Tuesday night at 9 after the Idolatry ends.

Glee, which has elements of Idol, High School Musical, "Waiting For Guffman and Mr. Holland's Opus, among others, is intermittently funny and often entertaining. Many in its expected huge audience Tuesday will be disappointed to learn this one-shot deal won't be back until fall.

It's a comedy...it's a musical...but at least it's NOT Cop Rock. Glee comes from producer Ryan Murphy (FX's Nip/Tuck, WB's cynical Popular) and is a send-up of high-school cliques and the clichéd Hey, kids...let's put on a show! genre.

Glee's pilot Tuesday is more than a bit frenetic, but it's also often well-written and sharp, with lines like this all-too-true one: "Fame is the most important thing in our culture now." That's uttered by talented but preternaturally ambitious chanteuse Rachel (Lea Michele), McKinley High's aspiring diva who's more than a bit reminiscent of Reese Witherspoon's ruthless character in Election.

Will (Matthew Morrison) is the well-meaning teacher who's trying to revive the MHS glee club and mold the usual group of misfits into a singin'/dancin' unit.

My favorite here is McKinley High's swarthy, bean-counting principal (played by Iqbal Theba), a guy with one hand glued to a calculator. He wants to rent the school gym instead to AA ("They'll pay $10 a head'). Will convinces him to let him use the place for two months. Deal - but only if Will will oversee detention in return.

Jane Lynch, who plays the school's Marine D.I.-like cheerleader uber-coach Sue Sylvester, is another big plus.

Glee has more hooks than a bait shop, and there'll be plenty of fish on the line after this first catchy episode. Then it goes away for four months.

At a reported $3 million an episode to produce, Glee better put some smiles on Fox execs' faces next fall.