‘Glee’ success depends on how it’s sweetened

As “Glee” starts its first season tonight on FOX, I think a lot of the show’s success depends on how this fun show is developed.

The show’s creators have thrown in a lot of cane sugar — I enjoyed the story about high school students and their teacher working to revive a show choir. There’s something sincere about the effort to succeed in a harmless endeavor even if it isn’t popular or well regarded by other students.

On the other hand, the “Glee” chefs have also stirred in a ton of artificial corn syrup — including really blatant fake singing that detracts from the show’s impact. I’m not talking about normal dubbing, which I think happened in some of the songs from the pilot. I’m talking about fake singing on the scale of the “Nick & Jessica’s Family Christmas” special featuring Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey.

The show choir’s big number in the pilot — a performance of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” — sounded overdubbed and had way too many voices for what is supposed to be a group of six singers. The vocals from the male lead sounded like they were lightly processed by an auto-tuner. That definitely detracts from a character who is supposed to have great talent.

Plus, the backing music supposedly from a jazz band sounded like a synthesizer from the 1980s. As a former band-o, this is unforgivable.

Far better critics than I (like Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune) have noted how “Glee” is trying to strike a balance between sincerity and irony.

As the show gets launched tonight, I think that it will need to balance a lot of things. Yes, sincerity and irony but also providing a semi-real slice of high school while providing enough entertainment to keep viewers tuned in.

I hope they find their sweet spot because this is a show that I could be interested in.