Today we watched Spectacular, Nickelodeon's crack at High School Musical. I didn't really see all of it but, as is always the case here at Every Day I Write the Book, I saw enough to blog about it. Let me say this straight up: Both shows are excellent. High School Musical will always be my favorite because it was first in this strange and exciting genre. But Spectacular is much more than just a knock-off. It's very good too. A few observations follow.
HSM's finale colors are red and WHITE. Spectacular's are red and BLACK. This symbolizes other ways in which the two differ. Spectacular is darker, it's hero a muscle-bound Greek who dreams of rock-stardom and encourages most forms of subversion, such as replacing jazz hands with sideways elbow pushes. He and his Greek brother live, presumably, on their own without parents. I know these two are Greek because their names are Niko and Stavros. This might remind you of the Greek would-be rocker Jesse Katsopolis played by John Stamos on Full House. I believe it is supposed to remind you of this and was, in fact, the inspiration for the character.
In contrast, Troy of HSM is an all-American boy from a two-parent home with a penchant for basketball and singing. He pulls if off a little better than Niko, but only because he is scrawnier so he seems more chaste. As a parent, this is important to me. I wouldn't trust that Greek, Niko, with my daughter. I'd totally let her stay out late with Troy. (Probably a mistake.)
Be that as it may, the main difference between the two shows is that in the end of Spectacular Niko has to choose between auditioning to be a rock star and performing in the Show Choir competition. Troy, on the other hand, has to choose between playing in a big basketball game and auditioning for the proverbial high school musical. Here's the thing though--and this is really weird considering their vastly different circumstances--both Troy and Niko figure out a way to participate in both activities, which is extremely gratifying for them, for their friends, and for the audience.
For the purpose of my discussion here I have limited myself to High School Musical and have not mentioned subsequent High School Musicals, i.e., II and III. They are both really good and rate in terms of quality about like Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi with the first and the third being the best but the second being somewhat worthwhile in terms of plot. You might argue that a better comparison might be Spider Man I, II, and III. But I would take issue with that comparison as Spider Man II is much more awesome than Spider Man III. And please do not even mention Camp Rock as I don't even put that in the same category as HSM and Spectacular. I can not abide the Jonas Brothers.