TV: ‘Glee’ premiere hits a high note … almost

Meryl Gottlieb |
Glee airs Thursdays at 9 p.m.
Rating: 4/5

I’ll admit that going into the new season of Glee, I had my fair share of criticisms and doubts: Would it ever live up to the excellence of season one? Would it sink to the horrible depths of season two, or would it fall somewhere in between with season three? I must say, I was rather impressed with Ryan Murphy, the show’s creator, this time — a rare occurrence since he seems to have mastered the technique of annoying and frustrating his fan base to no end.

A main point of the season premiere dealt with the whole idea of who would be the new star in the New Directions since Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) left for New York – hence the episode title, “The New Rachel.” The main contenders were Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss), Tina Cohen-Chang (Jenna Ushkowitz), Wade “Unique” Adams (Alex Newell), and the hilarious Brittany S. Pierce (Heather Morrison).  While I feel these were the logical choices to be the ones who would compete over this title, their “competition”  — which dealt with who could sing the over-played yet incredibly catchy “Call Me, Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen — seemed very unnatural. None of those contenders had the diva essence that Rachel possessed that led her to be the natural/forced leader of the group, and nor did it provide for a diva-off like the ones in the past between Rachel and Kurt (Christ Colfer) or Rachel and Mercedes (Amber Riley).

Moreover, coming off their high of being national show choir champions (from the end of season three), the New Directions had a rather snobby attitude since they were finally popular. I do not understand how, in the crazy hierarchy that exists within McKinley High School, winning a show choir competition could put the New Directions at the top of the school. Riddle me that, Batman.

Ahead of time, I knew that Kate Hudson would be guest starring as Rachel’s dance teacher, Cassandra July, at NYADA, and I must say that I did not hate her as much as I anticipated. I had previously seen Hudson perform in the lackluster Nine, Rob Marshall’s desperate attempt to re-create the beauty that was Chicago, and found her to be talented, yet not to the point where I thought she should quit her day job — though I don’t find her to be quite talented at that either.

However, I was rather surprised at her performance in Glee; her dancing and vocal ability quickly made me re-examine my point of view and filled me with shame about my inability to dance to any sort of rhythm while she showed she actually has some.

My favorite part about Hudson’s character was a reappearance of the witty remarks reminiscent of the Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) from season one. “Ohio is like a giant turd that Michigan can’t pinch off” was just one of the many notable comments that frequented from Cassandra July, besides constantly referring to Rachel as “Mrs. David Schwimmer.”

Then came the introduction of Rachel’s new possible love interest, Brody Weston (Dean Geyer). Why is it that Ryan Murphy feels the need to introduce almost every male character by displaying him in the shower, singing their hearts out nonetheless? First Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith), then Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet), even Blaine was shown in the shower during mid-season 3. Let’s try to be a little more creative about our introductions, Ryan, please.

Anyway, the two meet in the co-ed bathroom of their dorm (oh sure, that really exists), and, instantly, teenage girls everywhere tweet their anger that Finn and Rachel will never stop loving each other and blah, blah, blah — let’s move on.

As I expected, Rachel is unhappy in New York; she is alone, and she isn’t the best anymore. I actually connected with Rachel during this episode. As a freshmen from out-of-state, I understand the feeling of being nervous all the time while just getting into a new area and not knowing anyone and not being patted on the back for being good at something. Bravo, Murphy, you done good.

Yet, as Ryan Murphy always knows how to mess with his fans, I was truly enraged about the fact that Kurt apparently just settled for Lima, Ohio Community College and did not even try to pursue another school where he could showcase his talents and build a future. How dare Ryan expect us to believe Kurt would be content sulking around the halls of McKinley High and being a barista at the local coffee shop? Granted, he does decide to go to New York after all, but only once Blaine gives him the necessary push that he should have possessed the entire time.

Despite that travesty, it was refreshing to see that Tina finally has dialogue and a personality. In the contest to become “the new Rachel,” Tina actually speaks (a huge accomplishment, by my standards, because I believe she only spoke twice during the past two seasons), and she was funny (I guess all she ever needed was a freshmen assistant to not bring her the organic fruit she requested).

Now let’s get to those highly anticipated newcomers to Glee:

Marley Rose (Melissa Benoist) is a sophomore at McKinley High whose mom is also an overweight lunch lady that is made fun of by the “Cheerios” and jocks, as well as the newly popular New Directions. Marley tries out for the glee club by singing “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel at the same time Rachel sings that same song during a class at NYADA, displaying the intent that Marley will fill the void left behind by Rachel’s voice. Later, the glee club goes to Marley and apologizes for their behavior, putting them back on the bottom of the food chain as well as having a few slushies thrown at their new members, Unique and Marley (“Unique’s eyes, they are on FIRE!”).

Puck’s younger half-brother, Jake (Jacob Artist), also tries out for glee, but does not make it due to an irrational display of anger after Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) stops him after one verse, since Schue immediately knew he wanted Jake in the club.

As a Quinn-wannabe, the character of Kitty (Becca Tobin), the new cheerleader in town, had no memorable moments in this episode even with her attempt to have some sort of snarky comment at Kurt, which was overshadowed by Sue’s traditionally hilarious dialogue.

Overall, the premiere had its highs and lows, as I have come to expect every episode to have since the end of season one. Fantastic moments — like any time Darren Criss sings a single note — always help boost my thoughts on the show, as well as the adorable moments between father and son, Burt (Mike O’Malley) and Kurt Hummel (I still can’t get over their rhyming names). However, lines like Marley’s mom’s “you have magic in your throat,” always makes me take a step back and ask “why Ryan, why?!”

Yet, this time, the good seemed to overshadow the bad, so I’d give it a 4 out of 5.

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