Looking out the window to yet another grey, miserable day, summer seems to be a million years ago, but thankfully, the end of summer means the beginning of the new television season. And if you are looking for something on the old telly box which could bring you a bit of cheer through the upcoming winter months, you could do a lot worse than Glee, which is back for its second season.
After a quick catch up of the summer’s activities, it is business as usual at McKinley High. Following the club’s loss at the regionals last year, they need to recruit some new blood and with this year’s regionals being held in New York, what better way to entice the student body than with a rendition of Empire State Of Mind, which goes down like a lead balloon and only attracts the attention of one student, Sunny.
After having a diva-off in the girls bathroom to Telephone, Rachel decides Sunny is too much of a risk to her chances of solos and instead sends her to a crack house for her audition. Horrified at how she has treated Sunny, the club get Sunny in for a real audition and she blows them away with a rendition of Listen.
Elsewhere in the episode, Finn is actively recruiting from the football team and is impressed with new transfer student, Sam. A spanner is thrown into the works, however, when new football coach ‘Beiste’ throws Finn off the team, due largely to the constant bullying waged upon her by Will and Sue, who are upset that their budgets have been cut to accommodate the football team. Seeing how low the Glee kids are on the school social ladder stops Sam from joining and instead he takes Finn’s old role of quarterback.
The episode heads towards its end as Will realises how far Sue and he have gone with their campaign against Beiste. Will apologies and regains the wrath of Sue, who promptly tells rival club, Vocal Adrenalin, of Sunny’s abilities and they steal her with the promise of a green card. Feeling guilty about her treatment of Sunny and by placing herself above others, Rachel sets off to apologize, but not before belting out a big Broadway number.
So that’s what happened: but was it any good? Well, love it or hate it, Glee was one of the most hotly tipped comebacks of the year and, although not the best episode ever, it set up a lot of plots for the upcoming season and eased the audience right back into the swing of things, starting with the summer catch-up, which was done in a very clever and very funny way. (The bit about Mr. Schu’s rapping was a prime example of how much the show’s writers listen to their audience.)
It is also great to see the shift in relationships that have taken place since the end of the last season. Rachel and Finn are now a solid couple and I am really looking forward to see how the nice-but-dim Finn copes with high pressure Rachel on him 24/7. I am also waiting for the bomb to drop that he slept with Santana the previous season.
Speaking of Santana, after being replaced by Quinn as head cheerleader, it will be interesting to see how their dynamic will now work and, hopefully, it will mean a bit more screen time for her, as she has the chance to become a really great TV diva in the style of Joan Collins or Vanessa Williams.
The highlight of the episode had to be the friendship between Sue and Will, no matter how short lived, because it added a strange new dynamic that you could never have thought could happen. The comedy, though, was compounded with real heartbreak as they tried to take down Beiste and I, for one, thought it was extremely clever to show an adult being bullied rather than one of the teenagers, because it seemed much less like they were trying to shove some sort of moral story down your throat.
Beiste also is a great new addition to the cast and I am sure we are set for some fireworks between her and Sue. Speaking of highlights, if I could choose a second place contender it would have to be Finn trying out for the Cheerios. In the words of Sue Sylvester, “My eyes are still burning.”
As always, it is the musical numbers that are the real stars of Glee and as soon as the first number was belted out it was obvious the show had been given a much bigger budget to work with, making the numbers more memorable and stylish. However, it came down to Lea Michele to steal the show with her rendition of What I Did For Love and also to serve as a reminder of how individually talented this show’s cast are, and in an arena filled with ‘talent shows’, you really need look no further than here.
So, all in all, a good solid start to the season and with next week’s episode focusing on everybody’s favourite cheerleader, Brittany, and, er, everybody’s favourite pop star circa 1999, Britney Spears. I think we are in for a treat.