Saturday, September 15, 2012

Glee - The New Rachel

Season Four (wow, has Glee really been on the air this long?) begins with Rachel (Lea Michele) having trouble with harsh dance teacher Cassandra July (Kate Hudson) at NYADA. Meanwhile, back in Lima, Kurt (Chris Colfer) tries to find a new role while the remaining members of New Directions compete to find their new leader and hold open auditions for new recruits for the glee club. With the focus of the show split in so many directions the season premiere feels a little schizophrenic as it tries to balance the lives of McKinley High School's current and former students.

Despite Mr. Shue's (Matthew Morrison) speech on teamwork, Artie (Kevin McHale) is chosen to judge Britney (Heather Morris), Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), Blaine (Darren Criss), and Wade's (Alex Newell) competition to become the club's new star by performing the season's first number Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe." Even though Blaine wins the contest, the new Rachel may actually be the daughter of the new cafeteria lady and the club's newest member Marley Rose (Melissa Benoist).

With no clear focus the episode struggles at times under the weight of several new characters to introduce including Rachel's new supporting cast (Hudson, Whoopi GoldbergDean Geyer) in New York, the new Cheerios and members of the New Directions, as well as getting caught up current and past members of the glee club. And with so much to cover subtlety isn't really an option. Kurt's arrival in New York should help balance Rachel's story but that also means we probably won't be seeing much of Mike O'Malley as Burt Hummel (who provides the episode's best scene in seeing Kurt off to New York). And I really hope we see less of regurgitated popularity issues between the glee club vs. the new Cheerios over the next few weeks as the show tries to find its footing with the structure it has adopted for the season.

Other musical performances include July's mashup of Lady Gaga's "Americano" and  Jennifer Lopez's "Dance Again," a split performance of Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" by Rachel at NYADA and Marley Rose at her New Directions' audition, Blaine performs Imagine Dragons' "It's Time," Jake Puckerman (Jacob Artist) performs "Never Say Never" by The Fray, and the new New Directions of Marley, Artie, Tina, Britney, Blaine, Wade, Sam (Chord Overstreet), Joe (Samuel Larsen) and Sugar (Vanessa Lengies) end the show with Adele's "Chasing Pavements."

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