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'Glee's' Return And Season Premiere Lives Up To The Mass Hype

September 10th, 2009 10:17am EDT
GleeFour months after "Glee's" one episode preview (and my countless viewings of "Don't Stop Believin'" on YouTube), the show fiiiiiiiiinally returned. Not even President Obama's address to the nation could stop the curtain from coming up (thank you Fox for your low political standards.) And any fears that the show might venture into "High School Musical: The Series" territory were quickly diminished as the kids debuted their wildly inappropriate rendition of Salt-n-Pepa's "Push It."

But let's gleecap. Passionate Spanish teacher/glee coach Will (Matthew J. Morrison) arrives at school (late, apparently, if he's strolling alongside the students) and is called in by cheerleading coach, Sue (Jane Lynch), who's hell-bent on taking down glee club. Before Lynch can even step off her elliptical she's nailing one-liners like a comedic handyman. "Iron tablet? Keeps your strength up while you're menstruating," she offers Will, before weirdly informing how she's never visited by Aunt Flow. Show creator Ryan Murphy and staff clearly love to write for Lynch, and her skillful delivery is worth putting up with her evil intentions.

GLEE

Sue (Jane Lynch, R) complains about the Glee Club to Principal Figgins (Iqbal Theba, L) in "Showmance," © Fox Broadcasting Co.

Hoping to spread word about glee club, Will schedules for the choir to perform at a school assembly. However his decision to lure newcomers with Chic's tacky "Freak Out" is highly unfortunate. Thankfully Rachel (Lea Michele), Finn (Cory Monteith) Mercedes (Amber Riley), Kurt (Chris Hummel), Artie (Kevin McHale), and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) are fully aware of the social suicide that awaits them should they bust out disco hands. Will refuses to listen, insisting that "Freak Out" won raves during his high school heydays.

For someone who seems perfect in practically every single way (I definitely never had a teacher who dressed that impeccably…and it's amazing Morrison's delightfully wide smile can even be contained within a TV screen) it's hard to imagine Will being so ignorant to his awful song selection. More importantly, what the hell was he thinking marrying his awful, awful wife Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig)? Her money-grubbing, status-craving nature was well documented in the pilot, but she's now aspiring for a giant house to fill with her mass Pottery Barn purchases. Cue Will's decision to tackle some modern music with Kanye West's "Gold Digger."

The show's structure successfully dabbles in musical theater territory without going overboard. Watching Will teach "Gold Digger" during practice comments on his frustration with Terri just as equally were he to spontaneously erupt into song. I did however love Teri's convincing Will to empty his pockets by touring a model home and noting, "this is where our daughter or gay son will sleep," when arriving at a floral patterned bedroom.

It's bright-eyed, OCD guidance counselor Emma (Jayma Mays) we all want Will to end up with…and Emma feels the same. Upon discovering Rachel attempting bulimia, Emma talks her out of purging. Rather than tackling the condition as an intense teenage issue in need of dramatic exposure (yes, I'm talking to you "90210") "Glee" invites us into Emma's office to read humorous pastel colored pamphlets like "I Can't Stop Touching Myself" and "My Mom Is Bi-Polar And Won't Stop Screaming." The show also confronts teenage sex by mocking the celibacy club (I really hope these don't exist). Recognizing their peers suppressed sex drives, the glee kids decide to pull a surprise switch-a-roo and choreograph a hump heavy routine to "Push It." Naturally the students go wild, but the administration isn't too amused. Sue tries to get Will fired, referring to the performance as "the most offensive thing I've seen…and that includes an elementary school production of 'Hair'" (any possibility we can see some seven year-old hippies performing "Aquarius" in an online promotional clip?) Will is able to save glee, but only if they perform songs pulled from the Pat Boone catalogue.

Members of the Glee Club rehearse © Fox Broadcasting Co.

After their stunt, Finn and Rachel grow closer and even share an after-school kiss (thought we'd have to wait a few weeks for that to happen.) Finn's unpracticed libido puts a quick end to their hanky panky though. Sensing trouble in their relationship, Quinn, Finn's mini-Terri of a girlfriend, joins glee to work as a spy for her cheer coach Sue. Quinn's scheming however pales in comparison to the horrible behavior of Terri, who turns out to not be pregnant, and lies to Will about her expectant status. Sure, she may have initially not wanted to disappoint her husband, but Terri recognizes the personal gains available if Will believes she's pregnant, and runs with it. Sucks for Will, but hopefully this gives him a reason to leave Terri (once he finds out) and head over to Team Emma.

The episode closes with Finn returning to Quinn while Rachel transforms Rihanna's "Take A Bow" from a mundane 'so…this is the end" break-up track to a heart-wrenching get the hell out of here' torch song.

"Glee's" return lived up to the mass hype. What say ye, gleeks? Do you think the show still deserves a standing ovation?

Grade: A

Michael Mellini
Story by Michael Mellini

Starpulse contributing writer