The season two premiere of the anxiously-awaited musical sensation "Glee" was less in an Empire state of mind than in a twelve-year-old boy state of mind. But despite a few detours into the cruel and unusual, the first episode set up the architecture for what could be a great season.
The first episode didn't stray too far from the central theme: getting new members to join glee club. There were obstacles (10% budget cuts, failed outdoor performances) and jealousy (Artie vs. Mike?, Can Rachel handle being upstaged?) , but ultimately the kids realized that the family needs new members to get them to the Empire State for nationals.
Only three new characters were introduced to this Glee "family," each of whom Gleeks have known about for months. First was Dot Jones as Coach Bieste ("it's French"), the hilariously butch new head of the football team. Next, Chord Overstreet as the new sexy quarterback with a smooth soulful voice, and finally Filipina pop star Charice as the foreign exchange student with pipes that could rival Rachel's any day.
Each of these characters act as foils to three of the most important characters: Sue, Finn, and Rachel, in ways that will resonate throughout the season. Charice particularly, as the adorable Sunshine, was a welcome addition – as made clear in the episode, Rachel needs to be knocked down a few notches, and Charice certainly has the talent to do it.
But the one major flaw of the episode should be addressed: As the show is set in high school, a certain amount of immaturity is expected. Sadly enough, the immaturity was a big theme in the premiere, appearing in the form of dog-poop cookies, motiviated mostly by the duo Sue and Mr. Schue. The pair brought down the whole episode – ganging up on Bieste and bullying her in ways that are way out of line (sexual harassment accusations, really?). But by the end of the episode the balance was back in line, with Sue and Schue in opposition.
And, of course, the songs held crucial parts of the plot - some better than others. Here are the songs of the episode, rated high school style: A-F.
1. "Empire State of Mind" – C+: Another failed attempt from the club to prove their "coolness." But we all know by this point that there should be a moratorium on Glee rapping. It was cute the first time Artie did it, but now it's a little much. And much like the song itself, this performance was a little stale.
2. "Billionaire" – B: Chord Overstreet proved his sultry singing voice in response to Puck's hilarious "can you sing with that big mouth?" question. It was nice to see all the guys just jamming.
3. "Telephone" - A- : This short duet proved how awesome a Sunshine-Rachel sing-off could be. This mini-Gaga performance scared Rachel so much she sent Sunshine to a crack house instead of the audition – leading to Sunshine transferring to Vocal Adrenaline, but it's only a matter of time before they get these powerhouses back together.
4. " Listen" – A: Charice can SING – that voice was a lucky find for Glee producers. Sunshine's rendition of "Listen" from Dream Girls was way better then Beyonce's was.
5. "What I Did for Love" – B+: Ok, Lea Michele can SING too. But we've seen this from her before – the powerful show tunes solos. And the "A Chorus Line" song wasn't exactly a change of heart for her, more like explaining that she went all crazy about Sunsine "for love" – of herself?
Overall, it was a pretty standard episode. But while the premiere played it safe and focused on setting up the season, next week is the end-all be-all of Glee episodes: the Britney Spears tribute episode.
The teaser alone had enough Britney fabulosity to last a lifetime – seeing Rachel in full "Baby One More Time" gear and Brittany showing off her crazy dance skills in a recreation of "I'm a Slave 4 U" is undeniably exciting. Who knows, maybe the Britney episode will topple Madonna as the best Glee episode yet.
Glee is on Fox every Tuesday at 8pm.
By: Rachel Allen
Read more television reviews at www.allmediany.com