Glee 4x01 - "The New Rachel"

In searching for my hook on describing this opening episode, one thing lept out at me…Glee intentionally dug themselves an even greater hole then from where they left off in order to get out and set up the rest of the season. My long-winded post of their finale episode implied the same and in this case, when I realized the plan they concocted – about two-thirds of the way through – they course-corrected surprisingly great. The episode came together like it should and considering the musical numbers were average at best, I can admit (somewhat begrudgingly) that it was still decent overall. And that is exactly what Glee needs right now.

Because initially, I was…well, worried would be too strong of a word, but I suppose I anticipated a train wreck and thought that watching would be a complete waste of time. Just as expected, Ryan Murphy unleashed all of his ‘motifs’ (translation: clichés from his trickbags) and performing drama tropes (translation: genre cliches), so much so, it would have made for one hell of a drinking game. It is the show’s fourth season and the last thing anyone wants is an opening episode following a similar silhouette of its predecessors. To say my apathy had kicked into overdrive after so many played out elements came into the picture would be an understatement.

From Jacob Ben Israel being utilized as a lazy way of revealing the new status quo interviewing the New Directions to Towel McShirtless singing a classic rock tune (and becoming Rachel’s support system a la Emmett from Legally Blonde) to Rachel’s NYADA woes (crazy bitch teacher, roommate fornicating like a gerbal, her boyfriend and gay husband are not with her). To Blaine’s staged number in the student courtyard to the rise and fall of New Directions (complete with slushies) to the new menopausal head cheerleader to Kurt’s storyline ending with his arrival in New York…the results ranged from the expected to the bland, as expected.

Allow me to share my whole perspective though...I don’t mind the storyline being split between Lima and New York, with effectively, half the story revolving around Rachel. For one, she is inarguably the most featured performer on the show and one of the most talented. Two, even on Glee’s best days, they always struggled with balancing out the screen time amidst the ensemble, so exacerbating that aspect seems like a minor sacrificial lamb to me at this point. Matt Rutherford had two lines during the entire first season and the camera never got out of Lima…and remember, that was Glee’s best season.

If they are going to struggle in this area, we might as well have some fun with it and expand the show’s parameters. Yes, I quibbled over the fact that Rachel’s costumes are not very Rachel anymore and that her Rachel-esque qualities were played down, but her arch is the only thing keeping the show afloat as far as I am concerned. She is now the show’s most convincing underdog, less the New Directions status turnaround turns more serious (which by the way, their popular schtick was rightfully dropped before the end – more lunchtime scenes with the annoying popular kids would have made me switch the channel with how pedestrian they were).

Right now, the New Directions are working towards a goal (assumably) of making it back to Nationals and that is a “been there, done that” storyline that would make everyone lose interest pretty fast. Rachel’s storyline, even as 1980's Fame as it is, allows a new goal to be put in place. Same goes for the other graduates, all of which we only heard mentions of less Kurt. Something that Glee succeeded at, looking back to the season one pilot episode, is establish all the clichés and tropes so they can work on upending them.

That’s where the Glee folk managed to impress me. Kurt staying in Lima could have been a multi-episode arch. Marley could have kept her secret for a few more episodes and could have ditched the glee club temporarily that she would have eventually joined down the road. Puck #2 will hopefully get off his period and take up Schuester’s invitation in an episode or two. Even if last night’s faire felt dated or like wheel-spinning, they blew through all most of the BS early on and can now work on the recourse that capped off this week's episode with. 

In gest, this was the perfect setup for the rest of the season by keeping each plot point simple and going through the story with rapid-fire pacing, answering most, if not all, of the questions that the new show format posed. To their credit, there was a lot to begin with and we also had to establish the new characters that we’ll surely see more of. When they (hopefully) pair all of this with some kickass numbers, the show may finally achieve its season one feel that they attempted to do last season, but ultimately failed.

And before we get to the numbers, need I remind you…Burt Hummel is the best. Had to be said.

Can I just say, this number was fantastic for the first minute or so (and not just because my girl Tina did a beastial hairflip and started shoving a bitch) – it was perfectly bubbly and catchy and fun and the posing/vamping was fab. But then they all started wailing and it got AWFUL. Make it stop...

I don’t care about how many close-ups of Kate Hudson there were or how many lifts she did, she was being upstaged by every one of her backup dancers. Her singing wasn’t bad, but at times, she sounded like she was passing a kidney stone.

This would be a perfect time for me to say this…Kate Hudson was phenomenal in Almost Famous, but is a pretty unremarkable actress in every other role I have seen her in. Her fame and penchant for being cast in a lot of rom-coms astounds me.

His swaying was effing irritating, but it sounded good. As far as his “character" (if you can even call it that), I’ll give him some time. Puck #2 doesn’t intrigue me in the slightest, largely because Puck #1 was always one of the least relevant and interesting characters on the show.

Lea Michele was okay at best, which is weird because she usually brings the roof down with her Barbra numbers. I gotta give it up though for Melissa Benoist for handling her storyline aplomb and making a good initial impression - one of the episode’s highlights thanks to some beautiful scenes with her mother. But she is not as vocally strong or as much of a star as she was made out to be. Here’s me hoping that they don’t Katherine McPhee her…

Whoops, too late.

This song is growing on me (LOVE that staging) and even though I am fearing the New Directions turning into the “Darren Criss Song Download Express,” he really is a charismatic performer. You win this time, Ryan Murphy.

To wrap it up, my BFF Caroline a.k.a "Queen of the Snark" left some LOL lines on my Facebook wall. I am sharing because I care.



"We have to get Kurt out of Lima. He's too old to be there. Which is weird because he still looks younger than the rest of the club."

"I would like to officially declare that Blaine is way hotter than Darren Criss. Don't ask me to explain."

"Ah, a round room where no one is can hide. Also known as a place where techies would never go."

"Well, at least Kurt's outfit is totally baller. Because I can't deal with how they could possibly select only one new member? Don't they ALWAYS NEED MEMBERS?"

"Hey, Rachel poses for photos just like Lea Michele!"

"Rachel's the only one in red! Is it time for the "Tango Maureen?""

"And Burt Hummel remains the world's most awesome human. IT'S RAINING ON MY FACE!"

Photo Credit: Glee/FOX via AOL Music, Glee Wikia, rickey.org
Video Credits: GleeOnFOX Youtube
Video Credit: nihallovemona91 YouTube

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