September 14, 2012



GLEE:  Thursday 9PM on FOX

WHERE WE WERE:  Post-graduation, post-national title, watching a lot of regulars on their way out of high school:  Rachel off to NY and NYADA, Kurt to neither, Finn to the Army, Puck to LA, Santana, Mike, Mercedes…  and wondering what GLEE is going to look like in Version 2.0.

WHERE WE ARE:  Splitting our time between Lima and New York City.  The season premiere, written by series co-creator Ryan Murphy and directed by co-creator Brad Falchuk, provided only a partial answer to the new season’s plan, as most of the characters out of high school went unseen for the hour.  Here’s what we do know:  Rachel (Lea Michele) is busily generating new plotlines in New York, with a tyrannical dance teacher named Cassandra July (is that name a salute to the director of The Future?) played by Kate Hudson, and hunky new fan Brody (Dean Geyer).  By the end of the hour, Kurt (Chris Colfer) has joined her to become roomies, even though he still needs to get into NYADA.  Back in Ohio, New Directions needed to staff up, and for now at least (all these actors are credited as guest stars, so no guarantees of longevity), those places are taken by “new Rachel” Marley (Melissa Benoist), and last year’s favorite trans…something Unique (Alex Newell), with Puck’s rebellious previously unknown half-brother Jake (Jacob Artist) waiting in the wings.  And Sue has a new protege:  Kitty (Beccca Tobin).

The Glee producers have been cagey about just how much we’ll be seeing of the other graduates (except for Diana Agron’s Quinn, who’s off the show), aside from the NYADA contingent.  Cory Monteith, Mark Salling, Naya Rivera, Amber Riley and Harry Shum, Jr are all still listed as series regulars, even though they were only referred to in passing during the premiere.  (Also unclear is the fate of Jayma Mays’ Emma, since her name was absent from the opening credits entirely.)   It will probably take the first month of the season before we have a real feel for how Glee is strategizing its plan of keeping most of its original regulars scattered around the country, while maintaining new characters and a home base in Ohio.

The good thing about the season premiere was that there was so much new material that had to be established, the episode had hardly any time for the show’s usual idiocy.  (Sue appeared just briefly.)  The result was a remarkably even-keeled, efficient hour that maintained a fairly consistent tone throughout.  There were certainly moments when it was clear Ryan Murphy was behind the typewriter, notably the subplot about Marley’s mother, the new and obese lunch lady at school, who was introduced to be ridiculed before we were taught that ridicule is bad, in classic Glee style.  Generally, though, the show did a good job of ushering in new characters and plots.  As Marley, Benoist herself certainly seems to have the pipes to be a Glee lead, and the show is ready to spring a Marley/Jake storyline on us.  Kate Hudson’s characer came off as a Sue who was potentially recognizably human (the horror!), although some kind of elaborate back-story for her is already being set up, so be afraid.

Glee took a big hit in the ratings last year, and FOX moved it to Thursdays with an X Factor lead-in in the hope of keeping the show in the zeitgeist (ironically, in last night’s premiere, Glee outrated its lead-in).  It’ll be difficult for the series to ever reach the heat again of its initial seasons, and Murphy is now dividing his time between Glee, The New Normal and American Horror Story, not to mention his movie career (there are some who’d say this is a good thing).  In any case, Glee is off to a fairly solid start in what’s going to be a challenging season.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."