Monday, September 20, 2010

"Glee" second season off to promising, if slow, start

Along with all the new shows starting this week, a bunch of returning shows are also making their season premieres, including Fox's bright musical comedy "Glee." The new season debuts Tuesday at 8 p.m. and, while it's not quite as good as last season's best episodes,  it's a solid start.

When the season opens, it's a new year at McKinley High, and the gang from New Directions is frantically trying to recruit new efforts. That's made more difficult after Will (Matthew Morrison) gets word that the club's budget will be cut to appease the new football coach, Ms. Beiste (played by Dot Jones...and yes, that name is pronounced "Beast"). Beiste is also stealing budget money from the cheerleading squad, putting her firmly in the doghouse with one Sue Sylvester (Emmy winner Jane Lynch, still the picture of dry hilarity). Sue and Will team up to bring down Beiste -- but how long can such an unholy alliance last?
Meanwhile, all the kids have their own problems. Rachel (Lea Michele) worries a potential new recruit (played by international singing star Charice) will steal her spotlight; Artie (Kevin McHale) is having lady trouble and there's a cat fight between Quinn (Dianna Agron) and Santana (Naya Rivera).
The kid stuff gets a little boring and the musical numbers in the premiere are just passable (a rendition of "Empire State of Mind" doesn't have quite the punch that it should, and none of the other numbers pop like some of last season's offerings). But there are some fun moments, including a mock documentary that opens the episode and makes sly commentary about some of the more criticized aspects of the show (e.g. Will's rapping).Lynch's Sue also continues to be an acerbic delight, tossing off some typically spicy one-liners (my favorite of which is "It's time to feed my gimp").
"Glee" can be uneven, but when it works, it's great fun. The premiere works more often than it doesn't work, and has me looking forward to the rest of the season.

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