January 10, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Glee”


GLEE:  Friday 9PM on FOX

Among the many wrongheaded decisions made by FOX over the last several years, one was giving GLEE a two-year renewal–just as the bottom was starting to fall out of its ratings.  Last year, things went from bad to ghastly, not only in the ever-worsening ratings but creatively, as the show became a blob of snark, camp and Auto-Tune, with so many characters and settings that it made Game of Thrones look claustrophobic.  The network has done everything it could to minimize this final 6th season short of squirming out of it entirely:  it cut the order, reduced the cast (and presumably the budget), postponed the premiere until January, and buried the show on Fridays, where as of next week it will be paired with something called World’s Funniest Fails (someone alert the Emmys!).

Given all that, one wouldn’t have been surprised if the Glee creative team had barely made an effort on this last batch of episodes.  But the first two hours of the season (Hour 1 written by series creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, Hour 2 by Murphy; both directed by Bradley Buecker) were as engaging as the show has been in recent years.  A time jump mercifully took us past the production of the Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) sitcom that the end of last season promised/threatened.  (A glimpse of its one and only episode confirmed it as nightmarishly meta.)  Its failure drove Rachel back to Lima, where she was soon joined by Kurt (Chris Colfer), and the main storyline was their decision to resurrect the glee club at McKinley High, banished by principal Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch).

By Glee standards it was all remarkably focused, although Hour 2 did serve as a fan-service episode, bringing back most of the original cast for homecoming and to help recruit for the new club.  The only real romantic storyline pursued was the star-crossed romance of Kurt and Blaine (Darren Criss), now head of the Warblers, and although Matthew Morrison was back as Mr. Schue, he was mostly there to offer support to his successors.  We met the first 4 members of the new club, and they all seemed talented beyond mere Auto-Tuning, with characters that fit the original misfit mold of the show’s protagonists (a hefty, self-deprecating soul singer, an African-American girl rejected by the Warblers, and twins who prompted Flowers In the Attic gags within moments of their introduction).  Another sure-to-be-member was a forthright gay football player whose existence offered commentary on how far things have come just since Glee debuted 6 seasons ago.  The musical numbers were bright, especially a nod to the old a-ha video “Take On Me.”  Even the melodrama of Blaine’s new beau being Kurt’s one-time closeted tormentor Dave Karofsky (Max Adler) wasn’t overdone.

This is still Glee, so things could still go off the rails at any moment in the next 11 weeks.  As it is, the show has ridiculed, victimized, redeemed and rebooted Sue Sylvester so much that she no longer has any teeth as an antagonist, which reduces much of the drama.  Still, it was a fair start for a show that seemed to have lost all of its mojo by the end of last season.  Glee has always been a story about reinvention, and perhaps it can successfully make itself over one more time before the end.




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."