ANDREW BIDEN isn’t Gleeking out. Yet.

American TV andrew biden Glee TV


Glee returned this week with a bang, or should I say a bucket full of glitter and an indoor firework. If this felt less glitzy then it’s probably because it was. This series there will be fewer themed episodes and guest stars (sorry Gwyneth) in favour of more plot and character development.

The changes were clear to see. Two characters have already been shown the door. It had been announced that Sam had lost his job as well as his house but Lauren too was chucked out. The latter couldn’t dance and her singing was flatter than Heather Morris’ new chest. Neither will be missed. Sue’s character has moved on from criticising Will for his hair each week to bigger and better things by running for Congress. Her lines and presence were as great as ever and the interaction with her loyal sidekick Becky continues to charm. The opening certainly had more plot. Great.

But the foundations of Murphy’s beloved ‘story arcs’ hardly made for compelling viewing. It felt like the first few days of school normally do. Menial tasks such as finding your locker are all essential, but are never the highlights of the academic year. The first song took 25 minutes to appear and was We Got the Beat by The Go-Gos. If the aim was for the first episode to more grown-up then I am unsure why they did a performance that was textbook High School Musical. Good fun, but the only development here was from Slushies in the face to spaghetti sauce.

Continuity rather than change was also the name of the game in Rachel and Kurt’s performance. It was a duet from The Wizard of Oz most famously done by, you guessed it, Barbra Streisand, an artist covered more times on Glee than you can shake a Menorah at. Rachel’s mouth was as wide and annoying as ever but her pairing with Kurt may make her slightly more likeable. We can only hope.

Forty minutes in and the episode finally got going with a performance of Tom Jones from Blaine, played by Darren Criss, who is transferring this year to McKinley High. More Blaine and cutesy coffee shop scenes can only be good in my book. His voice isn’t bad either. The burning of the piano at the end by the newest skank on the block, the now tattooed and pierced Quinn, literally ignited the episode. Now even a detour involving Kurt and Rachel seeing their competition for college couldn’t spoil it. The visit attempted to show glimpses of humility and self-doubt in the two lead characters, but looked as believable as the fake rain dripping down the car windows. We ended with what I initially thought was yet another Rachel ballad (sigh) but actually morphed into a big performance of You Can’t Stop the Beat.

Mercedes’ voice shone through as always and I pray her storylines will follow. Her new boyfriend will hopefully form the basis of a meatier storyline than the ground-breaking obesity one she had last season. The performance gave us an opportunity to see the ‘new’ New Directions on stage, which had now lost yet another member in the form of Santana, who was asked to leave for not showing 100% commitment. I fear many viewers will have been guilty of the same crime and switched off long before the end.

Glimpses of what could be means I will continue to watch, but Glee seems to have made the mistake of believing you have to make a choice between a show which has a plot and the production of an exciting, watchable episode. Can’t I just be greedy and have both?