As this is my first Glee review for the season, and ever for this site, I feel I must preface it with two important points.
First, I am a huge sucker for musical numbers, especially popular or familiar songs. Often I consider episodes better or worse depending on whether or not I enjoy the musical numbers. It may not be the best way to judge a show, but it is essentially a musical, so I feel its musical numbers are important.
Second, like most who slogged through the whole thing, I was very disappointed in Glee's second season. I didn't like that half the characters never got real storylines, and that the show would pick up and drop storylines at whim. I hated that characters seemed to change drastically from one episode to the next, and sometimes even within episodes, and I didn't like that plotlines basically went in circles, over and over, until I felt I'd watched the same episode numerous times with different outfits and reshuffled dialogue (basically, I hated all of the things Jordan used to complain about when he reviewed the show).
Thus, I have been very nervous/excited for this season. I was nervous because I'd agreed to review the show, and if it is as bad as last season that task is not going to be pleasant. But I was excited because there was a chance that Glee could give me the same pleasure and brief, well, glee as it did when I first began watching.
Tonight's premiere, "The Purple Piano Project" was not great, but it wasn't as terrible as last season. So I guess that's cause for some relief? I'm not sure.
The episode opens with the Glee Club, surprise surprise, at the bottom of the foodchain at McKinley High. Seriously, what will it take for these kids to be at least vaguely accepted? Will one of them have to start passing out money, or will they collectively have to start buying people cars or something? It's unfortunate.
So basically the first half of the show involves a lot of establishing old themes: Will wants more kids to be in Glee, Sue hates Will, everybody hates the Glee kids, Rachel and Kurt want to be stars. All of this is familiar ground, and while I suppose it is somewhat expected for the show to plant itself in recognizable territory, as these were the same focus of the first two whole seasons, I really wanted something different. Anything different, really. And I suppose it could be argued that Sue's running for political office does give her a little more actual power, which could be interesting. However, as she still only seems to care about being mean to Will, albeit now for votes, I'm still not very concerned. Quinn's random summer makeover could have some potential, I guess, but Quinn's character has already had so many ups and downs that I don't really trust that plotline to go anywhere. Will and Emma are together, and cute, I guess. The idea that Will is a big man now because he poured glitter on Sue's head and was critical of a teenager is absolutely hilarious. Hopefully, dear goodness hopefully, Will may actually be an enjoyable a character this season, but I'm not holding my breath.
The one part of this episode I did enjoy (besides all the singing and dancing, of course) were the scenes with Rachel and Kurt. While both of those kids had plenty of plots last season, I did like their realization that they are just like a whole lot of other kids, in Ohio and all over, with dreams and talent and drive. This is an essential part of being a teenager, I think, realizing you are not as unique as you would like to think, and that success requires a lot more than the basics. I love when the show really addresses the sadness, insecurity, and difficulty of high school (aside from the constant, "we're the bottom rung!" reminders) through the kids, and through Will, and I hope to see more of that in the coming season. I'd also really love to see Mercedes, Tina, or Mike Chang get something, anything to do. They're people, and I'm sure they must do things, and as the show desperately needs some new material, why not use them?
Overall, the episode avoided most of the major pitfalls Glee tends to trip (or fling itself) into, which by the reduced standards we all must have for this show at this point, means it was a moderate success. I think I gave up on the idea of Glee as one of the best shows on TV a while ago, but if this season can be mildly entertaining, or at least more fun than maddeningly irritating, I'll be satisfied. I have my doubts, but I'm really hoping for the best.
-I like Rachel and Kurt's outfits this episode. They look like slightly more mature versions of themselves, which makes sense considering the goals they've recently set for themselves, and considering they're teenagers growing into themselves and their styles.
-On the other hand, Will's same uniform is kind of a visual reminder of the character's stagnation. (unless you count "˜glitter bombing' as huge development.)
-I neglected to mention the Santana plotline. Because girl moves back and forth between Glee Club and cheerleading fifty times a season.
-Did I miss the explanation for Sam's absence? Too bad for Mercedes. That would have been nice for her.
-I also forgot to mention Blaine's transfer. I will miss those cute boys singing but I will not miss those uniforms. Blaine looks so much cuter without that huge jacket hanging off his shoulders. It was great when Finn commented on Blaine's predilection for singing all the songs when he was in the Warblers. That doesn't work at McKinley. Unless you're Rachel. Or Finn, sometimes.-I liked the songs. Especially "You Can't Stop the Beat". But Hairspray is my favorite musical. Kurt and Rachel's song was too cute, and I enjoyed Blaine's as well. And I always enjoy a good public musical number. Even when they end with food fights.