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Glee Debuts New Season with 'Audition'

The new season starts with some familiar problems.
By: Miriam Cross
Published: September 26th, 2010 in Culture » TV » Reviews
The Glee cast in 'Audition'Pic: Global/FOX

It’s never a good sign when a Jacob Ben Israel segment is the comic highlight of a Glee episode. But that was the case in Tuesday night’s season premiere, where the Jewfro-ed blogger roamed the school with a video camera and microphone (painted with his initials in blue-and-white Judaic calligraphy and dotted with a Star of David) to catch up on the glee members’ summers. After their defeat at the hands of Vocal Adrenaline in last season’s finale, we’re not surprised to see that the plucky kids are right back at the bottom of the social scale.

Nor are we surprised to see that Rachel and Finn are dating, Quinn is trying to put her baby ordeal behind her, and Kurt can maintain his dignity even in the face of a slushie attack. We also find out that Puck got a vasectomy after getting Quinn pregnant (“It was the responsible thing to do,” he shrugs), Brittany spent her summer lost in the sewers, and Tina and Mike (formerly known as Other Asian) started dating at “Asian camp” – much to Artie’s chagrin.

But otherwise, too much of the episode is spent rehashing the same problems New Directions faced last season. Figgins calls Sue and Will into his office early on to inform them that he is slashing their budgets yet again – can the show not think of a more original threat by now? – so as to pump money into the football team, currently headed by Shannon Beiste (new series regular Dot Jones). That brings Will and Sue together, at least temporarily, as they try to take her down, but Will is facing the bigger problem that no prospective members want to associate with his club (again).

There’s one new character who shows promise, at least: Chord Overstreet is likable and understated as Sam, the shy football player who has a penchant for singing in the shower. And in an interesting reversal from last season, Finn and Santana have lost their popularity by the end of the episode, and Quinn has climbed her way back to the top.

But too much of the humour this episode is mean-spirited, and the show has lost the sweetness that made the first half of season one so much fun. Sue and Will sending Coach Beiste a pile of pizzas she didn’t order is kind of funny, but Sue manipulating Brittany into accusing her of sexual harassment goes too far. Likewise, no one is surprised that Rachel feels threatened by the powerhouse voice of petite exchange student Sunshine Corazon (played by singer Charice) – but sending her to a crack house is harsh, even for Rachel.

The bright spot? The music, of course. I’ve never been a fan of the insipid “Billionaire” by Travie McCoy, but as usual, the Glee cast infuses each song choice with energy and spunk. All it takes is Rachel and her new rival circling each other in the girls’ bathroom to the tune of “Telephone,” or the glee club skipping down the school steps as they belt out Jay Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind” – and Sam and Sunshine’s feet start tapping, almost in spite of themselves – to remind you why you fell in love with the show in the first place.

Glee airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. EST on Global/FOX.

Related articles: television, glee, audition, lea michele, chord overstreet, charice
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