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Glee Season 4 Premiere Review: A New Direction

by at . Comments

Oh, Glee. Welcome back to my television. Did you have a good summer? I've missed you. Yes, even after the train wreck that was the middle of Season 3. Let's just pretend that never happened and go right back to being friends, okay?

This was a good first outing from a fourth-year show. I didn't love everything about "The New Rachel," but I loved enough to keep watching.

There was a whole lot of new mingled in with the old, proving that the more things change, they can also stay the same. More or less.

Will and Marley

In a nutshell, Glee clubbers are at the top of the McKinley High pyramid. For now. Rachel's on the very, very bottom of NYADA's. For now. Kurt is a barista without a sense of purpose or direction, but he and Blaine are still going strong, which is more than can be said for Mike and Tina. Rachel hasn't heard from Finn in two months and has a new, and yes, hotter, piece of temptation in her life. Kitty is the new but less awesome Quinn. The New Directions have new members, namely Marley, Jake and Wade/Unique. And Sue Sylvester has the gestational period and super-growing offspring of Bella Swan.

Did I miss anything? Good. I didn't think so.

So let's break all of this down, shall we?

We've got the New Directions in high school and Rachel and Kurt following their dreams of stardom in New York, making Glee feel like two shows in one. Rachel's a small fish in a big pond now and, while dance teacher Cassie July (Kate Hudson) may have been cruel, seeing Rachel begin to fight her way to the top all over again brings us back to the start of the series. (To read a few of Cassie's biting remarks, and even add your own, check out the Glee quotes.)

I like the way Kurt was pushed by both Blaine and his dad to move to New York to find his place in the world. Both of them tell him in different ways that he's outgrown Lima and that's a nice contrast to Rachel's breakdown that perhaps she doesn't belong in New York like she's always thought.

The focus on New York, however, gives off the feeling that Rachel's story, with guest appearances by Kurt, is the heart and soul of the show despite this being an ensemble cast. To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about it. I like seeing her start over and become, literally, the new Rachel, but not at the expense of the other stories to be told.

Speaking of the new "Rachel," Will's posting of an audition sign-up sheet, ever hopeful that students would throng to the auditorium in droves to be a part of his glee club, was reminiscent of the pilot. But this time, students DID flock to the audition. Some are odd but two potential "new Rachels" are stand-outs: Marley, daughter of the overweight cafeteria worker, and Jake, Puck's half-brother.

I want to like Jake, but so much of his story right now is Puck's story that it just feels like Puck 2.0, especially in light of Will's "I see good things in you" pep talk. However, since Puck doesn't know of his younger half-brother's existence, the writers have at least opened the door for a potentially interesting tale for the rest of the season.

Marley's background is a mix of Rachel and Sam. She's ostracized because of her mother and their social class, so they try to keep their relationship a secret from the students at McKinley, the latter of which is not unlike Sam's one-time homelessness. She's like Rachel in that she dreams of being a star, except different because her dream is to be on the radio instead of the stage. So much of it feels rehashed I'm having a hard time accepting her the same way our glee club does. She did, however, sing a smashing rendition of "New York State of Mind" at the same time as Rachel, marking the similarities between these two "doe-eyed ingenues."

(To download songs from tonight's episode, go to our Glee music section.)

By introducing these two characters when there were other cast members to fill the Rachel-shaped hole in the glee club, it feels like we might be headed down the road of previous years where the group members who pay their dues get no love while those who are new get the spotlight. Glee Project Season 1 third place finisher Alex Newell is reprising his role of Wade/Unique full time at McKinley and he, Tina, Brittany, Blaine and Artie are all jockeying for the role of Leader of the Glee Club. Artie's declaration that Blaine should be the new Rachel was filler. While Darren Criss clearly has the star power, Tina and Artie have been around longer.

Several other characters were notably absent, the most conspicuous of which was Finn. I'm not really surprised by the lack of screen time for anyone else, but not seeing Finn was odd. Even if he's supposed to be in Fort Benning, he's a core member of the cast and things felt off-kilter without him, like the writers are trying a little too hard to create a triangle between Finn, Rachel, and Brody. There were better ways to go about setting up that conflict.

That said, I liked the parallelism of Rachel's meeting Brody with Finn's introduction from the pilot. If this is supposed to be two shows in one, and that really is what it feels like, that was a nice bit of symmetry. And who doesn't like seeing a shirtless Dean Geyer, right?

I know it may seem like I'm pointing out a lot of negative from the episode, but really, I'm just trying to wrap my head around where the show is headed this season and how the two separate-yet-similar storylines will be carried out. It's no small task, to be sure.

Too much focus on McKinley's happenings and this show becomes Glee: The New Class, and we know how well that worked for Saved By the Bell so long ago. Too much focus on New York and Rachel and Kurt and there's no more glee club, so where would that leave Glee? There are certainly questions to be answered. Hopefully, Ryan & Co. are up to the task.

What did you think of "The New Rachel" and the new characters? Do you think the show will work with the two story lines coexisting? What do you hope to see from this season?

Review

Editor Rating: 3.7 / 5.0
  • 3.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (323 Votes)

Miranda Wicker is a Staff Writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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I wish we'd got a spin off with Kurt, Rachel and Blaine because right now I'm just feeling let down. I did however love Kate Hudson, Amazing!

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unfortunately for all of you Rachel haters you might as well stop watching because glee is just carried on by her shoulders...Artie and Tina are quite boring so if they are the ones left to lead the show it will just fizzle out...Rachel has been and will always be an important character on the show.

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Too many PSAs!!! We get it, bullying is bad. You shouldn't make fun of other people. But does it have to be in every story line?
1. Off-color jokes about the cafeteria worker
2. Looking down on people who are poor (Marley)
3. The dance instructor assigning offensive nicknames/targeting Rachel
4. Discouraging Unique from wearing make-up and being herself I really feel like the writers aren't giving us any credit. It's as though they just recycled the plot and characters (Marley is the new Rachel, Jake is the new Puck) because they couldn't think of anything else. Old characters weren't even mentioned (Where's Quinn, Mercedes, Emma, Beiste?) We seem to be set up for yet another love triangle (Rachel, Finn, Brody) - been there, done that. Characters that have been around all 3 seasons, are yet again being put to the wayside. The old rivalries were quickly put back in place (jocks and cheerleaders against glee clubbers). Sue and Brittany are only used for one-liners. Really Ryan Murphy? Please give us something new, or you'll lose your viewers.

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Does anyone else feel like this show is about to turn into another Degrassi? What are they going to do every season that someone graduates? Continue to follow more and more alumni around and replace them with mediocre versions of themselves? I don't much care for the new characters at all. Their acceptance into the club lacked fluidity and felt forced, so right off the bat, I was quickly turned off by the newbies. Their story lines also just seem like more of the same.
However, I highly enjoyed the Rachel and Kurt scenes and truly believe that the older cast members should have just gotten a spin-off. These scenes were the only things that felt fresh and natural about the show.
Overall, I feel like this season is just going to be a complete and total disaster, staying glued together only by former Glee club members. Without them, this show would be doomed.

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The Rachel part sucked don't care for her at all I would prefer if she wasn't in this season anyway I Will never like her i want santana and Quinn to come back finn can stay gone he suck to the new girl marley was alright i hope she is not the new Rachel because then I wouldn't like her and she Will become annoying, unique is over the top he should leave,kitty is cute so I like her and I still like brittany the rest boring.

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Unique makes me confused. Is she transgendered or is he transvestite? Bloody hell, there is a big difference, and if they wanna portray something like this, they sould look it up. People are uneducated as it is, and this is only gonna make it worse. They sould adress that rather than his/her sexual orientation, which, at this poin, is very much who-gives-an-ef. (unless he is gonna start dating Blaine.) Does he plan to swich into a woman body full-time or is it just a stage thing? Both options are fine, but they need to make it clear.
Other that that, I had a lot of fun with this episode. I loved the meanie Blaine stuff, and I hope he goes full on with it. (maybe returnes to Dalton and kicks ND asses at Regionals! :D) And that, the beauty of Colfer can redeem him (he grew up FINE! :D)
Also, I watched this episode with a friend who is not a fan, and she was like: "Kurt and Blaine have such a great frienship! They sould totally start dating!"

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It enrages me we didn't get a spin off. I fast forwarded all the Mckinley parts. Don't care about it AT ALL. Even in fast forward the Mckinley parts managed to anger me. I deduced we have a Quinn Season 1 clone, a Puck season 1 clone, Blaine singing a solo yet AGAIN, yet ANOTHER Vocal Adrenaline lead singer joining, and some pretty and bland new brunette singing all the leads while Tina is once again shunted off to the background!! And it looked like Mr Schue was saying alot of "Hey guys" or "C'mon guys". I don't know how Matthew Morrison isn't going insane from having to say the same lines over and over again. LOVED the Rachel NY parts and LOVE that Kurt is there now too. But it annoyed me that I couldn't even watch her first solo of the season without Ryan Murphy shoving the new glee club down my throat. Sorry not going to work. I hate it. Do they seriously expect me to watch this glee club try to win Sectional, Regionals and Nationals over again with another prom episode thrown in?? God no. Well thats my opinion anyway. Why oh why didn't they just make the spin off following the grads, mainly Rachel, Kurt, Finn and Santana?? Then I could've just watched that, and the people who still want to watch Mckinley could've done so too. Screw you Ryan Murphy.

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I really loved the Rachel in NYC plotline, and now that Kurt's there, returning to the mediocre leftovers in Ohio is boring me. No one cares about Tina or Artie or any of the left behinds, so why not just ditch them? I really liked the new girl though, she was very, very charismatic, likable, and cute. I did NOT like Brody or whatever--he's not a character, he's a prop. Was not a fan of Kate Hudson. Also, I really don't like Unique (and I'm a Glee Project fan). What they forget on the show is to hire actors--not just plot lines. They could get anyone and make them act transgendered for the show. They don't need Alex and his annoying, overly-flamboyant, and fake ghetto attitude. I hate when Ryan Murphey introduced people as such characters, like Unique, who would never exist in real life. He's not helping stereotypes, he's perpetuating them. And watching a bunch of type cast stereotypes is no fun!

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My favourite part was the ending where Rachel and Kurt were reunited in New York, I loved it. I love the old cast and I honestly didn't care for the two kids at all. I enjoyed Kate Hudson though, I found her amusing and bitter. Jake, Puck's brother just made me feel deja vu, like the creators could think of any new ideas that they had to take past ideas and replay it blah. The whole Marley thing is awful too, it made me feel like I was watching a crappy chick flick where the girl is impoverished and gets made fun of because of who her mom is and magically her voice is heard and she becomes a star. It was way too much, how shallow do they think glee fans are? Where is Quinn, Santana, Mercedes, Finn, Puck and Mike? Also, do the writers think we are idiots? We have been growing with these characters for three years and the way they acted in the first episode wasn't them. They wouldn't let popularity go to their head because they know what it is like to be on the other side, why bother making them strong characters and then make them do things that those strong characters wouldn't do. I feel like most of the characters didn't get enough time to shine like Brittany, Tina, Artie, Mike, Quinn, Sam, and Puck and now they have this new girl who I am guessing is their version of the new Rachel and backseats the people who deserve to shine it is frustrating

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Oh My God! I want Quinn and Santana back.

Glee Season 4 Episode 1 Quotes

Cassie: I bet you were a big star back in...Iowa.
Rachel: I'm actually from Ohio.
Cassie: Ohio? That's even worse.

Cassie: What's your name?
Rachel: Rach...
Cassie: Little Miss David Schwimmer?
Rachel: Little Miss David Schwimmer.