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Glee Season 4 Premiere Review: A New Direction

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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'm so tired of Rachel. I don't like her at all. I hope the show won't end up focusing on her the most, leaving the kids at McKinley little screen time.

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I am just so tired of Rachel she is out of the glee club we should just be focusing on those that remain. I don't really need that much of a lead So much as I want equal time for Artie and Tina, They are my favorites though I love Blake and Brittany they are definitely going to get a lot of screen time I miss in the beginning when we had some great songs from him.

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I was so glad finn wasn't in this episode one less annoying person the better to bad Rachel was in it though I was less annoyed with her in this episode but I still don't like her, I enjoyed some of the new directions but wade "unique" is over the top don't like him, marley I like her I like when she sings she is perfect,and kitty like her to, I miss Santana she needs to come back quick and be with Brittany.

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I don't care about Rachel being in new York I don't even like her and I hate that she is going to be in every single episode, I liked the stuff that was going on in the new directions I like marley she is cute and I like it when she sings.

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Seeing Rachel in NY is realistic. I don't see the need for Brody. He's just there to be come between Rachel and Finn. That's why they wrote his character likeable and Finn-like, to make sure we start to think he actually can come between Rachel and Finn. His character seems unrealistic and I think the chemistry between him and Rachel is flat and forced. The sexual tension they created between them right from the start is only based on seeing Brody shirtless and in next episodes racy dance moves. I hope writers don't force them to do sex scenes together to prove that they have chemistry. It's just not there, leave it platonic!
I like the new characters at Mc Kinley. Jacob Artist did a great job, too bad his character seems like a Puck 2.0. I am looking forward to the interaction between the NY characters and the kids back at Mc Kinley. I cannot wait for the old characters to return. I also missed Finn this episodes and it's too obvious why they purposely left him out of this episode. Let's hope the old charcacters get to have great storylines, just like Rachel and Kurt.

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I actually liked the episode and felt that they did good in splitting the two locations.I also liked the addition of Jake and Marley and I want to see what they got planned for them. I enjoyed the Rachel and Cassandra scenes it's only going to make Rachel even more determined. I am so glad Kurt and Rachel are NYC together I felt so bad as to how lonely she felt and how stuck Kurt was.As for Brody I don't really see the romantic chemistry with Rachel friend/mentor yes but no romance to me It's obvious that Brody is simply a plot point used to prolong the Finchel drama. While I missed the rest of grads Finn's absent was felt the most can't wait to see him come back and see where his story is going and his reunion with Rachel because Finchel is forever

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gotta be honest, I don't care at all for the New Directions anymore. LOVED rachel's storyline in New York and her and Kurt's reunion was pretty adorable and awesome. I can't wait to see everything that happens in New York.(kate huson was great!) New directions...they were weird. First off, now they sit with the popular people and are super mean? Like, seriously. What have you learned in the past three years? Come on people. And Marley is good but she seems so perfect and good and boringg! but i like her okay. jake puckerman? Yeah, don't care. all im looking forward to this season is- NYC and finchel.

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While Kate Hudson, did fine, I was left wondering why Ryan Murphy didn't just cast an actual triple threat so Rachel could see that even excellent performers don't always make it. Bebe Neuwirth (remember Lilith in FRASIER?) comes to mind, and her stare would cut most students into little pieces. Is Ann Reinking still dancing? It's too bad Sutton Foster was tied up w/BUNHEADS because it would be interesting to see her play a bitter, alcoholic dancer. I guess Murphy wanted a younger "name" to appeal to fans.

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We know how this worked out for Saved by the Bell New Class? The New Class had 7 seasons over the original STTB's 4.

Amie

I like the new girl in the glee club, she is like a nice and tolerable Rachel, she definitely is a breath of fresh air to the glee club and I loved how she stepped up for her mom. Jake, I don't know, didn't really catch my attention in any way. I know he is probably going to be Will's new "project", but again, that just feels so been there-done that, they should have created more mystery about him, like let everyone find out he is Puck's brother somewhere latter on, not make him Puck 2.0. I am not sure if I made a lot of sense in how I viewed this episode. I liked it because I did feel that the show is going in a new direction because the last 2 season's first episodes were kind off the same. I guess I just felt sad because I wanted the old characters to go through that as well, and its just that kind of feeling you have when you of someone and say "I wish they were here right now".

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.

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