Glee: Is Season 4 the new Season 1??

Glee is right up there with my all time favourite shows, but a lot of season 3 drove me mad – Rachel and Finn’s STUPID wedding, too much crap music. I was quite apprehensive about season 4 and what the show would be like with most of the main characters graduating. I was also not particularly convinced they would handle it well after Ryan Murphy chose Blake Jenner as the winner of The Glee Project season 2 – the most conventional of the contestants. However, on the whole I think this season of Glee has been pretty successful. As Ed on my favourite Glee podcast Gleeful proclaims, ‘season 4 is the new season 1’ and I almost, kind of, pretty much agree!

The newbies or the 2.0s are a pretty unremarkable bunch on the whole. Much too pretty and nowhere near the ragtag bunch of misfits we saw at the start of season 1. New lead girl Marley played by Melissa Benoist is just lovely and has a great singing voice, Jake Puckerman played by Jacob Artist had a few bad boy episodes, but is actually another very pretty actor, an amazing dancer and has a gorgeous voice. Kitty played by Becca Tobin is a mega bitch cheerleader who has yet to show much more than a reasonable singing voice and a good sneer-face. Blake from The Glee Project is Ryder and as expected, he’s a regular leading man in the Finn mould. I was delighted they brought back Wade ‘Unique’ Adams as Alex Newell is just super talented. The transgender issue is also one it is great to see on Glee. Previous Glee Project winner Joe (Samuel Larsen) appeared for a while, but seems to have faded away again. He never made much of an impression acting wise, but I liked his look.

So there is nothing WRONG with the 2.0s but they are just so incredibly bland and pretty!

Compare the original gang to Marley and Jake

Playing a bigger role in New Directions this year is Brittany (Heather Morris, sadly lacking as many of her one line zingers this season a little), Sam (Chord Overstreet is actually a great lead!) Even Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) has had a few more numbers and a fag hag crush on Blaine (Darren Criss) who is just EVERYWHERE this season!  As a mega Lea Michele fan, I’m a little resentful that Criss has had so many songs this year while Rachel has had far, far fewer.

Talking of Rachel, the New York storyline has been relatively successful. Rachel broke up with Finn (and that episode The Break Up is one of the best Glee has done in all 4 seasons) but hooked up with another pretty but bland boy. She also pretty much morphed into Lea Michele! Formerly dorky Rachel with her animal sweaters and knee socks basically really upped her glamourpuss look this year. This was possibly on purpose as we had a fantastic song recently where new and old Rachel duetted on Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘Torn’. One of the best songs so far. Since then, they seem to have toned it down a bit. Kurt’s internship at vogue.com with Sarah Jessica Parker was a bit of a non-event apart from the most INSANE song of the year, the Scissor Sisters ‘Let’s Have a Kiki’ at a NY party. I adored this number for its total nuttiness. Anyway, not sure if SJP is back. More fun was Kate Hudson as Rachel’s mega-bitch dance teacher Cassie. Hudson is great, looks amazing and just pure nastiness! Happy to see she’s going to be back soon!

Just joined Kurt and Rachel in the most ridiculously amazing NY loft (no way students could afford that!) is the wonderful Santana. After Naya Rivera pretty much became the breakout star of season 3, I was very happy to see her join the NYC gang. No way can they afford to lose her voice and Santana’s sassiness. Love her!

A worry from the first moment of the first episode was the absence of Dianna Agron’s name – always first in the credits. She and Jayma Mays are no longer listed as regulars, but weirdly, Amber Riley and Harry Shum Jr are and they have been much less prominent! Quinn has returned – and even hooked up with Santana in an odd move from the writers. Were they trying to annoy the Brittana and Faberry shippers? Fitting the graduated kids in the high school setting was tough. Santana’s reappearances always seemed forced. Much better to have her in New York. Mercedes and Mike were never prominent characters when they were at McKinley anyway! There has not been as much Sue Sylvester this year either. However we had one episode of brilliant Sue insanity when she decided to channel Nikki Minaj and was hilarious! She’s been around, but not as much.

In terms of Glee highlights, The Break Up episode, as I mentioned was a real highlight, partly because the music was awesome! Glee can still cover too many current pop songs for my elderly taste. That is still a problem. Was Gangnam Style SUPPOSED to be a stupid choice for sectionals?? It’s current but hardly a musical classic, but as Finn was in charge of the Glee club, maybe it was supposed to be a moronic pick? Other musical highlights include a rare Chris Colfer solo – his NYADA audition song ‘Being Alive’ from the musical Company was fantastic, I’ve mentioned ‘Let’s Have a Kiki’ and ‘Torn,’ and another NY song was a joyous version of Sara Bareilles’ ‘Love Song’ reminding me what a fantastic tone Dianna Agron has to her voice. She more than kept up with Naya and Lea in a great number. From the newbies, the premiere had a great Rachel/Marley duet on ‘New York State of Mind’ and a nice version of Adele’s ‘Chasing Pavements’ showcasing Marley’s sweet voice. Recently, there was a fab Rachel/Brody duet on Radiohead’s ‘Creep’. The song was all wrong for them lyrically, but Lea Michele did a fantastic job. MORE LEA SONGS PLEASE!!!! Another song from Company, ‘Getting Married Today’ was one of my favourites with Jayma Mays proving once again she is Glee’s secret weapon with her super fast singing that was perfectly suited to a freaking out Emma.

I wasn’t a huge fan of that episode I Do that much, as it highlights one of the on-going problems for the show in my opinion. We are happy to watch school kids running around singing, but once they are adults doing adult things like sleeping around (there was lots of sex in this episode!) it becomes so much less cute than asking a girl to prom or liking the new boy. As adults, will we still root for them in the same way? Not quite, but these are still characters we love and adding sex into the equation alters the show a bit. Am I talking rubbish? I mean there was sex on the show while they were still at school. Santana talked about it a lot, we had that First Time episode for Finnchel and Klaine.

What has been great to see though, it a whole stack of strongly plotted, well written episodes. There are usually a few stinkers in a Glee season, and usually one total turkey (S1 – Funk; S2 – Night of Neglect; S3 – Spanish Teacher) but we’ve not had one quite as bad as those. Yes, the 2.0s are not as endearing as the originals, I’m almost at Blaine overload, Finn is still a character adrift, but the show is doing a good job of re-inventing itself.

However, recently the Glee kids really showed they are growing up. Cory Monteith went into rehab, presumably for a drug habit and Heather Morris is widely rumoured to be pregnant. Guess Brittany might be out… Season 5 has not yet been confirmed but on the whole season 4 has been an unexpected success! Don’t stop believing!