By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®
Adding new characters to an existing and popular show is tough to pull off.
Sometimes it’s an absolute failure. I’m pretty sure no one shed a tear when Nikki and Paolo died on Lost.
Sometimes it just doesn’t quite work. I usually always enjoy James Spader but his character on The Office never really came together. Everyone involved with the show seemed to know from the beginning that Robert California wouldn’t be around that long.
But sometimes a character addition can take a show to a whole new level. It’s hard to even imagine Lost without Ben but Michael Emerson didn’t come to the island until the fourteenth episode of the second season.
I didn’t start really enjoying The Big Bang Theory until Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch joined the gang.
As the photo suggests, Glee enters its fourth season (tonight at 9 p.m. on FOX) at a crossroads. To keep the show relevant and believable (as believable as a show like Glee can be that is), the series had to let the seniors graduate. That means, of course, a whole new crop of students need to be successfully introduced in a relatively short amount of time. Will you become attached to them? Will I? I’m not sure.
The show also made the interesting, and I would say creatively brave, decision to follow the students who left the New Directions behind. So tonight you’ll see Rachel in New York where her new dance teacher (Kate Hudson) is not amused by her antics and Kurt (Chris Colfer) stuck in Lima working as a barista.
The big question is: Can the series pull off what are essentially two shows simultaneously? Tonight’s premiere (9 p.m. on FOX) inspires confidences that it is possible while not entirely quieting all my fears. Now the Glee cast is more unwieldy than it ever was (and it was pretty unwieldy to begin with) and I’m concerned that some characters won’t get the story lines or the numbers they deserve while others will just become an afterthought (I mean how often did we see Mercedes’ boyfriend last year?). And, be forewarned, there are quite a few notable characters missing in tonight’s premiere.
But,concerns aside, I did like the premiere and here’s why:
- Kate Hudson is fantastic as Rachel’s dance teacher Cassandra July. Cassandra is viciously honest and it’s kind of great to have Rachel realize that her talent and charm might not be enough. Based on the premiere, I think this could be the role of Hudson’s career. I never really gave Hudson a lot of thought but I plan on paying close attention to Cassandra.
- There’s one new student at McKinley High that I’m VERY excited about. I won’t spoil who it is but I will say that I was so rooting for him/her to enroll this year.
- Mike O’Malley. Any time he’s on the show, it’s great. He’s great. The scene tonight between Kurt and his dad is so poignant that I double dare you not to cry.
- The musical numbers. These have always been the show’s get out of jail free card. Even the worst episodes usually have one or two great numbers. And tonight every number is pretty fantastic.
So while I’m not necessarily convinced this new format will work, I am cautiously optimistic. And I applaud the show for attempting this – for not having the students on a six year high school plan, for not trying to keep all the graduates in one place (I’m glad they didn’t all decide to go to, for example, Lima University), and for taking a realistic (again realistic as defined by Glee) approach to how life really works. People move on in new directions – to new places, new friends and new adventures. If Glee can pull this off, it will be an impressive feat. One worth singing about.
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Amy, this is so great to have you back with us!
Haha! I know some shows that stretched the High School thing out longer than they should have, but you’re right, Ryan Murphy is taking the high road. I see a spin off coming next year though, so I don’t’ think two shows in one will be a permanent fix. My Dish coworker thinks a grown man shouldn’t be watching Glee, (and I agree), but my family likes watching together (especially my daughter and wife). I like that the show seems shorter from watching commercial free with Auto Hop on my PrimeTime Anytime recordings. We even have time to watch another show that night, a special treat for our family.