Tonight's season premiere of "Glee" is called "The New Rachel." Imagine my delight. The show's Rachel-centricity has been one of its most annoying aspects, and that title should tell you that her graduation and going to NYC for NYADA has not pushed her off-camera.
In fact, in keeping with what figures to be a common approach on "Glee" this season, the premiere double-tracks its story. One track is Rachel's arriving at NYADA, and finding it is not the unalloyed triumph she expected; her dance teacher, played by Kate Hudson, makes Sue Sylvester seem kindly. Meanwhile, back in Lima, four of the remaining New Directions -- Artie, Tina, Brittany and Blaine -- debate who will be the "new Rachel' -- meaning the top New Directions star. But they face competition from Lima's latest transfer student, Unique,and there's a new girl, Marley Rose, who may ace out all of them.
Of course, the new girl has issues. And, of course, old Rachel will find success as she becomes the new Rachel in NYC. And the nada-NYADA Kurt, stuck in Lima, will find his own new direction. (Did you see what I did there?) And there are songs. But the freshness of the show is long gone, the same old messages hammered home and the absence of some old characters is made up for by introducing new characters almost exactly like the old ones. Next week, the redundancy will be even more evident when, according to Fox, 'Brittany S. Pierce is in a funk and turns to her icon Britney Spears’ music for inspiration." Have we not seen that enough? Did Fox really need more Brittany/Britney for "Glee" promos during the Britney-featuring "X Factor"?
For a moment on Wednesday I thought I had stumbled into a "Glee" rerun when the final "X Factor" contestant offered a teary story about being bullied, and how wonderful judge Demi Lovato has been with her anti-bullying efforts, all of which led to the singer's offering what the judges and audience thought was a moving performance that moved her into the next round.
But let's see: Final contestant of the night, heart-wrenching story ... Viewers knew she was going to proceed before she sang a note. And she wasn't that good a singer, either.
Which is not to say "X Factor" was a dead loss. There were some other singers who were good, although it does appear the judges are unaware of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. (See below.) And the Demi/Britney teaming is a huge improvement over Paula/Nicole. I am not convinced it will stay that way, since we are in the plenty-of-editing phase of the show and commenting under live conditions is much, much different. And the show is still too loud, overly dramatic -- and slow.
Today's mailbag is here.