07/01/2013 11:45 | By Dan Owen, contributor, MSN TV

Glee season four still has us singing along

TV review: Glee is back for a fourth season. Did it hit a high note though or fall flat?

Glee: Season four


The popular US high school comedy-drama-musical returns for a fourth season, introducing fresh characters and taking veteran members of New Directions in, well, new directions...


There was something irritating about Kurt (Chris Colfer) being in charge of auditions to find a singing sensation. But there's often something irritating about Kurt in general.


If Lea Michelle sings, listen. Her take on Barbara Streisand's "New York State of Mind" was incredible. I also enjoyed guest star Kate Hudson. Or her fishnets.

Full Review

I liked Glee when it began, but it's weakened over time, so I came to season 4's premiere with low expectations. "The New Rachel" was better than anticipated, given the challenges of replacing old characters while maintaining a separate storyline in New York. Nevertheless, it's easy to imagine it falling back into a rut once the juice of new characters has been squeezed a few times.

"The New Rachel" had a double meaning. The gleeks were looking for someone to replace "star" Rachel, so held open auditions—unearthing the likes of cute Marley (Melissa Benoist), sensitive Wade "Unique" Adams (Glee Project runner-up Alex Newell), and tetchy bad

"Glee's attempt to broaden horizons is losing focus on what the show's about"

boy Jake (Jacob Artist). We were also introduced to the "new Quinn" in bitchy cheerleader Kitty (Becca Tobin) and Sugar (Vanessa Lengies) appears to have been promoted to a regular.

Oh, and gym coach Sue (Jane Lynch) is now a mother. What a delightfully well-adjusted child she'll become...

Over in NYC, the actual Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) was struggling at the city's Academy of Dramatic Arts because of dictatorial teacher Cassandra July (Kate Hudson), who stalks the dance floor making sour quips and belittling her.

Rachel's also lying to best-friend Kurt about her sour fairy tale ending, but there's relief from her pain thanks to resident hunk Jacob (Josh Sussman) and reluctant approval of singing teacher Carmen Tibideaux (Whoopi Goldberg), who found Rachel's exceptional "New York State Of Mind"... "nice".

"Glee has the power to be inspiring and funny"

The premiere had a strong anti-bullying theme. Rachel was obviously a victim of bullying, but the remaining members of the glee club let their egos get the better of them and became rude to outsiders.

n particular, Marley's mum's a fat lunch lady and consequently a target of childish jibes, so they've conspired to keep their relationship a secret, which made it particularly tough whenever Marley was privy to nasty remarks.

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Will you keep watching season four of Glee?

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Maybe it's because much of this episode dealt with newcomers and filmed in the Big Apple, or that Glee's been off-air long enough for me to renew tolerances, but I found this premiere quite enjoyable. The songs were good (especially "Call Me Maybe", Rachel's Streisand moment, and the closing song with Marley singing Adele's "Chasing Pavements"), and at least the premiere appears to be progressing things.

Glee club's actually popular now (although there are still haters ready to give any newbies a slushie baptism), we had new characters who seem promising (already love Marley), and it seems we'll be continuing Rachel's story with Kurt in tow.

I'm worried Glee's attempt to broaden horizons is losing focus on what the show's about, but if the NYC adventure is ultimately this season's "Dalton Academy" subplot, it could work.

A promising premiere aiming to bend the show's format restrictions. I just want good stories told via upbeat songs, with witty insight into high school experiences, and Glee has the power to be inspiring and funny, but it all too often drowns in self-importance or swims in circles when the narrative dries up.

Three out of five stars

Verdict: A satisfactory start to season four of Glee. Fans will breathe a sigh of relief.

What people said on Twitter:

@pendrragon: "Season 3 of Glee was terrible but season 4 looks promising so far."

@LukeIsEnglish: "Glee season 4 is so much more interesting!"

@LaytonWilliams: "Glee is killing me. Love it already!"



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