By Paula Hendrickson
After what feels like forever, FOX’s surprise hit Glee is finally back! McKinley High’s New Directions has captured top honors in the sectionals, so now the group is advancing to even tougher regional show choir competition—and no doubt receiving more unwelcome Slushie facials along the way.
I’ve heard the return described as a season premiere, although technically it’s the final nine episodes of the show’s first season. The initial 13 episodes ended with New Direction’s big win, Finn (Corey Monteith) wising up to Quinn’s (Dianna Agron) well-known secret, and Will (Matthew Morrison) and Emma (Jayma Mays) finally admitting their feelings. So, in some ways, it will feel like a new season. The new episodes were made after much of the viewing public fell in love with the quirky, loveable snarkiness that is Glee.
Entertainers weren’t immune to the show’s charm, either. So between now and the end of the season, you can expect to see:
→ Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) as Mr. Shue’s former classmate and ex-show choir member.
→ Molly Shannon (Saturday Night Live) giving Cheerios’ bombastic coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) a caustic dose of her own medicine.
→ Idina Menzel (Tony winner for Wicked) as the director of New Direction’s biggest rival, Vocal Adrenaline. Menzel’s Wicked co-star Kristin Chenoweth, who guest-starred as drunken “returning student” April Rhodes last fall may also return, but probably won’t share a storyline with Menzel.
Top talent is working behind the scenes, too. Joss Whedon—creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse—directed the Harris episode. Make no mistake, Whedon knows musicals. Not only did he write and produce Buffy’s landmark musical episode, he created the groundbreaking three-part online musical, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog, which, coincidentally, starred Harris.
When I spoke with Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk and casting director Robert Ulrich for an Emmy article nearly a year ago, I remarked about how much Lea Michele—who plays starry-eyed ingénue Rachel Berry—reminds me of a slightly younger Idina Menzel. There’s a strong resemblance, and both women have amazing, powerful voices. Falchuk and Ulrich said it would be their dream to cast Menzel in the show, possibly as Rachel’s birth mother. (On the show, Rachel has two dads and her birth mother was a surrogate.) Yet, they cast Menzel as the competition’s choir director. Count me among the legion of fans hoping for a soapy storyline revealing a connection between the two.
There have also been rumors that Jennifer Lopez and Madonna will appear on Glee, but so far those rumors are unconfirmed. However, an upcoming episode will feature Madonna’s music.
Glee now airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. FOX hopes it will benefit from a strong lead-in from American Idol, but for the next few weeks, it will be up against some of Lost’s final episodes, so be sure to program your VCRs or DVRs for one show or the other—or both.
Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to email@example.com.
From the April 14-20, 2010 issue