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'Glee': Please don't stop the music

September 10, 2009 |  6:26 am

Glee

After four long months that left us feeling like Fox was nearly as big a tease as celibacy-queen Quinn, “Glee” returned to the network’s schedule Wednesday night with an episode that admirably lived up to the promise of its pilot (and even most of the ensuing hype). Now that’s something to sing about!

To refresh, in the pilot, earnestly hot Spanish teacher Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) committed to coaching William McKinley High’s woeful glee club. Last night, he faced the first of what will surely be many hurdles in his mission to transform the underdog band of misfits into respected show-choir champs: Rounding out the 12 students needed to qualify for the regional competition.

After all, as cheer coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch, an ace with the one-liners) was quick to remind him in an early scene, he only had “5 ½ [counting the] cripple in the wheelchair.” Between downing iron supplements and lifting weights, TV’s new health-conscious villain offered Will a highlighted list of special-ed students -- the only ones, she taunted, who might be interested in joining his sorry little group -- before suggesting he face the music and do to glee club what she did to her rich, elderly mother: euthanize. (Could this woman be any nastier? Or hilarious?)

Will wondered aloud if his colleague was threatening him. More like threatened by. Undeterred, Will unveiled his big plan to attract new recruits during that day’s rehearsal: have the glee clubbers already on board wow the student body with a performance of Chic’s “Le Freak” at the upcoming pep assembly. The song’s a crowd pleaser, he insisted, not to mention the one his show choir performed when they won the ’93 nationals. But to the kids, the song was just plain old. They wanted something cooler. Something less likely to leave them humiliated (again). Something like a little Kanye.

The group’s high-energy take on “Gold Digger” was definitely a highlight. Singing the a capella intro, Mercedes (Amber Riley) blew it out the box, as Randy Jackson likes to say. But an even bigger treat was Mr. Will Schuester. Have you ever seen an Ohio teacher rap like that? It was all so joyous and infectious, and made a TV-comedy musical from envelope-pushing producer Ryan Murphy seem easy, like the most natural of endeavors -- not one of the biggest risks of the new fall season. (And we haven’t even gotten to the raunch-tastic “Push It” yet.)

Kanye tied in nicely with the subplot about Will’s whiny wife, Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig) -- the kind of girl who, upon hearing her modestly paid hubby has news, responds with, “A wealthy relative died?” Believing she was pregnant, the cheerleader-turned-Sheets ‘N’ Things assistant manager decided she didn’t want to settle for turning the apartment’s craft room into a nursery; she wanted a house. And not a cheaper house like the nine foreclosing on their street. She’s not into raising a baby in a “used home,” she sniffed. “They’re not clean.” So, after Sunday brunch with her similarly entitled sister — who hilariously told Terri, “That craft room is the only thing that’s gonna keep you from going all Susan Smith on that little angel” — the expecting parents went looking at homes with banisters built by Ecuadorian kids.

Terri decided she was willing to give up the sun nook in the kitchen but not the grand foyer with the polished door handles, though having to choose between the two amounted, she said, to “my very own Sophie’s choice.” Will, being the upstanding guy that he is, decided he’d do whatever necessary — even work extra hours at the school as a night janitor for half the pay — to afford his wife’s dream. Of course, this led to more time spent with Emma (Jayma Mays), the germaphobic guidance counselor with such a big crush on Will that she’d help him disinfect classrooms.

After learning where Emma’s OCD behavior stemmed from — as a kid, her brother pushed her into a waste-filled lagoon at a dairy farm — Will dirtied up her immaculate face with a little chalk to the nose, then tenderly wiped it off. Is there any doubt already that these two are meant for each other, especially now that we know Terri isn’t really preggers? And that, instead of coming clean with her husband, she chose to butter him up with a homemade chicken pot pie and tell him she’s expecting a boy? Not that the woman doesn’t have a bit of a conscience: She did give up pushing for the house which, for her, must’ve been like Sophie’s Choice: The Sequel.

The students were struggling in the love department too. Wanting to be thinner and prettier — and especially noticed by singing quarterback Finn (Cory Monteith), Rachel (Lea Michele) — glee club’s overly ambitious and ridiculously talented star vocalist — tried throwing up in a bathroom stall but was dismayed to find she didn’t have a gag reflex. “One day when you’re older, that’ll turn out to be a gift,” Emma slyly told her before suggesting Rachel skip the bulimia altogether and instead find some common interests to explore with Finn.

Printing up glee club recruitment flyers on the Cheerio cheer club’s Xerox didn’t go over well with Sue (does anything?), so Rachel opted for a celibacy club meeting, headed up by cheerleader — and Finn girlfriend— Quinn (Dianna Agron). “God bless the perv that invented these,” Rachel’s own personal mean girl said as a fellow cheerleader twirled around the classroom in her Cheerios skirt. (Another Quinn zinger that hit the comic bullseye: “Remember the power motto, girls — it’s all about the teasing and not about the pleasing.”) Finn wouldn’t seem to be a big fan of the power motto, seeing as he has, er, a hard time not “erupting early,” except when he thinks of the time he ran over the postman while practicing to get his driver’s permit. (Here’s hoping the poor mail carrier, who’s fate was left unclear, survived.)

Turns out, sex is all over Rachel’s mind, too, and she actually had the audacity to say so to the celibacy club, which she labeled a joke -- a move that ultimately earned her some makeout goodness with Finn and served as the inspiration for glee club’s rendition of Salt n Pepa’s “Push It” at the assembly. Naturally, Will was upset his wily students went behind his back and ditched his outdated disco pick. But the students ate the performance up, as did the principal, who proclaimed he hadn’t seen the student body this excited since Tiffany performed at the North Hills mall.

Still, he had angry parents to deal with so he insisted that, from now on, the glee club only perform good, clean (often Christian) songs. Now that was something Quinn could get behind! Especially since she sensed she could use more time with her suddenly distracted boyfriend. So she auditioned for glee club — singing surprisingly well — and, just like that, she and two fellow Cheerios were in and serving as Sue’s spies to help bring the group down. Dee-licious! The news that Will was giving a solo to Quinn, though, rocked Rachel. Rocked her all the way to a mournful episode-closing performance of Rihanna’s “Take a Bow.” “It’s over now,” she sang again and again.

But, thankfully, “Glee” has just begun. What did you think of the episode? Did it live up to the pilot? And is “Glee” now one of your weekly must-see’s?

–Shawna Malcom

Photo courtesy Fox

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