Gleeful return

Matt Busekroos

After a torturous four-month hiatus that would even send chills down Sue Sylvester’s spine, Fox’s musical comedy “Glee” is returning for the last nine episodes of the season.

When the Golden Globe-winning series last aired, William McKinley High School glee club New Directions won sectionals with last minute routines. Songs “Don’t Rain on My Parade” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” helped net them a win after Cheerio’s coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) leaked the original set list to the competitors.  Glee club director Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) made his intentions clear and kissed OCD clean freak guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays) not too long after leaving his wife Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig) for lying about her pregnancy.

With the series return, fans can expect a number of covers in the first episode back, including Lionel Richie’s “Hello,” The Doors’ “Hello, I Love You,” The All-American Rejects’ “Gives You Hell,” AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,” Neil Diamond’s “Hello Again” and The Beatles’ “Hello, Goodbye.” Also, the long-awaited episode featuring all Madonna tunes aptly titled “The Power of Madonna” airs April 20.

The last nine episodes will showcase the glee club’s attempt at regionals.  They will have the overwhelming task of defeating rival glee club, Vocal Adrenaline.  Vocal Adrenaline was previously showcased in the first episode of the series when they performed a rousing rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab.”

Broadway’s original Elphaba in “Wicked” Idina Menzel joins the show as their choir director. Menzel coincidentally looks a lot like Lea Michele, who portrays the frumpy, yet determined member of New Directions, Rachel Berry. It’s been rumored that Menzel’s character will reveal herself as Rachel’s mother, though a number of the show’s writers have shot that notion down. Michele’s co-star from Broadway’s “Spring Awakening,” Jonathan Groff, will appear as a possible love interest and member of her competition, Vocal Adrenaline.

In addition to Menzel and Groff, Kristin Chenoweth is set to reprise her role as April Rhodes, a washed-up, former star of New Directions who never ended up graduating high school. Victor Garber and Neil Patrick Harris are also expected to guest in the final set of episodes.

The first half of the season succeeded in establishing a voice of the show. Now the writers must find a consistent tone that will steer the show to more fluid success. The shift between comedy and drama in certain episodes was jarring. There could be a fun performance from the glee club members and without any sort of transition, a dramatic scene would occur between any of the characters.

While Lea Michele is supremely gifted and talented, the writers need to focus more on the other members of the glee club like Artie (Kevin McHale), Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz), Mercedes (Amber Riley) and especially Kurt (Chris Colfer). There are numerous untapped stories featuring those characters and they deserve more screen time. Not to mention dumb as rocks Brittany (Heather Morris), who steals every scene she is in.

“Glee” finally returns April 13 at 9:28 p.m. on FOX.

Photo credit: Fox