It's impossible to write about the first three episodes of Glee's spring season without using a series of exclamation points. So here goes.
Glee is back!!!!!!! And the episodes are fantastic!!!!! The hype is merited!!!! Slushy facials for everybody!!!!
When we last left our favorite club at McKinley high (waaaay back in December), they had just won sectionals. Cheerios coach Sue Sylvester got suspended for leaking the group's set list. Mr. Schuester split from his shrew of a wife. Can't be bothered with looking up her name.
The first episode picks up with the group planning for regionals. Mr. Shue decides that they each must come up with a song featuring the word "hello." Any excuse to bust out classics by Lionel Richie, Neil Diamond and the Beatles, right? And sure enough, the spirited numbers are all performed with an emotional intensity that rivals any Broadway production.
But the Hello songs are just a warm up to the extravaganza titled "The Power of Madonna." As any Gleek fan knows by now, her Madgesty wisely let producers have free rein her classics for this episode. Call it her savviest PR move of 2010 (close runner-up: Jesus). Not only is she effusively praised throughout the hour, "Borderline," "Like A Prayer," "What it Feels Like For A Girl," "Open Your Heart," "Express Yourself" and cone bras all get due diligence. Heck, even her decidely lame "4 Minutes" comes off well. There is also a recreation of her "Vogue" music video that is so hilarious and innovative, I'm not going to spoil it. Keep in mind: I live for revealing spoilers.
Guess what? There are storylines too. And, thankfully, none involve a fake-pregnancy blackmail. Instead, romantic developments are aplenty -- starting with Rachel and the dreamy lead singer of a rival high school choir group. He may be using her. After all, the guy certainly knows his way around "Like a Virgin." (Yeah, yeah, yeah, Finn is kinda in the picture too.)
Mr. Schuester also gets plenty of action. He makes out with, ahem, three women in the three episodes. Good news? None are his estranged wife. The bad news? Come on. A snazzy singer and breakdancer does not a babe magnet make. Besides, he's a stand-up guy -- seeing him jump into the arms of every woman with a pulse over the age of 21 (minus Sue, of course) just doesn't wash.
But let's not end things on a bum note. The episodes are also filled with touching themes about parental acceptance and inner-beauty. Sue's snarkiness reaches new heights. Kristen Chenoweth's character returns -- on roller skates. And Mercedes belts out a version of Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" that isn't nearly as hackneyed as it seems. Plus --
--Eh, never mind. You'll see it all soon enough. Gotta go watch that "Vogue" video again.
--By Mara Reinstein for UsMagazine.com