Air date: Tuesday 9/21
Us rating: *** 1/2
The drumbeat of anticipation for this high school comedy's return has been deafening, especially with all the mega stars scrambling to guest (mark your calendar for Britney Spears on September 28). Rest assured, Gleeks, the season 2 opener has the exciting vibe of an event. Summer's over, and Rachel (Lea Michele), her beau, Finn (Cory Monteith), and their New Directions pals find out nationals could take them to New York City. Cue a stirring (and seamless) outdoor cast rendition of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' "Empire State of Mind" that recalls the Grease showstopper "Summer Nights."
As for new lungs, sassy Sunshine (Filipina pop sensation Charice) and adorable jock Sam (Chord Overstreet) are likable foils for our two lovebirds. With such a large cast and broad scope, though, some stories get short shrift -- such as the unholy alliance between Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) and Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) that forms when new football coach Shannon Beiste (Dot Jones) poses a surprise threat. Still, by hour's end, viewers will be scouring iTunes for the music and continuing to giggle over Sue's euphemisms for breast implants. It's another terrific opening act. (Fox, 8 P.M.)