I have seen the season premiere of Glee! And it is so deeply dorkily awesome. It picks up a day or two after the pilot left off, with Mr. Schuster (Matthew Morrison) back at school. The glee kids are dorky in the parking lot, and Kurt still gets thrown in the dumpster, sans Finn's participation. The main focus of the episode is the Glee kids' attempt avoid the humiliation of performing "Freakout" at a school assembly. Their performance is necessary because they must win regionals or be disbanded, and they need twelve members to make regionals. It is the Cheer coach's avowed mission to prevent them from achieving this. Jane Lynch is astonishing.
I don't want to give too much away, so I'll just give you some hints:
There are 5 musical numbers. The conflict between the Cheerios and the Glee Club is laid out really well. Schuster's wife is still a vicious entitled bitch, but towards the end of the episode she shows a glimmer of becoming interesting. Rachel busts a cap in the Celibacy Club's ass. The romantic subplots are moving quickly. The glee kids have a secret rehearsal and perform a number that leads to the line, "That was the most offensive thing I've seen in 20 years of teaching, and that includes an elementary school production of Hair." I love Jane Lynch. There are three new members of the Glee Club. Most of the post-pilot preview material is in this episode, though not quite all. It ends with Lynch plotting to take New Directions down. It's all amazing.
After the preview, the panel came out. Dianna Agron (Quinn), Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Ian Brennan, and another producer were there. (They didn't have namecards so I have no idea who the other producer was. Sorry.) The actors mostly discussed their audition processes and the differences between acting for the stage vs. acting for television. The cast members will also embark on a ten city tour in about three weeks. They'll be in Hot Topic doing meet and greets. If you want to know if they're coming to your town, follow Glee on Fox on Twitter.
Obviously the music is a major component of the show. They don't ever spontaneously burst into song because the producers think that might alienate viewers. Rather, they sing in rehearsals or performances or just in their rooms at home, and there are cuts to scenes of their daily life. In the beginning they had planned on 3 or 4 songs an episode, but some episodes have as many as 7. They've recorded over 60 tracks, and we've been promised both Barbra Streisand and the Rolling Stones in an upcoming episode. Some big musical stars guesting in upcoming episodes include Kristin Chenowith, Josh Groban, Debra Monk, Victor Garber, and Eve.
Brennan talked about the process of making the show. It's written thematically rather than plotwise. They discuss where there characters are in their emotional journeys, then come up with songs, then come up with a plot. And although this has made at least two really great episodes so far, anyone who remembers Popular should maybe be a little worried. I mentioned above that the romantic storylines move quickly in the first episode, and it looks like that pace will continue. When Ryan Murphy pitched the first couple episodes to Fox, the execs said That's a lot of story, and Murphy said, That's the only way I know how to do it. Brennan says that if a writer has a good idea, it goes in the script. They aren't saving anything for future episodes. Again, anyone who loved Popular should be worried.
But for now, the show looks incredible. Smart, funny, touching, insane, absurd, realistic, and a thousand other adjectives all rolled up into a little ball of joy. When the panelists were asked to give a short description of the show, there were a few comparisons to Election, which is apt, but honestly Glee isn't like anything on TV right now. Monteith said he'd heard it described thusly: "It's like if High School Musical had been punched in the stomach and had its lunch money stolen." I don't know anyone who wouldn't love watching that.