For the first time in quite awhile, I'm excited about "Glee" again.
Last year's graduation, moving several of the characters to new venues and challenges, has given the show a burst of energy, with Lea Michele in a "Fame"-like setting -- struggling to survive at a brutally competitive school for the performing arts. At the same time, the show has added promising newcomers to the original club, offering some of the thrill of discovery the series has been missing.
Finally, for all the big-name guest stars who have passed through the show, it's hard to remember one who made a more arresting debut than Kate Hudson, who not only plays Rachel's tough dance instructor (snidely referring to her new student as "Schwimmer") but delivers a spectacular song-and-dance number of her own. Throw in Whoopi Goldberg as another one of Rachel's profs, and Dean Geyer as the kind of temptation many a new college arrival faces (or would like to face), and the New York thread has made the show infinitely richer and more interesting.
Like a lot of people in my position, I've kept up with "Glee" at times more out of a sense of obligation than excitement -- grateful for the occasional show-stopping moment, but irritated by the soap-opera plotting. Yet unlike so many past high school shows -- which often hang onto characters until they're older than the original cast of "Grease" was -- producer Ryan Murphy and company had the guts to move forward.
Of course, "Glee's" uneven past and penchant for oddball flourishes warrants tempering enthusiasm regarding the premiere -- which will air Sept. 13, following "The X Factor" -- but if nothing else, this hour ought to remind people what, at its best, they've savored about this show. It's also impressive to see the show rebound with Murphy pulled in so many directions, also producing "The New Normal" and "American Horror Story."
OK, so I'm not ready to completely re-enrol just yet, but I'm honestly looking forward to the new school year around McKinley High as a possible elective, not a requirement.
If so, I guess they got it right in the original pilot: Don't stop believin'.