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Fresh Faces, Altered Alliances, Same Sue! – A Recap of Glee’s Season 2 Premiere “Audition”

Your pals at New Directions would like to wish you a Big Ole’ “WELCOME BACK!”

Tonight’s season premiere of Glee offered us a number of things we thought would NEVER happen at McKinley High!  Artie, a Football Jock?  Finn, a Cheerleader?  Will and Sue, best buddies / Partners in Crime?  Rachel, dethroned as Queen Diva of New Directions?  WHAT THE GLEEK?

“What is the world coming to?  Oh, the HUMANITY!”

Perhaps, now would be a good time to backtrack and explain  . . .

Glee’s Big Gay Summer

According to Jacob Ben Israel’s video blog, a lot has happened to our favorite Glee kids during those warm hot summer months.  Finn and Rachel became a couple . . .

 . . . despite the fact that Finn still thinks Rachel is “control-ist.”

Tina dumped Artie . . .

. . .  because he and her just don’t share the same interests, anymore.  For example, lately, Tina has become very interested in Mike Chang’s abs .  . .

 . . . which are AWESOME, by the way!  Who knew?

I don’t know about you, but I smell another Love Triangle in our future . . .

(Speaking of abs, check out these new pics of Matthew Morrison, who plays Will Schuester on Glee.)

Holy, PECTORALS, Batman!

Also, Puck . . .

 . . . got a VASECTOMY??????

Presumably, this means that, never again, will another unsuspecting teen be forced to carry a Little Puckerman in their belly for nine months . . .

 He can still give them crabs, though . . .

Perhaps, most importantly, whatever “esteemed status” our Glee kids may have gained last year (read: no status at all), was lost the moment New Directions failed to place at Sectionals, last year.

Without a trophy on the mantel to justify their existence as a school club, New Directions’ ever tenuous funding is now on shakier footing than ever.  It certainly doesn’t help that Principal Figgins has hired a new football coach, Ms. Beist (played by Dot Jones).

The result of this “new hire” is that the Glee Club’s already anorexic budget has been cut by an additional ten percent.  But, here’s the kicker . . . so has the budget for SUE SYLVESTER’S CHEERIOS!

Understandably, this does not make Sue a Happy Camper . . .

Sue and Will: BFF?

With the Beist breathing down their necks, and snagging a big chunk of each of their club’s cash, Will Schuester and Sue Sylvester find themselves in a rather unusual situation.  They are both  .  . . ON THE SAME SIDE!

Clearly, the Apocalypse has arrived.  In order to recover the lost budgets for their respective clubs, Sue and Will decide to team up to topple the Beist.  Their Evil Genius Plan?  Operation Mean Girls . . .

An Expert Bully, Sue knows a High School Geek when she sees one: “She’s oversized, humorless, and refers to herself in the third person, as an animal (a Panther, to be exact),” Sue says of the Beist.  Sue figures that the best way to eliminate this beastly nemesis would be to capitalize on her insecurities and permanent outsider status.  For their first order of business, Sue and Schue order 25 pizzas, to be delivered to the Boy’s Locker room, precisely, when the first football practice of the Season is about to begin . . .

All right . . . now who gets the Sausage?

To Beist’s credit, she doesn’t appear to be at all fazed by the prank.  And when the new football coach learns that, if the pizzas are not paid for, the delivery boy won’t be able to afford to buy his kid Pampers . . .

 . . . Beist gallantly pays for the entire order.  She then offers all of her football players pizza, forcing them each to eat four slices prior to football tryouts.  “The first person who pukes, is cut!”  She barks.

Well, played Beist (or should I say, Panther)!

Then, in the faculty lounge (where Guidance Counselor Emma is no where to be found, by the way) . . .

Missing in Action

 .  . . Will and Sue sit at different lunch tables, both of which are otherwise empty.  However, when Beist tries to sit at both of them, the “mature educators” instruct her that she can’t, because the seats are already taken by their “imaginary friends.”

“Everyone said that Sue was the school bully, and you were really cool,” Beist says to Will, as she exits the faculty lounge.  “I guess they got that last part wrong.”

She sure showed him, didn’t she?

Then, Sue takes things one step further, by commandeering Brittany to claim that the Beist touched her boobies.  Using a doll that looks suspiciously similar to McKinley High’s Most Scholarly Cheerio (down to the vacant expression in its eyes), Brittany demonstrates to Principal Figgins the inappropriate conduct that she purportedly suffered at the hands of the Beist.  “She touched me here,” says Brittany emotionlessly, her thin fingers poking Little Brittany’s cotton-stuffed knockers . . .

Realizing that Operation Mean Girls has gone too far, Will begs Brittany to tell the truth about her “traumatic experience.”  Almost instantly, the Blonde Cheerleader cracks under interrogation.

“OK.  I lied.  Ms. Beist didn’t touch my boobs.  In fact, I really wanted to touch her boobs,” mumbles the not-so-closeted bisexual.

Later, when Sue tries to get Beist to eat cookies made of dog poop (“They’re organic!”), Will FINALLY intervenes on Beist’s behalf.  Later, he apologizes to the female football coach.  “Losing Sectionals forced me to realize that New Directions is still an Outsider at this school, and that’s how I made you feel.  I’m sorry,” offers McKinley High’s Most Recently Redeemed Bad Boy.

Awwww, it seems our Little Schuester has FINALLY grown up!  The question is, for how long?

A Little Sunshine can go a LONG way . . .

Still smarting from their Sectionals loss, and down one Glee Club member  .  . .

(Oh, Matt, we barely knew thee . . . and never even really learned what your voice sounded like)

 .  . . New Directions is going to need some new blood, if it wants to have a shot at attending Nationals in New York City this year.  To drum up interest in the club, and to show the school they aren’t just about “80’s music and show tunes” (which, lets face it, up until this episode . . . they kind of were), our favorite Glee kids decide to put on a show for their high school classmates at lunch.  Clad in the kind of vastly overpriced NYC t-shirts you might find at an illegally operated bodega in Times Square, the crew performs a fairly stripped-down, but still quite funky, rendition of Jay Z and Alicia Key’s Empire State of Mind.

And . . . basically, everybody ignores them . . .

 . . . well . . . everybody, except for THIS girl . . .

Rachel finds new foreign exchange student, Sunshine Corazone (played by Filipino pop sensation, Charise), in the ladies’ restroom.  In typical Rachel-fashion, New Directions Queen Diva immediately suggests that Sunshine join the Glee club, in a manner that is both patronizing and more than a little bit racist.  “Ah, I can see you don’t speak English,” Rachel begins sweetly.  “I . . . en-cour-age . . . you . . . to join Glee.  We need people who can stand in back of me, waving a fan, and looking on ado-ring-ly, while I sing.  Waving . . . a . .  .  flag . . . fun . . . Glee . . .  is fun.”

(Now, I am not a violent person, by nature.  But I wanted to slap Rachel so hard during this scene, that my fist very nearly detached itself from my body, and flew into the television screen . . .)

To her credit, Sunshine DIDN’T punch Rachel.  Instead, she started rocking out to her iPod, and singing along (extremely well, I might add), to the Beyonce and Lady Gaga song “Telephone.”

Impressed, and more than a bit threatened, Rachel begins to sing the song as well.  Soon, the two diminutive girls are engaged in a full on sing-off, circling one another like wrestlers at a WWF title match.

Then, Sue comes in to the bathroom, and catches wind of the whole exchange.  “SHUT UP!” She exclaims, stopping the girls’ right in the middle of their Glass Breaking Belt-fest.

You’ve gotta love Sue . . .

“That was fun!  I would love to join your club.  When are auditions?”  Sunshine inquires, with faux innocence.  (Clearly, this girl isn’t as naive as she appears .  . .)

Worried that Sunshine will upstage her during Glee Club performances will mess up the “team dynamic,” Rachel tries to convince the other Glee Club members not to allow Sunshine to audition.  And when her initial attempts at Sunshine Sabotage are unsuccessful, Rachel REALLY turns to the Dark Side . . .

“RACHEL . . . I am one of your two Gay Fathers!”

“Here are specific directions to the Glee Club auditions,” Rachel says sweetly to Sunshine, providing her with a slip of paper, that looks as though it says a hell of a lot more than, “Turn left at the girl’s bathroom, and enter the auditiorium, on your right.”

Little did Poor Sunshine know that Evil Rachel had just provided her with directions to a Crack House . . .

And if anyone would know where all the good crack houses are in Ohio, its Rachel!  After all, she practically grew up in Crack Den!

“Crack is WACK!”

When the other Glee Club members find out what Rachel did to Sunshine they are furious, particularly Tina and Mike (The Asian community is VERY tight, after all)!  And so, with her tail between her legs, Rachel must apologize to the now Partly Cloudy, Sunshine.  “They took my sheet music and used it for toilet paper,” whines Sunshine, when Rachel offers her condolences.

Ultimately, however, Sunshine agrees to audition for the Glee club, for real, this time.  On stage, she performs a rendition of Dreamgirls’ “Listen” that literally blows everybody away. 

Immediately, upon the song’s completion, Will offers Sunshine a position in the club.  Unfortunately, for Will, and the rest of New Directions, however, Sunshine has other plans.  And when Will arrives at Sunshine’s locker to personally hand her a practice schedule, he finds her being coddled by none other than THIS GUY . . .

He can “coddle” ME, anytime!

It’s the New Vocal Adrenaline Coach, Dustin Goldsberry (played by Cheyenne Jackson)!  Dustin has just waltzed into McKinley High to pick up Vocal Adrenaline’s newest star singer.  (Seriously?  Is there NO security in this high school?  I hope they have good insurance . . .) 

“They gave my mom and me a condo and a greencard,” Sunshine tells Will, excitedly. 

 (And this is all supposedly coming from a Public School?  I don’t think so, Glee Writers . . .)

Sunshine admits to Will, that she would have stayed with New Directions, had it not been for Rachel’s intimidation tactics.  “I just don’t think I could work with her, after she sent me to a Crack House” Sunshine explains, apologetically. 

With Sunshine’s Hello Kitty backpack, hugging his shoulders . . .

Bookbag of Champions

  .  . . Diego puts his arm creepily around Sunshine, and the two walk off into the Sunset (no pun intended), taking Will Schuester’s dreams of a slam dunk Sectional win, right along with them.

Apparently, Vocal Adrenaline’s new coach was tipped off to Sunshine’s incredible talents, by none other than Sue Sylvester . . .

 . . . who, if you recall, heard Sunshine sing in the bathroom, earlier in the episode.  So, much for the short-lived alliance between Sue and Will!  Perhaps, next time Mr. Schuester will think twice before turning down Poop Cookies . . .

The Downside of Big Boobs  . . .

Speaking of Sue Sylvester, apparently, she has decided to make little change to the Cheerios roster. 

Not only has she reluctantly allowed Quinn back on the squad, post-Baby Debacle . . .

. . . she has also reappointed her as Head Cheerleader, forcing Santana to give up her golden pom-poms, and relocate to the bottom of the proverbial Cheer Pyramid.

The reason for this change?  Santana’s new boobs!

Apparently, “having Massively Large Fake Tatas” and “Cheerleading” do not mix, at least, as far as Sue is concerned.

“Take your juicy vine-ripened chest fruit, and GET THE HELL OUT OF MY OFFICE!”  Sue yells at the recently dethroned Santana.

Sayonara, Suckers!

Santana responds to her demotion, by engaging in a full on catfight with Quinn, who has once again returned to her high-ponytail wearing, tiny uniform-flaunting glory.

So, much for the Glee kids being “One Big Happy Family” . . .

The Outsiders

You know who else is NEVER going to be Head Cheerleader?  THIS GUY . . .

Unfortuntely, after this episode, he might not be Quarterback, either . . .

No stranger to being on the losing end of a love triangle, himself, Finn sympathized with Artie’s desire to be “cool,” in order to win Tina back . . . as well as Artie’s desire to “have abs” . . .

Honestly, can you blame Quinn for “Pucking” this guy, over Finn?

And so, when Artie expressed a desire to join the football team, not only did Finn see an opportunity to help out a friend, he also saw a chance to utilize Artie’s wheelchair as a very unique weapon on the football field — a “human cannonball” of sorts.  (Ummm, Finn?  I’m not really sure that kind of thing is ALLOWED in high school football.  But, hey, what do I know?)

However, when Coach Beist hears Finn’s idea about letting Artie on the team, she becomes CONVINCED the idea is just another stunt of Sue’s and Will’s to make her look insensitive to physically challenged students, like Artie.  And so, “the Panther” lashes out, and THROWS FINN OFF THE FOOTBALL TEAM!

This results in Finn trying out for the Cheerios, in a hilarious audition, that reminded me a bit of that iconic scene from Napoleon Dynamite . . .

It also resulted in New Student Sam, despite his penchant for singing Poison’s “Every Rose has its Thorn” in the shower . . .

. . . and rocking out on the guitar to Travis McCoy’s “Billionaire” . . .

. . .  to ditch Glee club auditions, out of fear of catching the virulent contagion that is Finn’s new “OUTSIDER” status.  Did I forget to mention that Sam is also McKinley High’s newest Quarterback?

The episode ends with a very sweet scene between Finn and Rachel . . .

. . . during which they accept one another’s faults and mutual outsider status, and agree never to dump one another at least, until someone better comes along.  After the pair share an admittedly sweet, and, surprisingly not too nauseating, kiss, a dejected Rachel heads off by herself to sing a rousing, if slightly maudlin, rendition of “What I Did For Love.” 

Admittedly, when I first heard the song, I was certain it was another Streisand ditty.  (We all know how much Rachel LOVES those!)  However, upon doing a little research, I quickly learned that the song is actually from the Broadway show “A Chorus Line.”

Shows how much I know . . .

 (Seriously, Glee?  What happened to Will’s promise of LESS show tunes?  It’s only the first episode back, and we already had two . . . just saying.)

Certain mundane song choices aside, I was quite impressed with “Audition.”  The episode offered some solid development of veteran characters, like Rachel and Finn, as well as introduced some promising new ones, like Sunshine, Sam, and Coach Beist. 

I am also excited by some of the new plotlines that were teased out during the hour, and the questions raised by those plotlines.  For example: How long will Finn and Rachel manage to keep it together as a couple, before someone ELSE — most likely, Quinn or Puck — gets in the way?  Is Finn really off the football team for good?  Is Sunshine destined to be the next Jesse St. James?  What grand gesture will Artie inevitably plan to win back Tina’s heart?

And that was this week’s installment of Glee, in a nutshell . . .

So, now that you know my thoughts on the subject, how did YOU like the Glee premiere?  Did it deserve a standing ovation?  Or did you find some of the new storylines and characters a bit “pitchy?”

[www.juliekushner.com]

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Degrassi: The Boiling Point (Because Canadian Teens are People Too!)

The cast of Degrassi: The Next Generation . . . NONE of these people are actually on the show anymore.  Seriously.

Once upon a time (the early 2000s) in a land far, far, away (Canada), a bunch of folks got together and created a half-hour television program called Degrassi: The Next Generation.  It was a show about high school kids (well . . . actually, they started out in junior high), one which starred actors and actresses who were ACTUALLY teenagers  . . .

 . . . as opposed to the 35- and 40-year olds who typically starred in teen television dramas at that time.

Meet the first 16-year old to ever suffer from menopause . . .

And the first 17-year old to experience erectile dysfunction disorder.

But what most of us fans of the show DIDN’T know, was that Degrassi wasn’t exactly NEW.  It was actually a revamp of a REALLY, REALLY, REALLY old show (from the 1980s) that ALSO featured high school kids.  Except THEY looked like THIS . . .

Woah!  Scary!

 . . . and had HAIR like THIS . . .

How exactly did one sleep at night, with hair like THAT?  Wouldn’t it puncture holes in the bedroom wall, in the middle of the night?

Throughout the years, the NEW Degrassi grew more and more popular.  And as its cast aged (into their LATE teens, mind you, not their LATE fifties like those OTHER shows), its storylines became more and more provocative.  Degrassi began to tackle REAL issues that REAL teens faced everyday, like . . .

Rape;

Self-mutilation;

Mental illness;

Addiction to Prescription Pain Medication;

School Shootings; and

Zombies.

Due largely to the success of the show, and the innate talents of its stars, many Degrassi: The Next Generation cast members went on to become big stars in .  . . wait for it . . . THE UNITED STATES.  For example, you may remember Darcy Edwards (played by Shenae Grimes), the “good little Christian girl” . . .

“OMG!  You just CURSED!  You are SO going to hell!”

 . . . turned Skanky Ho / Internet Porn Star . . .

 . . . or, as you NOW know her, Annie from the NEW 90210.

Then, there was Little Jimmy (played by Aubrey Graham), the Rich Kid Jock . . .

 . . . who was tragically confined to a wheel chair, after being shot in the back by a psycho.  But you might know him better as kickass rapper dude, Drake . . .

And who could forget my personal favorite?  Baby Mama Mia.

 She doesn’t look familiar to you?  Perhaps you’d recognize her more, if she was attached to the lips of some VERY HOT VAMPIRES . . .

It’s Nina Dobrev!  Or as you know her better, Elena Gilbert of The Vampire Diaries!

Can I get a, “Hell yeah!”

Unfortunately, soon after the departure of these folks (along with most of the rest of the show’s original cast) came an inevitable drop in the show’s ratings . . .

Coming up on its tenth season, Degrassi: The Next Generation was staring down cancellation.  To stay afloat, it needed a MIRACLE!  It needed a HAIL MARY!

Hail, Mary!

So the producers of Degrassi came up with a plan . . .

Why not spice things up a bit, by changing the show’s format to one that’s already proven successful?  Why not make Degrassi into . . .  a SOAP OPERA!

So what if HALF of the longest running soap operas on television have been CANCELED within the past two years?

Clearly, this is an AMAZING and FAILSAFE idea!

And so, starting this week, Degrassi: The Next Generation has traded in its weekly airings for daily ones.  This summer, a half-hour episode of the series will air every weekday at 9 p.m. on TeenNick for six weeks.  This television viewing event is being referred to by advertisers as THE BOILING POINT . . . though I’m not quire sure why . . .

(Maybe watching it gives you hot flashes . . .)

The promo is pretty cool though!

THE BOILING POINT kicked off early this week, with a two-hour special entitled Degrassi Takes Manhattan.  The series got off to a good start, at least in terms of “shock value,” if not exactly for “good plotting” or “good acting.”  During the special, two characters who had precisely NOTHING to do with one another for the ENTIRE ten years they were on the program together (Spinner and Emma), inexplicably declared their “love” for one another, and got married . . .

“And you are . . .?”

(Man!  That drunken Vegas Toronto casino sex must have been REALLY GOOD . . .)

Then, an, admittedly very attractive, brother / sister duo (Declan and Fiona) engaged in a very public, disturbingly sexy, MAKEOUT session with eachother!

“So, Declan.  What do you think we should name our three-headed kids?”

But then, things kind of went downhill .  . .

Take this first week of episodes, for example.  It featured the following plotlines  . . .

THIS couple is NOT pregnant . . .

THIS girl is NOT getting a boob job  . . .

THIS girl did NOT try to commit suicide (ugly ass headband, notwithstanding).

If this keeps up, they may have to change Degrassi’s infamous tagline from “It Goes There” to “It Goes  . . . Where?”

I mean, really!  Fake pregnancies to win ELECTIONS?  Rumors about someone getting a boob job, when she is actually getting LASIK EYE SURGERY?  Could THIS be the same program that brought us this shocking scene?

OR this one?

Then again, maybe I’m being too harsh.  It IS early in the season, yet.  And maybe things will start to pick up, as the weeks wear on . . .  Here’s hoping . . .

So, I have to ask.  Have YOU been watching THE BOILING POINT?  If so, what do you think so far?

[Degrassi’s THE BOILING POINT airs weeknights at 9 p.m. on TeenNick this summer]

 

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