LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The second season of any whirlwind show is a challenge; scrutiny and expectations can deflate any highfliers, no matter how they roar back.
Having managed to successfully introduce the concept of a narrative TV musical series, Fox's "Glee" hasn't even finished its first season (it's just back from hiatus), and the microscopes already are coming out.
For fans, the episode airing Tuesday night, "Hell-O," proves it's all still there: Cheerleading coach Sue is reinstated and tells glee club coach Will she wants to bury the hatchet in his groin; the ongoing soap-opera antics of students and teachers; the acid hilarity of lines like "I am engorged with venom and triumph"; or the fact that the club's main competition rehearse under a spotlight so bright they have to wear sunscreen onstage.
So at first, it's almost hard to tell what's wanting. "Glee's" first 13 episodes were, well, gleefully delightful as it reveled in old hits and fantasy sequences as well as over-the-top behavior and circumstances. Much of that still is here. But there's a stagy quality as the first season continues: A scene where Will helps Finn "find himself" by walking him to a microphone with a band waiting to play any song he wants is awkward; Rachel walks yet again into another of Sue's traps; and despite having won sectionals, the glee club still is fighting for its survival.
But here's the real heresy: There's just too much music. Even for someone who loves the musical numbers, it's overkill -- three songs go by in the first 20 minutes, with at least that many still to come. They might be fun performances, but they're not all necessary, and yes, it is possible to have too much music even on a successful narrative musical TV series.
"Hell-O" is slight. It's not an episode that would have sold the series early on, and the sheer number of guest stars coming down the road in future episodes could prove a mixed bag of delights (Jonathan Groff already is up front and center). That said, it is good to be back in McKinley High, where there are no sloppy rehearsals and the slushies are forever electric blue. Sing along, folks, you know the tune.