|The Glee cast
Glee's New Directions have never been hotter.
They're playing soldout concerts all over the world. Their songs have been downloaded millions and millions of times. Young hearts are melting everywhere the group goes. And ...
Oh ... wait a minute ... that's One Direction.
Well, that makes more sense.
New Directions, the high school vocal group on Glee, used to have its own version of One Direction-style heat.
But while the show never will regain the elevated place in the pop-culture pantheon that it enjoyed in its first season, Glee is pushing ahead with a revamped season four, beginning Thursday, September 13 on Fox and Global.
Interestingly, the new Glee isn't trying to go exclusively in a new direction, or even in one direction, but rather in two directions.
Some of the most well-known members of the cast -- including Rachel (Lea Michele), Finn (Cory Monteith) and Kurt (Chris Colfer) -- have graduated from McKinley High. In that regard, we have to say, thank goodness. You never want to push it too far with actors in their late 20s and beyond posing as high school kids.
But Glee now is trying to have it both ways: Revamp and reset.
The revamping has to do with New Directions. They're coming off a national championship, but some of its stars have departed.
It's up to Mr. Schuester (Matthew Morrison) to replace the graduates, and also to manage the newly inflated egos and petty jealousies of the holdovers. Against all odds, New Directions is the coolest club at McKinley, since everyone loves a winner. But I'm betting it won't last.
Meanwhile, the resetting largely has to do with Rachel, Finn and Kurt, the characters that made Glee a massive hit in its rookie campaign. Fans don't want to let them go, so Glee can't afford to do so.
At the end of the third season, we knew Rachel had been accepted at NYADA, the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts. The first episode of the fourth season spends a lot of time with Rachel in the Big Apple as she battles expectations, competition, loneliness, homesickness and intimidating teachers played by Kate Hudson and Whoopi Goldberg.
Moving forward, the challenge for Glee will be finding threads that keep those two story lines connected. Because we all know what happens when you leave high school, whether your experience there was as blase as it is for the bulk of us, or as magical as it was for New Directions. You feel discombobulated. But then you adjust fairly quickly to whatever your new surroundings are.
The lost graduates who tend to hang around high school are looked upon as pathetic. We won't say who, but one of the graduates is in that situation as the fourth season of Glee begins, and Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) has some rather choice words to describe what's occurring.
Can Glee embrace both the past and the future simultaneously?
That's what makes it beautiful. Oh crap, that's One Direction again, never mind.