Well, I told you I’d be hitting the ground running and watching the second season of Glee right after I finished re-watching season 1. There’s only two episodes left to air of this season, so I probably won’t get them all done before the season finale, but it will be pretty close. As I’ve mentioned in many of my posts for season 1, I think the show’s sophomore season was a superior product to its original season if for no other reason than the show really began to respect and utilize the ensemble nature of the cast. Chris Colfer (Kurt) started to get as much screen time as any of the show’s main characters, and dancers/back up singers like Santana, Brittany, and Mike all started to become actual characters instead of extra bodies on stage.

Season 2 picks up at the beginning of the new school year after season 1. Since their loss at Regionals to Vocal Adrenaline, the New Directions remain at the bottom of the social food chain at William McKinley High. One of the group’s members transferred, and they need to get a new member to qualify for competition. They get this in the form of Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet), a dorky but lovable jock that Finn discovers singing in the shower much like Will did for him in the pilot. The school has a new football coach in the form of one Shannon Bieste and Sue has declared jihad on her much as she did on Will in season 1. The show also explores the new relationships that have formed in the group, mainly Rachel and Finn finally being a couple as well as new items such as Mike and Tina, Artie and Brittany, and Sam and Quinn. And for once, the relationships all actually last more than one episode.

The first episode “Auditions” is really good. It does a good job of maintaining everything that is great about Glee while hanging a lampshade on some of Glee‘s faults (i.e. autotune, the fact that Rachel’s kind of a huge bitch, the angst of the whole product). The second one “Brittany/Britney” is ok. I’m not a big Britney Spears fan and I wasn’t a fan of the musical selections in the episode, but the episode was hilarious and featured two of the funniest moments of the season, a “Britney Spears Sex Riot” and Sue catching Jacob Ben Israel naked in the library fantasizing over Rachel. You also got to see Heather Morris (Brittany) dancing and singing and wow you would have never guessed how talented she was. “Grilled Cheesus” is fantastic and I’m fairly certain it’s the episode Chris Colfer won his much deserved Golden Globe for. I spent the entirety of the second half of the episode in tears. However, Finn’s whole storyline believing he saw Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich was an unnecessary distraction from the episode’s main dramatic themes. “Duets” was once again just ok, but it did feature some great music numbers. However, I still can’t believe they got away with mentioning scissoring on network TV. My jaw dropped the first time I heard it. .

Musically, this season goes in different places than the first. There is a much higher emphasis on Top 40 songs than there were in Season 1 and there are generally more musical numbers performed per episode than in Season 1. There are definitely times that I miss the classic rock and show tunes from the first season. They still sing songs like that, but they show up less often, and it’s kind of disappointing. However, this season did introduce me to a lot of more modern songs that I had never heard before that I ended up really liking like Travis McCoy’s “Billionaire” which is Sam’s audition song.

Those complaints aside, this stretch of episodes still had some really great musical numbers hidden away in them. A catfight duet of Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s “Telephone” between Rachel and exchange student Sunshine (pop star Charice) is both a comedic and singing highlight. Charice gives a jaw-dropping rendition of “Listen” from Dreamgirls. Although I’m not a Britney Spears fan, the group’s version of “Toxic” was still really awesome, and I actually think it’s superior to the original version. Kurt’s version of the Beatles’ “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” (and I know how blasphemous this may sound and they’re my favorite band of all time) actually sounds the way the song should have been sang and I like it more than the way the Beatles’ sang it. He also did a superb and glamorous rendition of “Le Jazz Hot” from Victor/Victoria. Mercedes brought the house down with a full choir version of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, and in “Duets” she and Santana made a compelling vocal team on “River Deep, Mountain High”.

One of the things that as a Glee fan, I am somewhat reticent to admit is that I often forget a lot of the plots and story lines from the original season. I’m not saying they were poorly written or that they weren’t compellling, I just always walked away knowing more about the musical numbers than I did the actual story of the show. In season 2, that is much different. With the exception of two episodes, the Britney Spears one and the Rocky Horror Picture Show one, this season devotes a lot more time to plot and to character development, and Glee is ultimately a much better product for it. Of course, my boss thinks this is the season the show jumped the shark, so what do I know.

I can’t believe I’ve only been watching Glee for about a year now. I didn’t start watching the show until right before the second season premiered, but I feel like I’ve known the kids at McKinley High as well as I knew any of the kids I actually went to high school with (that might be because I wasn’t that social back then). I’m sad that the second season is coming to an end, but I am really pumped to see how New Directions does at Nationals this year, and I hope it is as suitably epic as Regionals was last year.

 Score in Progress: B+