x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Fab four and final farewells

The musical programme Glee returns for its fifth season, missing one of its biggest stars - the late Cory Monteith.

Chris Colfer and Lea Michele in Glee. Courtesy Fox TV
Chris Colfer and Lea Michele in Glee. Courtesy Fox TV

In a news universe that’s all too often warped by the scheming twins of “viral” and “spin”, there was nothing phoney about the shock and grief felt by fans of Cory Monteith when the popular Glee star died of an accidental drug overdose in July. The loss of the charismatic 31-year-old – a cataclysm for a series stacked with joyful musical numbers and Broadway-flavoured pizzazz – sent Fox producers scrambling for a way to save the fifth season for the dancing and singing teenagers of New Direction, the Glee Club of William McKinley High School.

The creator and producer Ryan Murphy decided a tribute episode, to both the character Finn and the actor Monteith, would be the finest way to pay respects – but not until the third episode of the new season. “It would be difficult to come out of the gate right away and then recover from the emotional heft of a memorial tribute,” says Kevin Reilly, the chairman of Fox entertainment.

The tribute episode, titled The Quarterback, to be broadcast on October 11, will not say exactly how Finn died – plans to have Finn’s death mirror Monteith’s overdose were scrapped – but will instead focus on how the other Glee characters react to the grim news and say their emotional goodbyes. Original cast members expected to put in an appearance include Emma (Jayma Mays), Puck (Mark Salling), Mike (Harry Shum Jr) and Mercedes (Amber Riley).

Be prepared, Gleeks. Gird your tear ducts, because by all accounts a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

As one production-insider source reportedly told E! Online – the script is so beautifully crafted and powerful that viewers will cry “from beginning to end”.

The actress Lea Michele, Monteith’s love in real life as is her character Rachel on the series, will only appear in the final segment of the episode, but with maximum impact – perhaps to sing the poignant Paul ­McCartney tune, Yesterday.

A Glee publicity photo shows a delicate golden “Finn” necklace on her neck, like the “Cory” necklace she wore to the Teen Choice Awards in August, where she thanked Glee fans for their support. “For all of you out there who loved and admired Cory as much as I did, I promise that with your love we’re gonna get through this together. He was very special to me and also to the world.”

That brings us to the tonic that promises to put the spring back into New Direction’s dance steps in the first two episodes – Beatles music – and to bounce the new season off to a psychedelic start replete with Sergeant Pepper-style pastel silks in the opening episode, Love, Love, Love.

In handing out their biggest assignment yet, the club director and Spanish teacher Will (Matthew Morrison) enlists the kids to pay homage to the Fab Four’s classic song catalogue.

Storylines will also see Blaine (Darren Criss) and Kurt (Chris Colfer) grapple with questions about their future. Meanwhile, Rachel’s New York ambitions will take an unexpected turn.

“What I love about The Beatles is that they were so out there in terms of styles – they didn’t have just one style,” says Jane Lynch, whose character is up for a sweet promotion this season to Principal Sue.

After the first three episodes, Glee will take a short break for producers and writers to map out the future direction of the show in the aftermath of Monteith’s death.

• Glee broadcasts on Friday at 8pm on OSN First HD