x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Glee mania just keeps on growing ahead of season 3

Astonishingly, theres no sign of Glee fatigue, despite the relentless chatter and excitement. Just as well because the new series, we are told, 'will knock your socks off'.

All the Glee regulars, with the exception of Chord Overstreet, are due to return for the new series.
All the Glee regulars, with the exception of Chord Overstreet, are due to return for the new series.

It is hard to predict the moment that by all rights should probably have come some time last year. Yet Glee glut seems set to continue unfettered – no sign of jumping the shark yet, no matter how many ­attempts there have to been to wallpaper the entertainment scene with all things William McKinley High School.

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Since its launch two years ago, the teenage musical series has spawned two tours, a reality show, eight albums, a platinum-selling single, a forthcoming film (in 3D, no less) and legions of loyal fans – celebrities such as Katie Holmes and Natalie Portman among them – who lap up each and every show-related development. A quick browse of Glee’s many fan websites shows that thousands out there are writing fan fiction, snapping up show T-shirts and trying to second-guess series creator Ryan Murphy’s every move.

Those “Gleeks” surely must have been distressed at last month’s news that three of the show’s stars – Lea Michele, Corey Monteith and Chris Colfer – would be leaving next year when their characters are due to graduate. But that would have only meant another Glee-related project: a spin-off where the characters head to New York to try their luck on Broadway. That project has, however, been put on ice, meaning Rachel, Finn and Kurt are not going anywhere – for now, at least.

When the cast and creative team start shooting the third series this month (it is scheduled to begin showing by September) all the ­series regulars will be returning, executive producer Brad Falchuck confirmed at a Comic Con International panel last month. All except for Chord Overstreet, that is. He played Sam, and he apparently ­declined to return. A few other choice plot developments were revealed during the session: Amber Riley’s character Mercedes is due to come back from the summer with a new male friend, while the mean cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester (played by the newly minted Emmy Awards 2011 host Jane Lynch) is to make a run for public office on a platform of “no arts in schools”.

For many fans, two months is a long time to wait, but there are plenty of other Glee-related goings on to plug the gap. There’s The Glee Project, a reality show in which competitors sing and dance in front of an audience of cast members in order to win a role in the show.

We can also expect to hear more from Matthew Morrison, the actor who plays the Glee Club’s idealistic teacher Will Schuester, and who released his first, self-titled solo ­album in May. He has released a couple of singles from it, and appeared onstage with Leona Lewis in London in June, which is probably not the last time we’ll see him promoting it this summer.

And, of course, there’s the 3D concert movie, which is set to hit cinema screens on August 12 featuring footage recorded from a concert in New Jersey.

All this points to over-saturation: after two seasons of following a set formula, with pretty much every romantic combination of characters exhausted, can another season hold fans’ attention? And following two tours, a movie and so many ­albums, will people start switching off when they hear about yet another­ Glee-branded event?

Ratings, reviews, and chatter on fan sites suggest otherwise. Glee’s audience has been increasing steadily, showing that appetites for the show aren’t waning yet. Viewers in the US increased from an average of 9.8 million for the first season to 10.1 million for the second, reaching a record high this year for the special Suberbowl episode.

Award recognition is on the increase, too. In 2010, Glee won one award at the Golden Globes – for Best Musical or Comedy Series. This year, it won three – Best Musical or Comedy, Best Supporting ­Actress for Lynch and Best Supporting Actor for Colfer.

Add all this to the fact that new writers have been drafted in to bolster the core team of executive producers, including Murphy, Falchuck, Dante di Loreto and Ian Brennan – among them some who worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Chuck – and you could have a season that outperforms the previous two.

The producers have promised that this season will have fewer songs, more sustained character arcs and fewer guest stars and special episodes, which should make for a more satisfying, less formulaic series. “The stories that are coming out are going to knock your socks off,” di Loreto said. “It’s going­ to be the most extraordinary season ever.”

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