For once, being a loser is actually cool. With a touch of “Glee,” Tuesdays get a little happier as a chorus of angsty teen melodies stream through televisions across the country. After two Emmy wins (Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series), the cast is no longer “plankton on the high school food chain,” but is inching its way toward the top. After a promising first season, McKinley High’s glee club, New Directions, is certainly headed in the right one.


Tuesdays at 8 p.m.

Back from what nerdy blogger Jacob (Josh Sussman) deems a “big gay summer,” “Glee” is packed with more sparkle — and drama — than ever. But not everything is quite as perky as where the first season left off: Artie (Kevin McHale) rolls alone as now ex-girlfriend Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) and fellow glee member, Mike Chang (Harry Shum Jr.), sparked a relationship while working as counselors at Asian Camp; Quinn (Dianna Agron) resumes her throne atop the Cheerios’ pyramid while Santana (Naya Rivera) is thrust to the bottom for her unwarranted plastic surgery. Despite the new ‘do, self-righteous perfectionist Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) feels more threatened than ever before. Her grip on claimed solos — and recent boyfriend Finn (Cory Monteith) — is beginning to slip from her fingers and potentially into the hands of someone else.

Finn himself suffers as the changes reap destruction on the school. Kicked off the football team by a bitter new coach, Finn is thrust into an identity crisis as he goes from “quarterback to nothing.” The new football regime also wears on Cheerios coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) and glee club director Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison). Allied by a mutual 10-percent budget cut at the hands of the football team, Sylvester takes the desperate Schuester under her wing as the bullying and baking of “poop cookies” commences.

The season premiere magnifies the feeling of inferiority coursing through the school and presents it in the addition of new characters. Appropriately named Shannon Beiste (pronounced “beast”), the new football coach is a hunkering, low-toned woman whose masculine demeanor is misunderstood. The female equivalent of past football coach, Ken Tanaka, Beiste (Dot Jones, “Lizzie McGuire”) faces rejection as she is repeatedly shut out by Sylvester and the usually kind-hearted Schuester. Her isolation evokes sympathy from viewers and represents the lonely abnormality of individuals that “Glee” embraces.

Also new to the troupe is Sam Evans (singer Chord Overstreet), dyslexic replacement quarterback and total boy-band material. Evans croons Poison’s “Every Rose has its Thorn,” proving he deserves a place in the band of misfits that is New Directions. Sunshine Corazon (YouTube singing sensation Charice), is a pint-sized Filipina girl bursting with attitude behind thick frames and pigtails. With a colossally soulful voice, Corazon belts “Listen” from the movie “Dreamgirls” and leaves Rachel Berry quaking in her knee socks.

Witty and charming as always, “Glee” celebrates its individualistic attitude with musical charm, but lacks its performances’ past luster. Including renditions of Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire” and Lady Gaga’s “Telephone,” the scenes seem unnatural and out of place, while group shots like Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’s “Empire State of Mind” awkwardly present cheap music video quality. But as Corazon shines and Berry croons about love, “Glee” finds its musical niche by the episode’s end.

With the rate “Glee” is going, New Directions is bound to take over more than just the National trophy. With promises of future guest stars John Stamos and Britney Spears, and themes including “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” fans will be more than willing to “gleek out” for “Glee.”

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