Glee is back!

Yes, everyone’s favorite High School Musical is back for a second season, aiming to build on the success of the standout first series – both in the ratings AND in the music charts.

As regular Remote Patrolled readers know I’m a big Glee fan and very excited by the return of the show. At its best Glee is hugely original, sharp, moving and above all fantastic fun.

But I’ve also been quite a critic of the show over the last few months. I’ve questioned the wisdom of adding too many guest stars (Glee-Full), the character of Kurt (Glee’s Gay Problem) and the show’s general writing standards (Going Gaga For Glee). I also think an inevitable Glee backlash is brewing this season. All the more reason for Executive Producer Ryan Murphy and his team to get the show on track NOW.

 For me there was a clear reason Glee didn’t win the Best Comedy Emmy at the end of August. Simply put the show isn’t deserving of such an accolade YET. But it can be with just a few small tweaks.

So here’s my 7 Top Tips to keep Fox’s musical smash on a high note for years to come…

1) KEEP IT CONSISTENT: Glee’s biggest problem last season? The show’s storylines were all over the place…

Seriously, I don’t know who takes care of continuity in the Glee writing room but can I suggest they actually watch the show they’re meant to be working on! There’s just no consistency on Glee with the cast acting out of character on a regular basis just to service the outlandish plots. Puck dating Mercedes, Quinn befriending Mercedes, Artie and Tina’s on off relationship, Rachel and Jesse’s on off relationship, Shelby’s sudden desire for a baby, the whole Olivia Newton John saga, Terri befriending Finn. It’s hard to take a show seriously when the series can’t even stick to the storylines it’s created or have characters behave in a logical manner.

And then there’s the revolving door of characters, disappearing for whole episodes at a time! Molly Shannon was introduced as a nemesis to Sue Sylvester and literally had about 4 lines spread over 6 episodes (criminal!). Jonathan Groff’s Jesse St James and Idina Menzel’s Shelby Corcoran both went AWOL multiple times and whatever happened to Coach Tanaka? (not that I’m complaining about the latter mind you). Just like the Glee club itself, Fox’s smash hit felt like it was making it up as it went along… but you know you can only wing it for so long…

2) STOP PLOT RECYCLING: Can we please have a moratorium on the following Glee storylines for Season 2? Rachel walking out on the club, only to change her mind at the very last minute (just in time to perform); Kurt’s makeovers; Principal Figgins pulling the plug on the club; Artie teaching the gang life lessons based around his ‘disability’; Emma and Will’s on again off again relationship. And most of all, anything related to babies – real or faked!

3) SLOW DOWN ON THE SINGLES: Now that Glee is both a musical and TV phenomenon, regularly dominating the Itunes and Billboards charts, there’s gonna be a huge temptation to churn out as many songs from the series as possible. In a word –DON’T!

I love downloading select Glee tracks every Wednesday morning but trust me when I say my ipod will never be sullied with such musical monstrosities as Thong Song, Ice Ice Baby and anything by the Acafellas. Stick to the classics please – or songs that can benefit from a new take (Gives You Hell for example).

And most of all – no more Will rapping…

4) CUT DOWN THE CAST: As I’ve said before, Glee is one seriously overstuffed show with just too many regular cast members (see point 1 above). There’s the 10 members of the Glee club itself (not counting Mike since the show clearly doesn’t) then the staff – Will, Sue, Principal Figgins, Emma – and recurring characters like Shelby, Jesse, Jacob… all trying to score screen-time in a 42 minute show punctuated by multiple musical numbers.

And there’s more to come. We already know about Charice and John Stamos joining the cast, a new football coach to torment Sue, Kurt’s upcoming boyfriend, a Christian character to rival Rachel… how on earth are all these new cast members going to fit within the show? How will the series regulars stay front and center? And will Mike EVER get more than one line an episode?

5) GRATUITOUS GUEST STARS: Adding to the overstuffed cast problem – Glee’s penchant for guest star appearances (let’s call it Will and Grace syndrome).

Last year there was Josh Groban, Olivia Newton John, Kristin Chenoweth (who was fabulous) and Neil Patrick Harris (ditto)… but expect a lot more to come after the success of the show. We already know about John Stamos and Charice (although to be fair they’re more characters than stunts it seems) – plus Britney Spears and maybe Susan Boyle and Javier Bardem. And with Jennifer Lopez seemingly set for the Idol judges table in 2011 I’d be amazed if her long rumored cameo didn’t come off…

My worry is that Glee will become the go-to show for any pop star looking to boost their single and album sales. I sincerely hope Ryan Murphy and the Fox heads resist the temptation for a short-term ratings spike – but history suggests they won’t…

6) ‘NOT SO SPECIAL’ SPECIALS: And talking of ratings spikes… we should have known it was coming after the success of THAT Madonna episode (which was admittedly one of the show’s best episodes to date). Now we’re looking at a whole season of ‘special’ episodes dedicated to a particular theme or artist. We already know about the Britney Spears episode and Rocky Horror special, plus a rumored second shot at Madonna.

What’s next, episodes dedicated to Bon Jovi, Green Day or Debbie Gibson…!

For me the Glee storylines should inform the songs – not vice versa. But I have a feeling Fox are going to be putting a lot of pressure on the producers to start churning out a whole lot of special shows that are going to be anything but…

7) NASTY BOYS (AND GIRLS): And finally… I like that Glee is a mix of sweet and sour – even if the combination isn’t always perfect – but why do so many of the Glee cast have to be so darn unlikable. Rachel is a diva, Kurt is a selfish queen, Puck is a bully, Quinn is snide and superior, Santana is a bitch… I mean, can we get a little love here?

Now don’t get me wrong – I certainly don’t want the Glee cast to be all sweetness and light, but its hard to root for the underdog when you kind of feel they deserve their oppression. Take Kurt for example – a character I’ve written about extensively. I like that Kurt has some spikiness and a sharp tongue but far too often Kurt is just superior and snippy, sniffing at his fellow cast mate’s clothes when he himself dresses like a clown. And don’t even get me started on the hideous Kurt The Stalker storyline.

Glee could really benefit from a lot more cast camaraderie and warm moments. One of the reasons Modern Family scooped that Best Comedy Emmy is that the show pulls off the tricky feat of being both sarcastic and sweet, wrapping up each episode with heart but without ever becoming mawkish or cloying…

So that’s my thoughts – but what do you think? Do you agree with my 7 Top Tips – or would you add some more of your own? Start weighing in guys – and let’s get this debate started!