It may be senior year for some of your favorite McKinley High students, but the third season of “Glee” may feel a lot like the series’ freshman season.
“Honestly reading the first script, it reminded me of 'Glee' Season One so much,” star Lea Michele tells PopcornBiz of the series’ renewed focus on its abundant core characters and storylines after a second season that was rife with pop artist tribute episodes and prominent/dominant guest stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and Kristen Chenoweth.
“We’re sticking to the story lines of our regular characters, because you know we had a great season last year but we did kind of go all over the place with guest stars and had a lot of fun with that,” explains Jane Lynch. “And we’re kind of honing in on these stories of these kids, especially in light in the fact that several of them will be graduating at the end of the year. With graduation looming ahead, it’s not just about working for Sectionals, Regionals, Nationals—it’s kind of about what these kids are going to be doing with their lives.”
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That all-important final year of high school will provide much of the show’s signature teenage angst, says producer Ian Brennan. “That's the thing is that's what's like the tragedy about high school: it's like as soon as you get used to being there and you finally feel at home you have to leave,” Brennan explains. “And I think that's a very melancholic 'Glee' sort of thing. We toyed early on with just having it like 'M*A*S*H' and the Korean War goes on for ten years, but it didn't seem right. It seems like you can't really tell a high school story without the fact that it ends.”
And of course there’s going to be plenty of musical numbers. “I know that I'm going to be in the school musical,” offers Michele, whose character Rachel Berry proposes that New Directions launch a production of “West Side Story" with her in lead as Maria. “It's one of my dream roles. And I know that they're going back to a lot of classic songs. From the first script it was not a lot of Top 10 hits – It was older songs, which I love and I'm so excited to sing. A lot of Broadway, which makes me really happy. I know we have some great storylines with Chris Colfer as well as Darren Criss, and I'm so excited to work with Darren. I really love him.”
The faculty members will have their own ongoing plotlines as well. “My character is continuing her campaign for Congress on the Sue Sylvester American Liberty ticket,” says Lynch. “She’s going to be more right wing than Michele Bachman at this point I think. It’s going to get heavy and it’s going to get intense.”
Michele admits she’s of two minds when it comes to reducing the stunt casting and theme tributes. “Here's the thing: I love having our incredible guest stars, so for that I really hope that they continue to bring people on,” she says. “I think it's also a great opportunity for people who may not be singers to get to come and sing and have fun. The theme episodes are incredibly hard, so if we don't do too many of those this year I think I would be okay. And then obviously the center storylines for the characters are so great. I love focusing on the main characters, but I still love our guest stars.”
The actress offeres one final tidbit from the first episode: “The only bit of top secret information that I can give you is that I was really hoping that in this upcoming season I would get no slushies and no mess,” she reveals. “And then like page two, script one, I'm already a mess!"
"Glee" returns tonight at 8 PM ET on Fox