Will 'Glee' still sing after spring tease?

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WHEN | WHERE Wednesday night at 9 on Fox/5

REASON TO WATCH After May's tease, the real launch.

CATCHING UP In tone, this is a John Hughes-ish "Breakfast Club/Sixteen Candles" mashup with creator Ryan Murphy's own "Popular," plus song and dance.

Will Schuester, aka Mr. Schu (Matthew Morrison), is a frustrated Spanish teacher at William McKinley High who wants joy in his life, which he finds in the glee club, a ragtag group of misfits and outcasts.

Says Mr. Schu: "I suddenly realized why I wanted to do this in the first place - find the talent in the kid they didn't know they had in the first place." He effectively blackmails jock Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) to join, but Finn and fellow glee-clubber princess /

raised-by-gay-parents Rachel (Lea Michele) have some chemistry.

THE NUMBERS SO FAR Even with a huge tailwind from the "American Idol" finale, the May pilot mustered fewer than 10 million viewers. The critically lavished show will either be one of TV's great new hits or . . .

TONIGHT Mr. Schu needs to get six more glee recruits to qualify for the regionals, and decides to perform a crowd-pleaser to get the student body excited. Rachel, however, knows what will get the body really excited, and so, has other musical ideas. Meanwhile, Schu's got more pressure at home - wife Terri (the fabulous Jessalyn Gilsig) says she's pregnant and has her heart set on a McMansion - which means his money troubles are about to get much worse. Of course, Schu's bête noire, cheerleaders coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) - caustic, prudish, fiendish as ever - remains dedicated to the proposition that the only good glee club is the dead glee club.

NEW SONGS Glee-club versions of an extremely sanitized Kanye West's "Gold Digger" and a much- less-sanitized Salt N Pepa's "Push It."

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BOTTOM LINE I like "Glee." But if its lavish, over-the-top, "Oh my God I'm happy 'Glee' is back" praise you're looking for, then - sorry - you've come to the wrong place. McKinley and its denizens feel just a little too cliched, the emerging romantic entanglements a little too forced, the female characters - notably Terri and Sue Sylvester - just a little too mean-spirited. Still, it's a great cast.


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