Glee’s ratings may have fallen over the years but there’s still something about the show that we absolutely love, and keeps fans tuning in. Following its fourth season, the show was renewed for another two seasons with murmurs that the sixth season may be the last. A serious curveball hit the show when Cory Monteith, who played Finn, departed the fourth season early to go to rehab. Thought to be keeping his addiction problems under control, the world was shocked when Monteith’s death was confirmed due to a mix of drugs and alcohol. This makes watching the show’s fourth season incredibly bittersweet.
Glee: The Complete Fourth Season turned out to be a rather radical overhaul of the show’s format. With many of the original characters having graduated in season three, the show took two directions during the fourth season. The remaining students at McKinley were joined by some new faces keeping the Glee club going whilst Rachel (Lea Michele), Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Santana (Naya Rivera) headed to New York. Finn (Cory Monteith) returns from a short time away in the army struggling to find purpose or meaning in his life. Still heartbroken from relationship breakdown with Rachel, Finn returns to McKinley to help Mr Schuester (Matthew Morrison) lead the Glee club.
Each episode of the fourth season splits screentime between Lima and New York offering a split narrative for the first time. This of course means that some of the original characters fall by the wayside. Mercedes (Amber Riley), Puck (Mark Salling), Mike (Harry Shum Jr) and Quinn (Dianna Agron) are mostly absent from the season with only a handful of guest appearances throughout. Of the new characters we get Jake (Jacob Artist), Puck’s little brother, Marley (Melissa Benoist), Ryder (Blake Jenner), Unique (Alex Newell) and Kitty (Becca Tobin) at McKinley, and the ridiculously pretty Brody (Dean Geyer) as a new love interest for Rachel is New York.
Whilst many criticised Glee’s fourth season, we actually think it’s the strongest since the show first debuted. The new characters inject a new energy into the show and whilst they may have similarities to the characters that departed, we really enjoyed watching them ingratiate themselves amongst the familiar faces. Having half of the narrative take place in New York means that we break out of the formula that the first three seasons followed, giving us something new to sink our teeth into. Of course there are still performances galore, and guest roles for Kate Hudson, Whoopi Goldberg and Sarah Jessica Parker, but it’s Rachel, Kurt and Santana that are the best characters in the show.
As with any show there are issues along the way. Marley deals with an eating disorder with the plot never really going anywhere and eventually being pretty much forgotten. There’s also the mysterious cat fish who is stringing Ryder along that drags on for just that bit too long. For every plot that doesn’t quite work though there are plenty of great ones that do such as Rachel’s road to her Funny Girl audition, Kurt and Blaine (Darren Criss) dealing with infidelity and Unique exploring what it’s like to be transgender and in high school.
It would be remiss of us to talk about the show’s fourth season without mentioning the controversial Shooting Star episode which aired near the end of the season. The episode featured a shooting at McKinley and is one of the tensest and memorable episodes Glee has ever had. Of course some critics said the episode was unnecessary and found ways to bash it but we thought it was a superb instalment of the show. Glee can get caught up in fast-moving plots, silliness and trivial issues but this one they tackled remarkably well and it will go on to be considered one of the best episodes.
Extras on the Blu-ray boxset include deleted scenes and a variety of behind-the-scenes featurettes giving you a peak at the making of the show. The Glee Music Jukebox is present too so you can jump straight to all the best musical moments of the season.
Glee: The Complete Fourth Season is a little emotional to watch now in the light of Cory Monteith’s death but it’s still one of the strongest seasons of the show. Despite some issues with the plot whipping round too fast, there’s plenty of great moments and incredible performances. The season has plenty of drama, lots of comedy and more than a few tears. If you haven’t seen Glee for a while we suggest you pick up a copy of the show’s fourth season and fall in love with it all over again.