First episode (of new season) impressions: ‘Glee’ (TV review)

Here are my first impressions of the Season 2 premiere of “Glee” (7 p.m. Central Tuesdays, Fox).

1. I like a few characters on “Glee” (Brittany, Will, the recently absent Emma), but not in the way I like characters on other shows. On most shows, I see characters as people who could exist in the real world (only better looking, of course). On “Glee,” I like them the same way I like cartoons or stuffed animals. Even when I like things about “Glee” — filled as it is with faux emotions, over-earnest acting/singing and ridiculous plots — I can’t really take it seriously.

2. This week, Artie — who is paralyzed from the waist down — wants to try out for the football team. This is a stupid piece of whimsy even by the standards of “Glee,” which last season had the offensive line perform a blatantly against-the-rules dance number to distract the defense before snapping the ball.

3. No really great Brittany lines this week. The closest would be, “She didn’t touch my boobs. I kind of wanted to touch her boobs, though,” when she bows out of Sue’s plan to accuse the budget-hogging football coach of sexual harassment. Her cuddling of the cheerleader doll was the top Brittany moment. At least the writers are gradually making her a bigger part of the show. Next week it looks like she does that Britney Spears number with the python, so that should be amusing.

4. The first song of the new season is Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” It’s a pretty decent song, performed pretty decently on the school’s steps by New Directions. But then, instead of the clichéd big round of applause from the students, it is greeted with apathetic silence. I liked that. Giant rounds of applause should be reserved for something a cut above this. Still, it’s the best of this relatively weak episode, with second place going to a truncated bathroom duet of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” by Rachel and the new girl.

5. Coach “Panther” Bieste is a new “Glee” character, but already a classic “Glee” character — a mannish female football coach who draws Sue’s ire, but basically it’s just going to be fun to hear Will and Sue say that French last name (which is, indeed, pronounced “Beast”). Aspiring female football coaches probably won’t rally around Coach Bieste, but at least she’s mildly amusing in that “Glee” way.

6. As for the two new singers in New Directions — the cute Filipino girl and the dude with the Bieber haircut — they’re both fine singers, but neither makes much of an impression. Not that it matters. The dude ends up choosing football and the gal goes over to the rival school’s Vocal Adrenaline. So it’s back to the original 11 glee clubbers, I guess, with the underdog label firmly intact, almost as if the show hit the reset button.

Verdict: “Glee” has become a borderline show for me. I tune partly because I hope to see a cool musical number, but mainly out of pop-culture obligation. Next week is the Britney Spears eppy, which should be a lot of fun, especially if the writers tone down the celebrity fawning that marred the Madonna hour. But after that, I’m back to wavering.