Even in the best of ensemble TV shows, there's almost always a clear star – an actor whose name comes first in the credits for playing (in most cases) a relatively stable character at the center of the action. Think Judd Hirsch in "Taxi," Alan Alda in "MASH" and Bea Arthur in "The Golden Girls," to name a scant few. Steve Carell filled the role on "The Office," save for the last two Michael Scott-free seasons.
"Glee," which marches – and dances and sings – to the beat of its own conveniently ever-present in-house drummer, is a pure ensemble show. It’s produced breakout characters, to be sure, but there’s no one headliner at McKinley High.
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Monteith’s earnest man-child Finn bridged not only the worlds of sports and song, but of dreams and reality (as in the great “Grilled Cheesus” episode), and, during last season, youth and adulthood. Sadly, with his death, Monteith is helping the show broach the toughest, especially for the young, of life’s passages.
Colasanto succumbed to illness at 61, while the others were all north of 70. Monteith’s death in July at age 31 is more akin to the loss in 1977 of 22-year-old Freddie Prinze, another strong young performer who couldn’t overcome his personal demons.
The tribute to Monteith and the death of Finn come in the third show of the season for “Glee,” which opened with a two-part salute to the Beatles, who famously sang, “life goes on” in “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da.” As “Glee” prepares to push ahead while saying goodbye to an actor and a character who helped hold the show together, check out a promo for “The Quarterback” above:
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.