Fox gives Glee 7-week hiatus before Season 3 finishing kick

Yes, it’s bad news — at least on the surface — and Gleeks are going to moan and bemoan it: Fox has set aside Glee for six weeks from late February to early April. There will be seven weeks between new episodes (truth to tell, there’s always at least one week between new ones), and for six weeks Fox will air sitcoms in Glee’s place.

Four consecutive weeks of new Glee shows will end on Feb. 21. After that, Glee won’t air again until April 10. At that time it will have eight shows remaining for Season 3, airing on consecutive weeks until season’s end May 29.

Why? For one thing, it’s a numbers game. Glee has 22 episodes to space out for an entire TV season, which in conventional terms means September through May. The May finish is dictated by the fact that it’s a sweeps month, as are November and February.

That’s a lot of months and weeks, and the fact is, Glee can’t air in a sustained way for much of that time or risk exhausting  a season’s episodes  quickly.

Every show has dormant periods during a TV year. Glee’s just sting more, especially if you love the show as I do and since, in this case, there won’t even be any reruns but rather airings of New Girl, I Hate My Teenage Daughter, a relocated Raising Hope and the season launch of Breaking In, all for a new Tuesday comedy block.

The odd thing about  New Girl being in that bunch is that Glee and the popular newcomer — a show which, while fun, never met a painfully hammy impersonation it didn’t like — have been tied to the hip this season till now. They’ve never aired apart, to my knowledge. So if New Girl for its debut year has the same 22 episodes, it’s gonna run out of new ones faster than Glee. My guess is that some of its episodes airing in those six weeks will be reruns.

I haven’t kept records, but this may be Glee’s longest in-season hiatus since it took three-plus months between the “back nine” episodes of Season 1 and that year’s second segment in the spring. It also comes at a bad time, to me, since Glee recently has been building back its momentum after an early-season ratings drop. Call it “Gleeous Interruptus.”

Another thing which may play into this is that Glee — an incredibly demanding show to produce — has been pushing hard to complete shows before air dates. Cast and crew just wrapped the Valentine’s episode last week, I believe, and it airs a week from Tuesday. The show’s creators may have wanted to get ahead a bit and then take a breather. It also wouldn’t hurt Glee’s especially hard working cast (try learning lines, songs and dance moves each week) to have such time before working through season’s end, followed by another concert tour.

And as noted, Glee can’t air new shows continuously anyway, so there you have it.

Even so, I’d argue that breaks like this are too long. Why not space out the remaining new shows a bit more?

But here’s the upside: Between April 10 and May 29, Fox will air new episodes of Glee each week. You’ll have eight solid weeks to savor a show which can build momentum — and sustain it — for a huge finale in which a number of key characters will graduate. In a sense, that’s not just a season finale. It’s a mid-series finale.

So let’s hunker down and bear up for what will be just a bit longer hibernation than the recent five-week break between early December and late January. Good things are coming, and surely Ryan Murphy and company will see fit to provide us with ample audio and visual teases in that interlude, with new studio tracks and, perhaps by late March, performance footage.

Until then, let’s enjoy three more weeks of new Glee, then content ourselves with having the first 14 episodes of this season to re-watch and around 90 (by that time) Season 3 songs to play while waiting for Glee to live another day.

Don’t despair — and don’t stop believing.

— Bruce Westbrook

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