Rachel performs for Mr. Schuester in an episode of “Glee.” (Adam Rose/Fox)

Somewhere in between “Don’t Stop Believin’” and Gwyneth Paltrow lecturing the McKinley kids about bullying, the show that was supposed to be about lovable underdogs lost itself. Plots meandered. Main characters withered under the weight of too many guest stars. On the plus side, however, Brittany started hosting that delightful “Fondue for Two.” So, there was that.

Co-creator Ryan Murphy is aware of the criticism. He recently told TV Guide that the show is going back to the basics.

But did the premiere episode, “The Purple Piano Project,” start the third season off on the right track? Check out the musical performances and judge for yourself.

As the top of the episode, we learned that the club has lost Sam (moved out of town), Lauren (no reason given) and Quinn (she’s a pink-haired punk now). Now Mr. Schuester has to find three new members and fast! So he places purple pianos around the school to attract new recruits.

Club members tried to stir up interest in the cafeteria by singing “We Got The Beat,” but, as the earlier TV promos suggested, ended up starting a food fight.

Meanwhile, Kurt and Rachel were still dreaming of moving to the Big Apple. They want to apply to the (fictional) New York Academy of Dramatic Arts. So in preparation for a session for interested students they sang “Ding, Dong, the Witch Is Dead.”

But when they arrived, they were scared to death by another prospective student, “Glee Project” loser (who did not lose at all since she still wound up on the show) Lindsay Pearce, performing a mash-up of “Anything Goes/Anything You Can Do.”

And in other developments, Blaine is now a McKinley student who can sing really strong renditions of Tom Jones’s “It’s Not Unusual.”

So tell us, Gleeks: Did you think the premiere was a sign of good things to come? Or has “Glee” been slushied one too many times? Sound off in the comments and/or vote in the poll below.

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