'Glee' wants you back

Where have all the Gleeks gone?

That’s the question they might be asking at Fox, where “Glee” (8 p.m. Tuesdays, Fox 29) returned two weeks ago for Season 3 to a considerably smaller audience than it had a year ago.

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Mercedes (Amber Riley) has a moment/Fox/Mike Yarish

The slide in the Nielsens for live and same-day viewing continued last week, when the show drew just 8.6 million viewers and failed to win its time slot among advertiser-targeted 18- to 49-year-olds.

Some fans may have recorded for viewing later in the week — the  numbers for live-plus-7-day viewing generally aren’t available for a while — but when more people under 50 are tuning in for CBS’ “NCIS” than “Glee,” it’s not a good sign for the show that’s set in high school.

Could be those kids in New Directions need to start solving crimes, pronto.

It’s not as if people have completely forgotten how to find Fox this fall: Zooey Deschanel’s “New Girl,” which follows “Glee,” has outperformed its lead-in for two weeks in a row in both total viewers and 18-49.
Deschanel sings, too, but she’s no Lea Michele. So what’s up?
Maybe it’s just that it’s easier to love “Glee” when we’re listening to the music than it is to sit through an episode, wincing as one random plot point collides with another, for all the world as if the show’s writers were spinning a wheel to create  situations as setups to big production numbers.

Tonight’s episode, “Asian F,” which Fox made available to critics in hopes of reigniting a little interest, is a little better than the two it’s aired so far this season, if only because it includes a killer production number for Heather Morris' Brittany as well as a showcase for Harry Shum Jr. (one of the best of the “Glee” cast mentors on Oxygen’s “The Glee Project” this past summer).

Shum, who moved up to cast regular this season and whose Mike Chang is, it turns out, a bit more than just a phenomenal dancer, more than earns the spotlight (at least until his storyline’s schmaltzy and too-easy resolution).

But since Mike’s a senior, just like the characters we’ve already been warned will be leaving after this season — Michele’s Rachel, Corey Monteith’s Finn and Chris Colfer’s Kurt —  I’m not sure how many more opportunities like this he’ll be getting.

And as for the latest inane twist in the long, long “Glee” faceoff between Mercedes (Amber Riley) and Rachel, please don’t get me started.

At least this one's set to some great music.