There have been worse things than this week’s Gwynisode of ‘Glee,’ and there will probably be more to come. But this guest star showcase was hardly a throwback to the reign of musical theater pros like Kristen Chenoweth and Neil Patrick Harris.
It’s hard to put a finger on why Gwyneth Paltrow didn’t entirely work. She has a decent voice. She’s got an exceptional emotional range. Her hair was appropriately nonglamorous for a substitute teacher.
Maybe it’s all about that “show biz” thing. When the kids of New Directions take the stage, there’s a gleam in everyone’s eye, an ease to each step that makes their performances sort of infectious. Even when Schue raps and we collectively roll our eyes, it’s not because he lacks stage presence. We believe he’s a (totally annoying) musical performer.
The only thing I believed about Paltrow was that she had thoroughly rehearsed her choreography and that she knew where to hit her marks. She’s a pro, but she’s not a natural song-and-dance gal.
That’s not to say her performance was entirely unenjoyable. Her groveling scene at Schue’s house was relaxed and genuine. Some of the crazy antics she pulled as a sub felt forced, sure, but that’s not her fault. That’s just what happens when you write for stunt casting.
What was waaaaay squickier than anything Gwyn did was Terri’s nursing act. None of us want to play “sick baby” with you, sick lady. Will, for shame. I would say it was fun to see Jessalyn Gilsig again, finally, but it was really, really not fun. I guess I mean that as a compliment…?
I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of Terri, though. She can’t tease us with, “You’re gonna regret this, Will,” and not follow through with something totally bat-sh… well, you know.
Another lingering question is how long Principal Sue will have the power to keep “declaring war” at WMHS. She was bested by Beiste, and she got tots up her tailpipe, but she’s not down for the count. Will she follow in her hero Nixon’s footsteps and be forced to resign? From the looks of next week’s episode, maybe her mom will be just the weapon that brings her down.
The rest of the best:
Best musical number: It’s no wonder the “Forget You” clip was all over the Internet last week. It was the closest GP got to letting go, plus that song’s just so damn catchy.
Best Sue snark: “I suggest selling yourself on Craigslist under the heading ‘Men Seeking Men with Butt-Chins.’”
Best Brit bit: As told by Sue, we are blessed to know that Brit thinks broccoli stalks are actually tiny trees that gummi bears live in.
Best Terri line: To Holly Holliday: “Are you a porn star or a drag queen?”
Best use of a prop: The Barbie purse that came tumbling out of Kurt’s mouth said more about his exhausting dialogue than Mercedes ever could have. And by exhausting, I mean delightful. Patti LuPone’s memoir is on my Christmas wishlist. Runner-up: The water in the final number was a cool touch.
What made me squirm:
Worst number: The “Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag” combo from ‘Chicago’ was sooo awkward and unflattering on the Gwyneth end. And I know it’s authentic to the number, but the fake machine guns in a school setting pushed things a bit.
Cause for ear bleach: Terri’s baby voice gave us night terrors.
Biggest tease: I’ve been seeing photos of those adorable “Mini-Glees” for days now, but the little ones’ appearance in Schue’s hallucination was far too brief.
Now give us your review, Gleeks! Was Gwyn made of win or wincing?