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Glee: The Substitute

Will: “Tell me again about this life with no consequences?"
Holly: "It's kind of awesome!"

Glee tackles healthy eating in schools and the importance of the work/play balance as teachers. New Principal Sue’s years long quest for power finally bears fruit and Terri the shrew returns, hurrah!

A New Holly

The concept of a substitute is perfect for a celebrity guest star and for a standalone episode, in those respects Gwyneth Paltrow helped concoct a great, fun episode. The only problem is that Glee is always fun and always a fantasy, so it didn’t really need an episode that was light on heavy and heavy on comedy. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but found myself being mildly annoyed that there were relatively few songs and they were all pure escapist fun. Glee is always ridiculous, it’s always escapism. There’s no need to set out specifically to make it so. What is with the Tweeting? That wouldn’t work as a praise mechanism, Holly. Borrow Rachel’s gold stars!

The Principal Strikes Back

Yay for Sue! I have missed her in the past few episodes. Hilarious that her elevation to Principal (Headmistress to us across the pond in Blighty) came as a result of her using bio weaponry (a sick student) and that Becky is her new PA. Will this last into next week? I think we have only seen the tip of the power Sue would want to wield as head of the school. Granted, Will was forced to leave the club (must be Tuesday) but it had no real repercussions. Come on writers, make Sue even more villainous, I’ll still adore her!

Return of the Terri

Terri was great in this episode, I enjoyed her creepy baby talk and the fact that she was a vehicle for another Really bad decision from Will. I mean, Jessalyn Gilsig is gorgeous but did the monkey flu make Will’s brain relocate to his groin? What on earth was he thinking? If he knew it was a mistake as soon as it happened, why did he do it? Especially after hearing she was in therapy and on medication. My sympathy for Will is gone. Oh well, if it means Terri is sufficiently aggravated to come back with a vengeance soon, I’m not complaining. Ms Gilsig is very believable in her awfulness, and I mean that as a compliment! Not just anyone could play someone that crazy, and make it ring true.

Not sure what to make of the Kurt and Mercedes subplot, apart from that I loved the “gay gay gay” tiny handbag hallucination. I sometimes worry that I talk about the gay plots on Glee too much - it’s nice of the writers to acknowledge that gay issues are sometimes all Kurt’s character is used to explore. By the way, almost no gays actually read Vogue do we? I don’t! Also, what does Mercedes being obsessed with tots and hanging out with Kurt have to do with her not having/wanting a boyfriend? Maybe if she had been shown in previous episodes to still have feelings for him, this plot would have made more sense, but as it is it just felt like two separate plot threads tied together sloppily.

Bits and Pieces

--Loved the slow-mo sneeze onto Figgins! Poor Figgins.

--Why were there scallops on the TV?

--Awwwww mini Glee kids! So adorable.

--Sick baby role play with anal temperature probe? Whoa, way to turn on the freaky, Terri!

--Mercedes glee (ha) at seeing freshly cooked tots was a bit unsettling – are they really that good? I’mma have to get me some tots!

--Conjunction-junction, what’s your function - Amazing! Apparently this is an actual song from something called Schoolhouse Rock! but I don’t think it really counts toward the music in this episode.

--Sue’s face when Bieste asked who the Cheerios would be cheering if the football team was cut – priceless.

--All that waste throwing the tots away! Hideous.

--What a flimsy pretense of a menthol massage for Terri to seduce Will.... I should try that!

--Hurrah, the jokes about Will’s hair are back. I was beginning to think Sue was losing her touch.

--Of course Sue has a Le Car, it fits perfectly with her.

certainly doesn’t go for realism when it comes to sets and backdrops for the numbers, does it? An LED wall and a rain machine? But I don’t care, it’s a fantasy and it’s great to watch!

Glee Against the Music:

“Forget You” – Cee-Lo:
Santana: “What would you know about Cee-Lo, you’re like forty.”
Holly: “Top forty sweetcheeks, Hit it!”
Just a generally Fun song really! Obviously, it is a top forty song and could have been replaced by anything and it had no impact on the plot, but it was great fun. Gwyneth Paltrow is a great performer, who knew. I liked that everyone joined in, but wasn’t it Puck’s suggestion, shouldn’t he have had a solo? Grade B+

“Make Em Laugh” – Donald O'Connor (Singin' in the Rain):
If you didn’t know this was from Singin' in the Rain (like me) I’m sure you had an initial “Huh?” moment. Maybe they should have prefaced it with a brief clip of Will snoozing while watching the film. After that wore off I loved it. Awesome dancing on their knees and off the side of the stage. Again, No relation to the plot! Grade B

"Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag" – Chicago:
Pretty similar to the film and stage versions really, and performed to a similarly high standard by Holly and Rachel. I did enjoy it but definitely noticed the age gap between the two. Again, no relation to the plot and pretty replaceable, but good fun. Grade B

“Singin' in the Rain/Umbrella” - Various/Rihanna:
Pretty awesome mash-up. Not much else to say, other than it must have been really fun to perform. I want a rain machine! Oh wait, I live in England, I can just step outside. Grade A-

Quotes for Gleeks:

Sue: “My years long quest for power has finally borne fruit”

Sue: “First order of business, destroy the Glee club!”
Will: “I thought we were friends?”
Sue: “That got boring!”

Baby Rachel: “Mr Shue, I for one think that we should use our set list for Sectionals to start exploring the oeuvre of one Bernadette Peters”
Baby Brittany: “Someday I’m gonna go to Paris and visit the oeuvre!”

Terri: “I was really good at taking care of you when you were sick”
Will: “That’s because you like me best when I’m weak”
Terri: “Maybe! That’s what my therapist said”

Holly: *in Spanish* “Please get into groups and discuss how many times Lindsay Lohan has been in rehab” – made five times funnier by the fact that she had just told them it was five times. Five times?!?!

Kurt: “You smell homeless, Brett. Homeless.”

Rachel: “Well, at least I didn’t fall and break my talent!”

Brittany: “I’m Mike Chang.”
Holly: “Those aren’t your names. You know how I know that?”
Brittany: “You’re psychic”

Sue: “Becky get your fanny in here and bring your pad”

Sue: “You know what this is?”
Mercedes: “Toilet brush.”
Sue: “It’s broccoli. When I showed this to Brittany earlier she began to whimper thinking I had cut down a small tree where a family of Gummi bears lived”

Holly: “Oh, Puckerman here are the answers to the pop quiz I’ll be giving in Spanish class later, it is So boring in there”
Puck: “Thanks Miss H!”
Holly: “Righteous!”

Kurt: “He’s a wide receiver on the football team, he’s very handsome and he’s a member of the black student union”
Mercedes: “Any non-black activities?”
Kurt: “I don’t know, my google search was a little...”
Err, what about the football team thing Mercedes? And he is very handsome!

Cameo: “What are you, some kind of magician substitute? I’m a Christian, and that devil magic stuff offends me!”
Holly: “Cameo!” thunk.

Sue: “You irritate me William. You make the underflaps of my breasts burn. Like when I used to rub them with poison sumac. But your kids sure love you...”

Brittany: “Mr Shue taught me the second half of the alphabet. I stopped after M and N. I felt they were too similar and got frustrated.”

Sue: "I suggest you start selling yourself on Craigslist under the heading of 'Men seeking men with butt-chins'."

Holly: "Mary Todd Lincoln in the house! My husband was probably gay and I'm bipolar which makes me yell things like 'That teapot is spreading lies about me!' or 'That can't be my baby because I don't love it!'"

Holly: “Hi I’m Holly Holliday.”
Terri: “Are you a porn star or a drag queen?” - Quote of the week.

A solid three out of four tater tots. I just googled – they’re hash browns! Now it all makes sense. I’m with you, Mercedes!


  1. My mother was deeply into musicals and Singin' in the Rain was her favorite. It's very funny, the music is terrific, and Donald O'Connor and Gene Kelly were amazing dancers at the top of their form. I was really impressed that Shue and Chang did O'Connor's "Make Them Laugh" number, and did it so well. But all I was thinking of during the "Singin' in the Rain" "My Umbrella" mash-up was that a high school would never have the budget to use actual water on stage. Glee isn't reality, but it was just too far over in the unreal arena for me. And didn't Shue just get over a really bad case of the flu?

    That death threat Kurt got from his in the closet bully creeped me out. I don't know where they're going with this, but I don't like it.

    Harry, you used Star Wars parody headers. The geek in me applauds you!

  2. Since I'm a child of the late '70s/early '80s, I loved when I heard Conjunction Junction. I have the DVDs of Schoolhouse Rock that I've shown to my kids. For us 40 somethings who are Gleeks, a whole show of those songs would make my year!

    As to tater tots, LOVE them and my kids think that they are an automatic side dish with a hamburger. We keep the "Family Size" bag of them at all times.

  3. I'm just going to put it out there: Singin' in the Rain is the greatest musical comedy ever put to screen, and no one can even begin to conceive the richness of American cinema until they've seen this movie. I definitely recommend you check it out, Harry. Do it now!

    I liked this episode too, largely because I find Gwyneth Paltrow so charismatic they could film her watching paint dry, and I'd still rent the DVD. But I agree there's something absurd about a Glee episode about lightheartedness and escapism.

    While I agree that Will should never have slept with Terry, I'm not sure I understand why the fact that she's in therapy and taking meds would make a difference. She's taking active steps to get better. I totally see that as a plus for her.

    My favourite line this week:
    "Come on, guys, there's got to be a Jouney song we haven't sung yet!"

  4. I loved Mike and Schue's tribute to "Make 'Em Laugh" a lot, but Matt Morrison is no Donald O'Connor or Gene Kelly. I thought Mike was better.

    I just wanted to take Baby Mercedes home with me. But did anyone see a Baby Kurt? I can't remember seeing him.

    BUT YES FOR THE RETURN OF TERRI! More Terri, I say! And anything she does is going to make me love her more, because it will be anti-Will.

  5. I don't really know what to think. Kurt/Mercedes was a bit confusing this week because it felt that Kurt was being a bit unfair towards her and I couldn't tell if Mercedes had boyfriend issues (or lack thereof) or tots issues. Very bleh.

    Gwyneth Paltrow completely made this episode. Although I dunno if they tackled the whole escapism/no responsibilities issue properly and really looked at it, she made for a great character and I hope she comes back.

    Mr Shue was alternatively nice and not nice this time. I think he's pretty mean to Terri considering she IS just trying to help and that she's getting help too.

    Oh Dimitri totally agree about that Journey line. It's true!

  6. I thought this one was reasonably entertaining. I really enjoyed Gwyneth as Holly, and I LOVED the "Forget You" number. I rewatched it several times, and its been a long time since I did that with a Glee song. Very catchy and the performance was so upbeat.

    Tater tots are yummy! But I don't think they could really take the place of a good friend, so I found that whole subplot very weird. I guess Mercedes just wanted to take control of *something* in her life that she enjoys, since Kurt largely abandoned her for Blaine.

  7. I am with you on the death threat to Kurt, Bille! I did not like it and I am scared at where they are going with it! As soon as the "Ignoramus" said it, I shouted at the TV 'Go tell the police! He can't threaten you Kurt! You are way toooo awesome!'.

    Great Reveiw...I am glad I am not the only one who loves the "escape from reality" that is Glee!

  8. For such a silly, light-hearted episode, the threat on Kurt's life was VERY shocking and kind of left me chilled for the remainder of the episode. While I don't want anything bad to happen to Kurt, I'm glad they're not letting the bullying thing go because it is an on-going torment for many youth and I would hate for the show to touch on it in 41 minutes and then pretend everything was okay.

    However, I can also see the parallels to Queer As Folk with what happened with the bully and the gay kid in school and he ended up getting bashed with a lead pipe. I'm really really hoping that Glee doesn't go that extreme.

    On a happier note, the mini-glees were adorable. Did anyone else see the behind-the-scenes cut on Hulu with them?
    Too CUTE!

  9. Great review. Harry. If you live in or near London, the NFT on the South Bank shows 'Singin' in the Rain' on the big screen every year. And yes, I go see it every year. One of the best films ever made -- full stop.

    Loved GP as the guest star. The irony? The producers wanted to use a Coldplay song in the pilot and couldn't get the band's permission. Guess they should try again.

    Will having sex with Terri actually felt very real to me. I think many of us have been guilty of ex-sex when we're lonely and feeling blue. You know it's going to be a mistake, but...

    I do hope that the bully was hyperbole. I would hate this show to go quite that dark!


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