Glee Review: Don't Leave, Gwyneth Paltrow!

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There was just one small problem with Glee this week: I sort of want Holly Holliday to take over as the leader of New Directions.

Oh, sure, "The Substitute" offered up many reasons why that wasn't a great idea in the long run - not caring if your student gets arrested for a felony, for starters - but, wow, Gwyneth Paltrow gave the show a jolt of hilarious, talented energy on this episode, didn't she?

Gwyneth on Glee

For all the reasons we adore Glee, it has a tendency to bask in an air of smugness, preaching to viewers about various topics and coming across, as I put it last week, as more of a PSA than a TV show at times. But not this week.

This week actually incorporated storylines with character development with incredible performances with a guest star that slid in seamlessly to the show. In the end, there was one word for the hour, and it's a word that can be missing when the series veers too much in the direction of sending a societal message over simply being entertaining: FUN. Let's go over the reasons why...

Holly was unpredictable. Seriously, I love all the characters on Glee. But we know what we're gonna get every week: Rachel will act as a diva, Brittany will utter a dim-witted one-liner, Will will give some kind of motivational speech, etc.

But Holly surprised me with every scene. The first time we saw her, she was inspiring a class to learn Spanish by asking about Lindsay Lohan and then singing along to Conjunction junction, What's Your Function. Absolutely hilarious.

Small moments, big laughter. There were numerous funny gags during the hour. My favorites: The group trying to fool its substitute by swapping names and buttering the floor. Rachel wearing a mask when talking to an ailing Will. Kurt and Blaine only talking about "gay" stuff. Every action of Becky as Sue's assistant.

There was actual, realistic character development. This is a rarity on Glee. But Will and Terri went through the normal routine of a couple that has been together for very long and has trouble breaking up - fighting, make up sexing and one side finally realizing it's over - and Kurt and Mercedes also went through a typical issue that faces close friends: what happens when one of them finds someone else?

The one drawback of the episode? Just when I thought Terri couldn't get any more annoying, she breaks out the baby talk and... wow. Just... wow.

Overall, one of the funniest installments in Glee history and a welcome change from what has become a somewhat tiresome formula of the show forcing a theme down our throats. The only themes I sensed here were humor and entertainment, which are the main things I want from the show.

There was one message to kids, of course: Practice your bipolar rants. History can be fun!

The Substitute Review

Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (132 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Glee Season 2 Episode 7 Quotes

Will: I thought we were friends.
Sue: That got boring.

My years-long quest for power has finally bore fruit.


Glee Season 2 Episode 7 Music

  Song Artist
Song Singing in the Rain/Umbrella Glee Cast
Forget you 2 Forget You Glee Cast iTunes
Make em laugh Make 'Em Laugh Glee Cast iTunes