TV: Puppies and senior citizens, Chris Colfer writes an episode of ‘Glee’

By Meryl Gottlieb| mg986611@ohiou.edu| @buzzlightmeryl    
Glee airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox    
Rating: 3/5   

ODNT_Stills_(2)I was particularly interested in tonight’s episode of Glee titled “Old Dog New Tricks” for three reasons. One, there would be dogs. Two, Chris Colfer wrote the episode. Three, Billy Dee Williams was for some reason guest starring. That’s right, Lando Calrissian appeared in an episode of Glee. I never thought I’d see the day.

I had faith Colfer would do very well in writing an episode because he is already a best-selling author. What I find interesting in his episode is how a lot more was said about certain characters than had been said in past episodes written by Glee staff writers. There has been an unusually long pause on Kurt’s (Colfer) storyline and this episode finally gave him a bit of the spotlight. Interestingly enough, Colfer managed to write Sam (Chord Overstreet) better than the writers have been doing. I think it’s great they let him guest write. I think he should do it more often, or at least once in season six.

Rumors are circulating about Rachel (Lea Michele) being quite a diva and overachiever, and she’s worried her career will end sooner than she thought. Cue Santana (Naya Rivera) and her wit to save the day: “Look at Angelina Jolie. She used to wear a vile of blood around her neck and kiss her brother and now she’s Mother Earth.” All Rachel needs is a publicist and a cause, Santana says. And Santana is her publicist and dogs will be her cause.

Thus, Broadway Bitches was born. I do adore the pun, but I like the real-life Broadway Barks event better. The gang goes to a shelter to set everything up. There’s a terrible transition about how the dogs will only stop barking with music and then they sing “I Melt With You.” Granted, I did enjoy the veterinarians dancing around and found it incredibly silly they were all dancing around rows of dogs in cages, but I am glad they didn’t do “Who Let the Dogs Out?” And it’s hard to not like a musical number when there are so many cute dogs on screen. They had an unfair advantage on this one.

At the shelter, Sam falls in love with a dog and, despite Mercedes’ (Amber Riley) wishes, adopts him and calls him McConaughey. I seriously laughed out loud at Riley’s performance when Mercedes discovers the mess McConaughey has made, including chewing up her weaves and shoes. It was spot on. Of all the original cast members, she was the best one to bring back and the only one I truly missed.

To prove to her that he can take care of the dog, Sam sets up an obstacle course to train McConaughey as he sings “Werewolves of London.” Again, it’s hard to not like a scene when you have a very cute dog doing some tricks and getting a bath.

But not everyone is a softie like me, and Mercedes still urges they find the puppy a better home because both of their schedules are so in flux and the fact they’re still just trying to figure themselves out first. I’m glad we finally saw a bit of a different side of Sam here. Before he agrees with Mercedes, he puts up a fight and reminds everyone how he was the one who took care of his family when they were so poor. Everyone now just thinks Sam is such a dunce, but there was a time when he was responsible and not just the dumb blond.

To help with publicity for the charity event, a “chance” run-in with Rachel and some paparazzi is set up, with the a little hilarious help from Blaine (Darren Criss) and Santana. It’s all going according to plan until the hungry dogs chase a man with a hotdog and drag Rachel four blocks. I’m not sure who framed this scnee, but bravo to them. It was hilarious. Anymore, I feel it is more so Lea Michele on my screen than Rachel Berry, but I’m not complaining.

You would think Rachel would include have everyone perform in this event, as per the usual Glee formula, but when Kurt asks, she denies him. And finally we have the episode where Kurt finally vocalizes how he is only their friend when it’s convenient.

At the same time, he makes a new friend in Maggie Banks (June Squibb), who starred in the biggest Broadway flop Helen Keller: The Musical. That’s definitely a Colfer joke. The odd couple met in the diner when Maggie came in to advertise for her retirement home’s production of Peter Pan. She makes a jab about NBC making Clay Aiken the star and ruining the show, a joke that is more poignant now that Fox is competing with NBC in the live musical broadcast business.

Kurt goes to visit Maggie just at the moment when their current star dies in the Peter Pan harness. Yeah, that scene didn’t feel right to me either. Kurt steps up so that they don’t have to cancel the show. Tim Conway, another random guest star, makes him audition, so naturally he sings “Memory” from Cats. I’m not sure if it’s just to continue the animal storyline or if Colfer really just wanted to sing this song, but I found it an odd song choice. It may just be because Cats isn’t exactly my favorite musical and that I can’t think about singing “Memory” seriously after my friend and I used to jokingly sing it to each other.

I have to say I’m thoroughly confused as to why Glee sought after so many renowned older actors. Squibb was the only one actually used and used pretty well. Billy Dee Williams and Tim Conway each said one line and stood in the background. I don’t get it. If you have the opportunity to use Lando, then use him!

Broadway Bitches is going well until the three-legged dog Rachel was going to use for the spotlight is about to be adopted. Rachel and Santana argue for the dog back, prompting the woman to comment on how Rachel is a fraud and doesn’t care about anyone but herself. Partially true. Season one Rachel’s selfishness always came across rather funny, but now it is mostly snobby with a hint of hilarity. That insane enthusiasm, passion and ability to spit out ten lines of dialogue in 30 seconds was what made me love her. Let’s figure out how to write for her now.

But to show she does care about others, Rachel does go to Kurt’s Peter Pan opening. In the famed green leafed suit and harness, Kurt spins around the stage and sings “Lucky Star.” It had more of a Xanadu vibe than Peter Pan but I do love Madonna. Looking at this scene in itself, it was crazy and fun. I loved that Squibb sang a few times throughout the episode.

Because you can’t end Glee without a big number, the retirement home is invited to perform at Broadway Bitches. Combining old Broadway with new and also puppies, the cast sings “Take Me Home Tonight” as they dance around the Spotlight Diner handing puppies out to potential adopters.

Give me Darren Criss singing to a puppy and I’ll tolerate anything.

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I do commend Colfer on a pretty good episode. I think Smash could have benefited from doing a Broadway Barks episode — it’s the power of puppies. I really enjoyed Squibb in the episode, but don’t see the reason the show went to the trouble of getting Williams and Conway when they didn’t do anything with them. I actually enjoyed the songs. For the majority of this season, I couldn’t even tolerate the covers, but now I find myself nodding along as I used to.

There’s only one episode left until the season finale. I have no idea what will be in store and what it will lead to in season six. I’m quite interested to see where Ryan Murphy will take us.

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