First she sold her country-music song on the CMA Awards; then Gwyneth Paltrow helped make this week’s Glee crisp, fresh fun. Her turn as substitute teacher Holly Holiday was a hoot — Paltrow played her commitment-phobic character with total commitment, without ever making it seem like a straining effort.
Glee always benefits when strong actors invade its space, and Paltrow is one of the first guest stars to go toe-to-toe with Jane Lynch and come out looking refreshed, not squashed. As they sat side-by-side watching Animal Hoarders, they made the script sound like swift improv, and earlier, Paltrow had handled the obligatory Glee-style put-down — “You’re, like, 40” — by delivering the retort with a wet-towel snap: “Top 40, sweet cheeks.”
Your full Glee TV Watch, courtesy of Glee-master Tim Stack, is now available for your enjoyment. But I’m on Paltrow Watch this week. When her Holly took down Rachel (“You’re a total drag”), Paltrow executed a 180-degree mood swing, from sarcasm to enthusiasm, with the sort of ease the rest of the cast deploys during the musical numbers.
Speaking of which, Paltrow’s performances were fun — literally kicky. But it was the quick, carefully-thought-out throwaway moments — Holly dressed as Mary Todd Lincoln, with Paltrow doing effusive “bipolar” shtick — that made this episode one in which the guest star both stood out and meshed with the cast.