A trip to the dentist's chair has some glee clubbers tripping to the iconic sounds of Ms. Spears

By Tim Stack
September 29, 2010 at 04:52 AM EDT
Adam Rose/Fox
S2 E2
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It’s Britney/Brittany, bitch. Apologies for the rough language, but such a monumental television event seemed to require it: Britney Spears and Glee have finally collided! As well as dentistry and ass sweat! Only on Glee!

Tonight’s episode of Fox’s sophomore hit was definitely one of its most hyped, so it’s only natural that there’s a slight disappointment lingering in its aftermath. While there were definitely moments of great Glee jukebox juice, parts of the hour felt forced. In my mind, the best Glee episodes occur when the music comes out of the storylines and fuels the plot; tonight’s episode  felt much more like Britney Spears’ songbook getting shoehorned into a pre-existing script outline.

Now I still enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong. (In my mind, even the lesser Glee episodes are a rush.) But “Britney/Brittany” didn’t feel as iconic or exhilarating as, say, the last Glee pop-star homage, April’s ridiculously amazing Madonna hour.

The entire episode revolved around the club’s desire (or specifically Kurt’s) to incorporate some Britney Spears tunes into their assembly performance. But surprisingly, it was Brittany (the amazing Heather Morris) who protested the homage. Apparently, the Cheerios airhead’s full name is Brittany S. Pears, and she’s suffered from having to live in the shadow of her more famous (sorta) namesake. “It’s been a hard road.” Indeed!

We then met Emma’s new love interest, Carl (the ageless John Stamos), who just so happened to be an anesthesia-happy dentist. He gave quick checkups to the glee kids, and the dentally lax members (Brittany, Rachel, Artie) headed to his office for some drug-induced Britney hallucinations. Cue the music-video recreations!

Except here’s where I have problems: Glee is soooooo much more than a gimmicky, second-hand music video show. (If you don’t believe me, then try to think of a current series that’s addressed issues of teen homosexuality more movingly.) And so while I still got giddy during the more loyal Britney Spears recreations (looooooved Rachel’s “…Baby One More Time”), I couldn’t stop myself from wondering where was the unique Glee perspective? The show’s best recreations are the ones that are able to twist the original scenario, like Jane Lynch’s brazilliant “Vogue” video. I sorta felt like tonight’s first two Spears fantasies (“I’m a Slave 4 U” and “Me Against the Music”) fell flat. It could be that while Heather Morris is an insanely funny comedian and crazy-good dancer, she’s not a standout vocalist. Then again, the added emphasis on Brittany did yield a bounty of repeatable one-liners, my favorite being her description of Jacob’s hair, “Looks like a Jewish cloud.” (Fret not, we’ll count down more of Brittany’s witticisms at the end of this recap.)

On the flip side, Artie’s hallucination and cover of “Stronger” felt to me like the best way of incorporating Spears’ music into the show. It was a song that worked for the character and his storyline of wanting to be on the football team and impress Tina with his athleticism. Plus, it had a tinge of sadness to it, because you knew this was something that Artie actually would dream about.

Meanwhile, Will attempted to compete with Carl for Emma’s affections, but couldn’t match his rival’s impetuousness. So, he decided to loosen up and buy a sports car which, unfortunately, lured out evil shrew Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig). True, she called Emma “crazypants,” which I enjoyed, but this character has not been missed. I vote Terri off the island. You?

NEXT: Rachel and Finn debate the merits of the reindeer sweater.

To further prove he could let loose, Will decided to join the New Directions gang for their cover of “Toxic” at the homecoming assembly. Dressed like they were performing in a Bob Fosse stage production of A Clockwork Orange, the kids pulled off a highly sexualized and really fun performance, although Emma saw Will in a different light: “You look like a cast member of Kids Incorporated.” I don’t think we should expect New Directions to get invited to any more assembly performances in the near future — not after “Toxic” ended in a ended in a sexual riot (thanks to Sue pulling the fire alarm), and of course, last season’s controversial “Push It” — but I liked this cover, especially getting to see Matthew Morrison sing and dance with the rest of the cast.

The other major relationship storyline was Finn (Cory Monteith) and Rachel (Lea Michele) dealing with their new relationship, and each one wanting to control the other. Eh. Not so exciting, though I did like Finn referencing Rachel’s “reindeer sweaters” and Santana saying that Rachel’s schoolgirl outfit looked like she was about to appease a fetish for a Japanese businessman.

There was so little Jane Lynch/Sue Sylvester in this episode! But she still had a few wonderful moments of vitriolic lunacy (To Will: “Seriously, you wear more vests than the cast of Blossom.”) Mentions of Blossom AND Kids Incorporated in one episode!? Hell yeah. As for Stamos, he seemed to be channeling ER-era Clooney in his scrubs — or was he channeling ER-era Stamos? — but either way, he felt a little underused tonight. I suspect he’ll have more to do in the coming weeks.

And then there were the brief appearances from Ms. Spears herself, which I must say were handled well and with a nice level of restraint. I especially liked the school hallway scene where she endorsed ranch dressing on pizza while talking to Tina and Brittany. Now that felt authentic.

Here are some other burning questions from the episode…

  • Was Mike Chang wearing a vinyl shirt in the final scene?
  • Where was Lisa Rinna—I mean—Sam (Chord Overstreet)?
  • Is it me or does Rachel look like she went on a shopping spree for polka dot dresses at Anthropologie?
  • THE SONGS

    I’m a Slave 4 U”

    The first big Britney number was a hodgepodge of iconic Spears looks through the years, including the “Slave” snake ensemble and the “Toxic” bejeweled bodysuit. As I said, Morris is not the strongest singer, but her recreation of Spears’ dance moves, especially when she broke it down with some elementary school-aged dancers, was pretty terrific. B

    “Me Against the Music”

    Watching Santana and Brittany continue their Sapphic flirtation was enjoyable, as was the full-force choreography. Bonus points for the Britney cameo at the end. B+

    “Baby One More Time”

    An amusingly faithful recreation of the original, iconic music video, and it actually made me giggle. This was a performance that I would watch more than just one time. A-

    “Stronger”

    Kevin McHale has been getting some major solos so far this season, and I approve. He has such a great, soulful voice. This was probably my favorite performance of the night. A

    “Toxic”

    My runner-up for best musical number. Seeing the gang tackle a more stripped-down version of Spears’ uptempo hit was a sure thing, but having Matthew Morrison join in only made it better. Also, bowler hats always make everything cooler. A-

    “The Only Exception”

    After being slightly bored by the Finn/Rachel storyline, I gotta say that this song gave the episode a nice, emotional capper. B+

    NEXT: Don’t miss the best lines of the episode!

    THE BEST LINES (Brittany version)

    “He discovered America.” –Brittany on Christopher Cross

    “I was pretty sure Dr. Pepper was a dentist.” –Brittany on her soda-swishing oral-health regimen

    “This room looks like that one spaceship where I was probed.” –Brittany describing Carl’s dentist office.

    “Can you please not pull all my teeth? When I smile, I’ll look like an adult baby, but with boobs.” –Brittany to Carl

    What did you think of tonight’s Glee? Did the Britney episode live up to the hype? Or was it a letdown? Sound off in the comments!

    Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, and high school anxiety star in Fox’s campy musical.
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