'Glee' recap: 'Makeover' introduces Sarah Jessica Parker
High school elections and New York fashionistas combine for a light, fun hour
I love Ian Brennan's vision for "Glee."
"Makeover," which "Glee" co-creator Brennan wrote and Eric Stoltz directed, wasn't a Very Special episode like last week's "Britney 2.0." There was no musical icon to celebrate or serious social issue to tackle. There was a special guest star in Sarah Jessica Parker, but Brennan knows how to write to that having previously penned Gwyneth Paltrow's debut episode "The Substitute" and Ricky Martin's "The Spanish Teacher."
More importantly, Brennan knows how to keep "Glee" light on its feet. "Makeover" was both the most relaxed and best episode we've seen so far in Season 4. We're still making progress.
This was the first week where the show felt like it had room to breathe while also servicing both sides of its newly split focus. In Ohio, Blaine decided to run against Brittany for student council president, with Sam and Artie as their respective running mates. In New York, Kurt applied for an internship at Vogue.com and found an instant connection with Parker's Isabelle Wright, a stark contrast to the bitter taskmaster Kate Hudson's been playing at NYADA the last two weeks.
Both locations also had a simple secondary subplot -- Mr. Schuester's creative crisis, Rachel's escalating flirtation with Brody -- and left it at that. By "Glee" standards, that's positively restrained. Even better, almost every one of the storylines succeeded as fun (the election), sweet (Isabelle's improbable but delightful mentoring of Kurt) or simply overdue (Schuester realizing he needs more to do). The least successful moments all involved Dean Geyer's unrelentingly poor performance as Brody, but the good news is that he was the only one of the significant new additions to play a major role in the episode.
Back to the positives, I appreciated the way Brennan kept drawing connections between success and disappointment through Isabelle's concern that she's not good enough for her job, Will's inability to find inspiration after scoring at Nationals and Blaine's realization that winning the election only meant something if he had Kurt to share it with. Very often, "Glee" is a show about chasing your dreams. And "Makeover" was an episode that very maturely considered how achieving a dream isn't always enough.
But mostly this was an hour that was as playful, witty and charming as "Glee" gets. Even the music selections were looser and more lighthearted than normal. There wasn't a current Top 40 hit anywhere in earshot. The picks only got as contemporary as Hole's "Celebrity Skin" from 1998 and Sheryl Crow's "A Change Will You Do Good" from 1997 -- both released near the end of Brennan's teenage years, which may have lent them a certain sentimental value with the writer.
I liked both of those, plus Blaine's spin on Tears for Fears' '80s anthem "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," but the musical highlight was a boldly old fashioned production number set to a mashup of Jerome Kern's "The Way You Look Tonight" and "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile" from "Annie" (the musical which helped launch Parker's acting career on Broadway). Parker -- who was terrific throughout the entire episode -- collaborated with Michele and Chris Colfer on the highly theatrical rendition, which proved far more memorable and winning than the rushed "How soon can we get this on iTunes?" selections increasingly dominating the show.
So yeah, I wish there were more episodes of "Glee" carrying Brennan's "written by" credit. But I'm almost always happy with the ones we get.
- While I appreciated seeing Jake and Marley reduced to virtually non-speaking extras, I wish Vanessa Lengies actually had a reason for her guest appearance. Maybe the reveal that the show hasn't abandoned last season's random Artie/Sugar romance was enough.
- I'm not even going to touch the "hate watch 'Treme'" joke. I'll just mention that it was there.
- Although this season has already been an improvement for Matthew Morrison over last, "Glee" still has a Schuester problem (there's just less and less for him to do). And it was surprising to see his planned "Mister Monotony" number with Sue cut from the episode. (Fox even posted two promotional stills from the performance on their press site.)
- Add George W. Bush and John Wayne to Sam's list of impressions, "hilarious 100% of the time."
- Next week's episode has the title that sent shippers everywhere into a frenzy: "The Breakup." Who will it be? Rachel and Finn? Kurt and Blaine? Santana and Brittany? Why does it feel like it's just going to be Mr. Schu and Miss Pillsbury?
Trending Now on HitFix Boards
News From Our Partners
- 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Takes Box-Office Crown With $84 Million 'Arrested Development' Gang: Where Are They Now? 'Star Trek Into Darkness': What's Next For J.J. Abrams And The Cast?
- 'Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters': Jeremy Renner Never Read the Script Before Signing On 'Angry Birds' Movie Flies Forward Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique: First Look at the Actress in 'X-Men: Days of Future Past'
- Ranking the Blockbusters with Summer Movie Scorecard 2013 RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: The Last Stand and Side Effects Box Office Guru Wrapup: Star Trek Softer Than Expected at #1
- The Telefile - Veep: The Episode's Best Insults The Telefile - Saturday Night Live: Straight Outta 8H The Telefile - Game of Thrones: Our Weekly Westeros Scorecard
- Joe Satran: Who's Winning The 'Game Of Thrones'? Andrew Jenks: Where Guns Are as Common as Cell Phones Renee Graziano: Look Before You Love
- What to Watch Tonight: The Season Finales of Rectify and Hawaii Five-0 and the Series Premieres of The Goodwin Games and Motive Mad Men "The Crash" Review: Uppers Give You Wings! News Briefs: CBS Is Pulling Mike & Molly's Season Finale Due to a Tornado Storyline
- Hear This: With “Deceptacon,” Le Tigre captured the sound of youth in a song Watch This: Walter Hill’s The Driver is all about work done well Scenic Routes: A quiet scene from The Matrix demonstrates how to make exposition compelling
- FX's 'The Strain' Taps 'Alias' Mia Maestro as Female Lead FX's 'Tyrant': Ang Lee Drops out of Directing the Pilot, Cites 'Life of Pi' Exhaustion NBC's 'Siberia': New Reality-Skewing Drama Ordered for Summer
The "Argo" actor/director joins the Five-Timers Club in the season finale.Saturday, May 18, 2013
The former "SNL" great returns to host for the first time.Saturday, May 11, 2013
Is the third time hosting the show the charm for the star of "The Hangover Part III"?Saturday, May 4, 2013
After this finale, will you be saying "Nevermore"?Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013