Thursday, 30 September 2010

'GLEE' 2.2 – "Britney/Brittany"

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Quite possibly the most redundant and stupid episode in Glee's short life, "Britney/Brittany" was a thinly veiled excuse to reenact Britney Spears music videos (which it did very well), but with little to support the endeavour. This is Exhibit A in a trial for the prosecution of Glee; little more than a promotional hour for Ms Spears, sure to boost sales of her back-catalogue, with meagre relevance to the show and its characters.

Improbably, Mr Schue (Matthew Morrison) is revealed to be vehemently against the glee club performing the music of Britney Spears, claiming she's a bad role model. He's also jealous of ex Emma's (Jayma Mays) new boyfriend, hunky dentist Dr Carl Howell (John Stamos), who gets to work on various members of the glee club's teeth, eliciting Britney-related fantasies from the likes of Santana (Naya Rivera), Brittany (Heather Morris), Artie (Kevin McHale) and Rachel (Lea Michele) thanks to his anesthetic.

The episode's sole highlight was Heather Morris, despite the fact this episode wasn't anywhere near as focused on her scatterbrained character as the title had us believing. Pokerfaced Brittany was the Ralph Wiggum of season 1, dropping in to deliver perfect one-liners and non sequiters, so I'm glad she's a regular character because the actress deserves the show of confidence. She's by far the best dancer on the show, too, and this episode gave Morris plenty of opportunity to prove that with some fantastic, sexy performances -- singing Britney classic "I'm A Slave 4 U" as a visual mashup of the "Oops! I Did It Again" and "Toxic" videos. There was also an enjoyable duet with Rivera's character Santana for "Me Against The Music", and it all proved Morris can sing to an acceptable standard, which was something of an uncertainty given her dance background.

And there were some great Brittanyisms to be quoted for evermore: sitting in the dentist chair ("this room looks like the one on that spaceship where I got probed”), on super-geek Jacob's afro hair ("looks like a Jewish cloud"), and to paraplegic Artie ("did you get a leg transplant?")

Sadly, those aforementioned moments were the sole positives of this desperate episode, beyond an impressive restaging of Britney's "Hit Me Baby, One More Time" with Rachel inevitably stepping into her knee-socked heroine's shoes. The fact Glee feels partly inspired by that late-'90s video certainly helped matters, as there were times when it was unnervingly close to the real thing. Knowng the fast turnaround of TV production, I have to applaud writer-director Ryan Murphy's talent behind the camera in getting so many video homages done to this high standard. Unfortunately, his script was several notches below last season's Madonna tribute, finding no clear and plausible reason for anything to be happening. Why does Will have a hatred for Britney Spears? This is the guy who dances to Vanilla Ice.

I'm also worried about Jewish nerd Jacob (Josh Sussman), a periphery character given a bigger presence in this episode, but only to be the butt of everyone's jokes or to irritate us with his exagerrated behaviour and reactions. The character effectively ruined a latter group performance of "Toxic" in the school hall with his outbursts from the crowd, and the character feels like a very cruel and outmoded stereotype of a geek, making the characters of The Big Bang Theory look realistic by comparison.

The only meat to this episode in terms of a storyline was Schue's jealousy of likeable and handsome dentist Carl, a love rival who leads him to believe he lost Emma because he's too boring and predictable. In a weak attempt to win her back, Schue bought an identical sports car to Carl, shortly before ex-wife Terri (Jessalyn Gilsig) reappeared, clearly desperate to win her ex back once his infatuation with Emma runs its course. The idea of Schue having a midlife crisis isn't bad, but it deserved more work than the halfhearted scenes dished out here.

Overall, "Britney/Brittany" was a big disappointment, particularly regarding Britney Spears cameo appearance itself, which was just a few small scenes with a total screentime of 30 seconds. I'm not sure if this is because Britney wasn't prepared to do more, the script had to be written without knowing her availability, or Ryan Murphy simply decided Britney wasn't a good enough actress to do more, but whatever the reason her appearance summed up this entire episode: unsatisfying, pointless and desultory.

  • Hey, Quinn -- you had a baby last season, right? Any chance you could mention that, or we could see your daughter? You too, Puck -- just a line of dialogue referencing you're a faher now would be appreciated. Thanks.
  • Brittany's full name is Brittany Susan Pearce. Brittany S. Pearce, geddit? Brittany Spearce. Geddit?
  • Am I missing something with Artie wanting to join the school football team? Surely it’s just impossible because he's in a wheelchair? Certainly to play actual games against opponents, right? I'm not sure I follow this, unless he's just being allowed to train and have fun but isn’t expected to play actual games.
GUEST CAST: Britney Spears, Jessalyn Gilsig, Max Adler, James Earl, Lauren Potter, Iqbal Theba & Josh Sussman
TRANSMISSION: 28 September 2010 – Fox, 8/7c