Glee: I sound like someone put tap shoes on a horse.

KT dreams for more episodes like this one.

GLEE:  1.19 “Dream On”

Now that’s more like it.  That was Glee at its best.

Much has been made of the fact that Joss Whedon was behind the camera for this episode, and I’m confident he did contribute to making this a good episode, but I think the writers deserve a big round of applause, too.  Joss got good material to work with.   He also got Neil Patrick Harris as the cynical and conflicted Brian Ryan, Will’s high school nemesis.

The episode got itself off to a good start by fully committing to a wonderful flashback to Will and Brian as teenagers.  It only lasts a minute or so, but it’s great.  Everyone looks like they walked straight out of Saved By the Bell, while NPH and Matthew Morrison are such good actors that they’re really believable as their awkward, younger selves.

Some of Glee’s usual flip-floppiness sneaks into the Brian Ryan plot.  It’s kind of like plucking flower petals and saying “He’ll cut the club.  He won’t cut the club.  He’ll cut the club…” which makes me roll my eyes a little.  Happily there was plenty of other good stuff to make up for it.  For one thing, these two can really rock a duet.

If Brian Ryan ever comes back, I hope he gets to interact more with Sue, because their scene was a hoot and a half.  And yet, they actually have a real, meaningful conversation lamenting the real world issues of underfunding in the arts and under-appreciation of physical education.  Sue even looks like a competent educator, which is nice, for a change.

Meanwhile, Artie and Tina actually got a storyline!  And although it’d be nice if Artie could get a plot that didn’t need to revolve around his disability, this one was really nice as far as tone and pacing.  The sweet, friendly relationship between Artie and Tina was charming, as was her eagerness to be helpful and supportive.  The idea of putting taps on his wheels was pretty clever, even if it didn’t work out; likewise it was sweet of her to dig up research on spinal injuries, even though those studies couldn’t directly help him any time soon.  Emma only had the one scene in this episode, but I really liked that (A) it was with someone other than Will, just for variety, and (B) that we got to see her doing her job well, which we often don’t.  Really lovely stuff.

And the dancing!  Even though it was all in Artie’s imagination, it was great to see Kevin McHale get a chance to get up and dance.  The big “Safety Dance” flash mob was a lot of fun, and I liked the way we occasionally cut to camera views that mimicked people’s cell phone cameras.  I also loved that there was tap dancing this week, and I liked it even more because who would have guessed Tina would be a tap dancer?  Awesome.

[After the jump, Rachel’s diva tendencies make so much more sense.] Continue reading

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Good news, genre fans!

image courtesy ABC

Call it coincidence if you like, but my theory is that the stars have aligned for sci-fi and fantasy to return to the airwaves.  After long hiatuses, we’re about to see the return of V, Merlin, and Doctor Who.

V, off the air since November, returns under the direction of a new showrunner.  Maureen Ryan has had great coverage the last few days, so let me just point you over to her.  I shared her reservations about the show’s first four episodes last fall (here are my posts if you want to relive the snark), but she actually has me excited for V‘s return tonight.  Cool!

Merlin‘s first season aired on NBC last summer, but since the peacock network seems incapable of recognizing anything good these days, they’ve given it up — season two begins this Friday on SyFy.  The show is hardly the Arthurian legend you grew up with, but I think it’s good fun and I’m definitely ready for more.

Doctor Who returns this Saturday if you’re in the UK (or, you know, use bit torrent).  In the US, the TARDIS will arrive two weeks later: April 17 on BBC America.  Expect new stars and new writers, but the same old lovably insane alien time traveler.  After the generally disappointing specials we got last year instead of a regular season, this has me very excited.

Honorable mention (shows for nerds, shows about nerds — it fits, right?):  Glee comes back April 13!  I don’t love that both Glee and V have moved to Tuesday nights, but there we are.  I’ve heard all sorts of exciting hints about what’s to come — an all Madonna episode, Idina Menzel guest starring, Neil Patrick Harris guest starring, Joss Whedon directing — so I’m hoping that this show has shed the Baby Drama and is ready to shoot for the stars.

And a last note, genre fans:  I don’t cover Castle because it would turn into this big list of “hey, that bit was funny, and this thing was really clever” (um, sort of the way my How I Met Your Mother posts do) but I do love a good mystery from time to time.  Last night’s solution to the cliffhanger was great… but did you catch the Firefly reference near the end?