Chris Colfer, the actor responsible for everyone’s favorite countertenor Kurt Hummel, makes his television writing debut with Glee‘s second to last episode of the season, “Old Dog, New Tricks”. While Colfer is new to writing TV scripts, he’s not new to writing. The actor turned author is responsible for two New York Time’s bestselling children’s novels and an screenplay for the award-winning film Struck By Lightning.
In honor of his debut, Colfer convinced a number of acting legends to guest star. The star-studded cast of geriatric performers includes Tim Conway, famous for his work with Carol Burnett; Broadway, film, and television’s June Squibb; and Lando Calrissian himself, Billy Dee Williams. These additions add an additional layer of authenticity to the Lexington Home of Retired Performers and their slightly inappropriate rendition of Peter Pan. In fact, these famous faces almost help us forget how easily the role of Peter falls into Kurt’s lap.
In spite of Sam and Artie’s weird rendition of a strange song, “Werewolves in London”, the dog storyline seems relevant. Rachel’s self-professed role as New York’s ultimate dog messiah seems completely in line with her on and off again veganism and PETA cheerleader persona. And let’s be honest, I don’t think any one event on Glee has ever been quite as satisfying as seeing Rachel dragged across the street and through the mud by a pack of ill-behaved Broadway Bitches. However misguided Rachel’s plans and motives, the name is hilarious and clever. I’ll gladly make a donation to Broadway Bitches if I can get a t-shirt to show my allegiance.
Unlike many Glee episodes, the musical numbers this week are not as strong as they’ve been in the recent past. “I Melt with You” and “Memory” are background noise, merely setting up plot points and, as mentioned before, “Werewolves in London” is just all together confusing. Aren’t there at least 50 other songs about dogs that would have been less grisly and more thematically appropriate? The musical saving grace numbers are “Lucky Star”, complete with harness choreography including Kurt in camo skinny jeans, and “Take Me Home Tonight”, with its cute and fluffy dose of unsanitary dining conditions. Why has no one called a health inspector yet?
All together, Glee‘s “Old Dog, New Tricks” is pleasant without being cloying. It straddles the fence of just right and too much, the way some of the series’ best episodes do. The dialogue is believable, the plot lines actually move the characters along the same trajectory they’ve been on and continue into the finale, and the characterization is solid and even redeeming for characters like Rachel and Santana who have been on their own paths to destruction. While not perfect, especially in terms of the song choices, there is something altogether charming about the hiccups which liken it to this episode’s star, Kurt. This episode feels like an old episode of Glee. You know, the show with some clever one-liners, simple by interesting story lines, and a big dose of heart.