FOX's Glee went two for two this season with this week's installment, "Britney/Brittany." The lesson plan was adult contemporary, but the kids has something different in mind: Britney Spears. They had a point, saying that they had grown up with the pop star, and that had influenced their lives. Too often Britney Spears is thought of as a joke, and she has become that. But don't forget the impact she made when she was at her zenith, and the crop of young female stars she inspired to follow in her footsteps. The Glee kids are not immune to Spears's history.
The singer herself appeared in cameos, as several of the musical numbers were done as fantasy sequences. Britney was only there in the dream, and never actually joined the plot. Still, it was nice that she showed up.
The second part of the title refers to the character of Brittany (Heather Morris), airhead cheerleader, newly minted as a full-time cast member, and now revealed to possess the full name Brittany S. Pierce. Because of the similarities between her moniker and the famous pop star's, Brittany has always felt like she was in Britney's shadow, and so at first resisted the other kids' urging to do Spears music. Then a trip to the dentist, involving being put under by hallucinogenic gas, changed that. She soon was performing "I'm a Slave 4 U." And Morris proved that she could handle some very tough singing and dancing, more than justifying her place in the cast.
In fact, all of the Britney dance numbers seemed more complicated than the usual Glee fare. I assume that is why there were many backup dancers we have never seen before and probably won't soon see again, instead of just using the rest of the cast. The production value of several numbers matched Ms. Spears's own, with copies of her costumes and dance steps.
Among the songs hit were Rachel (Lea Michele) doing "...Baby One More Time" as she lamented about her boyfriend, Finn (Cory Monteith), and the entire cast performing a version of "Toxic" that had the school up in arms. So much so that Coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) declared it a sex riot and pulled the fire alarm. Artie (Kevin McHale) also turned "Stronger" into a buff number for the football team, and somehow the masculine performance succeeded. I'm not sure how, as I didn't expect it to, but it just worked.
The entire episode wasn't concerned with the theme of the week, however. There was plenty of time for emotional development. Rachel and Finn worked out a balance in their relationship, though Rachel resorted to trickery to test their bond. Finn passed, but I worry about ramifications if he finds out what she did. With all the trouble they had getting to where they are, basically all of last season, I'd hate to see it crumble so quickly. Finn, along with Artie, also got to join the football team, as Coach Beiste (Dot-Marie Jones) realized that their pleas last week were genuine.
Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison), along with the viewers, met Emma's (Jayma Mays) boyfriend, Carl (John Stamos). Carl was worked into the plot, as several of the Glee Club members sought his medical treatment. Will and Carl faced off for Emma's affections, though I believe this was just the start of their competition. Stamos appeared in at least one fantasy, but was not given the opportunity to sing and dance. With his Broadway resume, I'm sure it's just a matter of time until he does, and I look forward to it. We also got our first glimpse this season of the former Mrs. Schuester (Jessalyn Gilsig), who is insanely jealous of Emma and will certainly use her own brand of crazy to try to win Will back.
So far, so good. This second episode continued the improvements over season one exhibited last week. I hope the show continues to move forward. The only way it will stay a phenomenon is if it keeps growing. The first year was great, but had plenty of weaknesses, as I addressed in my review of last week's season premiere, and which have mostly disappeared. The only problem I can pinpoint in this episode was that Britney Spears was featured, but Kurt (Chris Colfer) didn't get a solo. This was right in his wheelhouse! But the rest was fantastic. Keep it up, guys!
Tune into Glee Tuesday nights at 8pm on FOX.
Article first published as TV Review: Glee - "Britney/Brittany" on Blogcritics.