‘Glee’-Cap 1.19: NPH + Whedon = Legen… Wait for It…

…dary. Yes, last week’s episode of ‘Glee’ was truly legendary. Neil Patrick Harris guest starred. Could there be a more perfect fit for this show? All the episode lacked was an appearance from Kristen Chenoweth. Imagine the possibilities if those two could come back as regulars. C’mon, we all know that ‘How I Met Your Mother’ went down the tubes this year. How hard could it be for Harris to get out of his contract?

I’m a little late in recapping episode ‘Dream On’, but there was no way I was going to let it go by without comment. Not only did NPH stop by, he brought his ‘Dr. Horrible‘ director Joss Whedon with him. Sweet television deities, this is TV nirvana.

Here’s the set-up: Harris is Brian Ryan, a former Glee Club rival of Will’s from back in the day. Ryan is now a school board member with control over budgeting decisions. More importantly, he’s an embittered failure whose professional singing career capsized, and now he leads a Show Choir support group. He’s made it his mission to destroy the dreams of high school hopefuls, so as to spare them disappointment later in life. That doesn’t go over so well with Will, who formulates a plan to win him back to the side of good by getting him an audition for a community theater production of ‘Les Mis’.

In other news, Jesse is back, and has been pressuring Rachel to look for her birth mother. It turns out that he’s been a double agent from Vocal Adrenaline the whole time. His relationship with Rachel is a sham under direction from the V.A. coach, who it turns out is… BAH BAH BAAAAAH… Rachel’s mother. Of course, anyone who’s actually looked at the woman in previous episodes probably guessed that long ago. Seriously, are we sure these two actresses aren’t related in real life?

This episode also puts a spotlight on Artie and Tina, two characters usually relegated to the background. Artie has a crazy dream about walking again one day, which Tina (perhaps ill-advisedly) encourages. This leads to a fantasy sequence in which Artie breakdances to “Safety Dance” in a mall.

The episode is great fun. Will and Brian rock out to Aerosmith’s “Dream On” (who didn’t see that one coming?), and later Brian has anger sex with Sue. Awesome.

As for Whedon’s involvement, he didn’t write this episode, just directed. For the most part, he’s made a point of staying within the bounds of the show’s usual direction, which is probably a good thing. It’s often annoying when A-List talent step in to guest-direct on series television, and try to add “auteur” touches that don’t fit with the normal style of the show. The only thing that comes close to that here is the “Safety Dance” number. That looks to have been filmed in a real mall and features a lot of weird camcorder footage and cutaways to the onlooking crowd. I’m guessing that Whedon may have staged this as a flash mob event on an unsuspecting crowd. If so, on one level, that’s kind of cool. On the other hand, it’s not made clear enough and doesn’t entirely integrate well with the regular footage.

Still, by and large, this was a great episode.

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