Skip to main content

Strangers with Candy (and Booze): Kristin Chenoweth Belts It Out on "Glee"

Can Kristin Chenoweth be on Glee every week? Pretty please?

Last night's episode of Glee ("The Rhodes Not Taken"), written by Ian Brennan and directed by John Scott, saw the diminutive former Pushing Daisies star guest star as former high school singing sensation April Rhodes, a woman now reduced to squatting in a bank-owned home and working her way through a box of wine on her lonesome.

Three credits shy of graduating high school, the boozy and flirtatious April is lured back into the spotlight of McKinley High glee club by a desperate Will, who needs to replace Rachel now that she's skipped out on the club to focus on stardom with a leading role in a Cabaret production. But Finn has his own plot to get Rachel back in glee, though he has some less than altruistic motivations for doing so.

Still with me?

I thought that Chenoweth knocked it out of the park last night and fit in beautifully with the quirkiness of Glee. Was it a little unbelievable that the, uh, slightly older April would be willing and able to return to high school just so that Will could find a star-quality singer to propel the club to regionals? You betcha. But that was also part of the loopy charm of the episode itself, calling to mind Comedy Central's Amy Sedaris-led series Strangers With Candy, yet Chenoweth made the episode all her own by dint of her own magnificent voice and star wattage.

The sequence where she managed to win over each of the members of New Directions, from plying Kurt with box-grade Chablis and vintage muscle magazines, instructing Mercedes and Tina in the art of shoplifting, and, uh, seducing Puck was absolutely hysterical (as was her introduction to a speechless Will) but Chenoweth more than proved her singing chops with some show-stopping numbers that made me wish that she'd stick around for longer.

Likewise, I wish that the bowling alley bar duet between Chenoweth and Matthew Morrison on Heart's "Alone" would have gone on longer as it was so fantastic yet all too brief. "Alone" is a tricky song to pull off and make it your own yet Chenoweth did just that. (I'm hoping that somewhere there's a full-length version of Chenoweth and Morrison's song.)

But there was also a hell of a lot of other amazing music in this episode, from Lea Michele and Chenoweth's stunning "Maybe This Time," to the gang on Carrie Underwood's "Last Name," and the poignant and soul-stirring take on Queen's "Somebody to Love."

While the episode didn't quite tug on the same heartstring's as last week's gorgeously produced Kurt-centric episode, "The Rhodes Not Taken" was more than enjoyable, offering as it did some further developments between Finn and Rachel, a new tangle in the Will-Teri-Emma love triangle, and some powerful musical numbers. I'm not sure what ever happened to Figgis' insistence that the club only sing from a list of pre-approved tracks (anyone care to fill me in on that dangling plot thread?) and I didn't totally buy Rachel backtracking back to glee after she was given total creative control over Cabaret by Sue.

But these are minor quibbles when faced with the awe-inspiring talents of Lady Cheno and the kids, especially when the latter aren't electronically enhanced (as they seemed to be in the rehearsal scene at the start of the episode). I think the series works best when these musical numbers are elaborate fantasy-based set pieces ("Maybe This Time") or stage-set numbers (as in "Somebody to Love") rather than in the rehearsal process. But it's the former that the most imaginative and revealing. After all, what high schooler hasn't lived their life to a secret inner soundtrack? By erasing the line between reality and fantasy, these inner monologues reveal a great deal about the singer and the song. And at the end of the day, is that not what Glee is all about?

Missed last night's episode or just want to watch it again? Worry not, as you can watch "The Rhodes Not Taken" in full right below.

Next week on Glee ("Vitamin D"), Will challenges the kids to a healthy dose of competition with boys against girls in a mashup showdown; Terri takes a job as the school nurse, despite having no medical experience, to keep an eye on Will; Ken makes Emma a life-changing offer.


Anonymous said…
I think the loose reasoning behind the ability to sing other songs was allowing Quin into the group (since she's known for her pious ways).

As long as they keep their musical numbers anchored in reality, I'll be okay. When Mercedes burst out in a 'daydream' that was a bit much for me. Especially with all their interview posturing about how all the music is set in reality. That was not.
Anonymous said…
The full length version of "Alone" is available on iTunes.
Bella Spruce said…
I actually think the fantasy musical sequences work perfectly. After all, as Jace said, what teenager hasn't lived their life to a "secret inner soundtrack."
Unknown said…
The duet of Heart's "Alone" was great. After the ep was over, I went back and listened again. I should've listened to "Maybe This Time" again, too--that was amazing.

Although this ep wasn't as laugh-out-loud funny as last week's, I enjoyed the heightened poignancy and depth of the characters' motivations: the heartbreaking vision of Rachel's eager hopefulness contrasted with Finn's guilty knowledge that he's seducing a vulnerable girl with false promises; Emma's shameless manipulation of Finn to eliminate her (perceived) rival for Will's affections.

So well done on so many levels.
Anonymous said…
Right after watching this episode I bought "Alone" and "Somebody to Love" on iTunes. The longer version of "Alone" is very good, you should buy it. This show has been growing on me and this was the first episode that I really loved. Doesn't hurt that I'm a fan of Kristen Chenowith, ever since Pushing Daisies (oh how I miss that show and that cast). I really hope they decide to bring her back on as a regular somehow.
shamangrrl said…
I adore this show, and yes, I agree that every teen lives their life with a interior soundtrack. Heck, I'm well past my teen years, and I still live that way.

Anyway, this was a great episode, and KC was incredible. Every time she opened her mouth and started singing, my mother actually stopped whatever she was doing, to come watch ths show. And my mother *hates* musical.

Popular posts from this blog

Have a Burning Question for Team Darlton, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, or Michael Emerson?

Lost fans: you don't have to make your way to the island via Ajira Airways in order to ask a question of the creative team or the series' stars. Televisionary is taking questions from fans to put to Lost 's executive producers/showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and stars Matthew Fox ("Jack Shephard"), Evangeline Lilly ("Kate Austen"), and Michael Emerson ("Benjamin Linus") for a series of on-camera interviews taking place this weekend. If you have a specific question for any of the above producers or actors from Lost , please leave it in the comments section below . I'll be accepting questions until midnight PT tonight and, while I can't promise I'll be able to ask any specific inquiry due to the brevity of these on-camera interviews, I am looking for some insightful and thought-provoking questions to add to the mix. So who knows: your burning question might get asked after all.

What's Done is Done: The Eternal Struggle Between Good and Evil on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Every story begins with thread. It's up to the storyteller to determine just how much they need to parcel out, what pattern they're making, and when to cut it short and tie it off. With last night's penultimate season finale of Lost ("The Incident, Parts One and Two"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, we began to see the pattern that Lindelof and Cuse have been designing towards the last five seasons of this serpentine series. And it was only fitting that the two-hour finale, which pushes us on the road to the final season of Lost , should begin with thread, a loom, and a tapestry. Would Jack follow through on his plan to detonate the island and therefore reset their lives aboard Oceanic Flight 815 ? Why did Locke want to kill Jacob? What caused The Incident? What was in the box and just what lies in the shadow of the statue? We got the answers to these in a two-hour season finale that didn't quite pack the same emotional wallop of previous season

Pilot Inspektor: CBS' "Smith"

I may just have to change my original "What I'll Be Watching This Fall" post, as I sat down and finally watched CBS' new crime drama Smith this weekend. (What? It's taken me a long time to make my way through the stack of pilot DVDs.) While it's on following Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars on Tuesday nights (10 pm ET/PT, to be exact), I'm going to be sure to leave enough room on my TiVo to make sure that I catch this compelling, amoral drama. While one can't help but be impressed by what might just be the most marquee-friendly cast in primetime--Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Jonny Lee Miller, Amy Smart, Simon Baker, and Franky G all star and Shohreh Aghdashloo has a recurring role--the pilot's premise alone earned major points in my book: it's a crime drama from the point of view of the criminals, who engage in high-stakes heists. But don't be alarmed; it's nothing like NBC's short-lived Heist . Instead, think of it as The Italian