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'Glee' recap: Gwyneth Paltrow fever -- catch it!

November 17, 2010 |  9:44 am

EGLEE_Ep207-BTS_089 We were all ready to hate Gwyneth Paltrow on “Glee,” practically buttering the floor for her to slip on, but dang if we didn’t end up not only admiring her appearance but also actually starting to like her. The actress we’ve long regarded as the epitome of patrician entitlement, what with her admirable Hollywood lineage, elite New York prep school education and irritatingly early success, not to mention her willowy blondness and blond willowiness,  showed the world that she not only could sing and dance (she already did the “Whoa, she can sing?” thing at the CMA Awards last week, when she performed the title song from her forthcoming movie, “Country Strong”), but also had a serious sense of fun.

Raise your hand if, like the kids of McKinley High, you found yourself -- first grudgingly, then increasingly enthusiastically -- embracing Paltrow as the wacky substitute teacher Holly Holiday.

We managed to keep a skeptically arched eyebrow in place throughout the Lindsay Lohan-inflected Spanish lesson and the snappy taco-and-toke talk. But once the music started, we were won over.

Paltrow had us at Cee-Lo.

The show cleaned up the words of Cee-Lo Green’s viral masterpiece “Forget You” (the television- and radio-friendly title) but lost none of the joyous flip-off spirit of the thing. And Paltrow moved so spiritedly through the number, mixing it up with the up-on-their-feet glee clubbers that we found her mid-song hair-flip almost charming and forgave her for the way she can shamelessly rock a miniskirt after two children. (Though, really, is that fair?)

Other unforgettable Paltrow moments:

1)    Foil in hair, wineglass in hand, watching “Animal Hoarders” with Sue as Rachel looks on, aghast.

2)    High-fiving Puck -– “Righteous!” -- while confronting Rachel in the hall for being such a drag, then gamely agreeing to perform a song that’s “upbeat" and "glamorous, with a good dance beat” with her: “I thought you’d never ask; it’s kind of my catchphrase.”

3)    Performing that upbeat, glam number, “Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag,” from “Chicago,” with Rachel. Those deliciously glam costumes! The sequins! The boas! The swingin’ fringe! But Chris Colfer steals the scene just with the look on his face as he watches. How does he do that?

4)    Her response as Sue rips into Holly and Mercedes for the $17,000 in damage done to her 1979 Le Car in a tater-tot-stuffed-in-tailpipe protest. When Sue informs them that she’ll be meeting with her lawyer, Gloria Allred, about pressing charges, Paltrow's clueless rat-a-tat with Sue -- “So am I going to jail or … ? ” “Undetermined,” “Great” -- is really priceless.

5)    The wolf-ish gleam she elicits from Will when she (chastely) tells him that she’s all about the one-night stand.

6)    That punch-in-the-face flashback: “Cameo!”

7)    The chuckle she gives when Terri shows up and starts talking baby talk to Will. (And by the way, the thermometer in the Vaseline? What the … ?)

8)    “Mary Todd Lincoln in the house! My husband was probably gay, and I’m bipolar, which makes me yell things like, ‘That teapot’s spreadin’ lies about me’ or ‘That can’t be my baby because I don’t love it.’”

9)    The mash-up of Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” It’s the least cloying Will Schuester has been in a long time: Paltrow’s sassiness undercuts his overripe sweetness. And all that splashy dancing. It may be my favorite “Glee” group number so far this season.

And you? Did you catch Paltrow fever? Or did she leave you cold?

-- Amy Reiter

Photo: Will (Matthew Morrison) and Holly (guest star Gwyneth Paltrow) perform the "Umbrella"/"Singin' in the Rain" mash-up in "The Substitute" episode of "Glee." Credit: Adam Rose / Fox