Glee Season 5 Review “Old Dogs, New Tricks”

Glee Season 5 Episode 19 Old Dog New Tricks (9)

Oh dear. I might have said last week that my unconditional love for Glee can overcome even its most ingrained weaknesses and stupidity but, as anyone who read the bulk of my season four reviews will know, there are certain places I just can’t follow the show into. Those are the strange, fever-dream fantasy episodes that started with season two’s ‘Rocky Horror’ disaster and have snuck into each season ever since. Last year had them outnumber the stronger hours to the point where the show was unrecognisable but, after a string of good to excellent episodes over the last few months, it’s disappointing to find one here.

Because ‘Old Dog New Tricks’ is the penultimate episode of the season, and it’s hard to get enthused about what’s to come next week (and next season) when you’re reminded so harshly of how bad Glee can be when it puts its mind to it. And yes, I realise that the hour was written by Chris Colfer, and he should be supported as the young, talented writer that he is, but his first penning of a Glee episode could have been so much more. I liked the idea of giving Kurt an hour to shine, for example, but having him star alongside a bunch of old people in a care home production of ‘Peter Pan’ was not the way I’d have gone.

Because Kurt is a wonderful character, and the shining achievement of Glee’s lifetime. I only remember this, of course, because I have been feverishly rewatching previous seasons in an attempt to remind myself of what the show was, what it is now and what it could have in a different lifetime. Some complain that Kurt has been lost ever since Blaine arrived and basically took over the series as co-lead with Rachel, and Colfer’s sidelining of the character and the romance certainly suggest he’s been keen to address this, but the fact is that characters as strong as him should stand out regardless, and this was a wasted opportunity.

It was also a weak episode, with the only distraction from the embarrassing ‘Peter Pan’ production being Rachel’s attempts to mend her public image with stray puppies. Watching ‘Old Dogs New Tricks’, you don’t get the sense that this was a way for Colfer to incorporate dogs and old people (apparently his two favourite things) into the world of Glee, but that he hates every character on the show that isn’t Kurt, making Rachel into her worst, most self-centred self, giving us Sam at his most clueless and everyone else banished to the sidelines, literally at one point, cheering their buddy on as he patronised some elderly citizens.

As open as I was to the possibility of a Colfer-penned hour of a show that’s been on a winning streak since leaving McKinley (and arguably before), this should be banished from the canon of the series. It felt like what season five of Glee would have consisted of had things not been shocked back into life over the summer vacation, and that’s a scary thought indeed. Not one plot was moved forwards, not one character was developed in any interesting way and, rather than giving Kurt his moment in the spotlight, it just made him into an unflattering caricature. Compare it to ‘Bash’, and tell me this was the better option.

What did you think of the episode? Did you hate it as much as me or did you find redeeming qualities? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.