If you were crunching your tortilla chips too loudly, you might’ve missed it. But a brief loudspeaker announcement from Principal McGee (Ana Gasteyer) alerting Rydell to the start of cheer tryouts ended with a sublimely delivered punchline about teenage pregnancy: “We all know nothing makes a cheerleader more nervous than when she’s late.” Hey, Gasteyer didn’t become a household name via SNL for nothing.
MOST UNEXPECTED HEARTBREAKER
Julianne Hough’s reprise of “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee” — all alone, with a splash of red lipstick — hit us right in the gut and made us feel true sympathy for the innocent teen who’d just been the butt of the slumber-party joke. We may not love her as a Dancing With the Stars judge, but who knows, maybe Grease will finally transition her from “reality TV personality” to “actual actress.”
CORNIEST META JOKE
You can’t blame ’em for trying, but a brief interlude in the principal’s office tried a little too hard. “A live broadcast? How exciting! Oh, but what if something goes wrong?” asked Haneefah Wood’s Blanche. To which a visiting TV producer replied, “That doesn’t matter! The television audience is pretty forgiving.”
MOST UNEXPECTED ROMANCE
We went into Grease: Live excited to see the classic Danny/Sandy moments we all know and love — but we emerged in full support of the Danny/Doody (or "Dandy," as we're now referring to them) relationship which emerged during "Those Magic Changes."
MOST DISAPPOINTING VOCAL
It’s so hard to say “Hello” to yesterday — at least in the case of Boyz II Men’s wobbly performance of “Beauty School Dropout.” (Yes, this statement is blasphemous — but you also know it is the truth.)
MOST EFFECTIVE USE OF SPOTLIGHT
We're still not sure whether Grease: Live should have done "Sandy" (movie song) or "Stranded At the Drive-In" (musical song), but one thing we're not torn over is this Danny lighting moment. Nothing really mattered after we saw this, to be honest.
THE “YEP, WE’RE LIVE!” MOMENT
Nope, it wasn’t your [bleeping bleep] television letting you down at the most inopportune time. Multiple TVLine staffers are confirming that the sound did indeed (and briefly) drop out during “Born to Hand Jive.”
BEST INCOGNITO SCENE-STEALER
You’re the Worst‘s Kether Donohue — almost unrecognizable in pigtails and horned-rim glasses — had us howling with laughter with everything from goofy punclines about recipes from Good Housekeeping to more subtle moments like pointing a harsh finger of judgment at Danny’s ne’er-do-well behavior.
WEIRDEST HANDLING OF AN ALREADY BAD SITUATION
We thought it would be impossible to effectively translate Grease's infamous car-chase scene to a live production — and, honestly, it still is — but we applaud Fox's efforts. (Extra points to whichever staffer thought up with the steering-wheel cam, pictured here.)
BEST BICEPS AT RYDELL HIGH
We'd like to extend a special thank-you to whoever outfitted Aaron Tveit. This is, arms down, our favorite kind of gun control.