No, Virginia, I have not forgotten that Christmas is almost upon us. It is just that unlike, say, Halloween, there are not nearly as many “Christmas” films that really need to be re examined. There are almost certainly barely any new ones – how many years has Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer been broadcast? And how long ago did the novelty wear off? I guarantee you the difference between the two is less than five.
Well, this is something new. Also, it is from a show that I am actually quite a fan of. The creators have proven themselves to be smart and knowledgeable of what makes satire work. Here they are examining specials that, frankly, I have grown tired of. Call me a scrooge all you want, but repetition is not comforting or nostalgic – it is boring. Maybe that is why I have expressed utter indifference to the Christmas related media so far.
Well, at least I will be watching one new thing this year. Thanks for giving me the opportunity, Community!
OK, we start, and a stop motion Dean talking about designated zones and about how no one holiday is allowed to be celebrated over another. Everyone is animated in stop motion.
Abed asks what everyone is doing for Christmas. They ask why, he says this may be the most important Christmas in history. Why? Because everyone is stop motion animated. But only Abed notices. Britta offers to help with his “situation.” He only asks they move around more, and then launches into the Christmas theme song.
It’s to the tune of the Community theme song, with Abed singing and dancing on cars, well…before cops taser him. They take him to the psych department where the psych professor, Duncan, is interviewing Abed, Jeff, and Britta. The professor wants to monitor him, while Abed goes to find the true meaning of Christmas.
Next scene, Abed is singing “sad, quick Christmas song” while building a snowman. The snowman comes to life, and has the voice of Professor Chang. Anyway, Abed gets a text to go to the study room. Pierce yells out surprise, and it turns out that this was a group therapy session.
Professor Duncan declares himself to be a Christmas wizard (and morphs into such) and states that his friends are all here to help (with the exception of Pierce, who is in it for the cookies). The Christmas Wizard tries to put everyone into a hypnotic state. Each of the characters fly into “Outer Christmas Space” before coming to rest at Winter Wonderland on Planet Abed. Each of the characters morph into toys (Teddy Pierce, Troy Soldier, Ballerina Annie, etc. My personal favorite is Annie. She should wear that outfit on the show some time.) and the Christmas Wizard wants to take all the characters through the cave of frozen memories. Another song about the “wonderland through my mind.” Each of the characters go about, except for the Christmas Wizard who just sort of leaves through a whole in reality.
We are back. Abed is the only one who has not changed. Anyway, the Wizard randomly pops back in. The “cave of frozen memories” turns out to be the “cave of frozen peas.” Each of the characters all argue about the identities. Shirley is particularly upset (she’s a baby) and the Christmas Wizard ejects her from the fantasy.
Before long, the group are attacked by “humbugs.” They are attracted to sarcasm. Anyway, they attack Jeff (who insists that ‘Tim Burton has a boner right now’) and is consumed. Annie sings a small Christmas song.
They next go to a canyon where the plants make Christmas songs instead of oxygen. Anyway, Britta complains about the date Christmas falls on (she correctly states that it was chosen to mirror a pagan festival) and a few seconds later, they end up in the elusive “cave of frozen memories.” The Wizard shows up again. But Abed turns it around on the professor, and gets him weeping over the fact his father was never there for Christmas. Abed then destroys the cave, taking a slide to go to “pine tree station” and go to the north pole. Troy agrees to go, then Annie, then Pierce, and then….well, Abed denies Britta the opportunity to continue the journey, as she had lied to Abed about going to therapy. Abed does another song…which gets Britta crying.
They are now on a train (gee, wonder what’s that a reference too). Anyway, the remaining friends talk about their old Christmas traditions. Abed reveals that he would always watch Rudolph on December 9th – which just happens to fall on this day. Abed misses his mother, and that is what causes this fantasy.
The Christmas Wizard comes back, and Abed turns him into a Christmas Warlock. Abed climbs to the roof of the train. The Warlock tries to convince Abed this has all been a fantasy, but Abed remains stubborn. Anyway, his friends prevent the Warlock from grabbing him, leaving Abed alone on the front car of the train. He sets the train to the highest setting (Bjork), only for Pierce to emerge from the bathroom (“I don’t want to go home. Christmas is depressing there”) to accompany Abed.
I like the aesthetic and the density that the writers gave the material. But we are more than halfway through, and frankly, it feels jumbled. I think that the writers wanted a full hour.
We are back. They arrive at Santa’s workshop, and it has been abandoned. Pierce notices one gift reading “meaning of Christmas.” Each box contains a smaller box, until we get to the first season of Lost on DVD. It turns out to be a metaphor for the lack of a pay off.
The Wizard comes back, saying he had found a Christmas card his mother wrote him. Abed simply refused to acknowledge that his mother was not coming. Abed freezes. Each of the friends comes back, pointing ‘magic Christmas weapons’ at the Wizard, to tell him he’s wrong. Apparently, having people support other people is the meaning of Christmas. They launch into a song, shooting Duncan, while Abed starts to melt. Well, the song is bad, but that is part of the joke. The animation is quite good at this point. And they even get Britta to sing. This is apparently a big deal. Annie summons a pterodactyl to take away the professor. Abed has completely unfrozen. he says that the meaning of Christmas is “the idea that is has meaning.” All the clay puppets go to hug him. They go back to the study room (still as stop motion figures) while Duncan and the Dean are taking shots.
The episode ends with the stop motion gang watching a Christmas special on TV.
Actually it ends with Abed and Troy eating cookies and switching heads via stop motion, discussing how the format looks good as credits roll.
Well, that was a great experiment. I still confess, I like the spectacle. But overall, it just seems like the writers had so many ideas that they could not do, but were constrained by the time slot. I would have preferred them given a full hour. Also, it was a weak touch to be completely submerged in the fantasy, if only because they continuously referenced the fact that it WAS a fantasy. Once would have been enough – referencing to things happening in the real world was not a good touch. Still, I did enjoy the show, but then that may be just for my love of Community overall. It is one of the only shows I consciously choose to watch every week. Check this out on Hulu if you can.