(artwork by the very talented Ben Deguzman (@abouthebenjamin) from Southern California.)
Christmas is, on the surface at least, the shiniest and happiest of festivals – happy families exchanging presents, lavish feasts, joy and goodwill, everyone happy ever after lit by the glow of a 1000 warmed hearts. But as Abed, who is my favourite character in this creatively rich series, discovers in this most unorthodox of Christmas tales, it isn’t simple at all.
But naturally being Greendale college, the best anyone can come up with is psychology professor, Ian Duncan, who rather ham-fistedly tries ‘fix’ Abed by proposing extensive therapy sessions which Abed sensibly rejects. But he is tricked into attending a group therapy session in the library study room, and reluctantly agrees to undergo “Christmas-nosis” which will take him to the Christmas-themed Planet Abed.
It’s here that the fun, and eventually thinly-disguised heartache, begins as Abed sets out for the North Pole, with the group all transformed into Christmas toys that represent not necessarily flattering facets of their character, determined to recover his misplaced meaning of Christmas. Along the way the friends drop off one by one – Shirley is ejected from the group by a Christmas pterodactyl, Jeff is consumed by Humbugs that swarm over and consume him – until he reaches his goal and opens a box purporting to contain the true meaning of Christmas. What the box contains is the first season of Lost on DVD which Abed cheekily says represents “lack of payoff” and it’s only after his friends stand up for him against Professor Duncan that Abed snaps to and realises that Christmas has meaning after all.
What was so wonderful about this episode, which must become a Christmas classic if there is any justice in the world, is that it deftly balances Abed’s great pain with the wit and levity this amazingly creative series displays in spades every episode. The visual style was yet another creative leap right out of the box, and the abundant pop culture references, and insertion of Christmas pterodactyls and the like had me laughing like a fool even as I felt for Abed in his moment of great loss.
It is a beautifully rendered snapshot of what happens when one person pushes aside all the warm and fuzzy trappings of the season and dares to ask where the meaning is in all of this. The fact that he finds an answer of sorts is heartwarming, and the journey to get that to that moment of realisation is inventive, clever and punctuated with more sight gags and pop culture references that I can adequately describe, but the episode is at heart very much about Abed daring to say that the Christmas emperor has no clothes. It is as powerful and touching as it is wildly creative and funny, and succeeds in keeping them all in perfect balance all the way through, which is a rare feat, ultimately creating an episode that inspires as much as it entertains.
It is no secret that I love Christmas (unless you have been living under a rock in a small village on the windswept edges of Mongolia in which case you are (a) very odd, and yet quirky, and (b) forgiven for missing that) and naturally being a pop culture junkie, I seek out every TV show and piece of music that feeds this festive obsession.
I know many TV shows are derided for featuring twee and corny Christmas episodes (mostly by elves on internet forums with massive chips on their very small, effeminate shoulders), but many of them actually come up with some of their most creative, clever and funny shows of their season, since they are given the freedom to do pretty much what they want.
So here are the Christmas episodes of my some of my favourite shows (which naturally will be shown in Australia sometime around May next year, with no regard for their sparkling seasonal content):
A prequel was released online on December 6 for the episode and it shows the doctor holding a red button in a space ship desperately calling for Amy Pond to come in the TARDIS and save him. He recalls though that Amy isn’t going to be able to help him as she is long gone. So he releases the button, and the ship explodes moments after he wishes Amy a Merry Christmas. It’s actually quite touching and bittersweet, and bodes well for the full episode to come.
The episode, which will feature about 6 holiday songs, has scenes showing Kurt and Blaine exchanging gifts in the hallway (what looks like jewellery – what could it be?!), Sue helping out a homeless shelter showing she’s not a total grinch, and Rachel and Finn in the front of the lockers possibly giving gifts. Whatever happens the choir room is full of tinsel and a massive beautifully decorated tree and everything seems set for an “Extraordinary Merry Christmas” indeed!
One can only hope Channel 10 gets in the festive spirit and shows this before Christmas…
Matthew Morrison, who directed the episode speaks on Jimmy Kimmel Live about directing his costars, which had some funny moments:
This looks, from the trailer, to be one of the classic ‘something-inexplicably-weird-has-happened-and we-have-to-sort it out-really-quickly episodes with a seasonal twist. The basic story pivots around Eddie McClintock’s Pete Latimer being hit on a head by an artifact while stacking them out in the titular warehouse, and waking up to find himself in an alternate reality where he doesn’t work at the warehouse, and McPherson, a very dead bad guy, and ex-Warehouse 13 agent, is very much alive. The episode also involves the usual cast, who all must be convinced in one way or another that they are living the completely wrong lives. As usual there’s lot of laughs to go along with the drama, and this has all the appearances of a great addition to the Warehouse 13 canon.
Here’s a preview of the show by SciFi Vision.
It is no secret that I adore in almost equal measure both The Muppets and the sitcom Community (well if you’re inside my head anyway which thankfull for you, you’re not).
So imagine my utter pop culture-loving, nerdy joy when these two culture treasures combined recently with the appearance of Joel McHale (Jeff Winger) and Ken Jeong (Chang) on Sesame Street, with Elmo and an attitude-laden spiky cactus respectively.
The “squeee” factor was high and my inner child was doing cartwheels so happy was I.
Yes I know I am getting a tad Community obsessed but why not? It is FUNNY! ’nuff said people…
|That’s Joel McHale holding the sign, with Alison Brie hamming it up next to him|
I also found this link chock full of bloopers from season 2 of Community…laugh and enjoy…
This is so much fun! I love his character and now I love him!
No, not in that way. Well, maybe….
I love a good sitcom.
But I adore truly great clever ones, and it has to be said, COMMUNITY is one of the best for years. It is edgy, clever, funny, takes risks, and still somehow manages to be sweet and touching without resorting to mawkishness. While the cast, all students at the fictional Greendale Community College, at first looks like a pragmatic exercise in politically correct casting, the writers never resort to easy cliches, and if they ever trade on a particular group’s cliches, it’s only to make a point, and it’s made so elegantly and with such humour, you don’t realise it’s been made till it sneaks up on you and you have one of those delicious “Aha!” moments that makes watching TV so special.
What has been so awesome about watching season 1 of this show is that feeds off pop culture, mostly through the pop culture addicted lens of Abed, in ways that leaving me gasping with admiration for the skill of the writers. The paintball episode, Modern Warfare where everyone competed for a sole priority registration slip, is an exquisitely good case in point employing with creative dexterity almost all the action/apocalypse/buddy movie cliches in a package so clever it told a story, displayed some real heart and soul, revealed some more about the characters, and in the case of Jeff and Britta, advanced their relationship, and did it all with an economy of style and visual lushness that made me want to hug my TV set.
It was truly that good and I am scooting off to iTunes now to download and then feast on season 2.
I would like to say I am a connoisseur of hip quality TV, but the truth is I love and need it so much that I am, in all truth, a junkie. I need my fixes of my favourite shows like Nurse Jackie, Glee, Big Bang Theory, Modern Fanily and Parks & Recreation, and I need them often and now!
So as a junkie of pop culture, one of the big events of the year is the release of the Emmy nominations and this year’s are out and you can see them here:
My only moment of bug-eyed spluttering outrage was the omission of Community, one of the laugh out loud funniest shows on Tv right now. For shame Emmys, for shame…