Thursday, December 9, 2010

Community- Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas

No matter how much we enjoy them, the feelings we have for certain holidays inevitably change over time. As we progress through the stages of our lives, it is natural to have a certain love/hate relationship with our holidays of choice. For example, my enthusiasm for both the Fourth of July and New Year's Eve has increased tenfold now that I am older than the legal drinking age. Still that does not mean I won't always remember when the Fourth meant fireworks and trips to Gloucester on my Uncle's boat, or when I struggled on New Year's Eve to stay awake until midnight. Yet, none of these holidays pale in comparison in terms of grandeur to the Christmas season, which dominates the entire month of December and arguably even a few weeks before and after that. Christmas is a whirlwind of family, shopping, wrapping paper, familiar music, time off, and eggnog, but most importantly one of routine and tradition. Sadly, these traditions must change over time as people grow old, move away, and even pass away, and that can make for times when Christmas is bittersweet.

This is the central story of Community's stop-motion Christmas Special, Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas, as Abed and the gang (well mainly Abed) seek to find the meaning of Christmas. Abed sees everyone stop-motioned animated and begins to act very odd, so the group enlists Professor Duncan, resident Psychology professor and Christmas wizard, to help him gain back his sanity. This involves the gang playing along as Abed takes them to his Christmas planet, where they journey Willy Wonka style to find the true meaning of Christmas. Along the way, group members drop out who don't truly care to find Christmas' meaning (Jeff-in-the-Box is eaten by Humbugs!), and Duncan shows up along the way in an attempt to push Abed towards finding the repressed memory that caused him to crack. With the help of mainly Pierce, Annie, and Troy, Abed finds that the real meaning of Christmas is the DVD of Lost Season 1, or as he terms it, lack of payoff...but wait, in reality Abed is just coping with the fact that his mother will not be visiting him on December 9th for the first time, and the gang steps in to sing him back into the Christmas spirit. In Abed's words the true meaning of Christmas is that Christmas has meaning.

The episode did not have quite the laughs or crazy antics I expected from a stop-motion animated Christmas special, but overall it was classic Community. While last weeks episode went for sentimental and fell short, this one was a perfect example of why I love this show. Amidst the robotic Pterodactyls, humbugs, and songs was the story of a young man seeing his family start to slide further apart, and his journey towards acceptance. Abed lacks the social or emotional skills to accept loss in a normal way, so the idea that he would use the backdrop of Christmas specials and songs to help out makes perfect sense. Community does an excellent job of making you care for the characters no matter how insane the premise is, and the scene where the study group returns to lift Abed's spirits was very well done, even though you could tell there was some touch up done to their singing work. I also loved how spot-on all of Abed's Christmas visions of the gang were, especially Jeff as essentially a talking head. Mostly, though I loved how the episode was very different from what I expected, but just as good. I expected this episode to keep me laughing from start to end, and while it was funny, instead the gags were smart and set-up the ending perfectly.

As a Senior in college, I'm getting to the point in my life where Christmas will no longer mean a long break from school, and a time to see all of my immediate family members. Soon we will all have jobs and families that will keep us from getting together every December. Christmas may start to be about travel and logistics, which are the two things I always hear from people as to why they hate Christmas. Still, as Abed says the importance of the holidays is to make meaning of whatever you want. Whether is it the little things (listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas music, peppermint hot chocolate, Christmas lights covered in snow) or the big things (seeing the people you love, giving or receiving the perfect gift), Christmas is only as perfect as you make it. Take time to actually enjoy the hassle of shopping, have a beer with family and friends, or maybe do the thing that made you love Christmas in the first place. After all, sometimes all it takes is for good friends to sit down and watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to make somebody's holiday.

Grade: A

Random Musings:
- Sorry if this post was overly sentimental, but I enjoy Christmas and wish more people felt the same way.
- There was not a lot of great one-liners in the episode, but a ton of great sight gags. I would say Pierce as a teddy bear was my favorite.
- I would love to see what was happening in real life as Abed led them on their journey. They must have used all of the Study room.
- Clay Alison Brie just isn't the same.
- I've been way behind on my TV recaps due to finals, but over the next few days will churn them out. I'm going to do one a day as follows: Psych-Dual Spires, The Walking Dead- TS-19, HIMYM- The Mermaid Theory, Psych- We'd Like to Thank the Academy, and over break I will catch up on Friday Night Lights, Top Chef All-Stars, and Chuck as well as continue with Community, Psych, and HIMYM. The Walking Dead's season is over.
- Post your thoughts in the Comments.

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