COMMUNITY: “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” Episode Review

     December 9, 2010

Like many other people around the world, I’m partial to watching certain holiday films and specials when that most wonderful time of the year rolls around. From A Christmas Story (24 hours of it no less) to Jingle All the Way (big whoop, wanna fight about it?) and animated specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. However, never have I found myself re-watching holiday themed episodes of even my favorite series on purpose. Sure I’ll partake in one of the many Christmas disasters that happen on The Office if they happen to air when I’m looking for something to watch, but never have I gone out of my way to watch a specific holiday episode of any series. However, that may all change after this year with Community’s stop-motion animated Christmas episode Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas, a piece of serial television that is one of the best and most relevant holiday specials I’ve ever seen. Find out why after the jump.

Since we’ve previewed tonight’s stop-motion animated episode, you’re somewhat aware of what to expect. However, it’s not until you’re fully engulfed in Abed’s nostalgic Winter Wonderland that you really start understanding what it’s all about. I’m not even talking about the plot that supposedly deals with the “true meaning of Christmas” (there will be more on that later), but just how much thought went into this wonderful episode. You may have seen the pictures of the cast of Community in their animated form, and while they’re certainly cute and funny, each character is dressed that way for reasons that each of them may want to take to heart. Sure the idea of Jeff as a jack-in-a-box and Britta as a robot may bring a slightly amused smile to your face, but once you find out why Abed has imagined that way, it will have you looking past the aesthetics of their designs and into their hearts and minds.

Speaking of Abed’s imagination, his crafting of this particular Christmas episode feels like a cheery version of Inception. While we jump right into the stop-motion animation, we come to find out that Abed is the only one seeing the real world of Greendale Community College in this form. At first, the stop-motion animation isn’t a dream, but simply a side effect of some reason that Abed doesn’t seem to keen on revealing. So instead, Professor Duncan takes it upon himself to help Abed (and further his “career” in psychology) by working through this strange but adorable psychological side effect of some unknown issue. And so in a therapeutic intervention, Duncan and the rest of the study group hypnotize Abed to have him bring them into his Winter Wonderland dream world to fine the true meaning of Christmas. However, Abed may not be on the search for meaning, but on the run from something far more significant. Without spoiling anything, it’s this motivator that almost brings a tear to my eye, even as I think about it now.

Of course, while the episode is truly touching, this is a comedy series, so there’s still plenty of laughs. Aside from the standard conflict and clashing that comes between our favorite study group, the pop culture references to other Christmas specials and more are spot on. From a Tim Burton shoutout after “humbugs” attack the group to a slightly harsh, though absolutely hilarious jab at a certain deserted island series. In addition there’s also a Christmas remix of the familiar opening theme to the show and plenty of short and sweet musical touches throughout the rest of the episode. There’s plenty more to praise, but I don’t want to ruin too much since the episode is still only around 20 minutes long, and you obviously just need to take the time to watch it.

This episode is about the meaning of Christmas in a way that has never been tackled by any Christmas special before it. Making itself relevant in a society plagued with religious sensitivity and political correctness, the episode has something for everyone who just happens to enjoy Christmas. Whether it’s because you’re celebrating a deity or enjoying a couple weeks of vacation, Christmastime is simply spending time with the people you love. This episode of Community is just as movie and memorable as any of the staple holiday programming you’ve enjoyed with your families year after year Remember when I said that this would likely be the first holiday themed episode that I would watch every year on purpose? Well, it may also be the first one that I watch twice in one day. Earlier this morning Community Christmas cheer invaded my house, but I’ll be tuning into NBC tonight at 8/7c to watch it all over again.