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Community Review: "Regional Holiday Music" (3.10)

December 9, 2011  |  2:25pm
<em>Community</em> Review: "Regional Holiday Music" (3.10)

Since we won’t be seeing Community again for a while, I’m very happy that the show went out on a high note. And NBC has been very cagey about the back half of the season—yes, we’ve been assured that there will be one, but how it’ll happen remains undecided. NBC has enough struggling sitcoms that it seems conceivable that Community will end up back on the air during the spring season… but then it might not. It might get thrown away in one night or scattered around the summer to languish.

But back to more pleasant thoughts about the show, wasn’t that a fine way to go out? Community loves holidays, and last year’s Christmas episode remains one of the show’s highlights. As with its best theme-episodes, the show bridged the gap between high-concept parody and character-based comedy.

For starters, Community’s long-running dislike of the “glee club”, i.e. the show Glee, has been a part of the show’s identity since the first season. But there was also a tiny plot in last year’s “Paradigms of Human Memory” in which the study group took over for Greendale’s deceased Glee Club. Don’t remember it? Well, that’s not too surprising, but the show still goes with the assumption that we’re familiar with this and know who the glee club instructor is. You should also know about Abed’s wish for Christmases to be special from last year’s episode, not to mention about Glee in general.

Or, alternatively, you can just enjoy the ride and watch a bunch of wonderful musical numbers play out in a holiday-themed plot. There were no bad songs all night, my personal favorite being Troy and Abed’s rap, which I think had many of the episode’s best lines, and Annie’s sexy Santa song, because it both worked as a perfect parody of that terrible subgenre of music and also had Alison Brie in a sexy Santa getup. There weren’t any songs here destined to become Christmas staples—one of my favorite things about A Colbert Christmas is that Adam Schlesinger and David Javerbaum went ahead and wrote timeless Christmas classics with their parodies—but they weren’t going for that. They were going for recreating Glee’s bombastic, overstylized musicals, which they did wonderfully.

The episode’s actual story of Abed getting everyone to join glee club in order to celebrate the holiday is forced. After last year the entire cast would know his feelings on the subject well and do something to cheer him up, not to mention that there are certainly much more holiday-centric things to do instead of glee club. But that doesn’t matter, because even those strains are in fact a sort of parody of Glee, not to mention part of the old musical formula. Songs don’t necessarily need real content backing them up in order to be fun and enjoyable, and while in the best ones that’s the case (Singin’ in the Rain), people still enjoy it when the plot is pretty ridiculous and are willing to overlook some major story problems if the setpieces are good enough (Chicago).

It was a fine, unintentional way for the show to conclude for a while. It’s not quite the perfection of last year’s Christmas episode, but it was a lot more fun and I appreciate the show doing something different rather than trying to recreate the concept or tone it had there. We’ll be covering the show again whenever it happens to return… which hopefully won’t be too long.

Stray observations:
•”What the hell are regionals? They never stop talking about it.” – Even by the end of this episode this joke didn’t get old to me.
•”Glee club just became history club.” – Actually, from the look of things, they became drama club. Zing!
•”This is the second glee club we’ve lost in two years.” – What I like about this is how they cease to become people when they enter the club. Now they’re just a mass of singing people, so their deaths don’t really matter.
•”Glee is the answer when questions are wrong.”
•”Everything’s cooler when cameras are spinning.” – This has been a musical truism since the genre was born.
•”Wait… you guys never let me rap with you.”
•You guys all see him, too, right.” – I like the reference to Pierce hallucinating Andy Dick in previous episode.
•So one of the main morals of the Baby Boomer song is that that Santa did a ton of drugs. Ok.
•”I realize the stakes aren’t actually that high, but somehow that makes things extra scary.”
•”Boopy boopy doop, boop sex.”
•I really appreciated how bored and annoyed the child chorus looked.
•I don’t talk about this too much here, because generally speaking Community adheres to a house style. But wow was this a well-directed episode. It just looked fantastic.

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