Surprisingly, the Dads holiday special was like a pleasant, unexpected Christmas gift. While there were still moments in this show that were off-putting, the episode was refreshingly solid. For the first time, Dads forewent its bifurcated Family Guy pacing and opted for a classic three-act structure. The episode presented a set-up, a crisis and even a resolution. There was even some cause and effect, as seemingly throwaway moments from the opening came back as integral parts to the ending. (The gift Eli gives Edna in the beginning of the episode saves them at the end.) For perhaps only the second time all season, the show allowed some of its characters to be more than merely vessels for (often tasteless) jokes. As a result, Eli and Warner underwent actual (gasp!) character development (and were pretty funny, to boot).
In the cleverly titled “The Glitch that Stole Christmas,” the crew is preparing for Christmas/Hanukkah festivities. Eli gets gifts for David and Edna. David gets a job as a mall Santa, so he can buy Eli a present. In the meantime, at the work holiday party, the crew launches their new game that is meant to be a parent pleaser, “Santa’s Exciting but Safe Ride.” The Parents Video Game Council Chairman, an African-American man (a fact which later becomes important to the plot), comes over, and they give him a pre-copy of the game. When the chairman leaves, they discover that an angry programmer they fired a week ago replaced every instance of the word “Christmas” in the game with the n-word. The team goes to the chairman’s house to try to get the game back and, in the spirit of the season, decide to slip in through the chimney. Soon the whole crew is stuck but Edna gets them out with Eli’s Christmas gift to her: Magic Glow cleaning solution. When they roll out into the chairman’s living room, the chairman is there to meet them. He has already seen the video game, and his reaction surprises them. (And the reaction of his wife, a white woman, is pretty surprising, as well.
Of course, the fact that this episode was a huge improvement from the rest of the season isn’t so much a reflection on its excellence as on the depths that earlier episodes have dredged. David’s mean comments drew a smirk. Eli reveals his crush on Veronica, which is sweet, but quite creepy. (He is going to wait for her to be really drunk in order to make his move.) Nonetheless, as the last episode of a show Fox has put on hiatus, at least it ended on a better note than its earlier efforts gave us any reason to expect. With a return that’s TBD at best, perhaps “The Glitch that Stole Christmas” will convince the relevant TV executives that the show is salvageable.
Here some lines to remember the final show of 2013 by:
—When two twins dressed identically walk up to David as Santa, he responds, “Ah, the Shining, come on up.”
—Edna, trying to boost David’s Christmas cheer: “Just think about the children, the Santa, the Christmas. Also, I drunk.”
—Crawford, when he and his crew are called “these people” by the chairman’s wife: “‘These people?’ Wow.”
—The chairman’s white wife on the n-word: “That word is awful. Hateful. And it’s our word.”