Archive for December 9th, 2011


What I’m Watching: Community-Regional Holiday Music

As much as I love the regular episodes of Community, the Christmas episodes are really something special. Season one was a nice parody of overreaction to the holidays by both the extreme secularists and the extremely ecumenical. Season two was a stop-motion extravaganza that, at its heart, was about the loneliness of the holidays. And this year, we got Regional Holiday Music, a full-blown Christmas musical episode, a joyful romp diminished only by the knowledge that this is the last episode of the show for the foreseeable future.

In “Regional Holiday Music,” Jeff gets his hated nemesis — the Glee Club — busted for singing copyrighted music in preparation for its Christmas pageant. The Glee director asks Jeff’s study group to step in and take over, as they did once before (it’s very much not what you think). Although the rest of the group blows it off, Abed sees an opportunity to keep his surrogate family together over the holidays and begins a quest to win them over one at a time. In doing so, though, he begins to change his friends into something they’re not… mindless Christmas zombies.

Again, the inherent genius of this show shines through. How many other television shows would make their Christmas show half a parody of Glee, half a parody of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, while still making room to write, record and choreograph musical numbers for almost the entire cast, geared specifically to each character? It was a magnificent episode and a great Christmas special, and it was just what this show needed as it goes “into hiatus.”

Ah, “hiatus.” How TV fans hate that word, because far too many times in the past that’s been Network Code for “Cancelled.” Community, at least, still has a full-season order from NBC, which means we should still get the rest of this season even if the episodes are burned off at odd times during the summer. (Which, by the way, would be a disaster, as one of the show’s many gimmicks is the “realtime” nature — each episode takes place in the week that it originally airs.)

The reason, of course, for the hiatus is that the show isn’t pulling in the ratings it deserves. It’s never been a blockbuster, and now in its third season it has reached the point of a TV show’s natural lifespan where the stories and jokes can be more character-specific, trusting that the audience (and writers) know the characters well enough to make the sort of self-referential jokes the fans love, but that the casual viewer may not understand. The Orphan Gospel Choir that was used to seduce Shirley into the Glee club, for example is something that would largely have been lost if you don’t know what kind of woman Shirley is. And the way Britta kinda sorta saves the day at the end is funny regardless, but a hell of a lot funnier if you know what it means to “Britta” something.

So if you’ve never watched Community –– and I know there are a lot of you, else the show wouldn’t be in trouble — you owe it to yourself to give it a try from the beginning. You’ve got time now, so do it however you can. NetFlix (discs only — this really should be streaming). Hulu (the entire series is there, and in HD via Hulu+.) Hell, come to my house and I’ll loan you the DVDs for the first two seasons.

And if you’re already watching, good. Keep it up. And tell your friends. Be vocal (but polite) to NBC. And do whatever it takes to get more students to Greendale Community College.

Six seasons and a movie, peeps. Six seasons and a movie.

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December 2011

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