The fall season of Community has ended with a great musical bang, and I’m a little sad, but also a little disappointed. I was hoping this final episode of 2011 would be something amazing. There were moments of brilliance, but I felt the episode as a whole didn’t quite hit all the right notes.
More on the highlights and low points of the episode in a bit, but first, don’t forget to enter my Community giveaway. You don’t even have to visit that page to enter – just leave a comment on this post (since you’re here already!) before the end of December and you’ll be entered! But if you want more chances, check out the giveaway post.
I loved the intro scene at the cafeteria, especially Pierce’s “What the hell are regionals? They never stop talking about it.” As someone who’s watched a few Glee episodes, I share the sentiment. (And I just realized that’s what the “Regional” in this episode’s title refers to.) Jeff’s solution to the problem was lawyerly brilliant, as was the line, “Glee Club just became History Club.” And as the glee club went into meltdown, I could just imagine the cast of Glee doing the same.
Greendale’s glee club leader, Mr. Rad, scared me, in a perky, happy, Suburgatory way. Troy put it succinctly: “This guy’s like human Froyo.” The first song was scary, too, though I did love how Abed commented on the piano still playing, and on how he’d understand things better if people sang their feelings. The reveal that Mr. Rad was up to something evil felt a bit forced.
The next part, Troy and Abed’s rap about infiltrating Christmas, I’d seen as a preview, but I still considered it the best part of the episode. It was so perfect for Abed to come up with a way to let Troy allow himself to enjoy Christmas. Bonus points for the blanket fort playing a part.
Annie’s reaction to Troy using the word “regionals” was fun, as was her description of the pair’s continued descent into gleedom. And then Troy and Abed’s portrayal of music throughout the decades, Baby Boomer Santa, arrived – almost tying with their Christmas rap in awesomeness. Pierce’s addition killed it a little, though. I loved how Britta, Shirley, and Annie did “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” too.
And then Annie got ambushed, and in turn lured in Jeff – which was easily the worst part of the episode. “Teach Me How to Understand Christmas” was clearly modeled after “Santa Baby,” which is probably my least favorite Christmas song. The age difference between Jeff and Annie is already a little awkward – having her do babyish antics in a sexy Santa outfit made things a hundred times worse. And of course that had to be one of the longer songs of the episode. The only good part about the scene was Jeff’s reaction.
However, Pierce’s decision to have a group of kids singing, wondering whose birthday is on Christmas, was perfect for reeling in Shirley. Her voice was so awesome – she really should have gotten a longer song. And then Jeff roped in Britta with a single long note, and we cut to the Christmas pageant.
Mr. Rad’s comment to Abed about regionals leading to sectionals, then semis, semi-regionals, regional-semis, and finally national lower-zone semis was awesome (and yet another fun jab at Glee). But I would have enjoyed seeing the actual Christmas pageant instead of Britta’s awkward song, though it did lead nicely to another hilarious meltdown. And I loved Abed’s, Shirley’s, and Annie’s costumes.
The final scene, with Inspector Spacetime, and the gang singing carols, wrapped things up nicely. The ending riff, with minor characters saying their own names to create “Carol of the Bells,” was fun, but not up to the quality of the normal end clips. I wanted something more epic to head off with to hiatus-ville.
All told, I give this episode a 7 out of 10 compared to other Community episodes (probably an 8 compared to TV in general). I’d probably bump it up to a 9 if they’d gotten rid of Annie’s song, added more of Shirley singing, and let Jeff get out more than a few notes.