TV Review: NBC’s ‘Community’ Premieres Very Special Christmas Episode

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CHICAGONBC’s “Community” continues to climb the charts of what must be considered the most creative programs on television with a brilliant Christmas episode tonight inspired by the Rankin-Bass stop-motion animated classics like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman.” The incredible comedy has been more and more uniquely-inspired as its amazing second season has progressed and you don’t want to miss “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas.” Television Rating: 5.0/5.0
Television Rating: 5.0/5.0

The comedic conceit of tonight’s episode is that Abed (Danny Pudi) is the only one who sees his friends and classmates in stop-motion style. The young man who sees the world almost entirely in pop culture references may have finally snapped. Of course, we, the audience, also see Abed and the crew in stop-motion animation, allowing for some fantastic visual flourishes and incredible sight gags. Most remarkably, “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” actually becomes somewhat touching with a moral message about the importance of the holiday season that resonates without the treacle.

Photo credit: Mitchell Haaseth/NBC

In tonight’s episode, Abed visualizes his friends as somewhat freakish holiday-themed characters (as Jeff says in one of the funnier lines regarding the weirdness of Abed’s visions, “Somewhere out there, Tim Burton has got a boner”) like Jeff-in-the-box (Joel McHale) and a Britta robot (Gillian Jacobs). Pierce (Chevy Chase) is a teddy bear, Annie (Alison Brie) a ballerina, Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) a baby, and, of course, Troy (Donald Glover) a toy soldier. Even Senor Chang shows up as a snowman.

Many writing teams would have merely turned the Christmas/Rankin-Bass episode of “Community” into nothing more than a series of references and in-jokes, but it’s only the best writers on TV who can transcend the reference and turn it into something more. The brilliance of “Community” this year hasn’t JUST been the increasingly-clever references but how they’re used to enrich what is arguably the best comedic ensemble on television right now.

We’ll get more into how “Community” has developed in 2010 in the upcoming Best TV of the Year feature and merely end this mini-review/preview by giving you one more detail about tonight’s Christmas episode — it’s a musical. If the visual delights, clever story, and hilarious dialogue aren’t enough, you can now know that not everyone in the “Community” cast can really sing. But, like they do every week, they put their necks on the line and give it their all. Don’t miss it.

‘Community,’ which airs on NBC, stars Joel McHale, Chevy Chase, Gillian Jacobs, Danny Pudi, Ken Jeong, Alison Brie, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Donald Glover. The show was created by Dan Harmon. “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” airs on Thursday, December 9th, 2010 at 7:00PM CST. content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

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Community is consistently the funniest show on TV, week in and week out, and since the first season has been my favorite thing on TV.  This year’s Christmas episode was the best Christmas themed ep of a show I’ve seen in YEARS, perhaps going all the way back to the Simpsons episode where they first get Santa’s Little Helper.  It was funny, clever, and touching without getting in it’s own way with over the top treacle.  Loved it.  I work at DISH and got the TV Everywhere app for my iphone the day it dropped and I’ve watched this Christmas episode off my DVR on my lunch break at work more than once.  Fantastic episode on a fantastic show!

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