COMMUNITY: ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’ | Give Me My Remote

COMMUNITY: ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’

December 10, 2010 by  

Dear Santa, For Christmas I would like the following things: a brand new slingbox, a kitten to cuddle with, for GLEE to stop being so inconsistent, and an Abed of my very own.

My love for Abed Nadir knows no bounds. Of all my TV boyfriends—and, oh, there are many—Abed tops the list every time. He’s sweet, observant, awkward, and a veritable encyclopedia of all things pop culture. In other words, my soul mate. Not to mention the fact that he stars in a show that consistently steals the title of My Favorite Series Currently on the Air from other greatly entertaining contenders like BONES, MAD MEN, and GLEE. That’s some tough competition, my friends.

This week’s COMMUNITY is one that, when you think about it, really isn’t much more fantastical than any other week of the show’s current season. Sure, in this episode, all the characters are stop-motion animated as claymation figures. And sure, the hour features a “Christmas Pterodactyl.” But considering that this year they’ve already introduced ABBA-themed zombies, a spaceflight simulator, a quietly spiritual (Nazi) trampoline, an epic fort, and the most ridiculously meta look at religion and filmmaking that I have ever seen, the fact that an entire episode of the show would take place in Abed’s animated fantasy world doesn’t actually seem that crazy. At this point in the show’s run, we know the characters and their little idiosyncrasies so well that taking this kind of a leap of faith with the writers isn’t out of the question; in fact, it’s what we want to do.

In a spirit reminiscent of the SCRUBS musical episode (not to mention every Christmas special ever created), the hour opens in Abed’s head, with everyone at Greendale composed of clay and all but Abed completely unaware of that fact. Naturally, the gang is worried for the mental welfare of their friend. Well, all but Jeff—who opts to just forget about it and move on with the day—but he doesn’t count. The rest of the crew decides to summon professor/therapist/Christmas wizard Ian Duncan (John Oliver) to help him on his road to recovery.

I was quickly distracted from this storyline, however, by the fact that none of my sources had informed me that this was going to be a musical episode! We all knew that with a show like this, it was bound to come eventually, but I expected a little more fanfare around the fact that they’d be singing. Granted, with the exception of Shirley, the cast didn’t get to showcase their vocal talents, per se, but Abed’s Christmas-themed opening credits tune was amazing, and the group using their “Christmas weapons” to team up and help their friend at the end was a great touch. And “Sad Quick Christmas Song” was a great way to introduce the cameo of Senior Chang as a snowman.

It is awesome to see John Oliver as Professor Duncan (in full garb as the Christmas Wizard), leading Abed on what is possibly the most epically fun therapist session ever. In Abed’s personal Winter Wonderland, we are introduced to the holiday versions of the rest of the gang: Jeff as Jeff in a Box (adorable), Troy as the Troy Soldier, Brittabot, BallerAnnie, Babydoll Shirley, and Teddy Pierce. They all follow Abed and Christmas Wizard Duncan to the Cave of Frozen Memories (or, as Abed insists, the Cave of Frozen Peas) to explore whatever it is Abed’s been repressing. Along the way, a number of out friends are ejected from Winter Wonderland (by means of the resident Christmas Pterodactyl), usually for a snarky comment of some kind. But it’s the Bah Hum-Bugs that come next, a form of swarming insect that feed on sarcasm. Naturally, Jeff Winger is screwed immediately.

We soon learn that the reason for Abed’s increased psychoses is his mother: although she usually spends every December 9th with him celebrating Christmas, she canceled this year to be with her other family. Did anyone else find her Christmas card especially crude? Who tells their son straight out that they’re being replaced for a newer model? It broke my heart for Abed more than a little bit.

It’s interesting to note that the episode perhaps the most detached from reality, is also one of the eps most grounded in the psychology of one of its most unique characters. I always suspected that Abed was maybe the character closest to a complete mental breakdown; you can only envision your world as television so much before you actually start thinking that it is.

One thing I really loved about this episode was that the writers found a use for Pierce. In the past few weeks, it’s seemed as if they’d run out of ideas on where to put him. As the other characters grow and move forward, he falters. But in this ep, he pops near the end. After Troy and Annie have been forced out of the equation, Pierce is the last of the gang ready and willing to help Abed finish his quest to find the true meaning of Christmas. Here we have two characters, one in the midst of a breakdown and one who has arguably already had one. Both want nothing more than to avoid loneliness during a time of the year reserved for families. And that’s what it’s about, in the end. It’s what happens when the rest of the study group magically appears to help save Abed from the (now scheming?) Christmas Warlock Duncan, enabling Abed’s delusion while simultaneously giving him what he was seeking the whole time: family. People who will support you in your insanity no matter how many times you drag them into the strange animated world in your mind.

And as hokey as it sounds, it somehow doesn’t feel it. Maybe it’s just buried underneath the candy-cane nun-chucks and the Christmas Pterodactyls. Whatever the reason, this episode of COMMUNITY has officially joined “A Very Glee Christmas” on my roster of new holiday traditions.

Side note: I would love to see a special feature showing us what Abed’s mental breakdown looked like in the non-animated world. Who wants to bet that during the train scene, he was just straddling the table in the library? That thing’s seen a lot of mileage in a season and a half.

Quotables:

Shirley: “As a modern Christian, I’ve learned to be sensitive of other people’s jealousies.”

Jeff: “Abed, does the word ‘clearly’ mean the same thing to you as it does to normal people?”

Abed: “For starters, you could move around more. Not much point in being animated if you don’t. And I think we should commit to the format, starting with a song!”

Shirley: “You do know why he made you a robot, right?”

Britta: “Because I’m progressive and kickass?”

Shirley: “How about heartless and godless?”

Abed: “Cut the non-thematic chatter and keep your eyes on the prize!”

Annie (singing about the ejected Jeff): “Bitter, shallow hipster/Sweater, matching socks/Christmas needs more presents than a haircut in a box”

Happy Holidays, COMMUNITY fans.

Were you happy with this ep?

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Comments

4 Responses to “COMMUNITY: ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’”

  1. mg714 on December 10th, 2010 6:16 pm

    Loved this episode as well – very creative. Did anyone else notice the touch at the end when they were watching TV as the claymation characters and when the TV shut off you could see the reflection of the “real people” in the TV?

  2. Canakatydid on December 10th, 2010 8:05 pm

    Loved the episode and love this article even more! Kudos!!

  3. communityrocks on October 27th, 2011 9:03 am

    Great post!

    Abed is a fantastic character. He often says the most intelligent things on the show. The stop motion animation was fresh but I would have to agree with you about it not being a surprise. I think the animation fit well with Abed as a character and it was a perfect medium to really show his vulnerable side. I enjoyed reading the quotes in your post they helped me recall some key moments of the episode. You highlighted an important point that the whole stop motion animation has been done before in Christmas specials. This episode of community was no different it featured a similar theme to many Christmas specials but what set it apart was the character development. We got to see how the study group dealt with more serious situations (Abed losing it). I too feel Pierce had a significant role in helping Abed. I think Pierce was set up to be an older wiser friend instead of being the guy who usually makes jokes no one understands.

    I enjoyed reading through the post. 🙂
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