Glee: Extraordinary Merry Christmas

“What’s wrong with a story that’s a little sad? Or a song that’s a little depressing? I mean, that’s part of Christmas too, right? It’s the sad things that make you remember what’s really important.”

What’s wrong with that? Well, it’s not Glee!

The Most Expensive Time Of The Year

Ahh Rachel, how you tempt me to start with the racist jokes about money-grabbing tendencies. But that’s unfair – the desire for presents at Christmas is one we all have (well, most of us), but most of us don’t force our partners to choose 5 presents from a list of 15. Finn was a very dutiful boyfriend (read, totally whipped) – but as well as buying her the bling she wanted, he managed to come up with several presents that show just what a lovely guy he is. I just wish they hadn’t made Rachel have dollar signs in her eyes for the whole episode, she’s been so nice recently that it felt completely unlike her... plus why should she care about Christmas so much? While an incredibly cheesy idea to buy Rachel a star, Finn’s speech was cute, slushy and funny. I’ve never been that into Finchel before, but they do fit together.

Speaking of couples – almost the whole cast is paired up now. Finchel, Klaine, Santittany, Will/Emma Mercedes/Shane, Asian Fusion, and just this week – Sam and Rory! I know it’s not exactly an epic bromance, but both characters need a friend, both in the context of the show and also to give them something to do. I’d really like to see Rory developing character traits other than ‘Irish’, and he’ll never do that if he doesn’t get a chance to interact with anyone.

A Christmas Long Ago

Artie’s directorial skills are coming along aren’t they? While the Star Wars Holiday Special and the Judy Garland Christmas Show elements were completely alien to me, and the episode clearly put a lot of effort into parodying/paying homage to them (I wasn’t sure which!), the TV segment was so over the top that it carried itself without needing to refer to anything that’s past. It was strongly tongue-in-cheek – firmly established by Kurt and Blaine pretending to hide the fact that they’re together, and Rachel’s part was wonderfully overacted, she was just so gung-ho that I found her particularly endearing. I don’t know if the mentions of global warming and end times were related to the specials Glee was parodying, or whether it was just random, but it was amusing nonetheless.

This was a really long section of the show (in fact, I actually got mildly bored during My Favourite Things), but I was having a good time laughing at Rachel’s surprised doll-face and gazing adoringly at spiffed-up Klaine, so it flew by for me. On reflection, this is the second week in a row where they’ve crammed 4+ songs into a third of the episode. I don’t know if you think you’re giving us gifts by doing this, writers – but it just makes you seem lazy! I’d have appreciated My Favourite Things being shorter, and maybe cutting Puck and Finn’s song. That would have given them time to include Santana singing Santa Baby while sitting on Brittany’s lap (she’d be dressed in drab as Father Christmas) but the Brittany number we did get was awesome, so I shouldn’t complain.

May Sue Always


It was in equal parts refreshing and unsettling to see Sue be the do-gooder for a change, and it worked much better than in previous ‘nice-Sue’ moments, mainly because they rooted it in the very believable pain Sue suffered by losing her sister – it makes sense she would want to be busy and doing something positive for the less fortunate at Christmas. What makes less sense is the double-booking Friday issue. They really could have sung for the homeless shelter any night. By having Artie being so dismissive and Rachel talking about distracting them from the “smell of urine” just made New Directions seem unbelievably callous. Unbelievable in the sense that we all knew that they’d end up singing for the homeless, so why have such an unpleasant charade regarding the scheduling problem? I did like the fact that Quinn went along to help... except that it was totally out of character - she would Never miss a chance to sing on TV, and really now, why should she?! It would make sense if she was just doing it to impress Sam, but that didn’t seem to be the case. Sam’s commitment was much easier to understand, and his line about the sad things reminding us of what’s really important rang true. It’s just a shame that Chord Overstreet has gotten so little singing to do since his return.

Loved


- Breadsticks, now with even more breadsticks!

- “This my umm, best friend and holiday roommate Blaine Anderson” – I creased up at this. I want to be Blaine’s holiday roommate!

- Barbra is immortalised as a pig!

- Rachel saying “Happy Hanukkah” to the people donating to the Caring Is Sharing box at the end of the episode... and here I was thinking she’d converted to Christianity... or commercialism or something.

- Talking about killing and eating Barbra was so damn funny.

- Rory: “Sam, I was wondering if maybe you’d like to be my Valentine’s Day sponsor as well. I mean, you did such a good job being a Christmas sponsor, I figure you’d have no problem helping me nab a snog or two by February.” Wait, Sam’s straight isn’t he? You’re barking up the wrong tree Rory...

Didn’t Love


- “Other Gay”... HE HAS A NAME SUE! Blaine looked pleased when Sue called him a young Burt Reynolds – it’s because she doesn’t know your name, Blaine!

- Rachel can cross one off the list – her teeth couldn’t get any more sparkling if she dunked them in glitter. I know it’s dangerous to think Glee is an accurate portrayal of US culture but tooth whitening, Rachel? Really?!

- Artie has far too many Christmas jumpers.

- Rory’s speech from the New Testament. It was taken from another Christmas special - A Charlie Brown Christmas, and in doing so it lost its authenticity.

- Those people were supposedly homeless? I think not! Then again, dirty, yellow-toothed homeless children probably wouldn’t be as heart-warming to watch...

- Poor Tina’s only line was to explain where Artie’s magic legs went.

Glee Against The Music:

All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey performed by Mercedes:
Do they really sprinkle faux snow all over the Christmas trees in the US of A? Wait, it’s Glee, not real life! The lobbing of presents across the room was nerve-wracking, but the tinsel boas were fun, especially when Mercedes used it to flirt with Sam. This song nicely set up the introduction to the greedy-Rachel plot. Grade B

Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley performed by Rory:
Great vocal, the song really suits Damian McGinty’s voice, but we’ve already seen Rory standing in front of New Directions singing a ballad for his Irish, Irish family who are from Ireland. Whoever thought it would be interesting have him do it all over again exactly the same, except without the dazzling falsetto? It didn’t help that he looked even sleepier than the last time. Grade C-

River by Joni Mitchell performed by Rachel:
Gorgeous song, and Rachel looked really beautiful in that green dress. I did wonder where the 20 trees and lights and backdrop and faux snow came from though! Seeing as how they felt the need to explain the one tree in the choir room, you’d think they’d have some justification for where 20 of them came from. Grade B

Extraordinary Merry Christmas by Glee performed Rachel and Blaine:
The electric guitar riff was so reminiscent of Loser Like Me, that this was instantly recognisable as a Glee original song. It was a little strange that they put it in the episode with everyone acting as if they already knew it, since they’ve made it clear in previous episodes when a song was an original. Very catchy though, and BlaineBerry sound so good together. I’d like to say it is quite an average song, but I have a feeling I’ll be waking up tomorrow humming it – you have to respect infectious hooks! Grade B

Let It Snow by Vaughn Monroe performed by Kurt and Blaine:
Ha! What a wonderful, cheesy introduction to our New Directions TV spot. Kurt and Blaine got another Christmas duet, and if it’s possible, I enjoyed this one even more than last year’s. Everything worked – the arrangement, the vocals, the choreography, and they made good use of the set. Plus, didn’t you just melt when Blaine smiled at the camera after sitting at the window? Grade A-

My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music performed by Kurt, Blaine, Mercedes and Rachel:
No one tickled the ivory! Don’t mention it if you don’t do it. This is such a perfect for Rachel, and it fit very well with her overcoming her materialism, and the line about snowflakes made it inkeeping with the festive theme. Chris Colfer sounds adorable singing about ponies and strudels. It was quite a long performance though, I’d rather they’d given another verse to Christmas Wrapping instead. Grade B-

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town by Bruce Springsteen performed by Finn and Puck:
Finn in a Skywalker outfit was strangely normal, but Puck looked like some sort of rabid gypsy with the bouncing, waistcoat and the tufty Mohawk. Disturbing! But the vocal was great, especially when they turned it up a notch, and Blaine on harmonica was Very funny. Grade B-

Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses performed by Brittany:
Bah humbug! Only joking, I loved this one. Who couldn’t love Brittany in a furry mini-dress singing one of the best pop Christmas songs while doing rhythmic gymnastics with a stripey ribbon. Santana and Tina looked awesome too, of course. My only complaint is that they had Mike in a Father Christmas outfit and they didn’t make use of him! Grade B+

Do They Know It's Christmas? (Feed The World) by Band Aid performed by New Directions:
While it’s not exactly genius writing to have New Directions sing this song while helping feed the homeless, it was done well. It’s a perfect song choice for a Glee Christmas episode, allowing lots of different characters the chance to sing a line, and it blends heart-warming Christmas cheer with a serious message – how very Glee. I am not sure about the wisdom of singing “Thank God it’s them instead of you” to little homeless kids (!) but that’s an issue with Bob Geldof’s lyric writing not with Glee. I loved watching New Directions interact with the kids, especially the little girl Artie was singing to. I know it is the ultimate in schmaltz but if you can’t be soppy at Christmas when can you (Valentine’s Day, that’s when!)? It’s also a beautiful version of the song – they’d never have gone for the raw, drum heavy original but as a pop version, they nailed it. Grade B+

Quotes for Gleeks

Finn: “I thought we agreed the ‘Things We Did Wrong This Week’ list was hurting more than helpful.”

Finn: “I’m freaking out. I have no idea what to get Rachel for Christmas."
Artie: “When in doubt, go with socks."
Mike: “A wok is always good."
Rory: “What about soil?"
Blaine: “I agree with Artie about the socks."

Sue: “Christmas isn’t just a time when Jewish kids get slightly uncomfortable and dwarfs get jobs as Santa’s helpers in demeaning, non-union commercials that make them quietly die inside.”

Sue: “I made plans to shoot reindeer from a helicopter with Sarah Palin, but she canceled. Apparently Todd gets fussy when she misses his ballet recitals.”

Tina: “Last Christmas was super sad. Kurt was at another school, Coach Sylvester trashed everything and Artie got a pair of magic legs that broke the next day. We were the Island of Misfit Toys.”

Kurt: “And then I said to Justin Timberlake, ‘That’s not egg nog.’”

Hmm, hard to rate this one. I enjoyed it more than last year's, but I enjoyed it a lot more on the first watch than the second. Maybe you should rate it, readers?

10 comments:

Celtic Marc said...

3.0 the first time I watched; 3.5 for the second time. (and eventually a 4 when the DVD will be available LOL)

Billie Doux said...

I'll have to wait to rate it. We decided to leave it on the DVR and watch it on Christmas. :)

shawnlunn2002 said...

Marti Noxon wrote this episode. I liked it, it was cheesy but fun.

Patricia said...

The "Charlie Brown Christmas" allusions ran deeper than Rory's nod to Linus -- Rachel's "I just want what's coming to me" line is originally Lucy's. Going from initial materialism coming around to helping the less fortunate felt forced into the Charlie Brown and Christmas Carol general line. Though "Finn inspires Rachel to be less selfish" is a key part of Glee anyway, and they are sweet together at the end.

Rachel seemed to be doing a Judy Garland impression during the "special", and it was good to see her taking notes from Artie as her director.

Patricia said...

Correction : Rachel's line about wanting her fair share is originally Sally's not Lucy's. Definite Charlie Brown reference.

CrazyCris said...

"the episode clearly put a lot of effort into parodying/paying homage to them (I wasn’t sure which!)"
I haven't seen any of the "famous" Christmas specials so I didn't catch any of the winks, but it was pretty obvious Rachel was imitating someone.
The whole black and white section had me cringing at moments and smiling and laughing out loud at others! I guess it worked as an homage, but it's not something I would want on my TV at Christmas! (come to think of it we don't turn the TV on for Christmas in my family).

The "greedy Rachel" did seem like a few steps back for her character, but she reminded me so much of my sister and her Christmas lists I just put it down to the Season's crazyness.

I liked the songs better last year, but thought they did well this time too.

Whatever happened to Sugar? The girl the Troubletones originally got created for? Shouldn't she be in New Directions now as well as the other girls?

CrazyCris said...

Question: is there only one Charlie Brown Christmas special? I've heard it mentioned so often I've frequently wondered if it's just the one...

Anonymous said...

This whole episode had me cringing from beginning to end.

topher darling said...

I'd say maybe 1.5 Christmas Sponsors out of 4.

First off, I thought that Rory reading the little baby Jesus story was inappropriate considering they asked him to read a non-denominational story like Frosty. Rachel & Puck just sat there and grinned along even though they're Jewish and so did Kurt even though he's a proud atheist.

Second, the Do They Know It's Christmas song has always reeked of crusades to me. Yes, it was an ill-conceived dong when it was written way back when but Glee used it as their big heart-warming number at the end which made them at fault. Plus, singing that song to a bunch of homeless kids seems cruel.

Okay, I'm biased as a proud atheist because we are saturated with Christianity this time of year. However, Glee did a decent job of establishing that all of the characters aren't Christian, especially in the Grilled Cheesus episode. & it was all just pissed away.

Bah humbug

Rachel said...

Makes sense that Marti Noxon wrote the ep seeing as they were big on the Charlie Brown Xmas Special on Buffy.

Pedantic note: Midge Ure wrote the lyrics for Do They Know It's Christmas.