Welcome to the Convo, where ACG Blog contributors get together for discussion and analysis. Today’s topic is last night’s episode of “Glee,” “A Very Glee Christmas.”
Artie and Brittany officially stole the sweetest couple crown from… well, no one, really. But that doesn’t make them less sweet! Brittany may be as dumb as a sack of hammers, but her stupidity compounded this week with her wide-eyed innocence (she still believes in Santa Claus — even if he’s black, or a woman, or a woman dressed in Grinch-gear) endeared her to me. Artie doesn’t want to ruin the Santa illusion, but the plan backfires when a mall-Santa promises that he’ll grant her wish: for Artie to walk. She also walks in on Sue tearing up the glee club’s tree and stealing the presents for the homeless. Brittany’s all dolled up as Cindy-Lou Who, acting out the classic scene from the animated Grinch. Pretty cheesy, and I wasn’t completely sold on it, but Brittany’s offering of a dollhouse was cute (“at least their dolls won’t be homeless”).
Coach Beiste (as Santa) tells Brittany she just won’t be able to give her her wish this year, and that what Brittany really needs this year is patience. Brittany may not even want to believe in Santa anymore, but she goes home to find an exoskeleton device called the ReWalk under her tree. It seems to have been procured by Coach Beiste (how did she afford it?), and provides a nice moment when Artie surprises the glee club by walking.
The Sue/Grinch story failed for me. Would Sue rig secret Santa so everyone would have to buy her gifts? Yes. Would the teachers reclaim everything when they figured it out? Probably. Would Sue steal all the presents back, after it was decided they should go to charity? Eh, I don’t think so. And she realized the error of her ways when all the Whos down in Whoville began to sing. Lazy, lazy writing. There’s no need to retread classic children’s cartoons. Sue returns the gifts by making her way into Will’s home with the glee kids, so he won’t have to be alone on during Christmas. Sue gifts him some hair clippers. Score.
Finn and Rachel continue to bore me. Finn is a pretty likeable character, and is totally in the right about breaking up with Rachel. Clearly he is going to have some trust issues. But Rachel is determined to win him back, it seems, by singing to him. Which means we get some more Rachel solos. Also this bothered me the whole episode, but you would think that in a glee club all about diversity and tolerance, there might have been a token attempt to recognize other religious holidays.
Oh, and Kurt and Blaine are shoehorned into the episode. Blaine needs help rehearsing for some community gig. “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” The insertion into the story was somewhat clunky, but I liked this cover — even if it is the sketchiest holiday song of all time. This and “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” were really the only numbers I enjoyed. So, par for the course really. Another theme episode, another middling to poor episode for the effort, with just a few bright spots.
More Artie and Brittany in the new year, please.
“Glee” had its heart in the right place for last night’s Christmas special. The two main plots were each delightfully Christmassy, albeit somewhat unlikely to ever actually occur. But this is “Glee,” home of the grilled-cheese Jesus. Let’s take a look.
Sue rigs the faculty Secret Santa, so that everyone else ends up getting gifts for her. Schue figures it out, but Ms. Sylvester threatens to sue him if he tries to take the gifts back. He assumes she’s being unreasonable, and grabs the gifts to give to a charity for homeless kids. She responds by being even more unreasonable, dressing like the Grinch, and trashing the choir room. She’s spotted in the act by Brittany Pierce, who acts as an uncannily appropriate Cindy Lou Who to Sue Sylvester’s Grinch. Brittany, our naïve innocent, believes Sue’s claim that she’s Santa, there to fix a light on the tree.
This moment works very well, and ties Sue’s plotline nicely to the other main story of this episode: Brittany still believing in Santa Claus. This would be hard to believe of nearly any high schooler out there, but actress Heather Morris pulls off Brittany’s earnestness beautifully. As usual, she is utterly convincing as the simpleminded cheerleader. The extent of Brittany’s cluelessness is of course highly unrealistic, and I was wondering along with Artie whether she was kidding when she first mentioned writing to Santa Claus. But I’m glad that she wasn’t. Kudos to the “Glee” writers as well — the ‘magic comb’ plot from last week’s episode was a good lead-in to Artie’s revelation about his girlfriend this week, and made the Santa business even more believable.
Because Brittany still believes, Artie decides that the glee kids need to take her to the mall so that she can see the big man herself. A ‘very tan’ Santa asks her what she wants for Christmas, and Brittany casually utters a heartbreaking request: make my boyfriend walk again. The mall Santa, not seeing Artie’s desperate gestures behind Brittany’s back, says that he’ll make sure it happens, and the kids are left facing the question of how to keep Brittany believing in Santa despite the impossibility of her request and the inevitability of a letdown on Christmas day.
Like I said: delightfully Christmassy. I liked the football guys convincing Coach Beiste to dress as Santa (to break the news as Brittany that her wish wouldn’t be coming true after all), and I thought Dot Jones gave one of her best performances yet in that Santa suit. What I loved, though, was the mysterious gift of a “ReWalk” that showed up under Brittany’s tree. It might have come from Beiste, or Artie, or Brittany’s parents… or maybe from Saint Nick himself. “Glee” didn’t try to answer the question, and I think that decision really made this episode shine.
Back at school, the rest of the New Directions sings “Welcome Christmas” from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” and Sue’s heart grows three sizes or something. Anyway, she breaks into Schue’s apartment — she had a key made ages ago — along with the glee kids, and they decorate and put back all the presents Sue stole. It’s a nice touch, since various characters had commented throughout the episode how sad it was for Schue to be spending Christmas alone this year. Of course, character-wise, it doesn’t really make much sense for Sue… but I’ve almost given up on her character having any consistency from week to week.
There was way too much in this episode about Rachel and Finn, which ended with him breaking up with her for good… which I thought he already did last week. Anyway, Rachel (again) behaved terribly in this episode, continually pressuring Finn to get back together and refusing to give him the space he said that he needed. I tire of Rachel very easily these days, and I’m disappointed that the writers keep making her this pathetic. A better use of her character in a holiday special might have been to make her Judaism more than just a throwaway punchline. I know there aren’t a whole lot of Hannukah songs out there… but for an episode about the winter holidays that aired during the Jewish one, on a show with at least two main characters who are Jews, it feels sort of strange to make it all about Christmas.
You’ll noticed I haven’t mentioned the music. And the reason for that is… Eh. A Christmas carol is a Christmas carol, really. “Glee” did them adequately, but with the exception of Kurt and Blaine’s duet of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” none of the songs this episode were particularly memorable or noteworthy. I’m expecting the iTunes sales to drop this time around, although I suppose there is some novelty to be had in “You’re a Mean One, Sue the Grinch.” All in all, “A Very Glee Christmas” was a great Christmas special, but it was one carried more by the plot than the music.