Glee Season 3 Episode 9 Review/Recap ‘Extraordinary Merry Christmas’: Rah humbug


OK, so the annual forced gaiety and overly abrupt love of giving got old quickly. But part of what I loved about Glee’s  Extraordinary Merry Christmas was how old-fashioned it was — yet in sweetly quirky ways, right down to the inspired b&w ’60s silliness of New Directions’ TV Yule special for their local PBS station.

As its budding director, Artie was right: Give ’em what they want. And in this case, that meant cutesy, upbeat frothiness as Kurt and Blaine played “bachelors” entertaining polite, perky guests at their Swiss chalet on Christmas Eve: Rachel, Mercedes, Puck, Finn, Santana, Brittany and the rest of the Cheerios, as well as Rory as an elf. (No Tina or Mike; Artie was directing; Sam and Quinn were feeding the homeless; and 15th NDer Sugar was a no-show for this show.)

Can we see more such screen gems within Glee? The series itself is an alternate universe — as I always say, Glee is a musical fantasy — and this warped world within it was a hoot and a stitch. Like the overheated and equally overproduced music video for Run Joey Run, the Yule special was almost a parody of a parody. (But where was the promised Chewbacca, who barely made an appearance beyond publicity shots for the show?)

Elsewhere, the message-making got a bit heavy for me — sorry, director Matt Morrison. Are we all infants who need the same old lessons or O. Henry tales taught to us for the first time? But I still appreciated Sam keeping his colleagues grounded. His scruffy enthusiasm for the purported true meaning of Christmas (giving without thought for oneself) gave this episode a gravity that its starry-eyed singers needed.

Favorite songs? They had to start with My Favorite Things, which is not about Xmas but certainly was fitting: at last, Sound of Music material for a von Trapp namesake (Kurt) and others to sing. Lea Michele, of course, already did it for a Dove TV ad, but I’ll take this fuller version, even with Blaine’s inappropriately deeper voice in the mix.

Though Finn and Puck are no E Street Band, I also enjoyed their rocking, Springsteen-style rendition of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, as well as Rachel’s pensive and soulful River by Joni Mitchell.

The episode’s original title song — whose name apes today’s rejection of adverbs in illiterate ad slogans (“Think different” indeed) — was bouncy fun though forgettable. But the homeless shelter harmonies for ’80s pop-star do-gooder hit Do They Know It’s Christmas were apt and rousing.

Still, why is it that a show with prominent Jewish characters in Rachel and Puck never makes a single mention of Chanukah? I mean, just a word — something. But no, they’re plopped down amid Christian traditions with no say in things whatsoever. Glee, you’re supposed to be inclusive.

Bah humbug? No, I still feel more rah than bah, largely thanks to the amusingly phony TV special (loved its pointed asides to the camera and canned laughter and applause) and in part because most songs were lighthearted and not preachy. (Let It Snow was another winning Klaine duet to bookend last year’s Baby It’s Cold Outside.)

But my affection is also in part because I know we have no more Glee until Jan. 17, so it’s best to savor this one while we can.

At least, that’s my proposal until The Proposal episode — which was just retitled Yes/No.

Speaking of changes, if you lamented the lack of Santana’s Santa Baby (heck, she even has “Santa” in her name) for Episode 9, I hear that footage was shot and will be issued online. Here’s hoping it’s from the black-and-white TV special. Now that would be a gift for my virtual tree.

— Bruce Westbrook

 

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