Glee Review: Have Yourself An Extraordinary Merry Christmas
Twenty minutes into the episode and it became evident that this week’s “Extraordinary Merry Christmas” would be polarizing, but as I often am, I fell on the enchanted end of the spectrum. The episode truly was a special kind of Glee and a style change we are not likely to see again anytime soon. Tina set up the show early on, claiming that this year’s Christmas would be merrier than the last. “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,” she said. But would the glee club truly be able to embody the spirit and meaning of the holiday?
I would have bet on it after the opening number where Mercedes kicked things off with a giddy, sassy version of “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” as the club erroneously decorated the already fully decorated choir room. I didn’t know a single girl growing up that didn’t love that song (though guys would usually rather chop off their ears), and year after year it manages to make me smile, ear to ear, while pretending I can actually hit a high E. But, alas, I spoke to soon. Rachel only seemed to care about what amazing gifts Finn would get her from her own pre-thought out list. And when Schue accepted an offer for the club to put on their own televised holiday special for their PBS affiliates (they could no longer afford to play the Yule Log much to Puck’s disappointment), all Director Artie cared about was an agenda of fluffy, happy stories of Christmas. (Totally okay! But there’s also the significance of giving to others less fortunate and being thankful. It took awhile for the kids to get to that point.) Even Sue seemed more charitable, serving food to the homeless while Artie, Blaine, Kurt and the others chucked the charity for the TV show.
Sam and Rory seemed to have the right idea. The two bonded over missing their long distance families, and since Finn’s been slacking, Sam took him under his wings to show him how the holiday is done in the U.S. and invites him to spend it with his family. Rory even got a chance at another solo with “Blue Christmas,” you know, one of those depressing X-mas songs that Artie just couldn’t appreciate. It was nothing compared to Artie’s inspirations, the Star Wars Holiday Special or the Judy Garland Show’s Christmas special. Rachel didn’t learn from Rory’s earlier mistake, and tackled an even darker, more “emotional” song, “River,” to which Artie said he’d banish her from the production if she couldn’t pick a more upbeat number. The idea that she wouldn’t be invited to Kurt and Blaine’s fake Swiss Alps chalet was devastating.
Not like she deserved to be invited to Blaine and Kurt’s chalet after totally mistreating Finn, who not only got her a gift but in enough time to give it to her when she demanded it early. Who cares if it was an African sou meant to be fattened and slaughtered for the underfed of Africa? Christmas isn’t about romance or bling. It’s about charity!
Artie has become quite the embolden director, but even if I didn’t whole-heartedly support his approach, the whole throwback 50s and 60s variety feel of the episode within an episode was fun and surprising. The black and white, breaking the fourth wall, the inviting “home” atmosphere and the cheesy, easy jokes were all completely charming. From the opening moments of the special, not once was there a break in character or the actual show. We were transported to a new world where it was all about Christmas, and I loved every abnormal moment. The writers took the time to treat us, those loyal fans, to a real “special.” (Kind of like the fantastic trio that recently aired on Syfy of Eureka, Warehouse 13 and Haven.) Anyone could have skipped this episode and jumped back in after the winter hiatus and missed nothing. This was a stand-alone that just happened to air a mere one week after a midseason finale instead of a few months, if not more.
Of course, no good holiday special should end without learning something important about mankind and contributing something, anything good to the world. For our glee kids, it was joining Sue, Sam and Quinn (more reformed by the day) at the soup kitchen and singing a song (“Do They Know It’s Christmas”) to bring cheer to the homeless. They even brought the real Turkey from their set, and just in time, since the kitchen was running out of food. For Rachel, it was apologizing to Finn and admitting that loving him and her pig, newly-named Barbara, is all she needs for Christmas. By that point though, he’d already also bought her a star, which he named after himself since she’s already one, and those bling earrings. In the end, the two decide to hock their gifts (Rachel had gotten Finn an iPod), donate it to charity and join Sam and Rory on the cold street to ring some Salvation Army bells and collect some cash for a good cause.
Now that Glee has been wrapped up with a nice red bow, what was the best moment of the episode and the year so far? Sam and Rory really played a more central role this week. How do you think they did? I love getting into the Christmas spirit with some good songs. What was your favorite? Sound off below. Have yourself a merry, little Christmas, Poptimal readers. And happy holidays to all the rest!
“All I Want for Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey. Sung by Mercedes and New Directions. A-
“Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley. Sung by Rory Flanagan. B+
“River” by Joni Mitchell. Sung by Rachel Berry. B+
“Extraordinary Merry Christmas,” a Glee original. Sung by Blaine and Rachel. A-
“Let It Snow” by Vaughn Monroe. Sung by Blaine and Kurt. A-
“My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. Sung by Rachel, Mercedes, Kurt and Blaine. B+
“Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Sung by Puck, Finn, Mercedes, Rachel and Blaine. B+
“Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses. Sung by Brittany. B
“Do They Know It’s Christmas” by Band Aid. Sung by New Directions. A-
- Kurt moisturizing in the locker room while all the other guys talk ladies.
- Finn: But like the song says, all I want for Christmas is you.
Rachel: Aw, all I want for Christmas is you too – and five things on that list. I love you.
Finn: Holy crap. I’m dating Kim Kardashian.
- “Wheels, Porcelain and Other Gay, the Yuletide is upon us and everyone knows Christmas is a time for forgiveness. So I have decided to forgive you for having no talent and ruining the American songbook one mash-up at a time.” – Sue to Artie, Kurt and Blaine, respectively.
- “Now, Christmas isn’t just a time when Jewish kids get slightly uncomfortable and dwarves get jobs as Santa’s helpers in demeaning non-union commercials that make them quietly die inside…” – Sue
- “You said you considered homeless people urban campers.” – Artie to Sue
- “Stumbles, Gelfing, Young Burt Reynolds.” – Sue to Artie, Kurt and Blaine respectively, again.
- “I made plans to shoot reindeer with Sarah Palin but she canceled. Apparently Todd gets fussy when she misses his ballet recitals.” – Sue
- “Brit and her family are going on a trip to see a gay Santa. Something about Santa Fe.” – Rory
- “I am absolutely delighted that our channel’s Christmas special is being directed by a teenage, disabled boy. You’re like a modern day Tiny Tim. Oh, I am sorry. Tiny Tim could walk.” – Don Barowski, Lima PBS affiliate station manager.
- “Sorry, Sam. The phrase is ‘Merry Christmas.’ Not ‘Morose Christmas.’” – Artie
- Sam, all hot an indignant with the group, because he knows what it’s like to be without.
- “Christmas is all about giving and Artie certainly wouldn’t be in the Christmas spirit if he didn’t let me give my talents to the people of Western Ohio. At least the ones who don’t have cable.” – Rachel
- “The homeless will be homeless for a while. That’s sort of the problem, isn’t it?” – Santana
- “This is my, um, best friend and holiday roommate, Blaine Anderson.” – Kurt’s introduction of Blaine on the special.
- Could it be? I actually like an original song the first time around? Though most likely that’s because Christmas songs give free reign to be as cheesy as possible. (“Extraordinary Merry Christmas”)
- Brittany’s other hidden talent, the fact that she’d be a fantastic rhythmic gymnast. Those effortless ribbon flicks! (“Christmas Wrapping”)
- “We thought we heard Santa Claus. But with the climate change and end times, we don’t think Santa’s coming to town.” – Rachel
- Rory being the central catalyst to reminding the club what’s really important. Go Damian McGinty!
Season 3, Episode 9: “Extraordinary Merry Christmas” (originally aired December 13, 2011)
Glee airs Tuesdays at 8 ET/PT on Fox.
Images by Adam Rose and FOX.