‘Tis the season for Christmas specials, and FOX’s Glee does not wish to be outdone. Hence this week’s yultide-themed offering, “A Very Glee Christmas.” Thankfully, it maintained series continuity; sometimes holiday specials will step outside ongoing arcs to stay within a holiday theme. However, there were still plenty of Christmas references, especially to certain famous holiday classics, and all of the music was themed for the holiday. Of course, since at least one of the main characters is Jewish, it’s a shame they didn’t stretch themselves a bit into other celebrations. Maybe next year?
There were two main plots in this week’s episode. In the first, Artie (Kevin McHale) discovered that his girlfriend Brittany (Heather Morris) still believes in Santa Claus, so he tried his best not to ruin her that for her. In fact, he got the whole Glee club to go sit on Santa’s lap. Unfortunately, Brittany’s one Christmas wish was for wheelchair-bound Artie to walk—something even Santa cannot accomplish. However, the mall Santa awkwardly, and stupidly, nodded at the request.
Ok, I get it, Brittany is dumb. She is a charming character, and last week she was believing in magic combs, so it’s not that far fetched, I guess, that she’d still believe in Santa. At least, it’s not if you can suspend your disbelief that her character could actually exist. But Artie’s feeble attempt to explain how Brittany thought three different Santas, with three different skin hues and voices, were all the same man (actually, two were women) because she “only sees the suit” is a tad lame. Couldn’t they have addressed this a little more cleverly? Also, why didn’t Brittany question the lack of the return of the tree that Green Santa stole, especially after it ended up back at Will’s (Matthew Morrison)?
On a side note, don’t the Glee kids have families? I know Will was lonely, but surely they all had their own things to do besides go over to a teacher’s house on Christmas Eve.
The saving grace in that particular story was Beiste (Dot Jones), who dressed up at Artie’s behest and tried to talk Brittany out of her idea, while still maintaining the Santa magic. When it was clear that their discussion had shattered Brittany’s Christmas spirit, Beiste found Artie some experimental contraption that let him walk a few steps. Sure, unrealistic on her teacher’s salary. But at least Glee didn’t follow in the footsteps of many a sitcom before it and not explain the appearance of the device, leaving it to “Santa” (wink, wink). Sure, the series did not come out and say explicitly that the present was from Beiste, but as she watched the kids from the hallway, it was obvious.
The other main story was Sue’s (Jane Lynch), which was pretty much in character for her, and not quite as far fetched. First, Sue rigged the staff gift exchange so that she would receive all of the presents. Then, after Will took them back and promised them to the needy, she and cohort Becky (Lauren Potter) recreated Dr. Seuss’s beloved How the Grinch Stole Christmas! in full costume, snatching back the presents and trashing the choir room. She even had the belly crawl down. However, a rousing rendition of the same song that melted the Grinch’s heart prompted Sue to give back the loot.
In this second story, I will totally excuse Brittany filling in for Cindy Lou because it was just too perfect. And I like that Sue took things to Will, showing a little of her softness, but staying the same Sue we know. Plus, who didn’t think she would hate the holiday going in? As such, this plot worked a bit better than the first one.
Of course, Glee couldn’t resist the “shipper” details, which are what tied the episode into the others coming before it. Rachel (Lea Michele) tried to get Finn (Cory Monteith) to forgive her, and failed. Things were still incredibly weird between Will and the newly married Emma (Jayma Mays), despite the latter’s hopes otherwise. Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss) sang a duet by the fireplace, their only scene. It was not a forced fit, but it didn’t add to anything else that was going on. All these touches kept the episode solidly good, despite the corniness of most of the plot. That, and Lauren (Ashley Fink) got off some more great one-liners.
The music in this episode was mixed, to be honest. The club’s performance for the teaching staff was sweet, and Kurt and Blaine wonderfully held up a holiday staple. “The Most Wonderful Day Of The Year” was extremely appropriate, and I loved both of Rachel’s songs. The weak spot was “You’re A Mean One, Sue the Grinch,” which I wish had been sung instead of played. I don’t even think a lot of people got that Sue sang it. At least, I think she did. Even I’m not 100 percent sure.
To summarize, this episode had far more cheese than the average Glee episode, and the music was mostly good, but not entirely. The cheese can mostly be excused because it was a holiday special, yet the episode did not restrict itself to all of the holiday special limitations and cliches. It left me wishing it were a bit better, but not entirely unsatisfied.
Glee will return to FOX in February. I’d suggest spending some of this far-too-long break enjoying reruns (next week “The Power of Madonna” AND “Britney/Brittany”) and singing along to the soundtracks.