'Community's Claymation Christmas Episode Was An Instant Classic, All Thanks To Abed
Confession: I miss Community so much. I have loved the quirky comedy TV series since its first season, and even stuck with during its tumultuous times. Now that the show is sadly canceled for good, I thought it was time to rewatch Community 's "Abed's Unconrtollable Christmas," which should be a new TV classic. The episode — done entirely in claymation — is Community at the height of its hilarity and creativity in its second season. The NBC (and later Yahoo!) comedy pursued its share of gimmicks: A video game episode! A claymation episode! Blanket forts! But Community always, always made it work and coupled those creative leaps with lots of heart.
You might think a claymation episode would be as fun and cute as those classic Christmas specials like Frosty The Snowman and Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town, and it is. "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas," which aired in December 2010, is so much more, though. In a cute setting with all the characters recreated as Christmas toys, viewers learn more about Abed, his emotional state, and how committed his friends are to helping him. It's a deeply touching episode, which happens to be done as stop-motion claymation. "There's a reason for it to be stop-motion animated, but it's not a dream," exec producer Dan Harmon told TV Guide back in 2010. "It still exists within the reality of the show."
Here's what I noticed when I rewatched"Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" five years after it originally aired.
1. Abed Points Out That They're Stop-Motion Claymation Right Away
Within the first minute, Abed displays that self-awareness viewers came to love over the years and pointed this out before the audience had a chance to say, "Huh?" Of course, Jeff votes to "let it go."
"I noticed it this morning," Abed continues, even though the rest of the study group doesn't get it. "That's how I knew it was a special Christmas." But it doesn't get dismissed — the claymation situation is used to explore Abed's current mental state.
2. Abed Shows His Sadness Early
After being dragged to see Ian Duncan by Jeff and Britta, Abed remains committed to believing they're all claymation and decides he must find the meaning of Christmas. He starts with the self-aware "Sad Quick Christmas Song" (so Community) and by building a "sad quick Christmas snowman" who then comes to life — as Chang!
It really shows there is some sadness underneath Abed's denials and his stop-motion fantasy, but we won't find out the root of it until later.
3. John Oliver Plays Ian Duncan
I had forgotten that the Last Week Tonight host had a reccurring role on Community before he took on his current HBO hosting gig. He even got to be made into clay — and eventually, a Christmas wizard. "I loved the small part I played on that show, I’m really proud of it," Oliver told The A.V. Club in 2012. "It is a really fantastic, imaginative, bold show."
4. Planet Abed Is "The Most Christmassy Planet In The Universe"
Just FYI, if you're ever looking for another planet for travel. "The atmosphere is seven percent cinnamon," Abed says.
5. Abed's Study Group Cares So Much About Him
The study group doesn't necessarily get this whole Christmas planet journey and the clay versions of themselves, but they go with it because they really want Abed to get better. It's the first of the feels from this episode. Go ahead, feel it.
Well, except for Shirley, who gets ejected from therapy — er, Planet Abed, by Ian Duncan the Christmas Wizard.
6. Abed Has The Greatest Imagination
The gang's Christmas journey involves Carol Canyon (where the plants produce Christmas songs), Menorah Mountains, Jevoah Witness Bay (added for Troy), and a train to the North Pole. Can we all live in Abed's Christmas wonderland?
7. The Truth Brings On The Feels
Abed confesses to Annie and Troy that he and his mom watch Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer every year on Dec. 9 — and that's when Troy tells Abed, "Today is Dec. 9."
Of course, then Duncan the Christmas Wizard/Warlock shows up to say he snooped in Abed's dorm and found a card from Abed's mom, saying she can't visit for Christmas due to her new family.
Immediately after Duncan reads the card aloud, Abed freezes in ice and my heart hurts for the poor guy. No one wants to feel forgotten by their mom on Christmas. Yet, Duncan still wants to exploit Abed's experience for journals. He truly is a Christmas Warlock.
8. Eventually, The Study Group Comes To Abed's Defense
Everyone returns to attack Duncan with their "special Christmas weapons" to save Christmas and sing their own personal meanings of the holiday — which melts Abed's icy exterior.
Because family isn't just something you're born to — you can make your own family. And for Abed, the study group has become his new family. "The meaning of Christmas is the idea that Christmas has meaning," Abed says. "And it can mean whatever we want. For me, it used to mean being with my mom. Now it means being with you guys."
Images: NBC; Giphy (8)