With Thursday night's episode of "Community," TV has found a new standard for Christmas specials. The last two seasons of the NBC ensemble comedy have seen the show regularly push television boundaries with original storytelling, sharp writing and resonating themes that seem largely absent from other comedies on the air. But last night's Christmas episode, which saw the entire cast rendered in stop motion animation as a throwback to Christmas specials of yore, truly set a new standard for both the series and Christmas episodes in general.
Sticking with their tendency to go meta, the show starts with TV-obsessed Abed (Danny Pudi) informing the study group that due to the Christmas season, they've all been inexplicably transformed into stop-motion animated characters that remind him of his childhood Christmases. None of the other characters see things the same way, but we get to view the entire episode from Abed's perspective, which is more fun (as are most things through Abed's eyes).
The rest of the episode depicts the gang's journey through Abed's imagination, portrayed as a winter wonderland, and concludes with a surprisingly bittersweet and affecting climax that sincerely reminds us why we love the Christmas season.
Check out the clip below to watch animated versions of Danny Pudi along with Joel McHale, Donald Glover, Alison Brie, Chevy Chase, John Oliver, Gillian Jacobs and Yvette Nicole Brown transform into Christmas toys. We also highly watching recommend the full episode.