After last season's wacky "A Very Glee Christmas," I've learned not to expect much from a "Glee" Christmas episode, aside from the usual fluffy sing-a-long songs and Yuletide cheer. Basically, there's no continuity to the overall plot, so it's kind of like a "Get Out of Jail Free" card for Ryan Murphy.
Imagine flipping through the channels and you turn on Fox, expecting a group of somewhat obnoxious teens covering pop songs; but instead you get a black-and-white homage to Judy Garland's 1963 Christmas special -- complete with a laugh track, Luke Skywalker lookalike (lightsaber included), and an Irish holiday elf!
Yeah, this year's Christmas episode was just as weird as it sounds, but to be completely honest, I'm not mad. Nope, not even a little bit annoyed -- because it's Christmas, and if it takes an episode of "Glee" to spread holiday cheer and inspire the gift of giving, then so be it. However, I will say that Blaine Warbler and his Christmas tree bow tie made me long for the days of Dick Van Dyke in colorless nostalgia.
Like I said, I can't really compare "Extraordinary Merry Christmas" to the rest of Season 3 because it really had nothing to do with it, but I'll work with what I have.
Similar to last year, "Glee" opened with New Directions putting up the tree, wrapping presents and Mercedes belting out Mariah Carey's 1994 classic, "All I Want for Christmas is You." It felt a little like deja vu. But this year, instead of acting like a bunch of harmless Whos down in Whoville, the glee club is producing, directing and starring in their very own Christmas special!
Unfortunately, that means they won't be able to help Sue feed the homeless this year -- as if Rachel Berry would give up her 15 minutes of fame for the needy.
After making his directorial debut in McKinley's "West Side Story," Artie gets asked to direct the New Directions' Lima PBS special. Thankfully, he didn't want the entire glee club to lose their virginities. If the PTC had a problem with "First Time," could you imagine the thought of a "Glee" orgy?
In his effort to put together a Christmas special, naturally, Artie needs Chewbacca. After Chewie shows up in a dream, Artie is inspired to make the ultimate Christmas special mash-up: 1978's epic "The Star Wars Holiday Special" and Judy Garland's 1963 Christmas show.
It's everything that you would expect -- except not. "Glee" ditched its standard technicolor craziness for more of a black-and-white setting, complete with plastic smiles and canned laughter.
It's definitely a bold move for "Glee" star Matthew Morrison, who directed this episode. It may have been risky, but it was also laughable. Blaine and Kurt start off strong, singing "Let It Snow" as two bachelors sharing a fancy apartment of their own. Then things take a turn for the worse with a rendition of "My Favorite Things," featuring Rachel and Mercedes. Is that even a Christmas song?
Then Finn comes in dressed like Luke Skywalker, and Rory goes rogue as Santa's holiday elf Itchy. You see, Rory's tired of the glee club's selfish ways, and one Christmas origins story later, they head over to the homeless shelter -- back in technicolor! -- to meet up with Sam and Quinn at the local homeless shelter. "Do They Know It's Christmas?" begins to play, and suddenly, I'm back to feeling the holiday spirit.
But the big plot twist? This year, Sue isn't the grinch! Well, maybe Coach Bieste thinks of her a little differently, but Sue is all about helping the homeless this holiday season. You see, it's her first Christmas without her sister, so I guess that means she now has to fill her good deed void.
Okay, so she was actually being sweet, but honestly, how does Ryan Murphy expect us to like a character that continually changes? In the beginning I wanted to love Sue Sylvester, but now she seems played out, and every time I think she's headed in a new direction, she heads back to her same glee club-hating ways.
So what is it? Nice Sue or nonsensical, infuriating Sue?
Meanwhile, you know how Rachel became a little less self-absorbed two weeks ago by telling Principal Figgins that she was the one to stuff the class president ballot box in Kurt's favor? Well, forget that ever happened because it's the holidays and princess Rachel -- looking even more Babs than ever -- wants at least five presents from her list this year, which includes the essentials like a spray tan and teeth whitening.
Wait, didn't Rachel have that storyline last year when she wanted a nose job? Now here we are, an entire TLC/"West Side Story" mash-up later, back to square one. Rachel still doesn't think she's pretty enough to make it in showbiz. To be honest, she could very well take up a career in black-and-white Christmas specials and then a spray tan won't even matter.
So Sue misses her sister, Rory misses his "mommy" and I'm starting to miss crazy Quinn. At least she was interesting when she was going through her "Single White Female" phase. Okay, maybe that was a little extreme. It may have taken a Christmas special to teach Quinn that she should stop thinking about all of the things she doesn't have, but hey, at least she learned her lesson!
But the real crime of this episode was Rory. It looks like the writers don't know how to use their newest gleek, Damian McGinty. He's basically a silly caricature at this point, and for "Glee Project" fans like myself, it's a little disappointing. His big brother/little bother relationship with Finn had promise, but now that's fizzled.
Also, Rory goes from acting like a magic leprechaun to playing a holiday elf named Itchy. What's next? Brittany tells him that he's a unicorn, too? Well, at least he found a new friend in Sam because let's face it, Finn was kind of neglecting his little Irish buddy. Now what he really needs is a wingman like Sam to help him find a nice American girl to snog. Maybe we'll finally see Rory -- and McGinty -- losen up.
In other news, I have to admit: Blaine and Rachel sound great together. Do they have a name yet? AnderBerry? ... BerryWarbler?
Oh, and Finn attempts to please his greedy girlfriend with an African pig. After she sees the error of her selfish ways, Rachel names her African pig Barbra. Naturally, she's the most fabulous pig in Africa.
Is it time for that winter hiatus yet?
Most "Glee"-ful Lines of the Episode:
Finn, reacting to Rachel's pricey demands: "Holy crap. I'm dating Kim Kardashian."
Sue, addressing Artie, Kurt and Blaine: "Wheels, Porcelain, other gay ..."
Santana, to Rory, after he sings a woeful rendition of "Blue Christmas": "God, that song was so depressing, I might actually be dead."
Artie: "I swore I would never sell out and do television. I'm going to have to think about this one Mr. Schue."
Rachel, after Artie called her "River" cover depressing: "I'm sorry, Joni Mitchell is not depressing, she's emotional."
Rachel, on the homeless: "We're just going to distract them from their plight and the smell of urine, and make them happy with our Christmas cheer."
Kurt, being PC in the 1960's: "And this is my ... best friend and holiday roommate, Blaine Anderson!"
Blaine, being Blaine: "Wow! They're candy cane-striped capri pants, and the best part is that I don't already own a pair."
Sad little Rory: "My brother Seamus gets lost all of the time, so we put a bell around his neck to help find him."
"Glee" returns to Fox on Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. EST.