I tried extra hard this week to channel the holiday spirit and find things to love about Glee‘s Christmas special. And to be fair, I thought Sue was great, as was the Sam-Rory subplot. But overall, the episode was a total mess.
And that’s a shame because it was the directorial debut of star Matthew Morrison and the first Glee script written by Buffy the Vampire Slayer veteran Marti Noxon. As much as I may adore both of them, I feel like the blame for the many failures rests squarely on their shoulders.
Glee Recap: An Absurd, Judy Garland Christmas Special>>
The episode’s primary downfall for me was its almost total lack of plot. If Glee wanted to do a full-on holiday variety special, that would be fine, but don’t half-ass it. The black-and-white, Judy Garland-inspired special took up a full 15 minutes of the episode right in the middle, stopping any momentum the storylines may have had in their tracks while the show filled two complete acts with something so pointless it might as well have been a dream sequence.
On its own, I might enjoy what Glee did. The performances, especially those from Chris Colfer and Darren Criss, were brilliantly stylized during the parody, but it went on for far too long. The whole thing was a stand-alone piece that had no place in the middle of an episode. I don’t know if I should blame the structure of Noxon’s script or Morrison’s directing and inability to edit or pace the action, but there was definitely something wrong.
It may have been saved if it had a clever or original ending, but instead it felt like Noxon just took the last page of the Charlie Brown Christmas special and pasted it into her script. Rory, as Linus, read from the Bible and everyone learned the true meaning of Christmas and then they sang and danced. Maybe if someone had done the iconic Snoopy dance like Xander did on Buffy, things might’ve been better.
The episode also featured nine full performances, and that’s after Santana’s rendition of “Santa Baby” was cut (a tragedy as I’m sure it would’ve been better than things like the embarrassingly awful original song “Extraordinary Merry Christmas”). I get that Glee is just trying to sell Christmas albums, but do they have to be so blatant about it? The biggest offender may have been “My Favorite Things,” which seemed to drag on and on and on with no real purpose, especially since Kurt, Blaine, Rachel and Mercedes all got plenty of singing time in other numbers.
I can try to forgive random plotholes (like the fact that everyone, including Rachel herself, seemed to have forgotten she was Jewish). But “Extraordinary Merry Christmas” was packed with far too much filler and not nearly enough story. The few glimpses of actual dialogue and plot were amusing, but it all felt like putting a tiny present in a giant box that was full of packing peanuts.
Hopefully Marti Noxon will get a chance to redeem herself with her next Glee script, one that won’t be so overburdened with musical performances. But for now, the show’s utterly pointless and plotless Christmas special left me feeling cold and not very cheerful.
(Image courtesy of FOX)