A Christmas hostage
For me, this episode was just ok. I neither loved nor hated it and so have little to say about it.
The good: I got a kick out of watching Abed watch the incident with Cornwallis unfold. His tank top and shoe removal brought just enough Die Hard to the party, letting him happily transition from a wannabe character in that story to a popcorn-eating observer of the bizarre plot right in front of him.
The bad: I found the opening scene with Jeff and Annie irritating. Annie’s decorating felt silly, and Jeff’s reaction to it felt unbelievable—which is to say he let her do it. It’s like Joel McHale was playing some other character for a few minutes, standing awkwardly and saying things in an un-Jeff-like way.
The boring: We’ve seen so little of Cornwallis that I have no investment in his character. I’m not sure whether we’re meant to dislike him for being kinda mean and sleazy or whether we’re meant to feel sorry for him for being so lonely that he’ll pretend to be tied up just to stay in the group’s company.
The missed opportunity: With Chevy Chase off the show, the episode missed a chance to give a shout out to the superior Christmas hostage scenario of Christmas Vacation. Too bad.
Anybody feel more strongly about this one?
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I spent most of this episode confused. At first I thought the gimmick was a regular sit-com, just without laughter track, but then that didn’t feel right. Then I noticed it was doing the single-shot thing…which for a moment was interesting (while any domestic life gags with Jeff and Annie annoy me, I appreciated the choreographed movement between them opening out to the others’ arrival in ways that kept the camera spinning). But then that very quickly threw in a few cuts, so I couldn’t tell how committed they were to the vision. I didn’t even realize it was in real-time until Abed pointed it out. So mid-episode, all I could see the genre as was something like a (broken) single-shot version of Clue, but in real-time – which didn’t strike me as a genre so much as a mash-up.
So I garner now from internet-land that it was a take-off of Hitchcock’s Rope – which I haven’t seen. So I couldn’t even recognize the source of a bunch of different kinds of gimmicks that didn’t feel all that coherent to me.
In the past when I haven’t known the source, though, it hasn’t mattered – the My Dinner with Andre episode offers a prime example. Indeed, I’d been meaning to watch that films for years, and so the episode got me to finally see it. But I still enjoyed that episode and found myself able to intuit its source (and then had my mind blown by how brilliant Abed is when I watched the original!). This one just left me confused.
I’m left wondering about two things, which also feels a little lame – when does this show ever keep me tuned in with cliffhangers? It feels cheap all of a sudden to introduce that plot device. So yeah, what’s going to happen with Chang and will the darker timeline surface in any way.
I guess I sorta care…meh.