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'About a Boy' recap: The Grinch who stole Will's Christmas

Episode 8 | Season 2 | “About a Christmas Carol” | Aired Dec 9, 2014

This time of year, we’re typically bombarded with TV shows attempting to put an original spin on A Christmas Carol and belabor the message of finding the spirit of Christmas inside your heart. About a Boy is joining the ranks this year, and their contribution is every bit as sweet, heartwarming, and meaningful as you’d expect from this show.

It’s Christmas Eve, and it seems our friend Will is a bit of a Scrooge when it comes to Christmas. Since his hit song, “Runaway Sleigh,” is played incessantly this time of year and is a song he despises “with the white-hot anger of a thousand suns,” he refuses to take part in the celebrations of the holiday. The song has become his Grinch. Marcus and Fiona, on the other hand, are obviously kin to Buddy the Elf when it comes to Christmas (as you’d expect) and can’t understand why Will is so grumpy. As if hating their favorite holiday isn’t enough, Will spills the beans about Santa being imaginary, which is shocking news to Marcus and sends Fiona into a tailspin as she attempts to make this Christmas the most magical one ever.

Fiona: Any other dreams you’d like to kill, Mr. Scrooge?
Will: Yeah, bring him back in here and I’ll take care of unicorns and Milli Vanilli too!

Later, lawyer Laurie advises Will to settle with Stalker Stacy over the “Runaway Sleigh” lawsuit so it doesn’t have to go to trial, where he’d need to present evidence that he wrote the song alone (Stacy is suing him for royalties because she claims she co-wrote Will’s hit song, remember?). Evidence? Will’s got evidence! He just needs to find it. Leaving Fiona, Laurie, Andy, and their kids decorating the backyard in a manner that would make Clark Griswold proud, Will sets off with Marcus—his “sanity elf”—to find the original lyrics to “Runaway Sleigh.”

Pay attention, because here’s where A Christmas Carol and About a Boy collide.

The ghost of Will’s past: Visiting the house where Will’s once hit (but now defunct) band, Sriracha, used to rehearse, they encounter a new band of college guys who are Sriracha groupies and who view Will as an idol. That is, until the Will worshipers find out from Marcus—the chief editor of both Sriracha and Will’s wiki pages, of course—that the band broke up when Will penned “Runaway Sleigh.” Dude! Total sellout and complete disappointment! When Will asks to pop up to the basement to grab the box that contains the original lyrics (which makes no sense at all, since he moved out of that house years ago), the former fans tell him that Sriracha’s old tambourine player already took it and he needs to get out.

The ghost of Will’s unrealized future: Moving on to the “tamb” player Debbie’s house, Will is shocked to discover his former main squeeze to be a total soccer mom, yet one who still has a groupie-like infatuation with Will and introduces him to her kids as “Mommy’s special friend from before Daddy.” Turns out Deb’s husband sold the lyrics on eBay. Smart man. As Will and Marcus leave, Deb’s family breaks out into a spirited version of “Runaway Sleigh,” and as Will watches the family frivolity, he grows uncharacteristically silent. “I know why you hate Christmas … everybody’s moved on with their lives, but yours is kind of stuck in neutral,” Marcus observes.

The ghost of Will’s present: Deb’s eBay receipt leads them to the next house, which is inhabited by an older man playing the cello in front of a Christmas tree. It’s Will’s dad (Geoff Pierson), whom we learned earlier in the episode that Will has a nonexistent relationship with. Marcus is beside himself with excitement and begs them to pose together for “a quickie for the wiki!” They don’t, but do begin arguing immediately over the fact that Will’s father bailed on Will’s mother when she wanted to move to Florida (where she apparently lives). This fight quickly leads to accusations from Will about his father not approving of his choice in music once he left behind classical for Sriracha, and Will’s dad asserting that his problem wasn’t the music, but that Will just gave up after he wrote “Runaway Sleigh.” Speaking of which, Will gets in this final jab before he and Marcus leave: “Would it have hurt you so much to say, ‘You wrote a hit song and made a lot of people happy, and I’m proud of you?” Ouch. And I don’t mean the jab, I mean Will’s heart.

Thankfully, Marcus is there to provide the Rx: “The problem is, you can’t pick your dad, but the cool thing is, you can pick your friends, and I’m really glad you picked me.” And then they howl. Because howling always helps.

Back at home, Andy has rigged up a faulty snow machine that blows all the circuits in Fiona’s backyard wonderland. By the time Marcus and Will arrive, however, they’ve managed to find and light about 100 luminaries, and Marcus declares that he doesn’t need Santa to make Christmas magical, all he needs is Fiona; she is his Christmas.

Hearing the soft sounds of strings, the group discovers Will’s dad’s quartet playing a classical (apologetic?) version of “Runaway Sleigh” in the driveway, and as Andy gives the switch one more flip, the yard is bathed in Christmas lights and falling snow. Everyone joins in singing the despised, Grinchy song that just may have ended up bringing magic back to Will’s Christmas after all.

P.S. I’m still waiting for the song to be released on iTunes.

About a Boy airs Tuesdays at 9:30/8:30C on NBC.

TV Families | EW.com
February 23, 1990 at 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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