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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.