Comedy Bang! Bang!: The Lonely Island Wear Holiday Sweaters & White Pants (2014)

Comedy Bang! Bang!'s second Christmas episode is a big improvement over their first. Having already tried the "kitchen sink" approach, this one picks a reference and focuses in on it. Even better, that reference is Die Hard.

The episode opens just before Christmas. Scott is depressed, because he feels like the holidays are too commercial. Making matters worse, the air conditioner is out of order, causing the set to be extremely hot. Xenophobic ex-marine Ray Starksy (played by Alan Tudyk) climbs into the air ducts to fix it minutes before a group of international terrorists break in and take the show hostage.

Their demand: they want a hard-to-find toy to give to their daughters as a Christmas present. And if they don't get them, they'll kill everyone.

The terrorists are a constant presence, though their disruptions are fairly minimal, aside from one bit when the leader (James Urbaniak doing a decent impression of a generic Die Hard villain) takes over as host to keep Scott from sending messages to the police.

The episode guest stars The Lonely Island, who'd later work with Aukerman on Michael Bolton's Big, Sexy Valentine's Day Special, which - despite focusing on a different holiday - was written using a 'Christmas special' template. The presence of Andy Samberg is also an interesting connection - Brooklyn Nine-Nine has holiday episodes covering both Die Hard parodies and hard-to-find toy plots.

The Lonely Island perform a couple times, though both numbers are essentially jokes. Even relative to normal, I mean - the gag is more that their performances are bad or weird, rather than clever or humorous. That fits the tone of the show, for what it's worth.

The camera occasionally cuts to Ray in the air ducts doing a fairly good McClane. They milk this for all it's worth before having him fix the air conditioning, leave, drive home, turn on the TV, and only then realize the cast and crew are being held hostage.

Meanwhile, the police resolve the situation by giving into the terrorists' demands - after all, they only wanted some dolls. The villain is overjoyed at the realization he'll be able to give his daughter the present she wanted, and Scott and the police agree they should forgive him, because it's Christmas.

Then Ray barges in and guns down the terrorists, accidentally killing The Lonely Island in the crossfire. A stray bullet also hits the AC, which starts malfunctioning and creating snow. The show ends with Scott telling Ray he'll have to stay and fix it while Reggie opens presents beside the bodies of the Lonely Island.

Sure, it sounds bleak, but it's all in good fun. The plot, while still absurd, is far more restrained than the last Christmas episode they attempted, allowing the situation more room to develop. They did good work with the source material, parodying action movie tropes without abandoning the series's trademark style or tone.

It was good, but it fell short of being great. I felt like the Lonely Island could have been better utilized throughout the episode, and a few elements were telegraphed too clearly. For example, the fact Ray was unaware of the terrorists was obvious in advance but was still played for laughs.

This is certainly a fun episode, but it's only worth seeking out if you're already a fan of the show. Otherwise, I'd recommend pulling up the Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode instead.