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Class Returns 401
February 7, 2013 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Tonight marks the return of Community, the start of its fourth season and the first without showrunner (creator), Dan Harmon. Yesterday, the writing staff for Community showed up on Reddit to answer questions.

Reviews of the first two new episodes have ranged from iffy to negative.
posted by Atreides (158 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 

Yay! It's October 19th!

10/19 is my wedding anniversary, too.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:11 PM on February 7, 2013


From the AV Club review

Britta, played by the great Gillian Jacobs, who gets ample opportunity to show off her physical comedy skills...

I'm apparently in until the bitter end then. I don't think I've ever posted a gif as a comment before, but here's two reminders why 1 2
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:16 PM on February 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Hmmm. I get the feeling that even if they'd secretly smuggled in Dan Harmon to write and direct these episodes they'd get exactly the same reception.
posted by yoink at 1:17 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wish I'd known about this before the AMA. I still want to know if this comment from 2007 is the source of the Bagel joke in Season 1. I swear to god that scene is verbatim my life in 1994.
posted by dobbs at 1:18 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Baggle" is also an accent thing (I have a friend from Wisconsin who gets teased relentlessly about it), so probably not.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:22 PM on February 7, 2013


Yay! It's October 19th !

Which means it's Gillian Jacobs' birthday! Happy Birthday, Gillian!
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:24 PM on February 7, 2013


More iffy-to-negative reviews from Alan Sepinwall and Esquire.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:27 PM on February 7, 2013


So...Community College is four years? I thought it was two.

or will Community turn into MASH?
posted by jb at 1:31 PM on February 7, 2013


I am cautiously optimistic. Community took a little bit to find its feet last season but then started firing on all cylinders for quite a while when it did.

My biggest concern - and I say this as someone who loves Community, it's my favorite show - is that season three started losing its way towards the end. The first paintball episode was so great in large part because of its use of action-movie cliche against the utterly mundane backdrop of a community college, and also because of how unexpected it was (despite the Goodfellas episode happening before that). And some of the gimmick episodes have been great - My Dinner With Andre and all that. But my favorite moments on the show have always been those that established these characters as (pun not intended) human beings: Jeff's mass text on Valentine's Day; Abed's Britta-funded film; Troy deciding he didn't really feel like drinking on his twenty-first birthday (that whole episode, really), etc. The best moments have mostly been utterly mundane.

Somewhere along the way, the show became known for pop-culture references and gimmick episodes and being meta, and the people creating it decided to run with that; essentially it became Abed (which also meant that Abed had less to do, since now life was actually behaving a lot more like TV). It kept trying to hit that note and lost track of the characters on the ground. The sense of genuine connection between them became something we take as read, not something to spin plots out of.

And I'm not as into that. I'm not going to say Community jumped the shark, since it hasn't been long enough since then, but I feel like if there's ever a point where we look back and say, "this is when Community jumped the shark," it'll probably be the video game episode. It was exactly the kind of bullshit "the gang goes to a haunted house" thing that the show would have made fun of (and did, in fact) in earlier seasons. But the last few minutes of the third season finale felt a bit more on track to me, so the magic is still in there somewhere.

But who knows. Maybe they'll dial it back a bit as time goes on. If they get another season, maybe the absence of Chevy Chase will be a boon (I kind of think it will - he was the least interesting thing about the show to me). Maybe I'll get the chance to fall back in love with Community. I'd really like to. For all its faults, there's still nothing on TV like it.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:31 PM on February 7, 2013 [13 favorites]


more iffy to negative:

"In its final — and they will be final — episodes, Community isn't terrible. It's just terribly pointless. It turns out the darkest timeline isn't the one in which Pierce is shot or Jeff loses an arm. It's the one in which nothing bad happens at all."

Andy Greenwald on Grantland
posted by mcstayinskool at 1:31 PM on February 7, 2013


or will Community turn into MASH?

It already happened in season 1, Episode 113: "Investigative Journalism"

("I'm kind of the Hawkeye around here...")
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:35 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I kind of said goodbye to the show already. The last three episodes of last season were pretty much an adieu, and I'm not sure that I want to go back again.
posted by gauche at 1:36 PM on February 7, 2013


Iffy to negative reviews, sure. The driving force of Harmon is gone, and it's difficult to even imagine the show without him behind it.

Nevertheless, I will be there watching tonight, and giving it a good-faith viewing. Of course it won't be what it was. But maybe this new thing will still be interesting.

Besides -- what else is on?
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:39 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Joel McHale did an AMA today, too.
posted by jbickers at 1:42 PM on February 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I will watch every episode they ever make. No matter what. Community has earned so much preemptive goodwill from me based on the quality and humor and heart of the first three seasons that I will watch anything that airs labeled Community. Even though I was sad that Dan Harmon got fired, I want to support this show and so I will watch. A few of the episodes of this show have been as good as any television ever made. That means I am in until the bitter end.
posted by bove at 1:42 PM on February 7, 2013 [17 favorites]


I'm another bitter ender. Since it's by far my most favorite recent television show, I will cradle its brittle dessicated husk of a corpse in my arms until it finally crumbles to dust and in my tears of agony and loss accidentally inhale some of its remains, and with it now firmly apart of my physical being, move on.


Okay, so I don't own a Troy and Abed in the Morning mug or any type of fan desired merchandised...but I love the show, the characters and all that has unfolded before and look forward to whatever stumbles or leaps are coming in the future, so there's that.
posted by Atreides at 1:49 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the new season they’ve been flattened and, especially in a story line in which Annie (Alison Brie) imagines marrying the bad boy Jeff (Joel McHale), sentimentalized.

No. No. No. No. No. Annie was over Jeff. Jesus. Are we going back to square one with all of the characters?
posted by dortmunder at 1:49 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm another one of those people who's in until the bitter end, no matter what. That said, I'd be perfectly okay with Community ending with four seasons. I really, really hate the way the American TV model means shows get dragged on well past their best-by date. Sometimes, things just need to end, instead of having creators endlessly drag out conflicts and mysteries across 5+ seasons in which the characters increasingly become either caricatures of themselves, stupid for plot reasons way too much of the time, or just plain unrecognizable.

I'm sad that the reviews are so iffy/negative, but honestly, I was kind of expecting it. With all the drama surrounding season four, plus the fact that fans have basically been mourning the show since Dan Harmon's departure was announced, it's not surprising that fans and critics are going to be basically unpleasable. At least we'll always have seasons 1-3!
posted by yasaman at 1:57 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Six seasons and an FPP!
posted by uosuaq at 1:58 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Capt. Renault: " Which means it's Gillian Jacobs' birthday! Happy Birthday, Gillian!"

I... share a birthday with Gillian Jacobs. That's kinda cool. :)
posted by zarq at 2:07 PM on February 7, 2013


While I often get into the inside baseball stuff, especially when it's all over Twitter and the other sites I read, I'm not really sure it actually adds to my enjoyment of shows. Here, I really wish the show could just be and be judged for itself instead of everyone having to have an opinion about it because we all know that Dan Harmon's gone and this means big things for the show which will now either be ruined or, if we're lucky, struggle along OK for a short final season. The narrative's already been written and the actual quality of the episodes is secondary to that now.

I hope the show can continue to be entertaining even with its entire audience laser-focused on the question of whether it's still as good as it was and parsing every single joke and moment for whether it lives up to their lingering feelings about the first three seasons, most of which are divorced from the actual moments themselves at this point. I like the show, I like the characters, I like the cast, and I like the writers who stayed on, and I'm hopeful that's going to be enough.
posted by Copronymus at 2:24 PM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm feeling very at-peace with the whole thing. If the new episodes are anywhere between acceptable and great, then I get to enjoy 13 new episodes of Community. If they're a soulless disappointment, well, as far as I'm concerned the show already had the perfect ending scene.
posted by Gordafarin at 2:45 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fact: I named my dog after Annie Edison/Allison Bree. She's a silly Christmas baby!
posted by mochapickle at 2:45 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


RIP one of the best shows of all time. I hope.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:50 PM on February 7, 2013


Meanwhile:

What is your favorite drink?

permalink
parent

[–]MeganGanzwriter[S] 437 points 18 hours ago

Jameson & soda.


I love you Megan Ganz.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:51 PM on February 7, 2013


Megan Ganz leaving for Modern Family is what makes me pessimistic for any further seasons. She and Dan Harmon are what made the show what it is (and the cast as well, duh) so her departure does not bode well for a continuation of the show's sensibility if it gets renewed.

That said, despite my fanboyish devotion to Harmon & Ganz, I'm willing to see what the new show looks like and reserving judgement until then. Reviews aside, as long as the show works for me what other reason do I need to watch it?
posted by ooga_booga at 3:43 PM on February 7, 2013


Hmmm. I get the feeling that even if they'd secretly smuggled in Dan Harmon to write and direct these episodes they'd get exactly the same reception.

I remember how eagerly I awaited the show's return during the S3 hiatus, and how my first viewing of the return episode, "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts," left me a little cold. I thought it was [a bit weak/somewhat slight and disappointing/Obviously The End OF EVERYTHING OH NO]. But with a little time I came to enjoy that episode tremendously! (I never fail to laugh out loud at Shirley laughing out loud at Britta's offer to plan her wedding.) It's not my favorite episode, but it's certainly not my least favorite.

So my official position is "guardedly optimistic, pending." I'm not reading reviews, I'm not watching clips or previews, and --- if I can resist it --- I'm not even going to judge this episode until I've seen the next one, and maybe even the next one after that.

If I can resist it. If I can resist it. IF I can resist it.

My husband (a.k.a, The Fella) is far less optimistic than I am, and far more guarded. Full disclosure: as a freelancer for The AV Club --- though not one who's worked his way up to reviewing A-list/nerdly beloved shows like "Community" yet --- he has a lot more critical insight and credibility than I have. Which is to say, y'know, any.
posted by Elsa at 4:29 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I will watch every episode they ever make. No matter what. Community has earned so much preemptive goodwill from me based on the quality and humor and heart of the first three seasons that I will watch anything that airs labeled Community. Even though I was sad that Dan Harmon got fired, I want to support this show and so I will watch. A few of the episodes of this show have been as good as any television ever made. That means I am in until the bitter end.

Now that you've said that they are probably going to bring on Charlie Sheen, Vicki Lawrence, and Scrappy Doo.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:31 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dan Harmon is still the creator, even though he's no longer the showrunner!
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:32 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like if there's ever a point where we look back and say, "this is when Community jumped the shark," it'll probably be the video game episode.

The video game episode made me go "SQUE-E-E-E-E-E!!!!!!" like a ten-year-old girl at a One Direction concert. So I disagree.

Now, if Jeff's adorable young nephew joins the cast, or if Chevy Chase is replaced by Ted McGinley, then we might have a jump-the-shark argument worth having.
posted by spoobnooble II: electric bugaboo at 4:57 PM on February 7, 2013


Fuck the reviewers. AMERICAN SWORD COOKS. I love this show.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 5:13 PM on February 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Joel McHale AND Ted McGinley, together? The Universe would melt from the Sharkhole!
posted by Yowser at 5:20 PM on February 7, 2013


Just watched...eh, not bad? I'll digest and come back tomorrow.
posted by Atreides at 5:35 PM on February 7, 2013


Well, that was a bit meh, but it still has potential. The tango was nice.

On the other hand, Parks & Rec is killing me right now.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:38 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


So... It was just on. I watched it. It was kind of a mess.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:45 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Allright. We all know what happened out there. It's everyone's first day back in the game, we all have new roles to play, we all knew it was gonna be a bit rough. And it was rough. I'm not gonna lie to you, team, it got pretty ugly.

But you know what, team? We were out there. We knew it was gonna be rough, but we were out there, giving it our all, because we're a great team. We stick together, we give it everything we've got, and we accomplish tremendous things -- together, as a team.

We're a great team. We know this. Everyone knows this. We've shown time and time again that we can do things no-one else has even dreamt of, and leave the world speechless. No-one can beat this team, we can only beat ourselves.

We had a bad night out there. That's how it is in this game, there are good nights, and bad nights. But we're not going to let this slow us down or hold us back -- because we're a great team. I believe in this team. You believe in this team. We all believe in this team. So next week, we're gonna go out there again, and we're gonna do what we do best, and we're gonna remind everyone just how great a team this is.

Allright, everybody -- gather 'round. Six Seasons and a Movie! Let's DO THIS!
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:58 PM on February 7, 2013 [13 favorites]


SPOILERS AHEAD

Just finished the first episode and, you know what? Pretty damn good.

First of all, try to imagine what it would be like to watch this episode with no knowledge of the Dan Harmon debacle, and all of the behind-the-scenes drama. Not possible at this point, but try to imagine it. And you've got to admit, it's pretty golden. Over-reaches in a few places perhaps, but so did the first three seasons.

Things that it got right:

* The amazingly poignant view inside of Abed, and how fragile his exterior world is compared to his interior
* The tiny incremental changes that are turning Jeff into a good person, eventually
* The nonsense
* The "every single line that every character speaks is laden with meaning" level of writing, on par with Moffat-era Doctor Who
* Greendale Babies
* Fred Willard

My only struggle at this point is reconciling my love for this show and its characters with my support for a network that treated the creator of this world and its characters so shitty. But I guess that's life.

Six seasons and a movie.
posted by jbickers at 7:30 PM on February 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


That sitcom-within-a-sitcom was hard to describe. I was watching it with teen son, and we found ourselves laughing reflexively at the lame humor, and then simultaneously wondering if we weren't doing the same thing during the "real" sitcom, which isn't really real. But I thoroughly enjoyed the episode. During the Reddit AMA with the writers they said this was written for the fans, and it shows, in a good way.
posted by mecran01 at 8:07 PM on February 7, 2013


I thought tonight's show was pretty terrible. It felt like a passable episode of a network sitcom, sure, but that's a low bar to clear. But it wasn't Community. The script got close, kind of, in spots, but the best lines were near misses and the aggressive character notes were just a pile-up. (Poor Annie! She was almost unrecognizable tonight.) Mostly I feel bad for the cast, which obviously tried hard to carry it across the finish line tonight. I've watched and enjoyed every episode to date, but if this is the new normal I'm out. It's a damn shame -- it was an outstanding run, especially season two.
posted by Mothlight at 8:17 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tonight's show made me sad.
posted by brina at 8:23 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


The AMA with the writers was really interesting. It really demonstrates how the show has cultivated its audience. Hell, Ganz announced she was leaving the show in the Community subreddit. Aside from all the cool inside details, the writers showed amazing honesty. This answer was one of the most honest things I've ever seen from anyone in the entertainment business:

Is there any episode or scene that you wish you could have a redo, because you were never satisfied with how it read or because you came up with an alternate punchline that worked way better?

MeganGanzwriter:

"Sigh.
This is probably a bad thing to say -- especially when we haven't aired one episode yet -- but I wish I could redo the finale of season 4. I had to write it in a bit of a pinch, during a period of upheaval on the show. I wrote it too long (like... 6 minutes too long) and we had to cut a ton out of it in the edit bay. Part of me fears I was too freaked out to do my best work on it, because I wanted it to be a finale worthy of a show it could never be worthy of. Finales are generally terrible, and I am expecting that people will say this one is trying to hard, because it is. Because I was. God was I ever trying too hard on that one. My hope is that you'll all love the Halloween episode and forgive me for the finale. Maybe you'll like it. I have no way of knowing anymore."
posted by dry white toast at 8:36 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is worse than when Community was cancelled. There is literally one person I can image laughing at this episode and that is Dan Harmon.
posted by kettleoffish at 9:25 PM on February 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, the NY Times review is scathing.
posted by kenko at 9:32 PM on February 7, 2013


Even with Harmon around there were still episodes I felt the way I did toward tonight's episode. So I'll give season four a few more episodes.
posted by mayurasana at 9:46 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man. I haven't been in a state of awkward self-denial like this since Phantom Menace. I want to believe, but... yeah.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:52 PM on February 7, 2013


I am glad "Community" has at least made it past season two and that season four is as long as it is. Most other shows I've absolutely delighted in are axed much earlier and/or have fewer episodes per season.
posted by mayurasana at 9:55 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay, I am about to start watching with a lot more charity than might be advisable, but I must express sorrow about one thing, at the very least:

There will be no May 23rd, 2013 shout-out.

It just seemed like the destiny for the show, is all.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:19 PM on February 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had to stop after about 8 minutes (right when the first commercial break came). I had a similar reaction to HIMYM's season 7 opener.

From a writing standpoint: in both cases, I think the writers (and perhaps the actors) just got unenthusiastic about their characters. When you stop truly caring about your characters, you'll make them do the most boring and obvious thing they'd likely do, essentially making them like the NPCs of real life. But that isn't right: they're the main characters of YOUR show. They should be as interesting and complex and funny as you are (or, as you could possibly be). Or, since this is a comedy, if not complex, then certainly interesting and funny.

From a viewer's standpoint: in both shows' cases, there's not much comedy or drama or anything really interesting. Yes, in the 8 minutes of Community that I saw, Abed was freaking out about senior year, thereby creating some "drama" -- but I know that he'll get over it or that, in a dark turn, he won't. I still don't know at this point, nor do I really care. More importantly, I know how he'd react in either case, so I'm not interested in what happens. Simply put, when a show silently relies on clout to keep its viewers glued in, it's not doing a good job.
posted by cptcutless at 10:19 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I watched tonight's episode. I didn't laugh a lot, but I did like a few of the moments and unlike some of the others upthread, I felt like most of the characters personalities were still there. I also agree with someone above who said that I felt like there were episodes in the earlier seasons at about this level of quality.
posted by bove at 10:26 PM on February 7, 2013


From Greenwald : "It’s not worth blaming new showrunners Moses Port and David Guarascio for the zombie show that staggers back tomorrow night with the first of 13 Harmon-free episodes. The two are, by all accounts, solid professionals, veterans of Mad About You and Happy Endings, and the jokes in “History 101” would be welcome in nearly any sitcom."

Yeah, they were better at the Mad About You parts than the Community ones. :/
posted by stratastar at 11:07 PM on February 7, 2013


I'm still waiting for NBC to release a "Troy and Abed in the Morning... NIGHTS!" mug.
posted by j03 at 11:08 PM on February 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Was it me or did it look like everything was shot a lot closer to the actors. As in you saw head and shoulders instead of full torso. It made everything feel more claustrophobic to me where past episodes felt more open.

I'm willing to admit that I could just be crazy, but it was really driving me nuts. I like seeing the actors react to each other in the same frame without *cut to isolated reaction shot of Shirley/Britta/Troy/whoever*

Seriously, did anyone else notice this?

Otherwise it felt extremely disjointed, none of the B/C/D plots seemed connected until everyone agreed to meet up at the agreed upon time and location to "fix Abed" again.
posted by crashlanding at 11:29 PM on February 7, 2013


So back when Norm MacDonald was kicked off of Weekend Update, Colin Quinn, a friend of Norm's, had to start up the next week knowing that Norm had been fired by a philistine, that much of the audience and certainly everyone in his circle and world was pissed about the firing, and that there was going to be no way he could match MacDonald's uniquely suited style for the job. But he had to do it anyway.

So he began with a monologue about going to your favorite bar, where you've got your favorite bartender, who knows your story and your problems and exactly how you like your drink and doesn't even have to ask, and finding a new guy there, Steve. And how Steve isn't a bad guy, just trying to do his job, but he's probably never going to be your favorite bartender and if he is it's going to take some time. And he ended the monologue with, "I'm Steve. What can I get ya?"

That's what this was, and for that, I'm pretty happy with it. I also feel like a lot of people's issues with it are probably coming from a lack of confidence coming in. It's natural to have an instinct for looking for what's wrong under the circumstances and certainly this all felt just different enough to give a bit of an uncanny valley vibe to it all. Regardless...

Well, let me start with what bugged me:

Annie's writing wasn't quite where it could have been. I'm not sure it's a regression, per se - I'm not sure she was truly over Jeff and frankly Season 3 as a whole didn't give her a hell of a lot to do, and when it did it was still about her feelings regarding Jeff being tricky - but it was odd to hear her so bluntly stating the premise there. Additionally, giving her basically the beats of a first-season sub-plot originally (and more effectively and naturally) given to Britta.

Pierce's subplot, if you can call it that, was ridiculously slight and lazy and had no motivation.

The tag should really have been a back-to-basics Troy and Abed tag. The one we got wasn't funny and it is fairly out-of-character for the show to do tags that tie back to the main plot. (Off-hand, I can only come up with the tag for "For a Few Paintballs More," but that one was hilarious and properly undercut the tone of the preceding 21 minutes. A classic-style T&A tag would have hinted at some sense of normalcy and would have felt much more, I guess "comforting" is the word I'm looking for.

As for what I liked:

There wasn't much of Yvette Nicole Brown but what there was she killed. I hope this season continues to serve her well.

There was an actual fair dose of all of the leads.

The Fred Willard stuff made the "first layer" of Abed's happy place bearable, and also served, intentionally or not, as meta-commentary on the other major production upheaval between the seasons. I have to wonder if those scenes were re-shot after Chase left just to make sure all the bases were touched properly.

The Muppet Babies thing almost made me squee with recognition of how perfect it was, and how much Muppet Babies was like a kids-show proto-Community of anarchy and meta-references and constant genre pastiches.

Abed's story makes sense both thematically and for his character.

I like Troy and Britta together, and I like it when a show puts its foot down and just puts two characters together instead of dragging out the will-they-won't-they.

I thought the Hunger Deans stuff was fun, and I like knowing that, for instance, Annie Kim seems to be recurring now. And the Tango was great fun.

I loved seeing the actors elevate the material with stuff that felt absolutely right for their characters. I had to start up the episode several times, so I might have noticed some of these little things a bit more, but stuff like Abed's tiny, twitchy head-shake when Britta says, "Here's the deal, Jessica Beil" and, again, everything Yvette Nicole Brown did (except in the unfunny tag.)

In general, at this point I love the show because the characters feel like friends. Like with HIMYM, sometimes it doesn't matter if it makes me laugh out loud anymore as long as it doesn't frustrate me. HIMYM often frustrates me these days (well less this season than in the previous few, but still) and this episode of Community made me laugh and didn't frustrate me.

Oh, and I love how overstuffed it was. It wasn't elegant in that regard (god no) but I'm heartened to see that they've got twelve ideas where three or four would do. If the network suits were calling the shots, the episode would have been all Hunger Games. Instead it's Hunger Games, Muppet Babies, Inception, the meta-Show and ten other concepts running around. That gives me that season 2 feeling of "if we're going out let's go out bombastically."

They've got an impossible job and are doing it about as well as anyone could.

And crashlanding, I believe the NYT review mentioned the same thing you're talking about. I didn't notice it as much (and I was looking for it) but you're not crazy.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:50 PM on February 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


What an awful, awful twenty-two minutes of television. Remember when Community had characters and not just punch lines? The first season is still the best by far (though the second season had all but two of the best gimmick episodes), because its scripts depicted people, well-rounded enough that the crazy-out-there jokes were even zanier for coming out of their mouths. By the end of the second season, they were all two-dimensional, good only for setting up certain jokes or knocking them down, and in the third season, with a few weird exceptions of incredible writing, they lost much of their second dimension as well.

I like it when a show puts its foot down and just puts two characters together instead of dragging out the will-they-won't-they.

I'd agree with you, but Troy-and-Britta started being a thing hinted at in season one (repeatedly, not just once), the hints continued in season two (this time with an entire episode dedicated to the premise), and three had a season-long arc about this that culminated in much nothings. So this is the exact opposite of not dragging a will-they-or-won't-they out, not to mention the horrible mangled corpse of Jeff and Annie, which for about two episodes once had me convinced I was watching the next great television couple.

Ugh. Fred Willard as Pierce made me laugh, and then they wasted him all episode long. The whole thing was a waste, really. They even managed to almost make the Dean not funny. I'd hoped that Dan Harmon's leaving would let the more experienced writers salvage Community into something, you know, decent and respectable, but instead they've decided that Community's "formula" is to scrap everything good about anything, and throw whatever shallow jokes remain into a twenty-minute-long compost.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:07 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


@crashlanding Community is now shot as a multi-cam show (instead of single cam), like The Big Bang Theory and other laugh-track sitcoms.
posted by guiseroom at 12:47 AM on February 8, 2013


Is it cheaper to shoot it as a multi-cam show?

If you measure this episode by the standards of "each episode needs to stand alone sitcoms" it wasn't that great, but it could be a good set up episode like you'd get with a show like "The Wire."

And Adult Swim, FX or someone needs to make "Community Babies" happen.
posted by drezdn at 6:51 AM on February 8, 2013


Yeah, I'm clearly not the audience for Community any more. The whole Community Babies thing just seemed like low-hanging fruit for writers who didn't know where their next pastiche was coming from. Ditto the Hunger Games parody, which was incredibly half-assed. The popcorn-in-the-dean's-car gag was bafflingly lame. The performances were still mostly appealing (although Joel McHale seemed to be a little unengaged with his perfunctory "new Jeff" schtick) and that's what's going to keep the show afloat if anything does. But if anyone ever wondered what a distinctive show would be like without the specific and idiosynratic point of view of its show runner, Community last night was a textbook case.
posted by Mothlight at 7:29 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


If someone asked me if I would be happier with Community in this form as opposed to it being cancelled, at this point I honestly wouldn't have an answer.

I guess that means I'll keep watching?
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:07 AM on February 8, 2013


@crashlanding Community is now shot as a multi-cam show (instead of single cam), like The Big Bang Theory and other laugh-track sitcoms.

No. The sequences in Abed's head were shot this way as a pastiche to that format. It is still single camera.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:15 AM on February 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


There's a chance that having moved the season opener to February may lead to there being a fifth season or more. Ratings for shows in general have been down this year (except for the titans), such that Community's current ratings are almost respectable. Considering that the show has an intensely strong fan base, NBC might gladly take their guaranteed 1.x over rolling the dice with a new show.

If it came out in October, the trend of horrid ratings for most shows wouldn't have been obvious yet and NBC may have just burned off episodes in December/January.
posted by drezdn at 9:35 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Was Chevy Chase cut & pasted into this episode, The Crow-style?
posted by Bwithh at 9:37 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I liked it okay. Certainly one could point to worse episodes from the prior three seasons.
posted by Zed at 9:50 AM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's a chance that having moved the season opener to February may lead to there being a fifth season or more.

Doubtful. History 101 certainly seems to strongly hint at this being the last season (with a dash of "deal with it, Abed fanbase"), and the quote upthread from Megan Ganz about the season finale sure reads to me like she's talking about a series finale.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:13 AM on February 8, 2013


Wow, tough crowd. I thought the ways in which this episode were not great were basically the same ways other, Harmon-era episodes of Community were not great. I still enjoyed the episode, and on reflection, I'm more and more impressed by the levels of meta-commentary in the AbedTV version of Greendale, even though I found the actual bits appallingly unfunny (which I think was actually on purpose).

I did feel that something was missing, like it was just a bit too rushed and was lacking some depth. But I'd say the same about Geography of Global Conflict and Contemporary Impressionists from Season three. It's a bit early to start going on about the death of the show.

Though yeah, I actually have no idea what was going on with Pierce and the balls this episode.
posted by yasaman at 10:56 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq, that is the absolute finale for Megan Ganz, who moved to Modern Family. There is still a surprising amount of hope for a Community fifth season.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:02 AM on February 8, 2013


I'm not going to jump too deep into the conversation, as even though I've watched Community since it premiered and have always been a big defender, I've never seen what a lot of its biggest fans see in it -- so I don't know if I'm capable of seeing the difference between Dan Harmon and post-Dan Harmon quite yet. I've always thought it was a bunch of great ideas, occasionally well-written comedy performed and designed in really, really, really interesting ways. I guess I just don't think Harmon is quite the TV auteur the way that others so.

If anything, I think this episode was trying too hard, which is always exactly what the biggest problems with the episodes in previous seasons (beyond the first few) were; it may no longer be the critical darling it once was, but I've yet to see the major difference.

Okay, that was supposed to be me not getting into it. All I meant to say was, and this probably won't seem surprising based on my previously alluded to love of Gillian Jacobs doing physical comedy, but I would really enjoy a spin-off called I Love Britta where she and Troy get into increasingly wacky situations Lucy and Ethyl style as they did with the fountain last night.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:03 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Another related gif or two.

(Apparently posting gifs is like Pringles... once you pop, you can't stop.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:13 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


On reflection, I think I'll come out with the basis that it was not a solid good episode, but it certainly was better than some of the worse that have preceded it. I would give it a C+ or B- in terms of how much I enjoyed it. I did laugh a few times, but the separate storylines never seemed to have enough substance to them, as if they were attempting to do too much with too little time.

The Hunger Deans, for example. If you're going to go with an over the top event like this, then it probably should have been more central to the episode rather than popping over to Jeff every now and then. You can still have the different characters separated, but perhaps participating in other ways, somewhat like the paintball wars.

Abed's mind show was interesting, but it's turning into a common trope for him, that I think has always worked best when it's engaged the rest of the friends. In this episode, it was just him and a mindless Pierce slowly going crazy over his inability to remember a balls joke. Basically, Abed was set adrift when I think it could have had a bigger impact had the others been more involved, such as the Christmas special, when he became Batman, the Imaginarium, or how the D&D episode was handled. Anytime Abed retreats into his mind or struggles to cope with reality, it should have a stronger emphasis in the episode.

I think the Annie and Shirley story would have been better setup as a matter of escalation, continuing escalation, not just visit the Dean's office and then put popcorn in his car.

Troy and Britta. Mixed. That's about it for me on their story.

I'll keep watching, none the less.
posted by Atreides at 11:45 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wired editors Laura Hudson and Peter Rubin talk out their reactions to the fourth season premiere in "The Return of Community and the Uncanny Valley of Dan Harmon": "It’s not that it didn’t imitate Harmon extremely well; it’s that it came so close with such eerie resemblance that the subtle ways it fell short became even more apparent and unsettling to me."

Meanwhile, Slate asks, "Did Community Get the Opening of Last Night’s Episode from Reddit?" (It looks kinda that way, but you be the judge.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:47 AM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I want to watch an alternate-universe Community reflecting that path not taken - where Britta doesn't became increasingly and flagrantly dumb season to season. Harmon is of course to blame here though the not-Harmon 4th season appears to be content intensifying Britta as a one-note stupid character
posted by Bwithh at 12:07 PM on February 8, 2013


the not-Harmon 4th season appears to be content intensifying Britta as a one-note stupid character

How so?
posted by Navelgazer at 12:12 PM on February 8, 2013


Yeah, I didn't see this episode introducing any problems that weren't already there last year. It was no more of a let down than the season three premiere—maybe I'm alone in this, but after a summer's worth of hype about Michael K. Williams' guest appearance, I felt like they didn't make good use of him. Professor Kane saying "a man's gotta have a code" just didn't do it for me. But when I re-watched the third season leading up to this week's premiere, without such heightened expectations, episodes that I previously thought were rather weak, weren't. I suspect the same may be true for me of these first season four episodes. Though, I still didn't care for Contemporary Impressions the second time around.

The retconning of Abed's condition (in terms of its severity) over season three was interesting to watch, but the transformation of a brilliant ensemble cast into "The Abed Show" has been disappointing. Remember when Abed "layed low for an episode" in Football, Feminism and You? Sometimes I wish they'd do that more often.

I second heartily the disappointment in the development of Britta. I would trade the funniest bits of her slapstick (Pizza time, anyone?) for the earlier complexity of her character.

How so?

The edible complex comes to mind. That and the utter lack of self-awareness in her constant "I'm a psychologist" shtick.
posted by Lorin at 12:16 PM on February 8, 2013


Right, I see that, but I didn't see any of that intensified last night, and whether you like the whole psychologist thing with her or not she is far from one-note.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:52 PM on February 8, 2013


It's more like the continued eclipsing of Britta the character by Britta the buffoon. Gillian Jacobs acknowledged this transformation, not negatively mind you, on an episode of Comedy Bang Bang. I realize Britta is the worst and all, but it seems more and more that's all she is. If it's not slapstick (the pizza dance, the tree dance, the fountain scene) it's just generally negative (a bad photographer, a bad psychologist, a phony with low self-esteem.) Maybe Britta was always slim on positive qualities and I didn't notice.

And I realize now I shouldn't have jumped in to respond to something directed at someone else because naturally my feelings won't quite line up!
posted by Lorin at 1:16 PM on February 8, 2013


This was so weird. I don't even know how to process this so I'm just going to write a list about what I felt did work, and what didn't.

Did NOT:
-Britta and Troy oh-so-suddenly being together. That seemed to be total desperation on the writer's part. The scene where they were wrestling together over the penny jar just creeped me out. Firstly, these two were not noticeably in a relationship last season. Now the fact that Britta is 10 years older than Troy- the fact that Troy and Abed are pretty much married- none of those things are addressed. Where the old version of community would have made fun of the expectations of the audience, there was a total lack of recognition of anything even funny about this pairing.

-Abed has been made more "nerdy." Yes, Abed is a nerd, a nerd is a main character of this show, it's awesome. But we're not supposed to look down on Abed. And when Troy said some like like "we all know Abed is pretty weird," it just felt so WRONG.

-Annie. What the hell. I thought Allison Brie's eyes were going to pop out of her face from the mugging in the popcorn scene. She's an amazing, dynamic actress. Seeing her used so wrongly in this episode made me sad. There was a sense that the whole episode was going too fast, and I felt every scene she and Shirley had was like a race. Also was she deliberately dressed up to be more "sexy" this season? I felt like her boobs were literally at the forefront. I hope that wasn't market research.

-Freaking the dean. They messed it up. He is officially a stalker now. There is no reason why he should live next to Jeff. I miss the old dean! He did have a few of the only good lines in the night.

-Overall issues of pacing. I think the use of music was different. None of the usual theme music was put in, the scenes were cut like some generic NBC show, and there was this weird orangy glow infusing the whole episode (or maybe that was just my TV).

-Definitely DID NOT work for me:
The episode's overall theme of episode within an episode. When they first went to the "meta" sitcom, it was like... "are they trying to say this is what the new version of Community is going to be? A dumbed down version of the old one." And the worst part is they actually WERE saying that, and that was supposed to be the joke!

Did still work:
-Bringing back Annie Kim. (Although--- Jeff punched her? That's a bit broad).
-Abed's amazing amazed face whenever anything meta started happening...

Yup, that's all.
posted by kettleoffish at 2:28 PM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ahh. Well, yeah. I can't argue with any of that, though I'd say the concept we're looking for in her case is "Butt Monkey." Obviously she's gone through some dumbing down and the "edible complex" thing was out of character, I thought, but mostly I think the idea was to take her away from being "the girl" at the beginning of the series.

Mostly I think her defining trait is being the most passionately and truly moral member of the group, as well as the one that the fans probably most relate to on the alignment map (fitting solidly into Chaotic Good) and so by making her a fuck-up we also relate to her more. It allows for the show's balance of cynicism and sweet sincerity (cynicism being, as I've said before, where optimism meets frustration.)

Plus she's such an amazing physical comedian (as is Allison Brie, though it comes up less often for Annie) that it'd be a shame to lose those aspects.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:28 PM on February 8, 2013


-Britta and Troy oh-so-suddenly being together. That seemed to be total desperation on the writer's part. The scene where they were wrestling together over the penny jar just creeped me out. Firstly, these two were not noticeably in a relationship last season.

But the writers were obviously building that relationship up--lots of longing looks, awkward moments etc. This seems like something that was coming, Harmon or no.

But we're not supposed to look down on Abed. And when Troy said some like like "we all know Abed is pretty weird," it just felt so WRONG.

That seems like a line the series has constantly wandered back and forth across. There have always been episodes that were about "figuring out what's wrong with Abed" (everything to do with Abed's family, for example).

Also was she deliberately dressed up to be more "sexy" this season? I felt like her boobs were literally at the forefront.

When have her boobs ever NOT been central to her character?

Freaking the dean. They messed it up. He is officially a stalker now.

There was some time when the dean recognized appropriate boundaries?

I find this discussion so weird, because every single criticism being leveled at these new episodes seems obviously true of the show from the beginning (and it's a show I really enjoy). It has always been an uneven show, always been willing to trash characters for a cheap laugh, always had an uncertain grip on exactly what kind of show it wanted to be. That allowed for moments of sheer brilliance, of course, but in almost every episode moments where you'd just have to shrug your shoulders and roll with it.

I can't help but think that in a way Harmon has caught a break with being kicked off the show. Everyone will enshrine the Harmon-era episodes in the warm glow of the show at its best and everything about the show that was always a little shaky will get blamed on the post-Harmon era.
posted by yoink at 3:03 PM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Mothlight: The popcorn-in-the-dean's-car gag was bafflingly lame

Then you've clearly never seen Real Genius.
posted by rhiannonstone at 3:20 PM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Britta and Troy oh-so-suddenly being together. That seemed to be total desperation on the writer's part. The scene where they were wrestling together over the penny jar just creeped me out. Firstly, these two were not noticeably in a relationship last season.

The final episode of season 3 showed Britta moving into Troy/Abed/Annie's apartment and seemed to allude to Troy and Britta sharing a room.
posted by palomar at 4:05 PM on February 8, 2013


I need to watch it again, but I liked this new episode OK. It's very thoughtfully meta, though a few of the jokes did fall short, like the pranks on the Dean--if the meta reference is the joke, it's almost never a funny joke....what Community has always done well w/r/t pop culture-type references and meta-jokes is that the references are kind of funny but the jokes within that are always funny despite the reference. I thought the Hunger Games thing fell short because of this: the Games for the balls was the joke rather than providing an opportunity for good jokes beyond the reference.

I loved that AbedTV was a huge commentary on the show itself, the creative shake-ups, and fans' feelings about it, and Abed being sort of synecdoche for the rest of us and our fears. That was wonderful. And it genuinely scared and disoriented me at the start of the episode, so that part worked.


The final episode of season 3 showed Britta moving into Troy/Abed/Annie's apartment and seemed to allude to Troy and Britta sharing a room.

I read that scene as Troy growing up some and getting his own room rather than Britta moving in. That she was helping him move into his own room pointed toward their increasing couplehood for me, so I was totally unsurprised to find them a couple in this new season.

But like many in this thread, I'll keep watching, even if only to cry over what once was.*

*-though granted, I once said that about The Simpsons, but who could have predicted it would still be going twenty-five years in. So never say always. Or never. Or something.
posted by LooseFilter at 4:34 PM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks to Hulu, I've caught up on "History 101", and at the very least, somebody owes Reddit's krevency a royalty paycheck since, as the Slate link above teased, the similarities to his six-month-old post "How I think season 4 episode 1 should start" and the fourth season premiere intro are far too close:
Firstly, the intro should be replaced with a very lame sounding sitcom-esque song and clips of the actors instead of the paper fortune teller. And then it opens on the study room, but it's clearly a different set, and the actors are behaving just a little off, in such a way that only a longtime fan would notice. And then the dean walks in, and he's portrayed by a different actor. He makes a joke, and...

there is a laugh track.

And just when all of us are crying into our celebratory wine, it should turn out to be a dream Abed's having or something, and then the normal opening starts, and the show turns out to be everything we'd hoped for and more.

Because joking about the fans' between-season fears is just meta enough to make me smile.
The problem with this joke is that it's so much on the fans, something that the Harmon-era show did more lightly, even as it constantly messed with expectations. If post-Harmon Community alternates between this and pandering to the fandom, it would be a close second to completely selling out in terms of disappointment.

Also, was Abed's version of the show's theme song because the original lyrics are too on the nose? "I can't count the reasons I should stay/One by one they all just fade away."
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:12 PM on February 8, 2013


the not-Harmon 4th season appears to be content intensifying Britta as a one-note stupid character

How so?
posted by Navelgazer at 12:12 PM on February 8 [+] [!]


I think Britta is just as dumb in this episode as season 3 but references to Britta's dumbness generally were less frequent in S3 ( although still a tiresome running gag) . In this episode, the writers seem to go to this well a lot , and keep pushing the button
posted by Bwithh at 5:20 PM on February 8, 2013


The problem with this joke is that it's so much on the fans

You know, what won me over on the whole conceit was that it was a joke that quickly moved beyond being just on the fans and critics. It was a joke on the whole multicamera sitcom format. It made the standard sitcom look nightmarish, a grotesque imitation of real life where everything stays the same instead of people and circumstances changing. I found the AbedTV parts actually really difficult to watch because they were so mundanely terrible. But I ended up being really impressed by how much work the joke is doing: it's metacommentary on fans' and critics' expectations, it's metacommentary on and criticism of the sitcom format itself, and it works to show Abed's character development and the pop culture-based way he deals with life. Not bad, especially when you look at how comparatively shallow the Hunger Deans joke was.
posted by yasaman at 5:26 PM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


So I have no idea what the difference between a single cam and a multi cam sitcom are (other than the very obvious, but I don't know what it looks like), though I did notice -- and cringe at -- the laugh track, which was a little too heavy handed.

Was this the best episode? No. But I'll give it a few more, because it's 22 minutes, not exactly a huge investment, and it wasn't a terrible episode, just sort of confused.
posted by jeather at 6:41 PM on February 8, 2013


jeather (and anyone else who doesn't know this terminology):

Multi-camera (sometimes called three-camera) is the classic sitcom set-up. Think Seinfeld, Friends, The Honeymooners, Family Ties, just about any sitcom prior to 1999 or so. It is shot on a stage like a play, with a "fourth wall" through which the audience views the action. It is so named because there will generally be three (or more) cameras stationed along that "fourth wall" and the technical director will swap between them for shots, oftentimes live. Picture the show-within-the-show on 30 Rock.

Single Camera is shot like a movie is. There is no "fourth wall," which ironically means that the sets have all four walls. A single camera films the action in takes from different set-ups around the room. For comedies that do this, think of Community, but also Sports Night, "30 Rock," and Parks & Recreation.

Then there are some shows which have a bit of a hybrid nature to them. How I Met Your Mother is probably the best example of a multi-camera show that regularly edits in single-camera bits, but keep in mind that there are, for instance, walls of the apartments and the bar that we never - and will never- see.

TL;DR: Multi-cam is what you think of with "live before a studio audience" whether it actually is or not. Single-cam is impossible to do that way.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:56 PM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


This episode made me want to watch Muppet Babies again.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:31 PM on February 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


every single criticism being leveled at these new episodes seems obviously true of the show from the beginning

I'm of the crowd who thinks this episode didn't work and that it felt very different from previous seasons. The best analogy I can think of is it was like being a passenger in a familiar car with someone new at the wheel. I mean, it's the same car, but this other person brakes differently and takes wider turns and overall it just feels like a different experience, despite the fact that the car itself is the same.

For me, the problem was that it felt overstuffed, frantic, and disjointed. And not funny, to me... and this has always been a show that could make me laugh like nothing else on TV. Both the comedic and dramatic timing I'm used to from this show felt off on more than one level. The timing of the jokes themselves, the style of the video editing, and the overall "shape" of the episode.. It's hard to explain because it's always just been one of those things I've sensed without thinking about it when watching, stuff that made me like this show more than any other current sitcom even when it was really weird and kind of annoying. This episode definitely just felt different in a way that I did not like.
posted by wondermouse at 10:41 PM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Again, I'm trying not to stir shit here, but I can't comprehend anybody thinking Troy and Britta are moving too fast if one has also seen "Remedial Chaos Theory."

Based on that episode, I would accept that they had a Vegas wedding and a baby on the way, let alone hand holding and a wishing well wrestling match.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:22 PM on February 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Suddenly, I realize I am much more invested in these characters than I realized.

What I mean is, I value all of your opinions, even if I find you completely wrong. This is Doctor Who fandom all over again.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:26 PM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I found the multi-cam satire very reminiscent of Scrubs. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you, but it's not a stunning unheard-of thing.

And on Britta, I ended up watching the valentine's episode at 8 in the morning. The one where she starts hanging out with the "lesbian". She's not dumb or incompetent, but her self-appointed morality causes the problem. And causes her to be the worst. But that's been a problem for a while, not specific to Season 4.

I didn't like this episode, but want to wait and see a few more.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:30 AM on February 9, 2013


This is Doctor Who fandom all over again.

That hackneyed show is a total ripoff of Inspector Spacetime
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:03 AM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thinking about the episode, I don't think there was a single joke in it that wouldn't fit in any other episode of Community over the years... But it felt so different. I think it's just the timing. The episode was so jam-packed, second to second, that no single joke had time to breathe. Community, traditionally, is a show where jokes are given plenty of time to breathe.

One of my favorite parts of Community is when the group's just sitting around talking, and someone says something funny/awful/ridiculous/Abedish, and then the next few seconds are devoted just to reacting to it. Not reaction shots, but actually reacting. Laughing about it, riffing about it, etc. Think of the Bagel/baggel thing. There was no room in this episode for anything so confident, so casual, so comfortable as that.

But I'm not joining the Doom and Gloom brigade. I'm curious to see where the show goes, and I found plenty enjoyable about the episode. I just noticed while watching, for instance, how quickly they got the popcorn to start popping.
posted by meese at 8:50 AM on February 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I found the multi-cam satire very reminiscent of Scrubs.

Funny, that. If Garrett Donovan and Neil Goldman, ex-executive producers of Community and respective namesakes of the characters Garrett (my favourite!) and Fat Neil, still worked there, they'd probably say, "We already did that when we worked on Scrubs. What else you got?"
posted by Sys Rq at 9:45 AM on February 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


And on Britta, I ended up watching the valentine's episode at 8 in the morning. The one where she starts hanging out with the "lesbian". She's not dumb or incompetent, but her self-appointed morality causes the problem. And causes her to be the worst. But that's been a problem for a while, not specific to Season 4.

That's from a Season 2 episode where Britta was still a complicated character who is fairly smart but comically smugly/self-righteously right-on and pretentious about her political correctness which hides a much more warped/fucked up (and interesting) person underneath ( see Britta Bot's strikingly tragic and revealing song in Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas (Also Season 2) : "
“ Britta-Bot programmed badly, wires with fraying ends. Functioning mad and sadly, no faith in herself, or friends... ”
)
The Britta-Bot /self-righteous yet deeply messed up, losery-underachieving-smart Britta is the character I wanted to see more of
Instead, especially accelerating in Season 3, Britta becomes a one-note dumb blonde character e.g. see her appearance in Basic Lupine Urology (the Law & Order episode) which veers disturbingly close to Family Guy's treatment of Meg
posted by Bwithh at 5:28 PM on February 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


So, I was worried. I know better than to trust any of the critics in the FPP, but, you guys, I trust YOU. And I was getting really concerned that this season would be so terrible that it would retroactively suckify all the seasons that came before it (I am looking at you, BSG). So I watched it. And the episode was fine, and I liked it even better than some earlier episodes (Competitive Wine Tasting and Introduction to Film come to mind). And I'd still rather watch this than just about anything else. And I don't have to rename my dog after all. Though I feel terrible for my cousin who optimistically named his puppy Starbuck in 2006 and now has to live down the shame forever.

Also, did they always put Jeff in such tight shirts? I was swooning like the dean.
posted by mochapickle at 6:01 PM on February 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


His sleeves to tend to fall off, don't they? Not that I'm complaining.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:54 PM on February 9, 2013


Yeah, Bwithh, I'm generally with you there. Britta has long been my favorite character not just on this show but on television, and I thought season 3 underserved her. But I didn't see that in 401.

And yeah, the Britta-Bot song was one of the most beautifully tragic things I have seen on television. And I've watched The Wire.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:59 PM on February 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I liked it over all, but there was so much narrative around the Harmon/Chase thing that I needed to peel it like an onion.
And I missed all of the Abed Ads because I try to blot out the ads anyway. I did notice Sword Chef, and it did seem like a show that would be on TV.
posted by Mezentian at 12:26 AM on February 10, 2013


I didn't clock that the Blonde/Blind ad was a joke until the second time I watched the episode.
posted by Gordafarin at 6:34 AM on February 10, 2013


I thought season 3 underserved her.
Yeah, massively. And the worst part was that Harmon seemed to cheerfully positively acknowledge the dumbing down in this scene


And yeah, the Britta-Bot song was one of the most beautifully tragic things I have seen on television. And I've watched The Wire.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:59 PM on February 9 [1 favorite −] [!]


Totally Agree. My favourite moment of the whole series.

I didn't clock that the Blonde/Blind ad was a joke until the second time I watched the episode.
posted by Gordafarin at 6:34 AM on February 10 [+] [!]


Because the writers think that being a blonde woman is kind of like being blind and that's comedy gold!!!!! ***Peter Griffin LAFF***
posted by Bwithh at 2:20 PM on February 10, 2013


Because the writers think that being a blonde woman is kind of like being blind and that's comedy gold!!!!! ***Peter Griffin LAFF***

I assumed it was more of a joke at the expense of the Peter Griffin LAFF, rather than a joke made in the vein of it. I think all the shows were of the type.
posted by Atreides at 6:55 AM on February 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


I liked it okay. It wasn't the worst episode of Community. It wasn't even the worst season premiere of Community.

The show has (justifiedly) gotten a lot of good will in the past that's helped its mistakes to get overlooked when they happen, even when they're long-running complaints. That good will is not as present since Harmon got fired and it's really hard to look at it objectively - on the one hand, we're scrutinizing it for any sign that it's different and worse; on the other hand, we're comparing it not to the show it was but the show we remember.

So it's easy to forget that all three previous seasons had long, long chunks of time when the writers had no idea what to do with two of the main characters (Pierce and Shirley, oh man, Shirley), or that Britta's dumbing-down happened on Harmon's watch (to the point that she is now a different character than when the show started), or that the show stacked up some powerhouse guest stars in season three and did pretty much nothing with any of them, or the countless, exhausting number of times the show used the threat of the study group breaking up as a plot device.

I was rewatching some episodes from the previous seasons this weekend, and I was thinking about the Dungeons and Dragons episode. The way Harmon fought to get something so singular and strange onto network TV. It made me a little sad to think that, whatever else the show does right from here on out, we won't see something like that again. But then I realized that this had already been true sometime in the third season. Somewhere along the way, the bizarre but mundane world of Greendale slipped away. Same deal with the bottle episode: A beautiful thing whose like I doubt we'll see again. It went nowhere but the study room but somehow managed to say more about the group dynamic, and the people in it, than pretty much any other episode. Instead of Dungeons and Dragons, we get Law and Order parodies. I don't think one is worse than the other, but I do think the show has been broad-stroking its characters more and more over time.

As far as the fourth season premiere: Its chief problem was that it felt a bit too hurried. The fast pace of it wasn't huge problem or anything, but it had a lot to do and it did all of it very quickly. I've always felt that it's a strength of the show that it usually takes a minute to catch its breath; when that week's premise is introduced, we usually spend a little while with the group around the table, getting reactions and such. It's part of what makes Greendale feel grounded, like it's a particularly odd school these people are going to and not just a place where wacky setups happen. This episode could have used a bit more of that.

I did like the way the Hunger Deans were introduced, setting it up as another gimmick episode, and then were relegated to the background. None of Jeff's tasks were given any buildup, we just cut to them here and there, because really how much time do we actually want to spend watching that? The only time really spent on it was the tango, and I think it's promising that they felt comfortable enough to do that joke without needing to set up an entire James Bond episode around it.

Seasons one and three started decently enough but took a while to find their respective feet, so I'm not super discouraged if the new showrunners aren't making all-time classics out of the gate. And if nothing else, I love this setting and these characters enough that I'm willing to see where it goes. Even a less-than-great episode of Community is still better than most else on TV.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:09 AM on February 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well. Week two. Much better.

And 'Creative Consultant Dan Harmon' -- what does that mean? That's not an active thing, is it?
posted by Capt. Renault at 5:31 PM on February 14, 2013


Plenty of Cougartown love tonight. Meta comment of the show something along the lines of, "I remember when this show used to be about community college..."

It was better.
posted by Atreides at 5:48 PM on February 14, 2013


SO good tonight. I am full-on optimistic now.
posted by jbickers at 6:12 PM on February 14, 2013


And 'Creative Consultant Dan Harmon' -- what does that mean? That's not an active thing, is it?

What I understood to be the case when Harmon was fired was that he still had a title and salary even if he did nothing, but, without any authority, nothing is exactly what intended to do.
posted by Zed at 8:43 PM on February 14, 2013


Really funny episode, made me laugh out loud a few times and that was the biggest thing missing from last week's premiere. Something still doesn't feel right and I'm not knowledgeable enough about the medium to put my finger on it, but it seems to me that it's the editing. The dialogue just slams right into itself now in a way that it didn't before, and I think that the pacing that results from editing a single camera show is highly variable in that regard.
posted by LooseFilter at 11:46 AM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Agreed, much better this week! Troy got some great lines, and I loved Shirley in Pierce's sex dungeon.

Unfortunately, the ratings tanked after a surprisingly good week 1... Given how terrible the rest of NBC's lineup is maybe we could get even more episodes... :(
posted by stratastar at 2:08 PM on February 15, 2013


"but it seems to me that it's the editing."

Harmon oversaw / did the editing of each episode... so we may definitely feel the change in the editing over everything else.
posted by stratastar at 2:09 PM on February 15, 2013


I really liked this episode, and I'm still cracking up over "Annie's my ring girl."
posted by Zed at 2:20 PM on February 15, 2013


Wow, see, I found 4x02 to be completely devoid of laughs, to the point where I almost shut it off mid-episode. It also seemed to feature very bland versions of the characters I used to like.

Also, remember when the "haunted house episode" was a reference in one of those fake clip shows because clearly a haunted house episode would be a bad idea? Yeah, that.
posted by crossoverman at 5:18 PM on February 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I didn't even catch on to this show until season 3 was already over and Harmon had been fired. I figured it was time to check it out and watched the pilot on Hulu a few months back, then blew away the whole weekend watching the entire series.

It's more like the continued eclipsing of Britta the character by Britta the buffoon. ... Maybe Britta was always slim on positive qualities and I didn't notice.

I saw Britta initially as having a chip on her shoulder and compensating for insecurities. I liked her character and how she was able to slice through Jeff's bullshit, but right away she came off as a crusader, as someone who needed to right all the wrongs, or at least to judge people for being selfish ("Meanwhile, in Guatemala...") or dishonest ... even if it's just some disbarred lawyer who was scheming to hit on her in a sleazy way at community college. This sort of behavior could come across as earnest and heartfelt, but it might be controlling and quixotic. I say this as someone who grew up taking everything very seriously, who sought to right all the wrongs in the world by making others feel guilty for their apathy, even when I had done nothing. (Yes, I was the worst.) In the first episode after the pilot, Britta admits, "I don't do anything," after being called out for criticizing Annie and Shirley's protest. For all her earnestness and compassion she claimed and demanded from others, Britta was established as being judgmental and a hypocrite right out of the gate.

Of course, her refusal to cop to Jeff's transparent game is the catalyst for the study group to form. Britta may be the worst, but her need to stick it to someone like Jeff is how everyone came together. As the group grew closer, Britta let her defenses down and revealed she's just as dumb and confused as everyone else, but she's also less pretentious that way, if a lot more goofy, which can be a mixed bag. I totally love the closet stoner part of her personality, which is very believable.

But ... I don't like the direction her character is taking lately. It's totally within character for her to be studying psychology, and to be offering "therapy" for friends without qualifications, but I kinda feel like she's become a caricature, and some great opportunities are missed. It would be more interesting and fertile ground if her character were challenged more directly and had to navigate through the negative consequences of her behavior, which used to happen to everyone on the show. Instead they give her silly things to say that glide over the surface.

That said, I liked Season 4 Episode 1, but not so much the Hunger Games reference, which kinda felt lazy. I didn't like episode 2 as much. It's hard to describe what makes the difference. To me, Community is at its best when it's whimsical and playful, and when the characters reveal their humanity in the process... but most of all, when you feel like you're in on the joke. It's more than just meta-references and breaking the fourth wall. I got that feeling in the season opener. But S 4 episode 2 felt contrived rather than whimsical, a little too on-the-nose, and I thought Annie's lines were occasionally awful ... will have to watch it again later. I think it's possible that Community will continue to be a great show without Harmon, and many (most?) tv series go through this type of change, but in firing him I think they lost the major creative voice that spoke to the audience and connected with it. I will watch for now, because it's still damn good. It was great, and it has that potential still, but I'm not sure it's possible to recreate his vision and his voice without him.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:33 PM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Halloween episodes of any show are never my favourite (even in-season,) and while it didn't change my opinion on the Britta sitaution, I enjoyed it nevertheless. There was a moment during the first scene where something felt off, and maybe editing is the difference I couldn't put my finger on? Then again, hyper-awareness of things like the choice and number of shots in a scene could well be the real culprit in my diminished enjoyment of these new episodes. If I were to go back and re-watch a bunch of similar group discussion scenes with an eye for a difference in editing, I probably wouldn't enjoy those episodes either! Maybe I should wait for the DVD, presuming there is one.
posted by Lorin at 6:52 PM on February 15, 2013


not to mention the horrible mangled corpse of Jeff and Annie, which for about two episodes once had me convinced I was watching the next great television couple.

Annie's pretty young. We try not to sexualize her.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:58 PM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thinking about the episode, I don't think there was a single joke in it that wouldn't fit in any other episode of Community over the years... But it felt so different. I think it's just the timing. The episode was so jam-packed, second to second, that no single joke had time to breathe. Community, traditionally, is a show where jokes are given plenty of time to breathe.

The pacing feels different, both in the dialogue and editing. Harmon was also pretty meticulous about detail, and even though there was some minor improvisation with characters' lines, almost nothing happened or was said that wasn't important or tied in to the episode or the characters. It felt like the show had more room to breathe, because he deliberately ignored convention and wrote it like a film script instead of a sitcom. Sitcoms are usually very formulaic and are constrained by severely limited story arcs, and it would not surprise me to see that sort of thing creep in more and more to Community without Harmon driving it, even if there's never a laugh track.

The show had flaws under Harmon, but he based the character Jeff Winger on himself while attending community college, and the show and characters are loosely drawn from his experiences there. He seems to be difficult professionally and notoriously a control freak, which appears to be a common problem among auteurs and inflated egos, but I can't imagine Community being such a great show without Harmon's passion for storytelling, his insistence on an unconventional writing style for television, and personal connection with the characters behind it. From all I've read, the new showrunners are being brought in due in no small part to dismal ratings. This is NBC's fault more than anyone, but if they let it live past the fourth season I'm very concerned they'll tweak it to death trying to save it, in the typical mediocre network television fashion.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:25 PM on February 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I liked the second episode. But.... something's off. And not just the gradual sidelineing of Pierce (with a sex dungeon?) or the Troy-(would he be that naive? Wasn't he on the Team in high school? it felt like his Mystery Team character)-Britta thing which doesn't seem to be working.

But Shirley got some good lines. And I laughed a few times.
posted by Mezentian at 10:34 AM on February 16, 2013


Pierce's sex dungeon has been mentioned at least once before, in "Competitive Wine Tasting." Troy says that Pierce had a wine cellar with a "special gym."

The best way I can describe the first 2 eps: It seems like the show is in a transitional phase, and the writers/cast/producers are still trying to figure out how to make the show into Community 2.0 instead of Community Fan Fiction.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:41 PM on February 16, 2013


I think the writers were just terrified their episodes wouldn't be clever enough.
posted by meese at 12:43 PM on February 16, 2013


krinklyfig: "The pacing feels different, both in the dialogue and editing."

I wish I were knowledgeable enough to explain what's wrong, but it has something to do with this. It feels like they're forcing a specific rhythm that's too fast.
It doesn't feel like the writers know this show anymore. It's like they're writing something they don't understand, so they're making the characters explain it to them.
posted by Dr. Zira at 2:19 PM on February 16, 2013


I'm still cracking up over "Annie's my ring girl."

See, I think this is symptomatic of what is wrong with the show right now. This joke seems like a good one, but it doesn't make sense. It doesn't seem like a character Annie would dress up as, plus is she really so stupid as to not know what a "ring girl" is? As the character reminds us in this episode, she doesn't watch horror films - so why would she make this connection?

Remember when Shirley's Halloween costumes were so generic nobody knew who she was supposed to be? And now she's Princess Leia and referencing a handful of other characters? Who is this person?

Abed and Troy as Calvin and Hobbes? Isn't that just lazy? What is this telling us about their characters? Remember when their costumes had more style to them? And we learned something about their relationship through them?

I don't remember Troy being so dumb before. "Secret dogs!" Really? I dunno.

I'm not sure why Britta was a ham - except there was a terrible ham pun in there, which would never have happened in seasons one to three.

Jeff as the boxer - and the reference to his chest - works for his character, especially with the reveal at the end. But, again, trading on this father thing in previous seasons meant understanding Jeff and his relationship to the others; I didn't feel like a soapy emotional moment as it does here.
posted by crossoverman at 4:10 PM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't remember Troy being so dumb before. "Secret dogs!" Really? I dunno.

Troy excitedly: "Animal Hospital?!"

Abed: "The animals are the patients."

Troy disappointed: "That makes sense."


He also thinks turtlenecks are made of actual turtles' necks, so...
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:19 PM on February 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


It doesn't feel like the writers know this show anymore. It's like they're writing something they don't understand, so they're making the characters explain it to them.

The more I read about Harmon, the more I see him as a megalomaniac/narcissist, but that is the sort of person who would be as driven as he was to tell his own story and insist on getting it right. All the writers still use his story wheel structure, and they seem to understand his passion for storytelling, but it's much more difficult to recreate the kind of drive Harmon had as well as his motivations, which sometimes were self-destructive. He has flashes of brilliance and insight that are tied in to his internal chaos. The writers have the talent to be funny in the same sort of way Harmon could be, but without his flavor of insanity behind it, without having the one person with the drive and vision have creative control over the writing and direction of the show. It was always about Harmon, but now that he's gone, it's about trying to imitate that. I'm beginning to think they'd be better off with a showrunner who could take over and make their own distinctive work out of it, rather than trying to imitate Harmon.

It doesn't seem like a character Annie would dress up as, plus is she really so stupid as to not know what a "ring girl" is?

Annie's best moment in that episode is when she makes her first appearance as the Ring girl and does that creepy, twitchy movement. But a lot of Annie's lines weren't that great, IMO. I don't think everything has to be logical to be entertaining, but the characters do need to be believable, and throw-away joke lines are less funny and engaging than really good dialogue that makes sense for the characters.

One article I read pointed out that Abed is the only character who can effectively break the fourth wall, because it makes sense for his character, who is obsessed with tv. Annie broke the fourth wall, and it didn't really work, because ... she's Annie! She's young and still somewhat innocent. She doesn't have alternate realities going on inside her head that look like television shows. If the show gets too self-referential and self-aware and chock full of gag lines, it will become like the Simpsons in its later years.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:53 PM on February 16, 2013


I don't remember Troy being so dumb before. "Secret dogs!" Really? I dunno.

It's not so much that Troy's dumb. It's that he lives in a fantasy world in his head and is kind of guileless, sort of like a ten year old kid.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:55 PM on February 16, 2013


Abed and Troy as Calvin and Hobbes?

Until this moment I thought they were Tigger and Piglet, but I was confused by Piglet's hair.
posted by Mezentian at 7:07 PM on February 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Until I read a recap, I thought Abed was Freddie Krueger and Troy was a generic tiger.
posted by drezdn at 7:44 PM on February 16, 2013


I'm beginning to think they'd be better off with a showrunner who could take over and make their own distinctive work out of it, rather than trying to imitate Harmon.

Same here. While it's still early to judge this season as a whole, so far it feels hollow without him. It feels like the sort of quirky, wacky sitcom that you sit down and watch for a few laughs and then forget about it. It's not bad, but quirky wackiness isn't really why I got so into this show in the first place. The depth is gone; nothing is resonating.
posted by wondermouse at 1:48 PM on February 17, 2013


I don't understand why they've seemingly picked the "Nice try, Stephen Fry" rhyming as the running joke to keep this season.
posted by Gordafarin at 5:45 AM on February 18, 2013


Annie broke the fourth wall, and it didn't really work, because ... she's Annie!

I don't recall her doing this. What are you referring to?
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:36 AM on February 18, 2013


is she really so stupid as to not know what a "ring girl" is?

umm... I was vaguely aware that boxing featured scantly clad women carrying signs indicating the round, but I couldn't have told you they were called "ring girls." And I haven't seen The Ring, but still got the joke. So, yeah, I could actually buy that after a clumsily texted suggestion Annie had googled "The Ring" instead of "ring girl" and so it went.
posted by Zed at 5:25 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't recall her doing this. What are you referring to?

When Annie finds herself alone, she says something like, "Is this the part of the horror movie when this kind of thing happens? Well, let me just say, I don't watch horror movies, so I don't appreciate it." Or something. It was not funny.
posted by crossoverman at 1:18 AM on February 19, 2013


She was talking to Abed.
posted by logicpunk at 6:13 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


She was talking to Abed.

Acknowledging the conventions of the story a character is in - even to another character in that story - is still breaking the fourth wall.
posted by crossoverman at 12:25 PM on February 19, 2013


Not really. She wasn't saying, "Hey Abed, we are in a horror movie." She was saying, "Abed, are you trying to make this more like a horror movie? Because I don't like that."
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:38 PM on February 19, 2013


She was definitely talking to Abed, or herself - not the audience.

I think the problem with the Calvin and Hobbes costumes (which I also didn't get until half way) is that Calvin is decidedly shorter than Hobbes, but Abed is taller than Troy. I would have reversed the costumes - also, because maybe Troy is more Calvin-like.

The Ring thing, however, was absolutely perfect.
posted by jb at 8:34 PM on February 19, 2013


I thought the Ring girl/ring girl mix-up was great. The problem with the Calvin & Hobbes costumes is that they didn't actually do anything particularly Calvinist or Hobbesian together, so I had no idea they were a 2-person costume; I just thought Abed was some sort of crazy off-brand Peanuts-rip-off character.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:38 PM on February 20, 2013


I think the Calvin and Hobbes costumes could have been done a lot better. Abed's wig was kind of a bit crazy. It could have been shorter or better yet, he could have just bleached his hair for the matter. For a guy who built built an alien queen costume, I could see him going that extra step. The Hobbes costume was good enough, coming from the fellow who created the Sexy Vampire look (though in contrast to his nice powerloader costume).

This person agreed with the role reversal that jb had in mind.
posted by Atreides at 2:38 PM on February 20, 2013


Wow.
The Inspector SpaceTime episode was pretty much everything good about Community, mixed with everything bad about S4 Community, smushed into a cake.

Callbacks to previous episodes? Check!
Lack of character development? Check!
Backsliding of characters? Check!
Inane Celeb Cameos? Check!
Gratuitous butt shots? CHECK!

Okay, I didn't mind the last but, but it was complete fan service despite being quite a funny scene on its own merits.
posted by Mezentian at 12:51 AM on February 22, 2013


I liked it better than last episode, that's sure enough.

I don't know if there was a lack of character development, as we had a look at how Britta's relationship with Troy affected the friendship of his and Abed. Was it deep? Not really, but it was there.

I couldn't decide if I liked Annie's storyline or not, but I suppose it goes with the Annie / Jeff on and off on and off thing that's gone through the seasons.

Pierce and Shirley were...kinda there? Pierce destroying all that was good about Americanized Inspector Space Time was typical Pierce, and may have been worth it for Abed's quiet and firm, "I hate you" at the end.

I think this was along the same lines as an okay episode from last season.
posted by Atreides at 9:34 AM on February 22, 2013


Okay, I didn't mind the last but, but it was complete fan service despite being quite a funny scene on its own merits.

True.
posted by Atreides at 9:34 AM on February 22, 2013


This episode was probably a lot more amusing if you watch Doctor Who (and Torchwood including Miracle Day).
posted by jeather at 11:04 AM on February 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought it was a fun episode. I'm enjoying the new season, but then again I do like liking things.
posted by LooseFilter at 12:13 PM on February 22, 2013


People of the Internet, I come to you this night with GRAVE NEWS.
The writers have not paid attention to the shows cannon!
A grave slap has been delivered to the face of we, the fans!

How, I ask you, can Britta be watching her first episode of Inspector SpaceTime in THIS episode, when it was Britta who found the show for Abed?

We must riot.
posted by Mezentian at 4:37 AM on February 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


She found the show, but they didn't say whether she'd actually watched it.

Unless this episode claimed she'd never heard of the show? that would be crazy.
posted by jb at 7:09 AM on February 23, 2013


A rational response? Some "fan" you are! We should be manning the bars!

If I might quote the august journal Bad Ass Digest:
The episode opens with Troy and Britta in bed (!), and they have just finished watching Britta's first episode of Spacetime.

Admittedly that is a fair reading of the scene, but not my own initial take, but let us rage as entitled viewers must.
We must rage, since there are about 1 million Big Bang Theory fans for each of us.

Also: but it also comes off as a flimsy excuse to get Jacobs in her underwear.. Onion AV Club makes some good points, but I ignored them for a chance to mention the underwear again. Because I am secretly a network TV exec. Or would be.
posted by Mezentian at 7:57 AM on February 23, 2013


Mezentian: "Inane Celeb Cameos? Check!"

Maybe Toby's missing constable will turn out to be David Walliams.
Also, was it just me, or was that Lucy Lawless on all of those Inspector Minerva posters?
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:38 AM on February 23, 2013


Atreides: "Pierce and Shirley were...kinda there? Pierce destroying all that was good about Americanized Inspector Space Time was typical Pierce, and may have been worth it for Abed's quiet and firm, "I hate you" at the end."

Here's the thing, though: I don't trust the new writers to understand the significance of that moment. Abed doesn't hate anyone, so that moment was really out of character for him, and shows just how far messing with the American version drives him over the edge. It could be a great way to set up the transition of Chevy Chase out of the show. Unfortunately, I suspect it wasn't an intentional choice, but intended as a lazy, throwaway line to get a cheap laugh by writers who don't really understand the characters enough to maintain consistency (and respect the show's canon).
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:55 AM on February 23, 2013


Abed doesn't hate anyone, so that moment was really out of character for him, and shows just how far messing with the American version drives him over the edge.

But Abed has said stuff like this before. When Shirley said that Brett Ratner was the new Spielberg, Abed called her a bad person. So it's not really out of character, it's only in extreme moments of fandom that he gets so worked up.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:24 AM on February 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK, just watched the Inspector SpaceTime episode. Did anyone else get the feeling that no one on the cast was having any fun whatsoever? Usually there's more of a spark, which is what makes the show so much more appealing -- the only one who pulled that off was Annie.

I'll go on and say it: I'll be happy when there's no more Pierce. In the S4 premiere, Fred Willard was just smarmy enough to make that character entertaining and he'd be a welcome replacement if they decide to go all Darren on him. Chevy's desire to get out of there is getting more and more palpable whenever the camera's on him.
posted by mochapickle at 7:32 AM on February 24, 2013


My various cents on 'Conventions of Space and Time' after a second viewing:

I think it was in some ways the best episode of the new season, or at least the most settled. The uncanny timing/editing problems of the first two episodes that so many here have noticed seemed largely gone from this episode. And in polite disagreement with mochapickle, I think most of the performers seemed to be having a great time.

Troy & Britta & Abed: I know that some people think that Britta and Abed's entire relationship feels forced, but I think the show has done a good job of building a very believable basis for it. I've also read comments in a few places expressing shock that Troy was having sex at all, which I think is confusing his kindness and sense of wonder with a lack of sexual experience. Given that he was an extremely popular high school football player and admits to liking "butt stuff" ("Romantic Expressionism), I think we can assume he's sexually active, if not a Don Juan like Winger.

Anyway. I think the story of the two competing love triangles (Troy-Britta-Abed, Troy-Toby-Abed) was a way to establish some important changes to the status quo in a way that provided a minimum amount of disruption to certain aspects of the show that are a central part of its identity. The intro sets up the T-B-A triangle as the central problem; how will A react to B&T's sex life? [How will the audience react to two of the main characters finally engaged in a long-term "adult" relationship?] But before the credits, the foundation for solving this problem has been established: not only have B&T already been sleeping together for a long time, A has known about it for a long time. So, it's already there, already part of the status quo of the show, and Inspecticon serves as the domain where that's worked out.

Indirectly, as it turns out. Troy is anxious for a bit about Britta's presence upsetting Abed, and A&B have a momentary, but notably anti-climactic, stare down, but after that the Troy-Toby-Abed conflict takes center stage. When Toby's story of losing his constable Andrew/David is revealed to be fake, it sort of takes the T-B-A conflict with it when it disappears. Britta then tells Troy to go to Abed, because she doesn't care about Inspector Spacetime -- she's not threatened by Troy's relationship to Abed, nor will she BE a threat to it. Interpreted as post-Harmon meta-commentary, I think this suggests that the change in the Troy-Britta relationship will not turn a show about a group of Community College Misfits into a show about the hijinks of a goofy interracial couple and their quirky neighbor. That the Troy-Britta relationship was made center stage only to be then displaced suggests to me also that it will remain mostly in the background of the show, used as texturing and perhaps as a launching point for other stories but not a focus of the writers, and not something that significantly changes the characters, at least in immediately obvious, dramatic ways. At the end of the episode, Abed is back to Abed, Troy and Britta are still sleeping together, Troy and Abed are still together, and Britta is still the worst (What a Minerva!).

Jeff & Annie: I think this storyline was weaker not because it was a backslide for Annie (I don't think it was) but because it gave Jeff very little to do. I guess reflecting on McHale's performance, I can see what mochapickle means about the cast not looking like they are having fun. Winger was barely in the show, and when he was his character was often unnecessarily obnoxious; I like my Wingers with Hot Sauce, but his nerd jokes just seemed, I don't know, dumb and dickish. That said, I thought the end of the storyline, and his conversation with Annie, was really well done and one of the most authentic moments of the new season. They seemed to be genuine friends, both in the moments of awkwardness that can sometimes occur and in the happy release of that tension together as they reassert their true affection. And while I wasn't particularly fond of Annie's part in the storyline, I think that ending rescued it from being a backslide for the character by having her (and the audience) recognize, acknowledge, and move past her daydreams and fantasies. That conversation could serve as the perfect end to the Jeff-Annie romance alternate timeline, if the writers choose to use it as such, leaving the two of them close friends while freeing them both up for other stories and romantic engagements.

Pierce: I thought it was a funny enough storyline, and I thought Chase was MUCH better hamming it up here than in the previous 2 episodes.

Shirley: I think the only MAJOR problem with the episode was Shirley's non-presence. I think she got sacrificed to make time for Toby. I really, really hope she's around more this week.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:12 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh. I forgot.

Abed is knocking on Troy's door as Britta('s stunt double) escapes out the window. Abed says something about having marked several routes through the Inspecticon floor plan, which he follows up with something to the effect of, "I'm taller than you, so my strides are longer, but I assume that your superior physical fitness will allow you to compensate with greater speed."

WHAT?! As we all know from "The Politics of Human Sexuality," Abed is the best athlete at Greendale!

Or perhaps he's just out of shape now.

(Something about the way the line was delivered made me feel like it was an intentional canonical error on the part of the writers, a little more S4 Meta comedy.)
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:21 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is getting better. Maybe Chang is the glue that holds this show together. Or Germans.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:02 PM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought the best yet...except the very end with the reparations bit. That seemed a little too sugary?
posted by Atreides at 6:12 PM on February 28, 2013


The reparations bit read to me with enough irony that it worked for me; I think the scene at the lunch table finished that joke off nicely. Things seem to be tightening up. Yay!
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:42 PM on February 28, 2013


I'm down with the This Ep was the Best Ep of the season.
The "we've learnt a lesson" vibe was in character.
posted by Mezentian at 6:28 AM on March 1, 2013


I did really enjoy the flashbacks showing the other student body's response to their hogging of the study room, particularly in the snapshot back to the episode involving Annie's Boobs, the two genders are separated and naked, each standing behind overturned tables, and outside they're frustratedly grumbling, "Someone lost a pen!" as an obvious play on how crazy from a mundane perspective the event had become. That and when they had decided that obviously a professor would go out of their way to teach them a lesson - then the reveal. Heh. It was wonderful.
posted by Atreides at 9:03 AM on March 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait really? I was so bored during that episode. Not happy at all with it. The whole Abed/Karl thing felt very forced, the fact that they were learning a lesson that they've learned so many times before.

Although Hogan's Villains was great.
posted by Lemurrhea at 12:15 PM on March 1, 2013


> the fact that they were learning a lesson that they've learned so many times before

That's part of the joke, as I read it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:34 PM on March 1, 2013


Since reviewers I trust hated this one—e.g. "I didn’t laugh once {...} I smirked twice," gripes the AVClub's Todd VanDerWerff; "barely elicited a few minor chuckles, and featured several jokes {...} that simply made me cringe," boos Hitflix's Alan Sepinwall—I'm beginning to consider going on a break with the un-Harmonized Community. ("I need to see other shows to prove to myself that my love for you is genuine.") Otherwise, I can see a the looming signs of a painful split, having been hurt by TV shows I've loved before.

At this point, the pattern of the fourth season is starting to take focus. If the first season was about Community throwing off its obligations to be a standard NBC sitcom, the second about Community as a meta-sitcom, and the third about Community's second season, the fourth is about the three dreaded R's of sitcoms: reverting, revisiting, and retconning. Thus, Pierce, Annie, and Jeff have gone back to behaving like their old season one-to-two selves, the Inspector Spacetime running gag was run into the ground for an entire episode, and now there seems to be some outright retconning going on. Switching the underlying message of the AD&D episode from inclusion to exclusion (if I'm not misrepresenting the episode) goes far beyond the show's previous portrayals of the study group's insularity, e.g. "Competitive Ecology", "Asian Population Studies".

Perhaps the next episodes will have settled into a groove, since this was technically only the second one produced under the new regime (and there was clearly good reason to do so). Unfortunately, with NBC's decision to hold back the entire fourth season means that the writers have had to complete this truncated season without any of the audience feedback from bogs and Twitter that once meant so much to the show. This season, the Community writing room is on its own.
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:13 PM on March 1, 2013


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