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“Community” Season 6, Episode 13 “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” Review

I can’t count the reasons I should stay/one by one they all just fade away

The opening theme song for “Community” (“At Least It Was Here,” by The 88) has become oddly prophetic. One by one, the characters on the show have left, as one by one, each of them finds fewer reasons to stay at Greendale.

This all leads into “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television,” which just may have been the series finale. Nobody is saying if it is or isn’t…yet, and it wouldn’t be the first time the show has seemingly had a series finale and then came back, but this time it feels more ready to leave than it ever has before.

“Community” has always been a show about shows, and about itself, and now it’s almost as if that show has swallowed itself up. It was a near perfect premise: “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television” had all the study group member pitching Abed ideas for a seventh season of the show, if one was to happen.

There were some great scenes here, as each member of the group tried to come up with a reality that fit him or her: Abed’s (Danny Pudi) formula scene, Britta’s (Gillian Bacobs) version of the show, which is the hardest I’ve laughed at “Community” in a long time, the commentary on Annie’s (Alison Brie) dresses, and there’s stuff here, like Abed’s TV speech, that will probably be quoted in TV criticism classes for years. It’s supposed to be fun, remember?

But those laughs rang a little hollow, and did serve as a reminder of earlier seasons of the show. Season 5 has by no means been the show as its best, and it is a little odd for a season that has spent so much time looking back to have a finale that is firmly planted in the future.

It’s also interesting that none of the pitch ideas were really good — or at least good in a way that most fans would want to watch. I have no clue whether that’s a statement that the show (and by extension, Harmon) thinks they are out of ideas, or it was just a presentation of bad ideas no one would want to watch, or maybe that continuing to try to resurrect something that is fading away is a bad idea.

It’s almost as the show is saying it’s ready to go. A seventh season won’t be good. ‘You won’t like it,’ the show is seemingly saying. It’s time to move on.

And even Jeff (Joel McHale), the leader of this rag-tag group of heroes, Jeff, the person who started this study group just to bang Britta, Jeff, who is maybe actually in love with Annie now, Jeff, who goes from quickly hating on Abed’s idea to pitch shows to desperately embracing it, Jeff, it seems, is now ready.

Jeff has been building to this all season, and it’s easy to forget how this show was really a Jeff story from the beginning. All season he’s been worried about everybody leaving, and it’s appropriate that it’s Jeff that drives Annie and Abed to the airport to leave. This started as his story, and ends as his story, as people, just like in life, pass in and out of his story.

But even Jeff, who all season, hasn’t been ready to say goodbye, finally is. This might be goodbye for good (and the fact that we don’t know for sure undercuts that a bit), but at the very least, this could be the note the show ends on, and Harmon finally got a chance to say goodbye to the show in a way he wanted to. He seems ready. The show seems ready.

And maybe it’s time for fans to be ready, too.

Notes & Quotes:

-The end hash tag takes away from that whole idea a bit. It would seem a little mean to dangle #andamovie out there if there was zero hope of it happening. But who knows at this point. I do wish we had a bit of closure one way or the other…but Harmon is keeping radio silence.

-That end tag with the board game was laugh-out-loud hysterical.

-After resisting it all season, we got not one, but two ‘fucks’ this year. Take that NBC! No censors on Yahoo Screen!

-“School’s out, bitches”

-nipple dippers

-“That’s crazy…people used Linked In?”

-“Do you guys think bar scenes always have to start on a billiards shot?”

-“Don’t put a nickel in him.”

-Abed’s whole TV speech

-“This gives me a more solid reason to interact with you.”

-“But not little girl hot.”

-Damn those boring-ass Marvel movies

-“I farted during the 4th one. It’s an inside joke.”

Community Season 6, Episode 12 “Wedding Videography” Review

Community Season 6, Episode 12 “Wedding Videography” Review

“Community” seems stuck.

This season has been a cyclone of recycled ideas, some of them working quite well (Paintball, Honda), while the others served more as a reminder of how great the show once was, and how great it can be when it breaks free of itself and delivers the unexpected instead of new twists on old tales.

” Wedding Videography ” is a combination of two things the show has already done: A wedding episode, and a documentary-style episode, with Abed (Danny Pudi) behind the camera.
It also was a stinker of an episode.

Garret (Erik Charles Nielsen) proposed to Stacy (special guest, Erin McGathy, Dan Harmon’s real life wife) in the middle of Jeff’s (Joel McHale) class, giving us a “Community” wedding outside of the regular cast and players. It’s a good idea! It shifted the focus away from the main cast, in an episode where the main cast continually tried to shift the focus back on to themselves.

In a lot of ways this episode seemed to – spiritually at least – call back to the “Seinfeld” finale. Both episodes were reminders of how horrible the characters in the show are, and both also served as a rude awakening to how the rest of the internal universes of each show view the characters.

The documentary format did allow a bit of this to come through; instead of the focus on the main study group it was easier to see just how self-obsessed all of these characters really are. Framed outside of the group, it successfully showed them as the quite obnoxious wedding guests they actually were.

It’s not much of a shock that they all showed up late to the wedding (even if the timing didn’t seem to really make sense, since they somehow went from thinking they were three hours early to being late), or that they turned the whole ceremony into an inside joke about themselves. These are self-centered, “synergistic” people, as Jeff would say.

The idea of splitting the group up – and that everybody else at the wedding hates them – is not a new one for the group, but it’s the first time the show has really hammered the idea home, but sadly did so poorly. Elroy (Keith Davis) took up a lot of screen time to essentially set up a single joke, Britta (Gillian Jacobs) just danced around, and Annie (Alison Brie) and Frankie (Paget Frewster), while making some humorous dragon names, seemed to serve very little purpose other than to further plant seeds for a Annie/Jeff future.

At the end, it turned out that Garret and Stacy were cousins, and it was none other than Chang (Ken Jeong) that somehow delivered the “Winger” speech at the end and convinced the happily married couple to stay incestuously married. That was weird enough in itself, and it also gave Jeff (and everyone else) a pass on messing up the wedding (even if them being cousins wasn’t really his fault), but also seemed to give the group as a whole a pass for the behavior the show seemed set to condemn from the start of the episode. There were a few more lines on incest, and then credits rolled.

Yup. It was as weird as it sounds, and the episode just didn’t work, resulting in missed opportunities and one of the more disappointing episodes this season. It came and it went and it happened, but that’s about it. Revisiting the documentary format mostly resulted in a few “Jim” jokes from Abed, but putting him behind the camera is one way to deal with the show’s inability to write him this season, it seems. The wedding, which could have been a real moment in showing just how the rest of Greendale views the beloved main characters, ended in nothing but an odd comment on incest.

One episode left. Abed convinces the group to pitch ideas for a seventh season. Hopefully it sends the show out on a much better note than this episode, at least.

Notes & Quotes:
-“Aren’t you still smelling hair?”

-“I’m getting laid!”

-“I lived in New York.”

-“The color black….”

-‘Somebody laughed at that the wrong way.”

-“You are my favorite video game.”

-“If I can it can I give it another name?”

-“It’s like knitting…”

“That was Stacey’s first time!”

-“Now this is a man who knows how to marry his cousin…”

-None of Britta’s default analogies

-“Ugh, so much Jim-ing it.”

Community Season 6, Episode 8 “Intro To Recycled Cinema” Review

Community Season 6, Episode 8 “Intro To Recycled Cinema” Review

 

“Community” is flirting with its previous greatness.

Like a love struck teen, it has slowly moved from sitting across the lunch room, to sitting the table over, and now is finally just a few seats away from its crush, trying to do everything it can to say just the right word to make its crush laugh and get back to the good ol’ days.

And its close, but still not quite there.

Only “Community” could pull off a bit where Chang (Ken Jeong) goes to Hollywood due to his success with a catch phrase in a commercial for ham (Hammmmmm Girl). It’s something that just makes so much sense, it’s almost surprising the show hasn’t done it before, given Jeong’s success from “The Hangover.”

The bit worked so well it almost seemed like an actual exit of the show for Jeong. (It wasn’t).

Now, with Chang’s fame, Frankie (Paget Brewster) brings in one of her Hollywood friends, Maury (Steven Guttenberg), to help turn some of Abed’s (Danny Pudi) old footage of Chang into a get- rich-quick scheme for Greendale.

As much time as the show spent setting up the whole concept, it didn’t really manage to explain how the footage was the school’s property…and not Abed’s. Abed doesn’t usually give up control easily, and the idea that he just handed over control to the Dean — or anybody —lacked explanation. If there’s going to be that much screen time devoted to selling the premise, then it should actually sell the premise.

The show is also getting in the not-so-great habit of spending way too much time setting up each episode instead of letting them just start. This week distinctly felt like three individual pieces instead of one cohesive whole.

Case in point, the movie within the show within the show: Chief Starr and the Raiders of the Galaxy. The episode may have worked better if it just started here (the show’s done this before) and backed its way into the premise, or really trimmed down the opening set up. Instead, seven minutes of screen time were already used up before the bit even started.

It was funny seeing how the show was able to make use of the same footage of Chang over and over again, (like when he shot Magnitude (Luke Youngblood) by putting the phone down or him walking into the space station) and somewhat ironic that the show is poking fun at the fact that it found the best use for Chang by not actually having Chang be there.

The special effects were also pretty good, considering the “low budget” effect that they were going for. Stylistically, all that stuff worked.

In the the past, Dan Harmon has talked about not doing a straight “Star Wars” riff, even though paintball part dos did take a few notes from the saga, but here the show went right for the jugular in a galaxy not that far away. The Catina scene? We get it. You are doing “Star Wars.”

But, credit where credit is due, and the trash compactor scene was quite funny (We’re gonna get crushed…is there a monster?”) and played up the tropes that the audience was expecting by even having  the characters in the show expect the same thing.

Act three tried to bring about some resolution, with Jeff not wanting his footage to get cut, after spending most of the filming deriding the whole idea (and the cut to Garret (Erik Charles Nielsen) with his Glip Glop shirt was great). It was nice seeing the whole affair turn it into a story with a heart and a center, with Jeff starting to worry that he will be the last person in the group left, and he’ll be stuck at Greendale forever watching his friends outgrow him.

But, that realization was undercut by Abed, essentially, resolving everything because of Annie’s boobs. It, as usual this season, seemed out of character for Abed (Jeff, sure, but Abed?) and a writing cop-out. What’s the moral of the week? Boobs? Ok. Sure. Annie’s boobs happened! It was all OK in the end! Let’s go with it.

(Not complaining, but there are better resolutions to hang a story arc on than Annie’s boobs, even if it was a metaphor)

That being said, there’s also something simplistic, saccharine, and honest in what Abed said. Here are two guys who are just trying to make the best of everyday life, as their friends pass them by. And who, unless everybody else had left, would never be friends like this. Maybe it does take something like Annie’s boobs to bring them together, if even for a moment.

But, the episode still suffered from pacing, and the third act dragged too long. It was also light on the hard hitting laughs, especially after last week. This is an episode that just reeked of “it was more fun to shoot than watch,” (that’s not to say it wasn’t a fun episode), and had many of the pieces of what could have been a classic “Community” episode, just not the laughs or the execution.

 

 

Notes and Quotes
-Take note: The main opening scene this week was at the bar, not at the study room. Slowly but surely, the show is shifting.

-“Britta, pay your rent”

-“It’s my only chance at the main stream success I need before I can make weird stuff for money.”

-“People like dinosaurs and aliens and anything Chris Pratt can join forces with.”

-“Why am I wearing a blouse? It’s sci-fi, it doesn’t matter.”

-lol, steel drums came back

-“Space version of the Wild West!”

-“Pay your rent or shut up.”

-“I feel Dracula Force”

-#WhoIsGlipGlop

-“Somewhere, every once in awhile…Annie reaches down her shirt.”

-Little heavy on the Chris Pratt jokes, guys.

-“What’s YouTube?”

-“Tell Steven Spielberg to lick my butt.”

Community Season 6, Episode 7 “Advance Safety Features” Review

Community Season 6, Episode 7 “Advance Safety Features” Review

 

If “Community” needs quotes for any upcoming article sponsorship deals, here’s some hand mined gems:

“The hardest I’ve laughed at Community in a long time.”

“The best episode yet this season.”

 

This was the funniest episode of “Community” in a long time. It may even be one of the funniest episodes since season three (which feels so long ago at this point). Just take a look at the quotes section this week! Line after line, laugh after laugh, this is the “Community” that fans fell in love with.

The show opened with a great study room scene (which the show has been nailing of late), including hilarious commentary on Elroy’s (Keith David) role in the group, Abed (Danny Pudi) self-realizing how boring he (and the rest of the group) has been since Troy (Donald Glover) left, and even Jeff (Joel McHale) stepped into the game with a payoff joke about steel drums. Even gags like Chang’s (Ken Jeong) PowerPoint intro, which normally probably would have fallen flat, got big laughs.

The bigger question is where this fire and wit was at the start at the season. Where was this commentary a few episodes ago? It’s been sprinkled here and there, but this was a return to form for a show that is almost as much about itself as it is about pop culture.

Britta (Gillian Jacobs) old flame Rick (Travis Schuldt) returned, with a beard, this time as a guerrilla campus marketer for Honda. (It’s the same story all over again!). The double irony is that, of course, it is essentially the same story again, and the ghost of “Community” episodes past haunted this otherwise great episode.

It almost seems that “Community” is out to top itself this season, but it’s hard to top yourself when you are dancing in fields already plowed. The Subway stint was a great use of product placement, but the show turned everything up a notch with Honda, (and it was equally funny to see how the show managed to continually avoid ever mentioning Subway by name), but just like last week’s episode being the third in a trilogy, there’s an unsettling feeling that we’ve been here and done this and see it before, and even the show commenting on that very idea isn’t enough to make it go away.

And that’s the unsettling thought that kept plaguing me between finishing the episode and finishing this review. There was so much great stuff here: The Dean (Jim Rash) and Frankie (Paget Brewster),  as she tried to stay positive and not make fun of the Dean but just couldn’t. There was Britta’s “Avatar is puke.” Rick apologizing to the car after hitting it. Britta telling him to stop the awesome and amazing and fully detailed breaks of the vehicle. Very funny stuff all around.

There was even heart, with Elroy coming clean to Britta about having dated the Natalie is Freezing singer, and Britta’s own “level 7” realization, that just tugged at the heartstrings.

It was a bit of a stretch that Elroy was keeping Jeff at arm’s length because of an old flame 20 years ago, but at least everything built to something and connected. It was neat and tidy in a way the show hasn’t been yet this season, and also was the first to feel really planned out and like the well oiled machine “Community” can be.

But it still feels a bit empty, because the show has done this before. “Community” can’t keep looking back, and when some of the best jokes of an episode are based around characters that aren’t there anymore and seasons long gone, there’s a bit of fear that even if the show takes old ideas and turns them up to a thousand, it’s still overly reliant on looking back, instead of forward.

Cue steel drum solo.

 

 

Notes and Quotes

-The episode was written by Carol Kolb (from the Onion) who hasn’t had a writing credit yet this season. Hopefully there’s a lot more where this came from. It was almost night and day above anything else we’ve see n this year.

“They can’t send you to prison unless they know you’re poor.”

“Do you believe half your own politics?” “Yeahhhhhhh. Yeah.”

-“By which I mean figure out what makes a DJ good, or bad. Or different from a phone or laptop.”

-“Sounds like brain Windexing.”

-“Is he black Pierce? Or old Troy? Shirley without a giant purse?”

“You guys have been boring too.”

-“That’s won’t pay off immediately. But it’s gonna pay off.”

-“Don’t ever say that name without compensation.”

“..wait for them to notice your cool.”

“-We weren’t supposed to leave the rec center.”

-Did anybody else have Subway commercials air during the show? OH THE LEVELS OF META.

“That’s moon man talk.”

-“I’ve been saying that since the invention of the shuffle button.”

-“if you need anything reached, I’ve been practicing.”

-“We like Avatar?”

-Yup, the bar IS becoming a staple of the show it seems.

-“Play the game.”