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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 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.”

Community Season 6, Episode 4 “Queer Studies and Advance Waxing” Review

Community Season 6, Episode 4 “Queer Studies and Advance Waxing” Review

Better. Good. Not great. But good. An improvement. A step in the right direction. Cake, but no cherry on top.

All of these phrases describe the fourth episode of this oft-foretold sixth season of our beloved “Community.” It was the best episode yet this season, but with a caveat: I’m not sure if it would have even made a dent in the top ranks of past seasons. At least it means the fated season six is starting to head in the right direction.

The runaway leader here, by far, was newcomer to the group Elroy (Keith David), who got some of the best laughs this episode. Sure, both of them came at the expense of Britta (Gillian Jacobs), and both of them took place in that magical zone around the study table, but that’s a strong start for a character the show hasn’t really been able to (or even really tried to) explain his existence in any way. Justify him with laughs. That might just be enough.

Truth be told, I wasn’t a fan of the Britta/Elroy pairing originally, but after their two brief interactions here I’d love to see them paired off again, in some setting that just has Elroy yelling at her and her backing away scared. Bonus points if the yelling is video game related.

Instead, Elroy got to have adventures with his new friend, Abed (Danny Pudi), who the show really does not seem to know what to do with this season. The pair’s little standoff with security was a nice one liner, but again Abed is back into the shadows with a new character. The show also really seemed to miss a chance to connect the baby bird’s mother with Abed’s own mom leaving. I’m shocked that they set that all up and then just whiffed at the chance to take it one step further, which is an opportunity the show in the past never would have passed up.

I keep going back and forth on Chang (Ken Jeong) and Annie’s (Alison Brie) “Karate Kid” spoof. It did give us an excellent guest star in Jason Mantzoukas as Matt Lundergard, who aside from Elroy, was one of the big reasons this episode really worked. He was great. Kudos on that guest star casting.

It was also…interest to see Annie’s (purposeful) horrible acting continue to go on and on while Chang was instead the one getting yelled at. It was a nice little twist and turn-of-the-tables when it turned out that she wasn’t actually brought in because she could act, but the contrary. It was Lundergard’s constant railing on Chang that stole the show and continued to be hilarious, and was probably the best bit the show has done yet this season.

But, the bigger difference here, as compared to similar pop-culture spoofs the show has done in the past, is that while I’ve never seen “Apollo 13” or “The Karate Kid” (you can burn me in effigy later), I feel like most of the bits the show does are funny enough in their own right, which this was, but I don’t think it really needed “The Karate Kid” license to be that way. Once we got past the initial scenes of Chang being verbally assaulted, I’m not sure there was anything to be gained from giving even more screen time here, and those scenes would have been just as funny no matter what the play was that he was working on. The early laughs weren’t derived from the references, which is usually the way “Community” goes, but I felt the longer the play went on the more it was relying on viewer’s having seen the film, and was more a direct parody, and less funny as a result.

This episode already felt a little on the long end (the extra time hasn’t bothered me yet this season, but this one did clock in at over 30 minutes, longer than everything else this season), so sticking with the play all the way to the end just didn’t work in terms of payoff, especially since the show had already dedicated a lot of time setting everything with Annie and Chang already. We already had gotten the largest jokes about seeing Chang get there, there was nothing gained to see the play actually being performed.

The biggest – and most interesting bit – was the Dean’s (Jim Rash) story. After a scuffle with the local Gay Pride Parade, the school board (who pulled in a few good laughs, even though I’ve never been a huge fan of the characters) wanted to promote Pelton to the board…assuming he was gay.

The sexuality of the Dean’s character has long been one of the show’s long jokes, sometimes in the forefront, sometimes more subtle, and has worked to a varying degree of success over the years. It’s never really been crystal clear, and it was creative to see the way the show managed to address his sexuality without ever really managing to address his sexuality. The one thing we are able to glean, at least, is that the Dean is not just gay (that’s only 2/7 of his sexuality), and I think it probably works best that we don’t know what the other 5/7 parts of his inner sex palace are.

The story was really working – the Gay Dean song was a nice bit, even if it did feel a bit unnatural for the show, but it was the resolution that I felt really failed everything the show was building toward. Instead of coming out as what he really was, Pelton came out as a politician, in a press conference that just felt like another giant whiff at the plate this week. It just wasn’t funny, and I can see what the show was going for (somewhat, I guess), but combined with the song it just really felt like the show was out of its territory here. I’m not saying they can’t do the more direct parodies or commentary, but the show needs to sell them. And having Pelton being kicked off the board because people like politicians to be in the closet? That just felt like a shallow attempt (and jab) at the trying to say something about the political process – and gay identity – but not really saying much of anything about either. The song I bought, but not the ending to the whole thing.

Oh! And before I forget, even if it did feel like the show was tackling too many stories and trying to throw too much into one episode, one other thing of note: We got our first shots of Britta bar tending, which I’m now curious if that is going to become a new set piece for the show (and the characters) to gather around giving the whole committee idea seems to be running low on fumes.

Notes & Quotes:

-“Why would a plumber be fighting a monkey?”

-“Gay doesn’t begin to cover it”

-“Cutting women out of sex, it’s genius.”

-“Annie got my part and I got the Asian part.”

-“Need time to fix it? You sound just like you work in IT.”

-“Act better. Thanks.”

-the whole tear speech to Chang

-“Insects have wings.” “I’m sorry!” Britta and Elroy are the best here

-Curious about Jeff and Annie at the end, BUT Jeff had his arm around Britta at the bird funeral, so who knows.

-Oddly enough, we haven’t seen a costume for the Dean yet this season, and this seemed like the episode to bring one out.

-Still having problems with Yahoo Screen and the show coming back from commercial at the wrong cut. It’s not a huge deal, but apparently I’m not the only one. Please get on this Yahoo!

Community Season 6, Episode 3 “Basic Crisis Room Decorum” Review

Community Season 6, Episode 3 “Basic Crisis Room Decorum” Review

This episode was dogshit.

No, really. Reduce and simmer this episode down, and you are left with a plot about Greendale giving a dog a degree (allegedly), and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) shitting her pants.

I don’t want to call it one of the worst episode of Community ever – there have been ones that were more offensive – but this one is just so bland. It’s one of the most basic, boring, and laughless episodes of the show, and when an entire episode revolves around a dog, Britta shitting her pants, oh, and I guess, a sex tape by Chang (Ken Jeong), and none of the plots have any point or connection or meaning…well, maybe Greendale is in trouble after all.

The episode started off good. I liked the social media overlays in the cold open (shows are getting smarter about stuff like this, in general, not just Community), and Annie (Alison Brie) quickly got everyone in the study room to deal with an attack ad that City College would be running the next morning. It’s a magic study room. It’s a safe study room. Great things have happened in that study room. And it felt, for a bit, that it was about to be another classic episode focused around and centered in those very four walls.

I actually missed that Britta shit her pants when it happened, but bugger me! Apparently that was not only important, but also served to pull Elroy (Keith David), into the study room when he gave her his pants. I’m treating this as…I guess…the B plot (it was either this or olives, and I’ll get to that), but it probably isn’t even fair to promote it to full B plot status. Britta’s fly away musical gag wasn’t working for me until it cut to reality – but even then it was an unnecessary bit in the scheme of things – and that’s saying something in an episode already full on unnecessary bits. That whole scene just didn’t serve any purpose. Britta and Elroy like the same music even though Elroy is old? Ok. So what?

Speaking of no purpose, the other two (C and D?) plots here were equally void of meaning. Chang ran off and made a sex tape (for a second I thought this was going to be Community’s spin on the Oregon State web cam scandal) and the Dean (Jim Rash) was off in his own world being seduced by teenagers pretending to be Jeff. So, olives. Olives happened. Why? Who knows. I don’t know and I’m not going to sit here and pretend to know. If there’s a deeper meaning to these olives and dogshit, by all means, feel free to come at me. But, from where I’m typing, this was just about olives and dogshit. Sometimes life is just about olives and dogshit, I guess. That’s about as deep as this one goes, I’m afraid.

Just like last week, the biggest offense was another really odd character decision. After the group decides to blame the dog and try to save Greendale’s image, Annie decides the only thing she can do is…transfer to City College? Not only is this really old ground for Annie to still be traipsing on, but it’s also something we’ve seen her get over. Sure, I can see how she would want her grades to still be taken seriously, but to go so far as to leave Greendale? I’m not buying it six seasons in. There was a brief moment where I wondered if she really was going to transfer and the show was either losing Alison or trying to mix things up and move the focus away from all of them being at school, but nope. Greendale bites the bullet, nothing changes, and Annie doesn’t transfer.

And then, things just fizzle out. No pulling together, no bigger picture, no larger meaning. I don’t think it’s even fair to say Annie was changed by the experience, as it’s a story cycle we’ve seen her go through before. Annie isn’t going to leave her friends and the school she’s worked so hard to improve. It just isn’t in the cards at this point in the game.

But, three episodes into season 6, and things aren’t looking great for our odd grouping of misfits and community college students. I hate to say it, but I’m really hoping that six seasons and a movie doesn’t go down in TV history as a ‘be careful what you wish for’ mantra. Community is so much better than this. Community could be so much better than this. And hopefully it still can be.

Notes & Quotes

-This was the show’s 100th episode, but was filmed as the 102 and shown out of order, so that might explain the lack of any kind of 100th episode gag, but that still seems like something that the show would comment on, or make some joke about, in some way. Missed chance there.

-Quite the a poor use of Abed (Danny Pudi) the whole episode. Sitting disheveled at a computer?

-“The TV station? No, the unrelated totally random combination of those four letters.”

-Brotherhood of audio video speech.

-“I’m not psychic Annie, that’s an illusion brought on by extreme preparedness.”

-Elroy’s look after the no TV comment

Updated 3/24 at 3:38 p.m. with minor corrections.