Coming on the heels of a stellar outing like "Remedial Chaos Theory," it was perhaps inevitable that the next new episode of Community was going to feel slightly disappointing. And sure enough, last night's Halloween-themed "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps" was a more uneven affair than its brilliantly conceived and executed predecessor.
The episode's chief flaw concerned the wraparound story involving the results of the personality tests Britta handed out to the study group, which indicated that one of them was, as the aspiring psychiatrist put it, "deeply disturbed." (To which we could only say, have you met these people?) So she decided that the best way to ferret out the secret psycho was to have them all sit around telling scary stories; the person with the most disturbing reactions to these tales of horror would win... uh, make that lose. Obviously, this plotline was primarily designed to set up the individual spooky vignettes and that was the problem -- it felt too much like a forced narrative contrivance that built to an especially lame resolution. (Oh! She just fed the tests into the machine the wrong way! Zzzz.) On the other hand, it did introduce the word "Britta'd" into our vocabulary -- as in, "the writers kinda Birtta'd that ending" -- so we'll give the episode credit for that. And as we already indicated, we mostly enjoyed the group's spooky stories. Here's how each of those vignettes rated.
It's Like: I Know What You Did Last Summer meets Halloween
Scariest Moment: Jeff's cheesetastic come-on: "That's just the sound of my heart, baby."
Funniest Moment: The radio announcer's breathlessly uninterested news bulletin: "An escaped convict from the asylum has escaped and he's mental and he's on the loose and stuff... He was last seen in the woods and has a thingy for a hand. A hook thing where his hand should be, you know what I mean."
Overall Grade: B+. A spot-on recap of the way the typical horror movie kill goes down, further enlivened by Britta's typical complete lack of attention to detail.
It's Like: The Evil Dead meets Schizopolis
Scariest Moment: Listening to that endless loop of Muzak, the soundtrack they no doubt play 24/7 in Hell.
Funniest Moment: Britta getting turned on by Abed's powerful... logic.
Overall Grade: A-. The polar opposite of Britta's tale, a story that's all about getting the details right.
It's Like: Twilight meets that "I never learned to read!" scene from Wayne's World
Scariest Moment: Annie's vivid descriptions of her werewolf heroine "flossing her teeth" with the vampire's tendons and his eyeball seeing his partial digested flesh in her stomach.
Funniest Moment: Jeff working his way up from kiddie books to Shakespeare in the space of a single second.
Overall Grade: A. We especially liked how the story can be interpreted as a metaphor for Jeff and Annie's whole relationship -- she keeps thinking she can improve him, but he's perfectly happy to keep on breaking bad.
It's Like: The Human Centipede meets Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask
Scariest Moment: Pierce's enthusiasm at the prospect of being able to feel up his own butt-boobs.
Funniest Moment: Troy and Abed developing ESP powers after being sewn together (not ass to mouth, fortunately).
Overall Grade: B-. It started out strong with the Top Gun references, but the ass-boobs punchline was too juvenile even for Troy.
It's Like: Shaft meets Straw Dogs.
Scariest Moment: Pierce's penis punching out Troy.
Funniest Moment: Troy's Coolio-style hair.
Overall Grade: C+. We'd rather have seen a dramatization of Pierce's equally horrific "sex-with-Eartha-Kitt-in-an-airplane-bathroom" story from the last episode.
It's Like: Left Behind meets No Exit.
Scariest Moment: Shirley's self-righteous farewell to her damned pals.
Funniest Moment: "The good news is: you're the coolest people in the world. The bad news is: the world is over.
Overall Grade: C. Too much Devil Dean mincing, although we did chuckle at Shirley's definition of a "pot bong" and her conservative notion that NPR plays death metal.
It's Like: Scream meets Ordinary People.
Scariest Moment: The killer is unmasked... and it's Chang!
Funniest Moment: Jeff asking the murderer to tell them why he kills people.
Overall Grade: N/A. Too short to really award a proper grade. Still, it's amusing that Jeff, of all people, tells the story with the happiest ending.
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