Recently in Community File Category
In the immortal words of T.S. Eliot, "Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over." Or maybe, "This is the way
the world Community ends: Not with a bang but a whimper" would be more apropos. Whichever Eliot line you chose to go with, Community's fourth season (and, potentially, series) finale "Advanced Introduction to Finality" was a definite off-note on which to end a season that was already often out of tune.
Question: What does a show do when it can't decide how to move forward? Answer: It looks to the past. That explains Community's penultimate Season 4 episode, "Heroic Origins," in which Abed pieces together the group's shared pre-Greendale history on a flowchart he labels the
Loom of Fate Crazy Quilt of Destiny. On the one hand, this gimmick allowed the cast to have some fun playing earlier incarnations of their characters, from Alison Brie's brace-faced Annie to Abed's Phantom Menace-trolling scarer of small children. At the same time, though, the whole thing felt kind of... well, pointless, since this trip to the past wound up shedding very minimal light on who these characters are now and what the future -- which may or may not last beyond next week's finale -- might have in store.
If nothing else, "Basic Human Anatomy" demonstrated the advantage of having an Oscar-winning screenwriter finally on your writing staff. On the heels of last week's Christmas-themed debacle, Jim "Dean Pelton" Rash swooped in and saved the series at the 11th
hour episode, penning the only successful high concept half hour so far this season. The high concept in question was body switching, that old staple of '70s and '80s comedies like Vice Versa (sorry Abed, we dig that one, Judge Reinhold and all), Like Father, Like Son and Freaky Friday (not the Lindsay Lohan version -- the 1976 Jodie Foster-starring, fortune cookie-free original), the latter of which caused buddies Abed and Troy to trade identities just in time for Troy to make a big decision about his ill-advised romance with Britta.
The Community gang celebrated Christmas last night, but all that audiences got from "Intro to Knots" was a lump of coal. The premise was the fatal flaw on last week's all-puppet outing, but in this case execution was the thing that proved to be lacking. Conceived in part as an homage to Alfred Hitchcock's one-set, one-take, real-time feature film stunt Rope, "Knots" was built around the most consistent element Community has had going for it during this all-over-the-map fourth season -- the cast -- and, unfortunately, they dropped the ball. Maybe it was the aftermath of Chevy Chase's departure (this episode was filmed after he quit the show, necessitating Ken Jeong's presence as the study group's sixth wheel) or maybe it was the simple exhaustion that sets in after ten episodes are in the can with three left to shoot, but there was a noticeable disconnect between the performers and the material throughout the half-hour. Only guest star Malcolm McDowell seemed to have any energy and he spent the majority of the episode tied up (or so we assumed) in a chair.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Community's fourth season has suffered from a high concept problem... namely that every single attempt at a high concept episode has fallen flatter than Chevy Chase's post-Community career prospects. Sadly, "Intro to Felt Surrogacy" a.k.a. "The Puppet Episode" didn't prove to be an exception to this rule.
Mentally erase those excessively maudlin closing moments, and "Herstory of Dance" becomes a sly, satisfying episode of Community, a clear standout in this wildly inconsistent fourth season. Much like its predecessor, "Economics of Marine Biology," "Herstory" eschews the high-concept stuff for a more traditional sitcom structure. Unlike that scattered half-hour, though, here the various plots all connect back to one main event -- the face-off between Dean Pelton's Sadie Hawkins dance and Britta's Sophie B. Hawkins dance -- giving it a cohesiveness that amplifies the comedy. And the puppet stinger at the end was a great tease for next week's all-felt outing. I don't care if it is a blatant rip-off of that fifth-season Angel episode; I can't wait to see more of Puppet!Annie, Puppet!Troy and Puppet!Pierece, the latter of whom is preferable to flesh-and-blood version at this point.
Back in the Dan Harmon days, Community would occasionally take a break from its high-concept stunts and try something really wacky: acting like a traditional sitcom. That was the kind of episode "Economics of Marine Biology" tried to be, one that didn't have any big post-modern comic premise on its mind or major plot points to address -- just standard situation comedy hijinks involving a group of (supposedly) funny people in a (supposedly) funny location.
All season long, I've bemoaned Community's attempts to recapture what it was before instead of trying to move forward and embrace what it is now. "Advanced Documentary Filmmaking" is a case study in that, as it resurrects the documentary device that the Dan Harmon version of the show employed to such memorable (and formally innovative) effect and proceeds to get a failing grade in execution.
In a reunion three seasons in the making, Jeff Winger finally met his pater familias Willie (played by James Brolin) in Community's Thanksgiving-themed outing "Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations." Due to the heavy nature of this encounter, it's perhaps no surprise that the episode erred on the side of serious rather than seriously funny (not that we've seen much of the latter this season anyway) and, to his credit, Joel McHale rose to the occasion, doing some really terrific work that made up for creative lapses like Jeff's obnoxiously self-esteem challenged step-brother, Willie Jr. (Adam DeVine, who had the misfortune of being saddled with such a poorly conceived character).
After a not-entirely unpleasant road trip to InSpecTiCon (boy, that's a fun name to type), Community returned to the confines of Greendale last night and proceeded to run headlong into a ditch.
MOST RECENT POSTS
Warning: file(http://forums.televisionwithoutpity.com/index.php?app=core&module=global§ion=rss&type=forums&id=101) [function.file]: failed to open stream: HTTP request failed! in /var/www/mte41/mt41-blogs.televisionwithoutpity.com/telefile/community-file/index.php on line 1269
Warning: implode() [function.implode]: Invalid arguments passed in /var/www/mte41/mt41-blogs.televisionwithoutpity.com/telefile/community-file/index.php on line 1269
Warning: DOMDocument::loadXML() [function.DOMDocument-loadXML]: Empty string supplied as input in /var/www/mte41/mt41-blogs.televisionwithoutpity.com/telefile/community-file/index.php on line 1271