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<i>Community:</i> The Saint Valloween’s Day Massacre

To make up for the fact that Community's Halloween episode was airing on Valentine's Day as opposed to... well, Halloween, the marketing geniuses decided to give "Paranormal Parentage" the more calendar appropriate Twitter handle: "#HappyValloween." The idea of a Valentine's Day/Halloween hybrid is a pretty funny notion and probably would have made a great episode of Community. Certainly better than the one we got, which after a strong start (thanks largely to daffy costumes worn by the gang -- if Bill Watterson wasn't so tight-assed when it comes to licensing, we'd love a live-action Calvin & Hobbes movie starring Danny Pudi and Donald Glover) began to flatline soon after the gang turned up at Pierce's mansion ostensibly to spring him from his panic room, in which he had accidentally locked himself.

By the end of what became an overlong Scooby-Doo homage, it turned out, of course, that the whole "I'm trapped in a panic room like Jodie Foster without Kristen Stewart!" thing was all a fiction devised by a lonely old man who just wanted some attention. But the Scooby gang had to spend an entire episode wandering around his cheap-looking mansion (Seriously, just how much money has NBC cut from the show's budget? Community has always been a soundstage-bound series, but the production design has never seemed quite as limited and half-assed as it has been the past two episodes) in search of something funny to do. Even though "Paranormal Parentage" was written by stalwart Community scribe Megan Ganz, the episode still felt like it was straining to replicate a very specific voice that's no longer present in the writer's room. Even the jokes that connected felt as if they would have been ten times funnier in the previous incarnation of the show. Perhaps the scariest thing about "Paranormal Parentage" is that it suggested Community might be too far gone to save. While we wait to see whether next week's outing reverses the show's downward spiral, here are the study group's individual funniest and freakiest moments from last night's Valloween Day's Massacre.

Jeff
Funniest Moment: "I'll check... my messages." Classic non-helpful Jeff.
Freakiest Moment: The specter of Jeff's absent father coming back into the picture, one of our least favorite storylines from last season. We're with Britta: enough with the daddy issues.

Britta
Funniest Moment: Using the old "Responding to every statement with a question" trick to try and get Jeff to open up about his feelings towards his old man. Great idea. Is it?
Freakiest Moment: Intimating that she's been locked in far worse places than a panic room and not against her will, either. Yikes. Still sure you're up for this relationship, Troy?

Troy
Funniest Moment: "You won't tell me, Pierce won't tell me -- I have no idea what to Google!"
Freakiest Moment: Playing with that indoor S&M swing. We shudder to think how he might put it to use, especially since he doesn't realize what it's actually for.

Annie
Funniest Moment: Her entrance as Boxer!Jeff's "Ring Girl," which she took to mean the creepy demon girl from The Ring as opposed to the bikini-clad babe who prances around the boxing ring in between rounds. Pretty freaky-deaky (and funny) indeed.
Freakiest Moment: "I hate reference humor" -- the first of two far too self-aware jokes (even for Community) in the episode.

Abed
Funniest Moment: Turning Annie on to Cougar Town (making her his third-favorite show) which we can only hope pays off in another parody that's as hilarious as Cougarton Abbey
Freakiest Moment: "I remember when this show was about a community college." Okay, it's been well-established that Abed is the one character on the show that recognizes he's on a sitcom. But in previous seasons, this trait has been employed in far cleverer ways. Just having him verbalize it in a tossed-off bit of dialogue feels like lip service to fans -- a way of saying "Look, we're still the same show!" even when it's not.

Shirley
Funniest Moment: "Hold on, I've been offended by this coat rack before. Are we going in circles?"
Freakiest Moment: Shirley's episode-long obsession with Troy's fledgling sex life with Britta, which reached its culmination in Pierce's S&M room. She's always been a busybody, but sticking her nose into the bedroom is as uncomfortable for us as it is for him.

Pierce
Funniest Moment: "Ghosts can't go through doors, stupid. They're not fire."
Freakiest Moment: It bears repeating just how shoddy and half-assed the production design of Pierce's mansion was. Maybe the cheapness of the sets was intended to serve as a subtle reference to the cheapness of the animation in the original Scooby-Doo cartoon, but it's far more likely that the design department was given a budget of a $1.50 to redress the standing sets as a different location. If the rest of the season looks this ugly and public-accessy, we're going to be very, very afraid.



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