Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Conventions of Space & Time (Season 4, Ep 3)

Link to this Episode

(So for this episode, I'm giving live blogging a try. I'm going to write down my thoughts about the show four times and see how this changes my artistic interpretation :)  Let me know what you think)

This episode begins with Troy and Britta watching and old Inspector Space Time episode but they are both shirtless and in bed. We find out that they have been sleeping together but haven't told Abed due to his tendencies to freak out, retreat into a world he creates, and freeze like a Windows Vista. Britta then jumps out the window, grabs a vine, swings around to Annie's window, climbs to the next floor, starts grabbing socks, etc from various hiding spots only to arrive at Troy, Abed, and Annie's apartment door. Great sequence, never seen anything like it in the show. I wonder if Britta did the stunt work. nothing too impressive, it looked like it was mostly done through camera tricks/ cuts. But Abed has known they have been having sex for 2 weeks and hasn't told them because Britta keeps bringing doughnuts over.

I'm not sure if Britta actually wants to go to the convention. She seemed excited to be able to go but doesn't seem to like the show.

Jeff and Annie are traveling with the three Inspecticon attendees because they are going to ski near by. Seems their off camera relationship is moving forward as well. We'll have to see how these relationships are handled through the rest of the episode.

Pierce and Shirley we not invited because A) Pierce would ruin the convention and B) both of them wouldn't want to go.


Conventions of Space and Time (Part II)

Troy and Abed, along with all of the other attendees are decked out in their Inspector Space Time costumes in true Comic Con style. Not sure who's cosplay (or Inspeciplay??) is actually good because everything looks REALLY homemade. I'm not sure if they are trying to rag on Dr. Who fans or if this is coming from a perspective of "I know that Dr. Who, a show that i love and respect, is campy, ridiculous, and nerdy, but i love it. here are a few jokes!" or if it is a "Dr. Who is ridiculous (Period)"


(Personally, my most nerdy show/ confession is that I have watched far too many episodes of Stargate (SGU, Atlantis, and Universe) Stargate Universe was by far the best but it was only on for what, two seasons. I still pray that they unfreeze the crew and continue the series.) Moving along...


Abed has found a super Inspector fan named Toby (arguably the biggest Inspector fan) who now vies for Abeds attention/ time. Turns out Jeff and Annie can't go skiing because a bunch of boyscouts died in an avalanche?!?!? (going to have to go back and see if i miss heard that) Also, Jeff looks like one of the villains from the show, Thoraxis.

Annie and Jeff have a small fight, and Annie goes back to her room. She gets called "Mrs. Wigger" by the room service and loves it. Not in a creepy way, but in a "that's romantic, i hope this happens" way. And Lastly, an attractive woman asks if Jeff is Nigel, the actor who plays Thoraxis and in Old Jeff style, he puts on a British accent and says yes. I hope Jeff doesn't screw up his relationship with Annie. We know Jeff gets around but he isn't a cheater/ scumbag.

PS. Pierce and Sherley show up at the convention anyway, get dragged into a screening of an American version of Inspector space time.

Conventions of Space & Time (Part III)

"Girls have given me that look. That dude is trying to steal your boyfriend!" -Britta

Troy is starting to freak out that Abed is trying to replace him with Toby. Or maybe it's Toby who's trying to replace him. Honestly, it wouldn't be too much of a jump to think that Abed was looking for other friends. He said earlier in the show that he was "embracing change" and Troy had been "too busy having sex." When your friend is too busy with a new significant other, do you mope around or find someone else to hang with. From a logical- Abed perspective, you move on. But we'll see what's up.



Jeff is still talking to the Thoraxis fan and Annie's wife role play has escalated. She now is telling the bellhop that she and jeff have been having a rough patch, jeff is a doctor/lawyer, but this vacation will rekindle their relationship. But it turns out that "everyone" at the hotel thinks that Annie is so nice that they have to tell her about Jeff's "adultery" in the hotel lobby. (Normally they don't say anything about adultery because otherwise hotels wouldn't exist LOL) Annie then confronts Jeff and throws a drink in his face, the woman does the same, Jeff goes back to his room, angry.



Cut to Abed and Toby, Abed figures out that Toby was lying about having a best friend. Toby claims that he had to make sure that Abed was just like him and that the two of them aren't as "focused" as other people. Abed then makes the comparison to Inspector Space Time stating that the Inspector keeps human friends because they "keep him grounded" in the real world. Toby then logically decides to lock Abed in a phone booth until Stockholm Syndrome sets in.




Conventions of Space & Time (Part IV)

The Wrap-Up

Britta shows that she really cares about Troy. This was the relationship development that i had been looking for over the past few episodes. She goes with Troy to this convention that she cares nothing about purely because Troy loves the show. Britta then supports and coaches Troy through the Toby shpeal and then encourages him to go find Abed when Troy is ready. Nice girlfriending, Britta!

Troy finds Toby and threatens to fight him...with fists. Toby flees and Abed is saved! Abed then tells Troy that "for the first time of my long history of being locked inside things, I knew someone would come." Ugh! so good. Character strengthening for Abed, the dynamic duo remain strong, I have faith in the world!

Annie explains to Jeff that she had been fantasizing about being married and had to confront him in the lobby to save face with the hotel staff. They, too, get back to good terms. Jeff then promises Annie that, "If we were married you wouldn't find me flirting with another woman in a hotel bar." So i guess they are not dating but I still stand by my belief that they are getting together within the season. Jeff clarifies that he sees her as an equal and he offers to buy her a drink. cool, cool, cool.

Overall, I think this has been my favorite episode of the season. Good laughs, multiple, strong plot lines, each which furthered the greater storyline.

I would definitely attend another Inspecticon.

See you all next week. Back to the standard format.

-Tom


Preview for the New Episode!!!! It seems Greendale is getting a little Euro, ya?




Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Paranormal Parentage (Season 4, Ep 2)

 Link to Episode


Btw, Troy and Abed=Calvin and Hobbes, so good
It seems that we are going to get Community on a four month delay. Halloween, Christmas, etc. In an interview with Alison Brie on the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon, she lays this out pretty clearly. I had originally thought that the writers had indented this episode to be the Halloween episode but due to the delay they rebranded it Valoween. I thought gang would be going to a Valentine’s Day costume party but it would turn spooky. But the episode made no mention of Valentine’s Day. I’ve never seen a new episode of a TV show where these time frames didn’t match up (such as a Christmas episode in the spring). I guess we’ll have to take it with a grain of salt and try to get into those festive moods when the episode presents itself. 



"What in the Scooby Doo is happening to you people?"

We find the Gang (sans Pierce) all dressed in various costumes getting ready to go to a costume party at Vicky’s house. (Vicky has been a tertiary character who pops up once or twice a season). Pierce calls telling Troy that he has locked himself in his panic room and needs help getting out. Jeff thinks that Pierce is just trying to get everyone to go to his mansion because he wasn’t invited to Vicky’s. The group travels to Pierce’s 80’s styled bachelor pad which is now dusty, dark, and quite spooky. Pierce informs the group through a camera that he has locked himself in the panic room because he thinks that he saw his father’s ghost. The code to the panic room is in a book somewhere in the house. The group divides into groups of two (classic Scooby Doo) and starts to search the house. 

I was hoping they were going to play off of this theme more with a chase through the house where the background repeats or even with how they divided up the group. But I think they just put the different groups of people together to further the plot. Britta grills Jeff about how his issues with his father (who abandoned him as a child) are similar to Pierce’s issues with his father. Annie starts to freak out as when Abed gets separated from her. Abed finds a security camera room where he discovers what has been happening in the house. Shirley tries to give Troy relationship advice about Britta. 

See? Relationships are Scary

At the end of the episode, Pierce reveals that he had been tricking the gang into thinking that his house was haunted as too get back at them for going to the party. But he cannot explain who the shadowy figure was who stood over him while he slept. Pierce freaks out, relocks the panic room’s door, but the door starts to unlock itself from the outside!

As the door opens, we find out that Pierce’s brother, Gilbert, had been stopped by to give Pierce the deed to the house as a gift. Upon seeing how dirty the house was and since Gilbert was so lonely, he remained in to take care of Pierce. Pierce says that he does need a roommate and so the two decide to live together in this mansion (even though Gilbert had inherited 5 others).

The last plot point which will most likely come back in the next few episodes regards Jeff’s father. Jeff reveals to Britta that he has found his father’s current phone number three weeks ago but hasn’t called him yet. Jeff claims that this is because he does not need him but the episode ends with Jeff dialing the phone. We then see that the boxing gloves he has had around his neck all night belonged to his father.

Well I'm looking forward to the Inspector Space Time episode. Hopefully that will be next. 

What do you think about the plot lines and dialogue? Did you think they missed any opportunities for jokes?

See you next week,
Tom

Check out the interview From the Daily Show from last night. Has a good clip from a future episode. Daily Show Interview with Alison Brie (Annie)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

History 101 (Season 4 Episode 1)



Senioritis and Saying Goodbye

Link to episode: www.hulu.com/watch/454464

IT HAS RETURNED!!!! At long last our dear Community has returned but, alas, it seems as though this will be the last season. We all new it was coming. NBC has been shuffling Community around throughout its career and then we had that horrible "hiatus." But thanks to the huge outpouring of support that we, the fan base, have contributed, the show has returned. Hey, maybe one day we can get it to come back like Arrested Development. (six seasons and a movie!)

I wouldn't think that most shows know that they only have so long to live and so like 30 Rock are left scrambling to conclude the series with only 3 episodes left. Its like having a death sentence. Is that a dark analogy, yes, but this will allow Community to give the show all of the jokes and energy that it has left without worrying about future seasons AND it can work this finale into its plot. 

History 101,  is all about the gang dealing with this emending conclusion through their proclaimed "senior year." Even though in the last season Jeff defends the group by saying that many community college students take 6-8 years to complete their degree, it now appears that the Greendale Seven are on track for a 4 year degree. (accept for Pierce who has been at Greendale for 12 years). Naturally, with one's senior year comes the anxiety of leaving the school, ones friends, and venturing out into the real world.

The episode opens with and often jumps back to Abed's "happy place" which consist of all of his friends from the real world but instead everyone acts like they are in a sitcom. There is a laugh track, the jokes are shticky  and, most importantly, they are all together. Britta has told Abed that if he ever feels stressed on their first day of school that he should go to his happy place to cope. But when Jeff informs the group that he is attempting to graduate early, Abed starts to freak out. In drew Abed fashion, he zones out for 80% of the episode, imagining that the study group's class records had been deleted thus requiring them to repeat the past 3 years. Abed then proclaims that he will stay "there" for ever.

(Abed, freaking out...again)

But for Jeff to graduate, he has to complete one more history credit. The entire study group had registered for the History of Ice Cream but the Dean informs the group that someone had hacked the system and now the class is over registered  To solve this problem, the Dean has organized "the Hunger Deans" which loosely mimics the Hunger Games. Each person that wins a game gets a spot in the class. Turns out, the Dean is going through the same separation anxiety as the rest of the group, and had over booked the class on purpose. He hoped that Jeff would give up and would have to stay but Jeff has now won spots for all of his classmates.
(Jeff Competing for the spots in the History of Ice Cream Class)

In the end, "good guy" Jeff chooses the group over himself and helps get Abed out of his mind. The episode ends with a hopeful tone. Jeff's speech summarized: We can still be friends after school, the future is full of good, unexpected events.

This episode is trying to give us the same message. We can hope that this show will be here forever but be can't control the powers that be. We have to enjoy our remaining time with the show and keep it with us when it ends. For me, this show has set a bench mark for what a TV show can be. I will never forget it and i look forward to revisiting each episode in the future.

See you all next week,
Tom Brande

What do you think of the season so far? Do you think it will be good as the last three? Where do you think the plot is headed? Heard of any upcoming episodes? 
Leave a comment! or Tweet @tombrande!


PS. Looks like the next episode is going to be a special (Valentine's day+ Halloween). The Halloween episodes have been my favorite so i have set the bar high. see you all soon. Happy Valloween.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The First Chang Dynasty (Season 3, ep 21)

Link to episode: http://www.hulu.com/watch/362621#i0,p67,d0
 
(I would post a link to a permanent location where you could find community episodes but i have no clue where to find one. hulu will restrict these after new episodes are made and itunes doesn’t have any for sale. This is why i will one day buy some box sets. Such a re watchable show)

Elaborate Heist? Elaborate Heist??


So, the First Chang Dynasty is the last of a three episode story arch. As you may remember, the gang (now labeled, the Greendale Seven), have been kicked out of school for inciting a riot at Starburns’ memorial ceremony. Chang, the now head of security at Greendale, has raised an army of young teenagers to harass the student body and enforce his rule of law. Chang has also kidnapped the Dean and replaced him with a lookalike (a doppeldeaner).

            For some reason, both this episode and my previously reviewed episode Digital Estate Planning, aired on the same date (5/17/2012). Normally, the episodes are aired once a week and it seemed as though this pair suffered because of the time constraints. Although the theme and many of the jokes were better than in Digital Estate Planning, I remember being somewhat disappointed at this double header. It is possible that since the actors only had to do the voice action for Digital Estate Planning, they were able to complete both episodes at the same time or that NBC was starting to put a chokehold on Community and so they had to release both episodes at once.

            As my title suggests, this episode revolves around the traditions of the elaborate heist movie. The plot is Ocean’s Eleven meets Greendale and although my original perception of the episode was a bit muted, I think it is a fitting reintroduction back onto the campus. It’s absurd, its goofy, and the gang ends up on top.
             
           We get to see what Chang has done with Greendale over the past month or so and he has been busy. Communist style propaganda posters fill the school with Chang’s likeness.
image
Angry hormonal teens roam the hall looking to take their frustrations out on the students. Security check points bar the entrance to the campus. Chang is in the middle of organizing a “25th” birthday party for himself on the schools budget and so the gang plans on using this as a cover to break the Dean out.

            The episode also brings back the air conditioning school plot line back into the show. Although this plot line seems to be closed after the next episode, the AC schools Illuminati like connections provide a deux ex machina for the episode. Troy meets with one of the AC school teachers, named Murray, gives him the intel on the school. In doing so Murray preforms the role as the reluctant inside man for this elaborate heist. In many heist movies, an inside man who knows the ins and outs of the facility or security system discourages the would be thieves by laying out all of the dangers and therefore the improbability of success.

            Murray -Supposed [the Dean] is in the cafeteria, and supposed you get past the guards, there are 50 more guards waiting for you inside. Now let’s say that you get past the guards, then you’ll run into a key pad to which the code is changed every day. And just for fun let’s say you get past the key pad, go down the stairs and you’ll find another guard and a door and another lock. The only key to which is… (camera focuses in on Chang’s neck).

            Troy- Where is it?

            Murray- Oh sorry, it’s pictured quite clearly in my head.

The other point in the episode which I enjoyed was during the plan itself. Jeff, similar to George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven, narrates during the heist stating.

            Jeff- The best part of the plan is that one point it will look like the plan is failing. But that’s the point when the failing plan was a part of the plan all along.

This is the last that we see of Chang as he does not appear in the next episode. Apparently, he is going to come back in season 4 with a case or “Changnesia.” Chang has never really been one of my favorite characters. I enjoyed him as the weird fake Spanish teacher, he had his moments has the wantabe friend in the second season, and stayed about average for the third season as well. I think I enjoyed the other cast members react to Chang rather than Chang himself. From what I’ve seen of Ken Jeong, Chang is similar to his other parts. The gangsters in the Hangover,the king in Role Models. All slightly off characters who have some form of power. Now Chang does seem to have a whole new league of crazy but still, never really been a fan of Jeong’s work.

Fun fact: Jeong graduated Duke, has a doctorate from the University of North Carolina and used to practice medicine. He then started to do stand up until he moved out to LA to pursue his acting career.

This interview here is the tamest I’ve ever seen him. He talks about Chang and his role in the new season.
-Tom Brande

Don’t forget to check out the trailer for the new season below.

Leave comments or tweet me @TomBrande

The Trailer for the New Season


(btw, I was hoping pierce wasn’t going to be in this season)

Digital Estate Planning: Season 3 Episode 20

Hulu link to episode: www.hulu.com/watch/362620#i0,p67,d0

Honestly, this is one of my least favorite episodes of Community and it shouldn’t be that way. My first steps into the world of technology were ushered by games such as sonic the hedgehog, super mario, the avengers, duck hunter, etc. As this episode emulates the style of an early 16-bit game, complete with a sound track that fits the genre, I should have been loling all over the place.


image
(Pictured: Pierce, Jeff, Annie, Troy, Britta, Abed, and Shirley)

Although i would play a Community themed computer game to procrastinate any project or assignment, the episode fell flat. Most of the dialogue is simplified because it is used to tell us information that we would have no way of knowing. For example, these are the first lines

Jeff: Pierce, you made us drive out to a warehouse in the middle of nowhere. You could at least tell us why.

Pierce: Hey I know as much as you. All i know is that i got a letter from the executor of my father’s estate which said to come out here with seven of my closest friends. (total there are only 7 in the gang)

Ok great! Now i know what is going on! But it’s so clunky.

The worst of the dialogue comes later. The basic plot is that Pierce’s father made a video game for Pierce to play once he has died. He must play with 7 of his closest friends. Whoever reaches the end of the game first, wins Pierce’s inheritance. Seeing as Pierce’s father was quite wealthy from their moist towelette business this is a large sum. (Also some background for you new members of Greendale, Pierce’s Dad, Mr. Hawthorn, was as racist and insensitive as he was rich. He wore an ivory hair piece because it was the purest form of white (as in not racially black).)

Conflict? Gilbert Sullivan, Mr. Hawthorn’s personal assistant for 20 years takes the 7th spot and has been practicing for that long. He is going to steal the inheritance.
Upon seeing how good Gilbert is at the game, Pierce tries to give up and the Britta lays this gem on us.
Britta: “While he’s fighting for greed, we’re fighting for friendship. Which means we can’t loose!”
Wow.

In the end (SPOILER), the gang forfeits the game and gives the inheritance to Gilbert because he was Pierce’s half-brother and had been dealing with Mr. Hawthorn’s racist and ridiculous tirades throughout his life. aww, so nice. The episode ends with Gilbert offering to take everyone out for Margaritas at a local bar, his treat.

How nice from the person who just tried to steal inheritance from his brother. Why couldn’t Pierce and Gilbert split the inheritance?

Also, the gang shift their goals from, “stopping Gilbert at all costs to help Pierce” to “eh, let’s let him have the money” without any discussion or deliberation. It doesn’t fit together.

It is possible, that the clunky/ sappy lines and the resolution that comes out of nowhere are all deliberate attributes of the show. Maybe the writers of show we making a parody of classic video games. Only through teamwork and friendship can the characters win. The dialogue in the game will be minimal and written poorly. For example in the Sega Genesis game, The Avengers, before fighting bosses there are short quips of dialogue. The villain: “You can’t escape!” The Heroes: “You’ll be the one escaping!” Or one of my favorites, The Heroes: Where’s the laser?” A different villain: “Ask the police.”
Brilliant :) and then you fight them.

Either way, I think it is a stretch and either could have been done better or shouldn’t have been done at all. It may have been better to have this episode after episode 21, “The First Chang Dynasty,”  (which i will review next week) because episode 19 and 21 fit together. In episode 19, the gang finds out that Chang has taken over Greendale and got them kicked out of school and episode 21 is when they plan to revel his plan. Why did they wait an episode to go to a warehouse? No one knew what it was about before they got there? It would have been a better interlude between the climax of the Chang-is-crazy-and-taking-over-greendale thread and the finale of the season.

Oh well, can’t they can’t all be winners.

See you guys next week when I review episode 20. Only one more week til the new season!
-Tom Brande
ps. best part of the episode
image

Episode 19 Season 3, "Curriculum Unavailible"


In episode 18, Course Listing Unavailable, The Gang, is expelled from Greendale due to the treacherous plot orchestrated by Chang. For all those who don’t remember, Chang uses a doppelganger from the episode, Contemporary Impressionists, to pose as the Dean (a doppeldeaner). Two months after their expulsion, the team must go to therapy with Abed.

Many of the past episodes of Community choose a genre of TV or movies and create a satire or homage to it. Past episodes have recreated western classics (taking cues from The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly), Law and Order, and Christmas specials (much of the episode is filmed in claymation). These cues immediately give the show a wealth of history to draw from to entertain the audience by pointing at motifs or just by placing these seven characters in ridiculous situations (such as a zombie apocalypse).


One motif used in this episode was the technique used in movies with unexpected twists plot (think the Sixth Sense, or Last season of Lost). The psychologist, played by John Hodgeman (featured on the daily show), tries to convince the gang that Greendale never existed.

” But there is no there, you can’t go back, because it doesn’t exist!”
*** Thunder!!!***
What they do remember was the two years they shared at Greendale Asylum. He claims that they were all put there by past traumas.

Truthfully, viewers learned in the first season that each of the characters did end up in Greendale do to failed marriages, careers, mental break downs, and in Peirce’s case, being old. How else could his community college, where everything is unbelievably ridiculous and all revolves around them, exist?!?!

Once the gang realizes that the therapist is lying and returns to find him crawling out the window, the discover that John Hodgeman was paid by Chang to keep them away from Greendale.
Although this plot twist theme is a main part of the episode, the main hat tipping comes from the usage of flashbacks to illustrate points. Often when sitcoms get into their later years and have a hard time coming up wit new plot points or when a sitcom is in its last season it will have an episode where the characters “remember” all the good times they’ve had. What this really means is the show is repackaging old content in a little box of new laziness.

Fortunately for us Community watchers, the powers that be uses this as an opportunity to illustrate yet again how a) brilliantly funny they are

and b)that there are events that occur outside of the show’s half hour and without the gang.


Note: these are all examples that the Gang gives to prove to the therapist that Greendale is insane/ they are just as crazy as Abed is.

So Community is taking an opportunity that most shows use to be lazy and have used it to expand the world of the show and give the viewers a few extra laughs.
  • What would a community episode be without the 30 second clip after the last commercial. Here is the clip from this episode. 
  • ·      Troy and Abed in the Morning, Nights!
    ·        

    ·            Last clip to clinches it.
Can’t wait for February 7th!
See you all next week,
Tom