Then again I didn’t know Jim Rash deaned the episode until afterwords, so I felt ok in not liking it? It felt too much like the rest of this season in that it was trying way too hard to be high concept (and I’ve been an apologist for this season), or like every other Abed has some problem and uses pop culture to try and understand it episode. Sure, it was reversed, but still it was the same concept only with Tory. The acting was terrific, but I found the premise annoying, though it sort of paid off in the end. I think I needed a stronger sub-plot to balance out the Abed/Troyness.
Sure, there have been ups and downs with Britta, but I really think they did some good stuff with Abed and Pierce in tonight’s episode. And the Chang thing is working better than I ever expected. If anything, the show has been too charitable with its characters (I’ve said it before, Jeff may be too nice and teary-eyed nowadays), which is the right side to ere on.
I find it interesting that last night’s episode was the best of the season thus far and also the most down to earth. I think the problem with the first few of this new season has been the showrunners want to say “Hey, we’re still weird and quirky and meta!” and so the characters have become a bit cartoonish or painted in broad strokes, though there have been some nice character moments. But I think, while the subplot didn’t really work that well, the characters felt like they should feel, and Jeff’s speech to his father was as perfect as it should have been.
“Paranormal Parentage” almost felt like vintage Community, and I think it’s a good sign that the show is so close to being what it was only 2 episodes in. Some of the characters aren’t quite as realized as they were under Harmon, but this episode was structured much more strongly than last week’s.
A lot of people are complaining that show isn’t as funny as it once was but I’ve never seen Community as a laugh-riot of a show. It’s always been more fun than funny, pleasurable through its cleverness, inventiveness, and complexity. There have been great episodes where I’ve really only laughed a couple of times watching but that isn’t what the show is or wants to do, so to say it’s not laugh a minute out-loud funny isn’t a fair criticism.
a clip of Dan Harmon on what community means from Communicon
Given that this episode was playing with sitcom conventions of broad comedy it’s hard to say how the “new” Community is. And while parts felt a bit different (What’s strange is the parts that felt “off” had nothing to do with the writing but the direction (the performances were a bit less nuanced, the pacing and style weren’t as tight) which is odd since it was directed by a veteran Community director), the fact that the first episode under new its showrunners was just as wacky, meta, and took as many chances as Community always has, is a good sign that the show isn’t chang-ing it’s roots. People forget how flat the first few episodes of the series were, and considering all that has happened to this show I think the future is still promising…there are just some things that need to be worked out.
Making a best of TV list is tricky since the TV calendar, like the US Government or the NBA starts in the fall so some shows fall in between the cracks (ie. Downton Abbey, which I haven’t caught up with so don’t hyperventilate).
- Breaking Bad, AMC: What’s amazing to me is that while all of the love, rightfully so, goes to the actors, people forget the writing. The fact that each episode (with 2 or 3 exceptions per season) feel like they could be season finales demonstrates how insane it is to raise the stakes to Spinal Tap post-10 levels. This may have been it’s weakest season to date (as it sets up for what feels like a scorched earth of a finale), but it’s still unlike anything on TV.
- Community, NBC: Who knows when we’ll ever see it again, but the show’s 3rd season took extraordinary chances, mostly making the show darker and the characters at times unlikable, which eventually paid off in one of the most rewarding and honestly emotional final few episodes (breathe-I meant of the season) for a comedy series in memory. That a show that is this meta, this zany can pull off such grounded character work is why it’s so beloved.
- Homeland, Showtime: The show is best when it’s a show about broken people working in a broken system instead of either showcasing one or the other-when it’s about the system its not much more than “24” (with a bit more liberal guilt) with all of its various ethical quandaries. When it’s only about broken people it’s the best acted and most bizarre Lifetime movie ever made, which is sort of what the second season turned into.
- Adventure Time, Cartoon Network: The bizarre, post-apocalyptic cartoon about a boy and his magic dog often deals with adult-ish themes (mental illness, aging, death, complicating gender roles, loneliness, etc.) with youthful excitement and imagination (and butt jokes). This past year it doubled down on its backstory and most notably turned The Ice King from an inept coot of a villain to one of the most tragic figures on TV. With this show you never know when you’ll see something like free-form jazz-like surrealism (“King Worm”), pitch perfect homage (“BMO Noire”), or catch you off guard with something profound (and without tissues; “I Remember You”).
- Game of Thrones, HBO: It’s still frustratingly uneven at times but the second season delivered on much of the promise of the first. When “Winter” finally comes this is setting itself up to be something incredible.
- Key & Peele, Comedy Central
- Bob’s Burgers, Fox
- Parks & Recreation, NBC
- Louie, FX.
- The Colbert Report, Comedy Central
Honorable Mention: The Walking Dead, AMC, Awkward., MTV, Regular Show, Cartoon Network.
We have to wait a little longer but at least they aren’t doing to it what they’re doing to “Up all Night”