Community: Conventions of Space and Time

"You know, for the first time in my long history of being locked inside things, I knew someone would come."

I've been dreading this one. This was one of the two episodes sent out to critics before the season started and reactions to it were less than positive. Now that I've seen it for myself I have just one question: were they watching the same episode I was?

This was the strongest episode of season four so far. Granted, it was no classic. Some jokes fell flat, Jeff and Annie's storyline, while cute, was fairly predictable as far as Jeff and Annie storylines go, and the Pierce/Shirley thread just screamed 'contractual obligations'. But it was first episode of the season that felt like an episode of Community, not a show trying too hard to be Community. I knew from the opening scene I was going to enjoy it. That entire escape sequence (complete with Tarzan swing) felt like the show I have known and loved for the last three years.

What I was most surprised about was how much I actually enjoyed Matt Lucas' performance. I'm one of those people who really doesn't get the appeal of Little Britain, and whose skin crawls at the mere mention of it. And yet Lucas did a good job as Toby, Abed's fellow fan/potential kidnapper. It helped that he was at least given some good material to work with, unlike poor Tricia Helfer. She was completely wasted as the super hot Inspector Spacetime fan whose name I don't think was ever mentioned so I can let myself off the hook for not remembering it. It was a rather thankless role that anyone could've played.

With the exception of Pierce and Shirley's, each of this episode's story threads focused on one of show's central couples -- although that is something of a misnomer since Jeff and Annie are not officially a couple (yet) and I'm not sure what to call whatever it is Abed, Troy and Britta have going on. Try as I might, I'm still struggling to see them as a boyfriend and girlfriend. The way I see it, Troy and Abed are married and insanely inseparable from each other. But they don't have sex, so Abed is okay with his husband having a mistress (especially if it means doughnuts) because he knows that Troy will always come back to him. That's nice for Troy and Abed, maybe not so much for Troy and Britta.

So what exactly is going on with Jeff and Annie this season? Last week they were planning Halloween costumes together. And this week they were going skiing. Together. With adjoining rooms. That sounds almost exactly like a date. Are they going to follow Troy and Britta into the complicated world of couples? If Dan Harmon was still running the show I'd say probably not. He wasn't keen on pairing up his characters. He liked to tease with potential romantic pairings but never committed to any. Well, teasers are all well and nice, but sooner or later, for better or worse, you actually want to see the movie. With any luck that might just happen this season. But I'm not exactly holding my breath.

Notes and Quotes

--The credits tags for the last two episodes have been almost painful to watch. This one was much better. And props for staging a mini 90210 reunion.

--I counted at least four different Kick-Puncher posters in Troy's bedroom. I don't know about anyone else, but i really wanna see Kick-Puncher: Detroit.

--Jeff's Cockney is as bad as you would expect it to be.

--Although it was ultimately a disposable setting (the Abed/Troy/Toby storyline could've easily taken place at Greendale), the Inspector Spacetime convention was a fun backdrop for the action, full of more references to Doctor Who than I could count.

Britta: "You are not being crazy. That dude is trying to steal your boyfriend."

Abed: "If I could Winger you for a second?"
Toby: "Sure. I don't know what that means, but..."
--How long before everyone's name becomes a verb?

Randy: "Normally we don't concern ourselves with adultery because then hotels wouldn't exist."

Toby: "In England Cadbury Creams Eggs are sold year round."
Abed: "I thought that was just a legend."
--That one had me howling with laughter.

Abed: (to Pierce) "I hate you."

Abed: "You have to let me out!"
Toby: "No, not until Stockholm Syndrome sets in."

Jeff: "I can tell you one thing your fantasy got wrong, if we were married you wouldn't find me flirting with another woman in a hotel bar."

Annie: "You're on your own, Al Capone."
--This joke isn't new. They've been doing this since season two. But do they really need to do it every week now?

Three out of four blondes with long legs and tennis rackets.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think one of my favorite parts of this episode was watching the American version of Inspector Spacetime and seeing Abed's reaction to it. His face was priceless.

Mandy

celticmarc said...

I agree with Mandy, the last 2 minutes were great Community. And so was the swinging ! I was so happy to see Miss Helfer, less with her part; oh heck.

Once again, except for the end, this one made me smiled more than laugh. Am I too difficult ? The change of pace (at the convention centre) was welcome though.

I'm pretty sure we can kiss the movie goodbye.

Juliette said...

I'm glad it wasn't just me that enjoyed this a lot! I have a theory that enjoying this episode depends largely on whether you get all the Doctor Who jokes (I appreciated the bit about hotels and affairs as well, having worked in several of those. Hotels, not affairs).

I didn't think we sold creme eggs all year round though, except in Cadbury World...

Josie Kafka said...

There's a Cadbury World?

I want to go to there.

Mark Greig said...

There is, Josie, I've been there, it's awesome, if somewhat unhealthy

ChrisB said...

I loved this one. For the first time all season, I laughed out loud. More than once.

Interestingly, I have never seen a single episode of Doctor Who, so all those jokes were lost on me. What I loved was the interactions among all the various players. Abed's knowing that Troy would come for him was simply lovely.

I, too, have been wondering about how we are meant to see Jeff and Annie. It's all feeling very coupley without there actually being a couple, but it's fun to watch so I am willing to go with it.

sunbunny said...

Juliette - I doubt enjoyment of the episode is linked to Doctor Who knowledge, because I loved the episode and have never ten Doctor Who. :)

I actually laughed out loud during this. Several times.

Season 1 Britta makes an appearance. I've missed her. Not that the blonde bimbette we've been dealing with recently is unfunny, but it's good to see her be less of a joke.

Juliette said...

Sunbunny - that's a relief! I liked it, and it was the only reason I could think of why it was getting such a pasting.

I loved that opening too, though a part of me was reacting to Troy and Britta in bed like... well, like some Doctor Who fans react when he snogs people. Not because I don't want them to get together etc (though I'm more of a Jeff/Annie fan) but because it kinda seemed to come out of nowhere!