Episode Review: Community, S2E22, Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts

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Surprise, surprise! I didn’t hate “Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts.” In fact, I didn’t even dislike it. That’s not to say that it was a great episode or even a good one – I didn’t laugh at all – but for the first time in a couple of months, Community didn’t fill me with barely repressed rage. More

Episode Review: Community, S2E21, Paradigms of Human Memory

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Last week’s special review format didn’t turn out as well as I’d intended, so I’m back to doing a regular write-up this week.

It’s no secret that I’ve been disappointed in Community’s post-Christmas run, and by now, any goodwill that I felt built up by the run of 4 or 5 really strong episodes before the winter break has been eroded. The characters have become unlikeable, the humour has become lazy, and the tone has become smug and ironic.1 But every once in a while, the old Community will peek through, and I’ll get a flash of the kind of show that Community was in its brilliant first season. There were a lot of those flashes in “Paradigms of Human Memory,” all of them in the various flashback clips.

In contrast to the pointless documentary episode or the pretentious, self-congratulatory dreck that was “Critical Film Studies,” a live-action clip show comprised of brand new clips was an experiment that could have been worth exploring. It could have been a fun way to show little snippets of the study group’s past activities and let the viewers fill in the blanks. And true to my expectations, this episode soared almost any time it showed a flashback clip. But for a clip show to work, the present-day framing device has to be enjoyable to watch, and this episode’s present-day scenes were cringeworthy. They amplified tenfold everything I’ve come to hate about Community: the snotty attitude; the jokes with predictable punchlines; the complete lack of camaraderie between the characters; and the over-reliance on meta humour. Without the flashback clips, this would have been, without a doubt, the worst episode that Community has ever produced. More

Episode Review: Community, S2E20, Competitive Wine Tasting

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Merve: Dear readers, welcome to the new Community review format.

Community: Hey! Wait! What the hell? Why are you writing your review like a script?

Merve: I’m being “meta.” See how clever I am?

Community: Um…

Merve: So, what’s up with you this week?

Community: Well, I’m not nearly as pretentious as I was last time I was on the air, so that’s a relief for you, I guess. I mean, it’s not my fault you’re too much of a philistine to understand my brilliant, deep character development and my satirical examination of popular culture.

Merve: What else?

Community: I’m not very funny this week. You can see most of my punchlines coming from a mile away. Also, everyone’s acting like a dick. More

Episode Review: Community, S2E19, Critical Film Studies

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I’ve never seen Pulp Fiction or My Dinner with Andre, so if you think that makes me incapable of reviewing this episode, then I’d suggest you skip this review.

I give up. I don’t get Community anymore. I don’t understand what the hell happened to it, or why it fails week after week to entertain me. Its first season was just so freakin’ good. Now, it’s just sad and frustrating to watch. It has fallen so far from its creative peak that I cannot for the life of me comprehend why it continues to receive critical adulation. “Critical Film Studies” was a bad episode, plain and simple, and it made me lose hope that this show is ever going to be good again. More

Episode Review: Community, S2E18, Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy

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A meta gag in this week’s episode featured a hoodie said to be from the paintball adventure, emblazoned with the message, “It’s all downhill from here.” It would have been kind of funny if it weren’t so true. While Community’s second season has produced some of my favourite episodes – “Accounting For Lawyers,” “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design,” and “Mixology Certification” – it has also produced some complete garbage – “Anthropology 101,” “Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples,” and “Epidemiology.” Since returning from its Christmas hiatus, Community hasn’t exactly done anything supremely awful, but it hasn’t been able to lift itself out of its rut either.

To some extent, that’s a result of Community gambling on some storylines that I don’t find compelling, i.e. Pierce’s alienation and subsequent pill addiction, and Shirley’s pregnancy. But to a much larger extent, that’s a product of lazy, unimaginative writing, and “Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy” was full of it. At best, this week’s episode was limp and boring, and at worst, it made me dislike the characters in ways that I don’t think were intended. More

Déjà Vu: Thoughts on Castle’s Two-Parter

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Earlier this week, on Monday, Castle concluded its two-parter with “Countdown.” The first part, “Setup” had aired the previous week. Castle did a similar thing last season with “Tick, Tick, Tick…” and “Boom!”

I don’t write much about Castle. It’s a lightweight, quirky procedural that doesn’t lend itself well to extensive commentary. It’s almost always very good, but rarely excellent or mediocre. But “Setup” and “Countdown” were somewhat of a deviation from Castle’s usual formula, so it’s fitting that I write a bit about them, especially in light of what I wrote about the most recent episode of Fringe. I complained that this season’s flashback episode of Fringe was an attempt to replicate the magic of the original, and in the end, it fell short.

I feel the same way about “Setup” and “Countdown” vis-à-vis “Tick, Tick, Tick…” and “Boom!” Both pairs of episodes were built around the same framework. I understand the desire for writers to run with what has worked in the past, but attempting to relive past glory rarely produces results that compare to the original. More

Episode Review: Community, S2E17, Intro to Political Science

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After a string of subpar episodes, Community finally delivered an installment that reminded me of why I fell in love with the series in the first place. “Intro to Political Science” was a fantastically funny episode. More

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