|Abed (Danny Pudi) and Britta (Gillian Jacobs),|
very practically fending off a madman.
Thus far I've watched five sitcom Halloween offerings - Happy Endings, Suburgatory, Parks and Recreation, The Office, and Community. Not much to say I haven't said before - Suburgatory continues to impress with its tone and chemistry, Parks and Rec has the best heart on TV (and the best writing), and The Office gave a strong, funny episode with a fantastically weird ending that continues to reassure me that the show may just have life left in it. Happy Endings, meanwhile, gave us a beat-for-beat belly laugher of an episode, especially in terms of Halloween stuff (Brad and Jane vs. the Suburbs, Alex mistaken for a dude, Penny and Max's ludicrous costume). Overall, it's a good year for Halloween laughs.
In typical fashion, Community gave me the only half-hour of comedy that warrants a blog post/recap, because there's just so much to it. And on we go! Click through to avoid Pilates, the genital-devouring demon...
Once again, Community densely packs seven characters worth of deep analysis into 22 minutes, with plenty of laughs thrown in for good measure. This week's formula: Britta, in the tradition of every newly minted Psych major, realizes that someone in her circle of friends must be a homicidal maniac, based on the results of anonymous psych tests she had each of the gang take.
Catching everyone at her "pre-party party", after the taco shells but before the NPR-listening, she decides to tell a scary story meant to gauge everyone's reactions to a murderer's killing spree. But, this is Community, so everybody has to chime in, claiming she's "Britta-ing" scary stories and insisting that each of them could do better. The results reveal much to the viewer.
Once of the things I've always loved most about Community is how dead serious it is about its character development. And the highlight of this week's episode was seeing each group member's personality, self-image, and idiosyncrasies affect their stories. Pierce, for example, believes himself to be incredibly hip and relevant. Shirley sees the gang as "the bad kids"* that keep picking on the one, saved Christian. Abed is more concerned with telling a "correct" story free of plot holes (and, consequently, entertainment). Troy, typically Troy, tells the most awesome Halloween story he can muster up, with fighter pilots, boobs, horrifying surgeries, and telepathy. Jeff creates a fantasy version of what he seems to always do in the show's reality - giving a speech and generally asserting that he's the only normal one in the room.
*- Wonderful costuming in Shirley's story, too, as she, in her adorable un-hipness, sees the gang clad as the types you'd see in a 90s after-school special.
|Annie (Alison Brie) gives us way too much subtext about her feelings|
for Jeff (Joel McHale).
**- Secret MVP of this episode, hands-down, was Gillian Jacobs. Was anyone else asked to do so many ridiculous variations on their character this week? At every peak and valley of absurdity, Jacobs was nailing it.
In the end, not only were Britta's test results screwed up by Jeff simply Christmas tree-ing his test, but she also "Britta-ed" all seven, running them through the machine upside-down. The new results? Everyone, except one person, is potentially crazy. And rather than anyone wanting to know for sure who the sane person is, they simply accept that, well, at least one of them is sane and hopefully keeping the group dynamic stable.
Of course, the audience is luckier than that, and we get to find out that the owner of the "normal" test is Abed. There's a lot of meat to that, I think. For me, I laughed and said to myself, "of course." The episode sure made a case in the stories that the rest of the study group has strangely vindictive tendencies towards each other. It makes you wonder what the dynamic would be like without him, if there even would still be study group, or if this Christmas will attempt an It's a Wonderful Life-style look at life without Abed. And, naturally, you can look at it as something substantial that Abed, the only group member with a diagnosable personality difference, is the most normal one there. But mainly I think that in the group dynamic, Abed being Abed and everyone else being everyone else, it just makes perfect sense. "Of course."
Dan Harmon seems to be thinking very much of the year as a whole, using these early episodes to do a lot of table-setting for major shifts and, likely, very big stories. As usual, I can't wait to watch it and watch it again.
And, of course, then I'll write way more about it than a 22-minute sitcom episode may necessarily warrant.