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Community's first theme episode of the season explored a brilliant plot premise, but failed to provide quite as many laughs as usual. While the jokes won't all be remembered for very long, the concept of the episode will stand out in the memories of those fans who favor theme-of-the-week over Community's more random approach to humor.
Browsing through various forums and the official Facebook fan-page of the show, the general opinion of the season up until this episode has been quite poor. The opinion is divided between those that enjoy the utterly silly moments, and those that would prefer to see more theme episodes and concentration on the main group of characters. However, the former is far outnumbered by the latter, and so the majority of people have been dissatisfied.
I'm caught somewhere in the middle of the two camps. While I love a
good theme episode, such as the paintball and D&D stories,
I also measure a comedy's greatness by the amount of laughs it
provides, first and foremost.
Complaints about the season so far have consisted of two main points. Firstly, fans have expressed finding the Chang story unfunny, and too random to provide enough laughs. True, not everyone can appreciate randomness as a legitimate form of humor, and much prefer banter, awkward social situations, and trademark catch phrases from their favorite characters. Many would be satisfied with an entire episode of Magnitude pop-popping from start to finish.
The irony is that some of the largest laughs of this episode came from completely silly, random moments, mainly involving Troy eating things. Candy cigarettes, for example. Or trolls. “You don't understand anything about defeating trolls” would have been an uproariously funny line, even without the added quirkiness of the high-pitched voice box installation in the “evil Troy and Abed” universe. True, some of the silliness went hand-in-hand with cultural references, but it's hard to deny that Evil Abed's goatee beards were pretty random, too.
The second thing people have complained about regarding the first three episodes has been the increasing meanness of the main characters. This complaint, I can agree with. However, looking back on the previous seasons, most of the characters have always been mean, with their cutting, quick remarks and volatile natures (some more than others).
With that said, this episode really took Jeff to new levels of
douche-baggery. One of my complaints about the season so far is that
the show hasn't had any real underlying storyline as a current to
carry the show's smaller, episodic tales. But the more I see of this
season, the more I see that the main story so far seems to be Jeff's
transformation into the new Peirce, becoming the 'big bad' of the
season (if a comedy requires such a thing). I could be wrong, but the
writers seem to be making a point to show how bitter and mean
Jeff is now. The scene which really conveyed this was in the universe
where Jeff was the one chosen to get the pizza, and everyone started
having fun without him. Britta was allowed to sing, there were no
awkward silences, and everyone started dancing to Roxanne,
without any of the drama we saw in the other parallel universes. They
further highlighted the fact that Jeff is a negative influence on the
group when he returned and said, “you guys see what happens when I
leave you alone, huh?” Yes, we saw Jeff. They had fun, because they
were allowed to be themselves without the super-serious cool guy
raining on their parade at every chance by calling them childish.
What about the fan opinion of this episode of Community? Well, so far, fans have received it very well, with some people even ranking it as one of their favorites of the whole series. Is this due to the fact that the episode was sort of themed, like much of season 2 and parts of season 1?
Let's face it, this episode's theme was pretty genius. The way Community introduces outlandish or sci-fi premises to its plots by using Abed as a tool is amazing. It's like we're getting a glimpse inside of his mind without actually realizing it. Were those other dimensions real? Or was it all in Abed's head? Who cares! It was very entertaining.
But I can't help but feel this episode wasn't as funny as the previous two. In fact, I counted the number of times I laughed these past thee weeks, and this episode came out roughly 50% less than the other two episodes. Don't get me wrong, the idea behind the plot was amusing, and they definitely ran with it as well as anyone could expect. But much of the humor felt obvious, forced, and many of the gags were even a little unoriginal. Most of the jokes you could see coming a mile away, and that's why this episode wasn't as good as last week's.
But, as usual with Community,
when it is funny it is really funny.
The times I did laugh
out loud, I laughed quite hard. True, they might not have been the
same points that other people were laughing at, but Community
continues portray two very different types of humor.