I didn’t like it. This episode fell flat to me, and even Joel McHale’s supreme hotness couldn’t rescue it. I felt like Chang – an outsider – because I’ve never read the Bible, I’m not very familiar with Charlie Kaufman, and I didn’t see Inception, so all the clever references and inside jokes were lost on me. Is this what it feels like to be out of the loop on something cutting-edge and funny? Is this what Two and a Half Men fans feel like on a daily basis? Or is it more of a blissful, slack-jawed, protective-headwear-at-all-times kind of ignorance?
I honestly don’t even know if what I thought were Inception references really were – maybe they were just going for trippy and – you know what? No. No excuses for those guys. I’m not going to take the blame for not getting what the hell they were going for with Abed’s movie within a movie within a movie within a flailing plot device. It just sucked, pop culture reference or not.
It did put me on the other side of the fence for once, though, and it made me consider why Community may not be the runaway success I think it ought to be – because if this is what CBS fans feel like when they watch it and don’t get the clever callbacks and references, well, then that blows more than… build-your-own Charlie Sheen/hooker joke because I don’t even care enough to come up with one on my own.
The core of the problem with this episode was that there was just too much going on. They tried to jam too much into this episode and failed to build a plausible way for the stories to intertwine. Each piece operated more or less independently – Abed’s movie, Pierce’s gang of hipsters, the “gang as a family” extended metaphor, and of course, Shirley’s religious conflict. In the words of my personal god, “Hey – no religious talk.” I get that religion is Shirley’s thing, but I’m over it for awhile (and also cats). This episode seemed half-assed and relied too much on the narrowest definitions of the characters – Brita is controlling and judgmental, Annie is a nerdy ditz, Abed is an eccentric genius (or is he?), Jeff is a loveable jerk, Shirley is religious, Troy is just along for the ride and Pierce is old. Yeah, we know all that, but what usually makes this show fun is watching those quirks get the characters into crazy scrapes and hell, I’d even prefer A Very Important Lesson at the end to an episode like this that just seemed to meander without any clear purpose.
And while last week was heavy on the juvenile humor, this week the pendulum swung the other way, with one brief, and fantastic exception, as Leonard greets the hipsters with “Heads up, gaywads.” Gaywads? Amazing. I’m just waiting for someone to say “gag me with a spoon.” I did really enjoy the hipsters storyline, probably because I’ve been waiting my whole life to be old enough for my bitchiness to make me a lovable curmudgeon and my insanity to be make me a fascinating eccentric.
I also liked the close – Abed, Troy and Annie dressing up like Jeff just to mess with him. It reminded me (wistfully) of The Office’s better days and better gags. It’s fun because it’s the kind of prank you like to think you’d pull off with your friends I you could only get motivated and organized. But you can’t and you won’t because 30 Rock is coming on next, and then it’s time to watch The Office – out of the same sense of obligation that possesses you to still wave hello to that person you used to be friends with but now you’re not really anymore, and it’s just kind of awkward and you wish they would just move or acknowledge the death of your friendship before every good memory you ever had of them is written over with perfunctory waves and hellos and polite conversation. And then it’s time to turn the channel, quickly, before Outsourced comes on… because that show WILL eat your TV soul. And you don’t want to go to TV hell. It’s the entire series run of Viva Laughlin… syndicated forever and, of course, with Two and a Half Men bumpers.
P.S. WTF was with the des clerk chick’s boobs at the police station?