Thursday, April 19, 2012

I Didn't Get Inception, SO MANY LAYERS: Community Goes Inside the Dreamatorium

Okay…I’m not really sure what just happened to my mind…but I’m pretty sure it was awesome. Normally I try to analyze episodes after I watch them…but my brain feels broken right now, so I’ll do the best I can.

Tonight’s Community was…well…something. Still not really sure what that something was (and I’ve watched it twice now) but alas it was something.

This year I had the pleasure of seeing the Community panel at Paley Fest. I specifically remember Dan Harmon talking about this episode. He said something akin to “this will either be the best episode to ever happen to television, or the worst.”  While I won’t go as far as to say that this was the best episode to ever happen to television, it was definitely good. I mean, it was an episode that took place in the dreamatorium…that in itself is quite a feat. We constantly hear about the dreamatorium, and occasionally we get glimpses of what Troy & Abed do in there, but we’ve never gotten to experience it the way we did tonight.

Abed is such a complex character. At the Community panel, Danny Pudi talked a bit about what it is like to play Abed. He made an interesting point that I had never thought of: although Abed acts emotionless on a constant basis, in actuality he is full of emotion-- it’s just internalized. This type of episode helps to explain exactly what Danny Pudi meant by this. We constantly see Abed as an observer, the impartial character that never lets feelings influence the situation(AHEM FRINGIES). And I don’t know about you guys, but since I think of him as an observer so much I tend to forget that he is still a person with emotions. He has insecurities like the rest of us. As Annie talked about in the end of the episode, Abed is afraid of not being needed and not fitting in. While these insecurities seem to affect Abed deeper than we know (I mean when he envisioned his friends’ thoughts, he assumed he would be tossed aside in some locker) they also are what tie Abed to the rest of the group. Hopefully his experience with Annie in the dreamatorium gave him some insight to this (and judging by the end scene where he smiles at Annie, I’d assume it did).

Okay now away from Abed, we also got a lot of great character development from Annie tonight. Even though Annie taught Abed some lessons tonight, Abed also taught Annie a few as well. We constantly see how obsessed Annie is with Jeff, but we never really delve into why she feels the way that she does. Tonight Abed made her confront her own feelings and try to analyze why she “loves” Jeff. This helped to bring some of her own securities into focus (i.e. wanting to be loved). Now as I’ve made clear plenty of times, I am a HUGE supporter of Jeff & Annie. I love them so much…so I was a little sad that she didn’t just admit her undying love for Jeff and ride off with him into the sunset. But if that would have happened, we wouldn’t be watching Community. Community isn’t a show about clich├ęs. It’s a show about risks, risks that result in amazing television.

Now I’m not going to go into my spiel about why Community deserves to be renewed, and how asinine people must be for not taking the time to watch it (I do that enough on Twitter). But I will say that tonight was indeed another example of why TV critics rave about it, and fans remain so loyal (#sixseasonsandamovie).

What did you all think of tonight’s episode? Did you think it was brilliant? Or simply off its rocker (I’ve clearly been seeing too many commercials for Betty White’s new show)? I love hearing from you guys so please leave your thoughts below!

PS – Emma Claufield presented the very interesting theory on Twitter…perhaps this ENTIRE SEASON has been inside the dreamatorium…yeaaaah…think about THAT.

Comment away!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pillows vs. Blankets : Recap of Tonight's Epic Community

Oh Community, you silly silly show. Just when we start to think “this show can’t possibly get more ridiculous” you go and pull off something like this. You’ve already proven time and time again how great  you are at handling meta ideas...but tonight, well tonight you went above and beyond.

After last week’s horrifying cliffhanger (I mean come on, NO ONE wants to see Troy and Abed in a fight) we were all anxiously awaiting this week’s episode. I personally counted down until 8:00pm, trying to decide which side I wanted to be on (pillows or blankets...I eventually went with blankets). Finally when the time came and the show began I immediately knew that this would not be like any other episode we had seen before.

From the very first scene, I knew this episode was going to be epic. The combination of the title screen, camerawork, and monotone voice over, honestly made me feel like I was being thrown into a documentary. It’s truly hard to believe that a half hour comedy could have that type of effect, but it did. Everything was so well written and perfectly shot, that I could have sworn I was sitting in a classroom watching an actual Civil War documentary (a very chang-ter-taining classroom mind you).

One of the things that Community always manages to nail are the small details. From Shirley “Big Cheddar” Bennett to the Changlorious Bastards, tonight’s little moments were what made me laugh the most. Yes the main overarching theme was a pillow fight...but when you’ve got something as absurd as Community you have to look past the “funny theme” into the realm of unique comedy. So many sitcoms out there follow overused generic storylines *cough cough* Two and a Half Men *cough cough.* Community though, reinvents itself week after week, which is why it is so good. It’s hilarious...and smart. Unlike Two and a Half Men those other mindless sitcoms I refuse to name, Community isn’t afraid to take risks. They truly understand clever television and bring it week in and week out. There is a reason TV critics LOVE this show, and I only wish that the general population would get their heads out of their asses and learn to love it too.

While the small details are what really made me appreciate this episode, Community still touched on some key themes tonight. Like last week, Annie and Jeff were involved in a storyline together. Last week Annie taught Jeff how to apologize to a dead person (assuming said dead person isn’t alive, male, and named Kim) and this week Annie taught Jeff how to air out his emotions in a healthier way. She recommended a diary for him, and unbelievably, he actually wrote in a diary!! Jeff Winger...are you...growing as a person?? It’s so interesting how characters affect one another and I love how Annie has always been able to bring out the good in Jeff (i.e. actually studying for the debate in season 1). I’m hoping that they continue to have scenes together and that Jeff finally realizes what a catch Annie really is...

And to add to the Jeff Winger development story, the fact that he was able to repair Troy & Abed spoke volumes to me. It’s always been clear he cares about his friends, but for him to actually show it and express is in a diary...that’s some deep stuff there. Troy & Abed making up warmed my heart, and I loved that Jeff was able to bring them back together by emphasizing just who when they are (Yes that sounds weird, but it makes sense in the land of Inspector Spacetime). They are two best friends who are so obsessed with each other that they are willing to pillow fight for an eternity simply to stay together (I think that deserves a collective ‘AWWWW’). Seriously from character development, to hilarious insanity, tonight’s episode of Community had it all. Now if those Nielsen’s would start learning to appreciate good television...

PS. I love that Britta is the worst no matter what the circumstance. They should never let her have a camera ever again.

PSS. Did anyone else think it was a little unfair that the The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg got to fight with pillows? They should have been using blanket whips! Duhhh

Monday, April 2, 2012

Whoa Fat Betty... : Mad Men Writers Address January Jones' Real Life Pregnancy in 'Tea Leaves'

Well folks, it’s BACK. After 17 months of complaining (and binge drinking to fill the void that Roger Sterling and Don Draper left us with) Mad Men has finally returned to our screens! I decided to not write anything about the first episode because I wanted time to get back in the saddle and merely observe the awesomeness that is Don Draper’s world. But now that I’ve had some time to sober up…and now that Betty has made quite the appearance…well I just couldn’t keep a lid on it!

After the first episode I was perplexed as to why we hadn’t seen Betty yet. Even though Betty Draper- ahem, Francis - is a (and I’m sure we can all agree on this) dreadful human being, she is still someone I absolutely love to watch. I find Betty fascinating, and I admit I kind of revel in her misery at times (okay maybe I’m the dreadful human being, but seriously, a woman who’s best parenting technique is “go watch TV” kind of deserves some harsh treatment).  Because of my love/hate relationship with her character, I was kind of sad to see that she didn’t even make an appearance in the season premier. And as if that wasn’t enough, Betty wasn’t even in the PREVIEW for the next episode! That didn’t sit well with me…and it didn’t sit well with my friends either…so we tried to figure out what in the hell was going on.

One of my best friends theorized that perhaps they weren’t showing Betty because of a physical change. At the time we thought it might have been because Betty had dyed her hair brown to look like Megan…and I mean that makes sense right? What woman in her right mind (or even in her crazy Betty Draper mind) wouldn’t want to win Don Draper back? But boy, what ended up happening I did not see coming at all…which is pretty remarkable considering the size of the situation (sorry I had to).  Betty was physically different, but not because of a bad dye job. No, instead Betty appeared different because…well frankly the woman looked like she had eaten a cow.  

I totally understand why the writers chose to have Betty gain an insane amount of weight - January Jones was pregnant during the time of filming, and clearly they did not want to write another child into the show. So rather than having her hide her baby bump (which many television shows do with pregnant actresses), the writers instead created a huge storyline involving Betty and the possibility of thyroid cancer. I definitely think this was an interesting twist, but I’m not completely sure how I feel about it. I’m all for having Betty understand that beauty isn’t everything…but to turn this into a huge storyline focused on Betty’s newfound weight gain and the possibility of cancer? I feel like they already have enough mental issues with that woman, but I don’t know, maybe that’s just me. I’d like to hear what you think. Do you think this was an extremely creative way for the writers to accommodate Jones’ real life pregnancy…or do you think this storyline is a bit…bigger than it needs to be (yes, okay I’ll try to stop with the ridiculous puns)? Chime in below.

Oh and on a side note- who is surprised that Megan is still around?? I for one thought she’d be gone by the start of this season…but it’s not looking like she’ll be exiting stage left anytime soon…