Friday, October 16, 2009

Community, "Advanced Criminal Law": I'm out of order? YOU'RE out of order!

Quick thoughts on last night's "Community" coming up just as soon as I play you out...

NBC, more than any other network, has this weird tendency to air episodes out of order, even if they mess up serialized storylines. On "Homicide," Crosetti was dead before he was dead. On "Scrubs," Kelso quit one week and was still running the hospital the next. And because "Advanced Criminal Law" was supposed to air before last week's "Social Psychology," the Jeff/Britta relationship seems to be going in circles, when in fact there was supposed to be a clear progression. The two of them more or less agree to be friends here, then Jeff would struggle to stick to that agreement in "Social Psychology," and then the series would move onto other things in later episodes.

And it'll be a good thing when they do move on. Because Jeff and Britta are currently the least interesting part of the show - even with Jeff's speech about how he could easily get other women, I still don't see why he's so into in her, other than the Elisabeth Shue resemblance - "Advanced Criminal Law" was easily the weakest episode to date. It was only vaguely funny on the margins, like Professor Duncan and Senor Chang's hatred of each other, or Troy calling out Abed on the weirdness of his alien plan.

I'm not worried - NBC was having an off-night in general with their comedies (even "Parks and Rec," the best of the bunch, wasn't entirely up to its recent standards) - but this wasn't "Community" at its best. And coming a night after a great "Modern Family," I assume this will only add more fuel to the silly fire of people who have decided, Highlander-style, there can only be one good new comedy this season.

What did everybody else think?

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure you purchased a green screen!

Chris Littmann said...

No coincidence that I liked last week better when it was more Abed/Annie/Troy.

deqshanks said...

I was wondering about that myself. It did seem out of order. I wish NBC would stop that. But I want to actually see more of the professor and senor chang situation.

lilyxt said...

I haven't decided that there is only one good comedy this season, but this show hasn't caught on for me and I was totally ready for it after all the reviews. Maybe I was expecting too much? Joel McHale has that glib, confident, quippy angle going on but its getting old. The spanish teacher, while having some funny lines, is way over the top and doesn't seem to fit in. Britta, is boring and not really funny. The Abed character is the only one that makes me laugh on a regular basis.

Now I felt this way about Parks & Rec last season but have picked it back up because I heard it improved, watched it, and agreed. Plus Amy Poehler is just funny. For Community, I think this is it for me.

Will-Portland said...

Maybe NBC was having an off night, but I was so thoroughly enjoying having all 4 of my favorite shows on back to back that I didn't really notice much.

The Troy/Abed aspect of the show is great, for me it works everytime, and yet it still changes slightly with each episode. Am I alone in that?

Indeed said...

I gave Community two and half episodes and then gave up. I didn't even find it entertaining, let alone funny.
I trust you taste Alan, so maybe I'll pick it up again eventually. But for know, the one comedy I am adoring this year is Modern Family.

LDP said...

This episode was a big let down, making Modern Family the week's clear winner in the battle of the new sitcoms. The Abed/Troy storyline was just plain stupid.

However, there was one great line: "British dentistry is not on trial here!"

AJ Wiley said...

Perhaps it's because I haven't been a fan of what's come before, but I actually thought this was their best episode to date. Though still not that good.

There are some great absurd ideas, but it still feels like they're trying too hard, and the timing's off.

mp said...

The funniest part for me was something that wasn't said. I typically watch shows with closed captioning on. Tonight, when Abed's alien friend came in babbling alien language nonsense, the CC somehow picked up the guy saying "we're going to put stuff in his butt," but I clearly hadn't heard that said. I rewound it to make sure I read/heard it right, and indeed I had. On the heels of Troy's butt fixation from participating in the experiment, quite a nice touch.

Rinaldo said...

I actually enjoyed this episode quite a lot, though perhaps not as much as last week's. All the characters seem to have the spark of life for me (and on some series, they just never do come to life).

Modern Family had a good week too; for the first time I wasn't bored with the new stepmother and her son, she actually had something to play. That's fine, as Alan says there can be more than one good new comedy. (I'm even holding out hopes for a third....)

Meanwhile I just can't get into Parks and Recreation. I try to, but I generally start finding interesting things on my laptop at that point. (I do the same with The Office; that comedy of discomfort just isn't enjoyable for me.)

Weck said...

Alan -

I was wanting so badly for you to say "...as soon as I drop my morning deuce."

Alan Sepinwall said...

Weck, by and large I try to avoid using the filthiest thing in an episode as the "as soon as," though it's often really really tempting. Without spoiling anything about this Sunday's "Mad Men," I'll just say there's a moment where I really wanted to use that for the teaser, but discretion won out in the end.

teregosa said...

Abed's reference to Steve Martin's 'Roxanne' when he jumped over the bench in the campus park had me rotfl. I love Abed's movie references

communityNBC said...

The Modern Family Dylan song was much better than the Chevy Chase jingle , but there were some funny moments in the show too.

Community fansite

Karen said...

It's true that stories that revolve around Jeff/Britta are a lot less compelling than those that include more of the cast. Last week, when we had so much more exposure to the others, was much better.

That said, everything that comes out of John Oliver's mouth is comedy GOLD.

semicolwin said...

I was a big fan of:

"Cheers."
"MASH."
"Fawlty Towers. Game over."

Matt said...

Dan Harmon indicated on Twitter that the Fawlty Towers line was an ad lib by John Oliver. I actually liked this one a lot, though, yes, the Abed/Troy plotline was ridiculous. The Annie/Pierce one was pretty spectacular, and the randomness of "we have a statute of LUIS GUZMAN" and that they actually spent the money on such a prop amused me, as did the just random "we're having a trial by the pool" with the people diving in the background.

filmcricket said...

@semicolwin: Me too. That was pretty much the only thing I laughed at last night (and Oliver totally won that, too).

Not that I want Jolly Ollie to leave The Daily Show, but he really is the best thing about Community. I can't watch the Senor Chang parts, I actually change the channel when he's at the front of the class. NBC may soon lose me until 9 p.m., as I can't get into Parks & Rec either.

Anonymous said...

This episode gives new meaning to the term "jury pool".

K J Gillenwater said...

And here this was my favorite episode since the pilot. I suck at names, so bear with me...

Loved the black dude. He's hilarious. His interactions with Ahbed (?) are fantastic.

For once, I found the storyline with Britta and Jeff to be fun/funny/interesting. Loved the judges' table in the pool area and the interaction of the two wacky professors and the dean.

This episode actually encouraged me to keep watching, because there were some great comedic moments in there, good funny lines, etc. Which made me see the potential and how much better it could get once these relationships solidify.

Q Ball said...

What a weird night for comedy with every single NBC comedy having their worst episode of the season (for 30 Rock's sake, I hope that is the worst episode this season). Still I think Parks & Rec was still the highlight of the night because at least it was a solid ep, not very funny, but solid.

I'm not worried about Community at all at this point. Even if they keep hammering Jeff/Britta (I think they'll figure it out eventually), there are so many other parts of the show to look forward to.

Anonymous said...

Cheerleading?

Hannah Lee said...

I’m still liking Community, and though there weren’t as many stretches of mile a minute laughs this week as in previous episodes, I still laughed a lot, especially at Abed and Troy. The trial at the pool was amusingly ridiculous; I kept thinking “If a giant swimming pool is introduced in Act 2, will Jeff or Senor Chang fall into it by Act 5?” I'm kind of happy they didn't go there.

It’s amusing enough to keep me watching. I do have a couple of quibbles though:

- I thing Senor Chang is funny, but he would be better if used in smaller doses,
- the character of Britta isn’t as interesting as any of the other characters, or as she could be. Bland/not crazy would be OK if she were being a straightman for everybody else’s craziness (and it can work well…see Pam from The Office.) But they seemed to be going for combination of bland and quirky/crazy and it’s keeping Britta from coming to life for me.

Oh, and for the record, I'm enjoying this show but hadn't warmed up to Modern Family after the 1st 2 episodes. Given the raves, I'll probably try it again just to see if the 3rd times the charm.

Just Me said...

I can see why Senor Chang is supposed to be funny. But it hits exactly the wrong notes and just ends up nearly unwatchable.
The episode wasn't good. I'm not interested in Britta. I'm mildly interested in how people react to Britta (which made last week's boyfriend episode or the protest episode funny), but she herself isn't interesting.

ryan said...

that scene with chevy and pete's wife is probably the funniest bit i've seen on this series so far and realized the reason i like chevy so much and find him to be really the only redeeming part of the show is he reminds me so much of jeffrey tambor on this. that little wink he gives her as he's "playing her off" lmao

this show along with modern family will never be cool. it's familiarity that keeps me watching because i don't like to start something and not finish and am sitting down anyway. background entertainment and padding between parks, always sunny, 30 rock and the office because a weak episode of any is better than the rest. these new casts can never be legitimately great television. accept them as they are. IMO

LAprGuy said...

25 posts in and I don't agree with anyone today: I think the Modern Family vs. Community battle is neck and neck. Really enjoying this show, think Jim Rash as the dean ("take that, Yale") is funny, and glad to see more of Chevy.

(I saw the "butt" line on the closed captioning - funny.)

Anonymous said...

Community was definitely the best of the NBC comedies this week, very funny episode. 30 Rock was ok, but Office and Parks were really off their game. Best show of the night: Always Sunny, by a mile. One of their funniest episodes in years.

ryan said...

yeahhhhhh but i am who i am :)

Savvy Veteran said...

Any "Mr. Show" nerds out there recognize Dino Stamatopoulos (writer of sketches such as "The Pre-Taped Call-In Show" and "The Audition") as Star Burns?

Just me? (Yeah. It's probably just me.)

Tracey said...

Hmn. I'm still not crazy about this show, though I'm sticking with it for Joel McHale's sake. My favorite part was the Abed's alien gag, mostly because a friend of mine in college actually convinced his freshman roommate that he was an alien. I kept flashing on the dean of housing telling my friend, "I don't believe you're an alien," and my friend replying, "why not?"

@MP: Yeah, I saw that in the CC too. Sometimes, throw-away lines of dialog are cut late in the editing but remain in the CC. I remember an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Spike was living with Giles, and he was talking about how he liked to put Wheatabix in his blood. A few minutes later, somebody mentioned something terrible, and Giles said, "that's the worst thing I've ever heard!" In the CC, Spike replied from off-screen: "worse than the Wheatabix?" but the line was not in the audio.

MPH said...

I have to say - Oliver's reading of "in a room with less balls" was my only laugh out load moment of the night

Anonymous said...

I like the fact that this show acts like its going to do bits where the characters have to be extremely stupid in order for them to work, and they throw a twist at us and let us know the characters are not so stupid after all.
In this episode, if Troy would have started to believe Abed actually was an alien, it would have felt stupid. But instead since Troy knew Abed was messing with him from the beginning, it went in a different direction, which made the ending believable. Or in the pilot, when the professer acted like an idiot when selling all the answers to our main character. Then we find out later the professor was not such an idiot after all.
One thing I like about this show is that the characters have the same self-awareness that the audience has, which is refreshing.
And since we are only allowed to like one new comedy, that is why I like this show more than Modern Family :)