Thursday, October 29, 2009

Community, "Introduction to Statistics": Trips and treats

Spoilers for tonight's "Community" coming up just as soon as I rip the antenna off your car...

That's more like it.

"Introduction to Statistics" was the strongest episode the show's done in several weeks. It made good use of the whole ensemble, giving every character a chance to shine without anyone's schtick feeling overdone (there was just the right amount of Abed doing his Christian Bale impression, for instance), and the humor was a nice mix of character-driven conflict (Pierce's fear of being old, Jeff trying to get the teacher to bend her No Students rule), broad comedy (Annie loudly weeping to get Jeff to come to the party, Pierce's bad trip), random pop culture references (Pierce as the Beastmaster, Troy dressed up as Eddie Murphy from "Delirious," Batman saving the day as Pierce's desk fort collapsed) and sharp dialogue (Starburns complaining, "My heart stopped beating fast and I can't pee!"). Plus, Chevy Chase got to revive one of my favorite gags from "Spies Like Us" in the way Pierce dealt with his mother on the phone.

On top of getting the balance right, this episode also improved on some specific things that weren't working too well lately. Senor Chang had become really, really broad, and here he occasionally seemed like an actual person, and one who can be used outside of Spanish class scenes. And while the Jeff/Britta thing still lurks on the perimeter of the action, here it was turned into a joke, as Shirley kept wrongly assuming that Britta was furious that Jeff was going after the teacher. Also, getting to flirt with an actress/character with whom he shared actual chemistry seemed to bring Joel McHale back to life. There was a stretch of episodes there where it felt like the show was working in spite of its main character, but here he was just as integral to why the episode was funny as everyone else.

Also, I'm glad to see the streak of Abed/Troy closing scenes continue. There are other character pairings on this show that are really funny, but Danny Pudi and Donald Glover work so well together that it seems right they get these weird little showcases at the end of each episode.

What did everybody else think?

30 comments:

Connecticut Mike said...

Jeff begging for the teacher to sleep with him, and then tipping his cowboy hat to Senor Chang on his way out of the room was genius.

Laura R. said...

I've been laughing pretty consistently during all the episodes aired so far, but those closing scenes absolutely slay me.

jason said...

Loved the riff on the Christian Bale batman voice. Abed continues to steal every episode.

Collin said...

OK, peeps, some assistance: Who played the statistics professor? My "I know that person!" alarm went off all episode...

Capcha: "retalat." When the first time you talat isn't enough.

jason said...

The statistics professor is Lauren Stamile. It's for good reason she looks familiar — she's making an attempt to appear in every tv series of this decade.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0821836/

Collin said...

Goodness gracious, you're not kidding. Nice pull, Jason. Thanks.

Derek said...

I'd like a whole show about Abed being Batman.

SAF said...

I think she played Rose in Grey's Anatomy...at least, that's where I recognize her from...

Madame George said...

Thank God someone identified Lauren Stamile so I didn't have to dig through the credits to find her name. And of course - she's Rose from "Grey's" - the one we all knew would never last with Derek. Thank you Jason & SAF.

(And BTW, Grey's was good again. The lack of soap opera plot lines seems extremely refreshing, along with help from some new characters.)

I love Halloween shows and this used the theme to great advantage.
Abed as Batman slayed me. Perfect target for something overdue for mocking (IMO) and hilarious execution.

And what a joy to see Chevy Chase be funny, again.

Kensington said...

I'm just loving this show more and more every week. It's easily my favorite of the season, so much so that I'm regularly rewatching off TimeWarner's Primetime On Demand channel. This is a show that rewards multiple viewings. It's so good natured and appealing that I hope it lasts for years.

In fact, tonight I couldn't wait for the rest of the line-up to finish so I could go back and watch Community again.

My favorite background gag tonight was Pierce's mom telling him that she's seen his father's ghost again, and he's still angry!

I also loved that Troy knew what a "Mexican Halloween" is.

Geoff said...

"Tell me about the Beatles, Pierce."

Okay, I was dying at that.

Also, shame on all of them for not recognizing the Beastmaster (because god I knew to change channels on sight of that abomination).

Also also, in an amazing Hot Off contest, Alison Brie gives curves to a skeleton and Gillian Jacobs makes an entire costume attractive with only her face (and a giant nut).

gravyboat said...

I'm glad that they're giving Shirley more to do, and giving it a little more weight than her "girls in the bathroom" storyline had. With a single scene, Yvette Nicole Brown absolutely stole the entire episode of The Office where Dwight leaves and returns to Dunder-Mifflin, and I've been waiting for another comedy to give her a chance to really flex again ever since. There aren't quite the fireworks there were when she was going on about Dwight's "big head and beady little eyes," but I think she's been a really solid part of the ensemble.

Question Mark said...

On paper kind of a lame joke, but man, did Chevy Chase ever deliver "What did you come as, a gay douchebag?" well.

Kensington said...

I, too, chucked over "gay douchebag," but for me, "douchebag" is just one of those words that, in the context of a comedy, is always funny.

Roger said...

"Are you their court-appointed guardian?" I had to pause till I stopped laughing.

(Or whatever it was. Something like that.)

LDP said...

"Tell me about Sputnik, Pierce," was the only funny line of the episode. And Alison Brie rocked that skeleton costume.

It's so difficult to make drug humor funny -- I feel like I've seen the same tripping scene about a thousand times -- that I wish TV shows wouldn't even try.

Bryan said...

I've been enjoying the series all along but I felt like in this one they stepped back, listened to all the critics and commentors, and tried to correct some of the weaknesses. (ie. jeff/brita nonsense)

Re: the comment on the drug scene - I agree I've seen that seen many times also (didn't Aronosky start that in Requiem for a Dream - or maybe even Pi) but for some reason I thought this one really worked well-very funny.

this was my favorite ep so far and my favorite of the night.

Justin said...

an alternative lead-in: "Spoilers for tonight's 'Community' coming up just as soon as I Urban Dictionary what a 'Mexican Halloween' is..."

Ian C said...

Absolutely loved the Batman stuff,
but Alison Brie continues to be a revelation on this show. Watching her go from meek to assertive to gratified is consistently entertaining.

Probably my favorite episode so far.

Dave Sandell said...

I think this was easily the best episode so far. I like Jeff & Brita apart, and hope they don't force them back together, ever.

Andrew said...

I like that this is a show that will have a deep pool of re-occurring guest characters like Scrubs has. We don't need Starburns speaking in every episode, but having someone recognizable in some of the classes with the others, or having Senor Chang and the Dean pop up here and there to remind us that they are not the only 7 people at the school like Saved by the Bell. I don't know if they can get Eric Christian Olson (Britta's hippie BF a few weeks ago) or John Michael Higgins (Carpe Diem!) to appear very often, but having a deep bench of reoccurring extras brings a little something to the table on this show.

emperor of sultans said...

the troy/abed closing was hilarious. i hope they lose every episode for the rest of the series.

Jape77 said...

Senior Chang shouting "looooser" as he flew through the scene on the moped was the perfect punctuation. What was he on the screen for, half a second? I'm still laughing...

Anonymous said...

Wow, 23 comments so far and everyone loving it. I can't believe this passes for so many watchers favorite comedy. Much, much better out there. I tried to like this show and now I barely crack a smile. I'm surprised that Alan likes this so much when he is usually so dead on with his favs.

ldr said...

Ever consider the possibility that he and the majority of the commenters are dead on and ,you're the one who's off?

Of course not! It's all about you!

Ginny said...

Love this show--every character is a gem. And, thank you, Alan. I was driving myself crazy trying to figure out who Troy was supposed to be!

Behan01 said...

TV is killing it right now with great new shows (Community and Modern Family) and Sons of Anarchy at the top of its game.

I love the Abed / Troy bits, they hit that note of two bored people who connect over their boredom right on the nose every time.

Jay said...

This was the second time I watched community and I was laughing so hard, I think I will how to continue watching for now on. I absolutely adored Chevy Chase on this episode, his drug trip cracked me up. "Damn Pierce, you have a full on hard on." haha. I was so dissapointed in Office, the least funny episode I have ever seen! And Parks seems like a big waste of 30 minutes, that I don't even bother.

gravyboat said...

Jay, I only watched about ten minutes of Parks and Recreation before deciding that it wasn't worth my time.

However, I gave it another chance this season and I'm really glad I did--it's certainly The Office's kid brother in many ways, and it appeals to the same sensibilities that the best episodes of The Office do, while coming off as fresher, more grounded, and (most importantly) funnier.

I recommend giving it a shot.

TNT said...

wasn't terribly impressed with the episode when after watching it, reading the comments actually made me laugh.

Jeff and Britta may be the leads, but the supporting cast is great. Abed has been fantastic in every episode.