Archive for January, 2014

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Community takes on another concept episode… oh brother.

 

Once upon a time, concept episodes were something so scarce and hard to find in television that whenever they came along, even in their weakest state, they would be memorable and have a cult following. Community has single-handedly crushed this notion, taking on concept episode after concept episode, putting its own original spin on it, and producing not only some of the most entertaining comedy in the series, but in the television industry as a whole.

To put bluntly… I missed the airing of this episode, I had to wait till tonight to fully watch it. It was definitely worth the wait, and I can easily say that community is once again in its prime. No, better than in it’s prime. It’s re-vitalized, reborn, remade, and reconstructed. A show that doesn’t hesitate to change the theme, the type of dialogue, or even the direction of an episode for the sake of a concept, and this episode is no different.

The beautiful thing about this show is that although it changes so much, it alters so many things to simply make a concept, but it never deviates from character norms. The characters never act in a way that seems unbelievable, they always stay in their respective traits and thoughts, and by god, if that doesn’t make this show a masterpiece.

While this isn’t the best homage, or concept episode this show has done. Especially when compared to timeless classics like “Modern Warfare”, “Paradigms of Human Memory”, or “Remedial chaos theory”, but oh BOY was it funny. It wasn’t just funny, it was spit-out-your-drink HILARIOUS.

Everything about it tickled me the right way, from the dark and grim theme, to the Se7en parody, everything was just made so perfectly, so charmingly, so smartly, I couldn’t help but sit back and adore the ride that I was taken on.

This show is no stranger to making episodes so outlandish and parody-ish, that it can set someone off from watching it. It truly is a tasters choice, I just happen to fall in love to seeing this stunning cast being put in these different and unique situations that both test them, and have them open up their varied acting armaments.

We also got to see the return of Star-Burns, and Professor Dunkin, the fantastically British professor whom was sorely missed in the last two seasons. Their returns weren’t the highlights, the particular thing that had me on the floor (literally) was Donald Glover’s performance as the “emotionally scarred victim”, after he was ‘cracked’ by the ‘ass-crack Bandit’…

Now wait, I know how this sounds… and I would tell you it’s not weird, and you’ve seen something like this before. But this show wouldn’t be community if you have, it’s something out there, unique, and in the hands of any other show I can think of, this episode would have failed. Because a premise like this is just all-out bonkers, and only Community can ground it in the perpetual love and care this show exudes from its writing staff, directors, and the genius show runner Dan Harmon.

And in the final scenes, when the mystery of this episode was left open ended, and the custom made song about all the ‘crackings’ the ass-crack Bandit achieved played, with it’s sad tune, you can’t help but smile, as a long time Community fan and say…

“Welcome back”

 

Grade: A

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Okay guys if you’re reading this then you probably already know what happened to my commentary, that is if you’ve even heard of me. If not, then hello! My name is KyleThePale and if one of my videos ever gets unwatchable I will probably end up posting a review here. Anyways, that’s what happened to last week’s episode, “Bats!”. Which is why I’m here, so let’s not fill up this review with nonsense about me and get on to the episode!

The episode starts off with Applejack eager to start off Applebucking Season, but when she goes to buck a tree and apples start raining down, they’ve all turned to mush! This could only mean that something terrible has happened, so she calls in the rest of the main six, and Spike. That’s when Applejack explains that a colony of vampire fruit bats has invaded the entire orchard and that they should be stopped before they eat her blue ribbon apple, which is even bigger than Twilight. That’s another thing I should bring up, if you look closely you can see that Twilight is now taller than the rest of the main six. I guess with alicornism you also gain a growth spurt. Fluttershy, being the element of kindness and all, decides she should go talk to the bats and see if they’ll leave the blue ribbon apple alone. This of course fails and complications arise at how they should deal with these so called “vermin”.

This is when Applejack creates the second song of season 4 about how bad the vampire bats are. Fluttershy joins along, instead singing about how they are just trying to use nature’s most basic instinct, survival. Rarity and, not too surprisingly, Rainbow Dash are the first ones to agree with AJ. And then so does everpony else. They just… spontaneously agree with AJ, simply because she sang a song. Anyways, they plan on rounding up the fruit bats while Pinkie is busy breaking the forth wall. AJ then tells them a story of the previous infestation that happened long before the main six were born. When Rainbow learns that there was no cider, she is even more determined to stop them than ever. Twilight, trying to be the voice of reason, has an idea to use magic, which will probably backfire in some way.

Her plan involves having Fluttershy do the stare on the bats so they will focus their full attention on her. Twilight will then cast a spell that makes them stop sucking out all the applejuice from the apples. They go through with their plan and it works, kinda. The vampire bats have stopped eating the apples, but now something else is attacking the orchard instead. The main six decide to wait around at night to find out who, or what, is destroying the orchard. However, even more complications occur when Fluttershy turns out to be a vampire. The main six don’t know this yet and they all freak out when they see a shadowy figure flying around them. These reactions range from cowering in fear to attacking a scarecrow. When they find out figure it out, Rarity makes a horrible pun that leads to way too much fanart within a short period of time.

They try to capture “Flutterbat” by sacrificing AJ’s blue ribbon apple and having Flutterbat look at her own reflection. Which, there shouldn’t be one if she’s a vampire, but what do I know? This causes her to be shocked and stare at the mirror, giving Twilight the chance to reverse the spell. Pinke decides to confuse everyone by answering questions with yes or no only. So in other words, she became a magic 8 ball. The episode ends with Spike having to write their diaries, which they are perfectly capable of doing on their own, and Pinkie pouncing at an apple while wearing false teeth. And they try to hint that Fluttershy is still a vampire, but I’m pretty sure it was just a small little cliffhanger at the end. Nothing major.

All in all, this was an okay episode. It had a good story, a catchy song, and gave birth to a new character. Not sure whether or not to call that last one a pro or a con though. The fanart is pretty disturbing, but the idea is pretty cool. My main problems with this episode are ones I’m finding a lot throughout season 4. Spike is so minor that he’s pretty much a background character at this point, they try too hard to make Pinkie funny, Twilight can’t seem to do anything right, and the songs aren’t that good. Yes, they are indeed catchy, but they aren’t that good in terms of what they are about. I liked this one until all of a sudden everyone agreed with AJ. They didn’t even give a second thought. I don’t really use the same grading scale as Awkward, so I’ll give this episode a 6.5/10. Good in terms of narrative, but rather lackluster in all other places. And one last thing before I go, why are the writers so obsessed with changing Fluttershy? Do they want to have disturbing fanart of her? I mean, Flutterhulk was a shock to me enough I didn’t even need to look at fanart of that thing, but Flutterbat? There is too much of it! Well I hope you guys enjoyed my hostile takeover of this website and I hope you all have a great day!

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Hey guys! Have you heard?! Rarity is GENEROUS!

 

The reason I say that, is because this episode decided to truly hammer in that fact. “Hey look, the element of generosity… IS GENEROUS!” Who knew?! I know I did!

This is the main aspect of the episode which I couldn’t help but cringe at, every time it was brought up I told myself “yes… I know… how about some subtlety for a change?” But honestly, apart from that main gripe, the entire episode was filled to the brim with hilariousness.

I can go on and on about how well the writers are portrayed Rainbow Dash. The once cocky, abrasive, and annoying character has truly become a fantastic one. She is, hands down, the best developed character of the show, and every episodes seems to reinforce that. The best part is the fact that she still stays IN character, it’s not like she had some drastic change in her personality or anything. The growth seemed natural.

Now, let’s talk about the bell of the ball, Rarity, whom has been lacking an episode for quite a bit has her season four debut, and succeeds with flying colors. Apart from that one flaw, this episode was generally quite accurate in her depiction. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t absolutely love the voice actress who plays her oh so well… Tabitha St.Germain (her voice actress) has a stunning talent for depicting emotion, and Rarity, being the most…hmm… how do I say? Eccentric, character, fits perfectly with the voice actress.

Rarity’s breakdown this episode was once again, something to marvel at. Each line was delivered with passion and sincerity, and it really did succeed. Even the other characters had a decent amount to do in the episode. “Rarity takes Manehattan” seemed like the first episode where the entire cast was UNDERSTANDABLY there, as I can completely believe that a group of friends visiting a foreign city is something that occurs.

While the background characters were played well, and the guest stars were entertaining… there was a feeling of slight blunt exposition. Which is something that is understandable with this shows demographic, but still felt somewhat out of place. For example, when Suri Polomare, whom was portrayed as the antagonist, lied to Rarity about Rarity’s loss in the talent show… then quite literally told her assistant she lied, was something that was not necessary. It was a waste of space exposition line that garnered to the younger demographic, and as I said, it’s understandable, but the show DID fair well without that device in past episodes.

Dave Polsky, the writer of this episode, really did his job in portrayed the characters well. He has always been a machine for fun character humor, and this episode definitely shows his talent with writing character based jokes. From Rainbow Dashes deliveries, to Pinkies hyper-ness, each character seemed to be acting as if they are just filled to the brim with well-delivered humor.

The twist ending definitely seems like a pattern in this season, and my theory of them leading up to a climactic finale definitely seems like it is heading to fruition… I’m not too sure about this ‘twist’ ending, if I can even call it that, but it was still something else this show included.

This season is definitely different, I will say it is for the better, some say it is for the worse. All we can do is wait, and watch these great episodes as they come!

Grade: A-

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It’s Baaaaack!!!!

 

No… really, it’s back! Not just returning for a fifth season, but ACTUALLY back. Back making episodes that are truly “Community” in its essence. Now I will apologize for bringing such a late review, I unfortunately wasn’t able to watch this episode when it aired… so I had to get it off itunes! If you don’t already see, I absolutely adore this show. It’s perhaps one of my favorite programs ever, and for good reason. This is a SMART comedy, a breed of comedy which is dying, every lingering breath becoming weaker and weaker.

So after season 3, when Dan Harmon, the creator of this show, was fired, the fans were skeptical. Unfortunately, their worries became a reality when the fourth season was somewhat disappointing in its quality. However, NBC and Sony, soon rehired the creator, and made him in charge once more. From this, Dan Harmon chose his warriors (writers) carefully, and started planning for what is supposedly the best season of community to date!

Let me just say, these episodes were indeed the best starting episodes this show has ever gotten so far. This show has only one weakness, and that’s starting a season, with the first two or three episodes being noticeably weaker in quality than the upcoming episodes, this is mostly due to the fact that the show has so much ground to cover… so without further ado, let’s talk about this juggernaut of comedy!

Yep… this is TRULY community in its essence. And even without the presence of one of their main cast, Chevy Chase, it still had incredibly strong episodes to boot. Filled to the brim with jokes that take a few seconds or even minutes to process, with humor that is refreshingly smart and witty, as well as slapstick and downright hilarious. This is, community!

The first episode, hilariously enough called the “repilot” pretty much sets the ground for the rest of the season. The lonely, and slightly destroyed Jeff Winger’s redemption, and journey back to Greendale. This episode was the weaker of the two that aired, since it was trying to cover miles of ground in a quick twenty two episode season.

What’s interesting about the repilot, is that it had a noticeably darker vibe to it, the entire filter was grey and dull. Showing the school in a more sad and dreary light. With the departure of yet ANOTHER cast member, Troy Barnes, played by the wonderfully hilarious Danny Glover, the writers of the show take wonderful little jabs in a very meta way. The entire episode was a mini-spoof of the repilot of scrubs that happened with its ninth season… thankfully this repilot did not fail miserably.

We also got introduced to the new “Pierce” played by the absolutely wonderful Jonathan Banks, known for his prominent role in the universally praised and acclaimed series ‘Breaking Bad’, where he played Mike. I think the question that is most asked is whether or not he fits into his role, I mean, I was also worried… would he be a good fit for Greendale? Playing such a serious character in breaking bad? One question, warrant a one word answer. YES!

He is absolutely splendid in his role, he portrays a slightly psychotic, SERIOUS, teacher that takes another look at the “old guy” stereotype. As Pierce used to be the “old racist” stereotype, Jonathan, or Professor Hickey, is more of the serious, blunt, and threatening “old guy”, and oh boy is it refreshing and hilarious!

And where the Repilot failed, the next episode, “Introduction to Teaching” succeeding with flying colors. I mean, the idea of having a “Nicholas Cage” class… is just… wow. I can’t even describe how much I liked this story, not only for having wonderful continuity between Abed, and seeing his actor, Danny Pudi, portray and absolute nutjob like Nicholas Cage, was tear-exudingly funny.

Although this was the harder to believe storyline of the episode, the B-plot revolved around Jeff getting used to teaching. Which is where Jonathan Banks’, Professor Buzz Hickey was introduced. With a few hilarious and clever jabs at Leonard, who’s apparently the school… bully?Hippy? Old guy-bully-hippy? The scenes were just jam-packed with comedy.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Anne, a character which was digressed badly in season 4 (when it was run by the other show runners), back in shape. Not physically (The actress, Alison Brie, is downright gorgeous), but character wise. She no longer acts like a fifteen year old schoolgirl, and instead is mature, and best of all, FUNNY!

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been backing all of my statements up with “It’s funny!” Instead of “It’s trying to be funny!” This is because this season is no longer relying on the “Look how this show used to be!” Theme season four stalled in. This is, I’ll say once more, community.

Each part of it is crisp, hilarious, and put together with such love and talent it dwarfs most other comedy shows and blows them completely out of the water. I absolutely love this show, and oh boy was it fun seeing it back in tip-top shape!

 

Grades:

Repilot: B+

Introduction to Teaching: A-

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This isn’t even the Dalek’s final form yet!

 

So they travel back in time, only to be greated with more salt and pepper shakers! I swear, if they over-do this villain and make the-…great…

I don’t think I really liked this episode, but then again… wait… did I? It’s been a full three days since I watched it, and I still can’t form a coherent opinion on it. All I can properly say, is it was all over the place. This two parter was definitely… different. I think the entire theme was pretty interesting, but the accents and acting was SO mixed, I find it difficult to enjoy for more than a few minutes.

The Daleks evolved… or, I should say, one Dalek tried to evolve before he was put on some leash like he was auditioning for some bondage porno. It was an odd shift in tone, but I don’t think it was sold as well as it could have. This dragged the episode down, it had proper and interesting themes, but the execution of those themes wasn’t something that I can say was impressive.

We had that little love story between lady-do-how, and pig-man-sort-of, which never really got anywhere. It started the episode, and then just ended it, answering or progressing nothing. This show is usually quite adept and making the side characters be engaging and three dimensional, so I’d think a two parter would give them MORE opportunity to do so. But no… these characters were nothing but some exposition device and some strangely reference-y dialogue.

Sheesh… were people really THAT cliché back then? The entire aspect of the Daleks evolving is interesting, better yet, the entire aspect of them gaining feelings is VERY interesting. But the way it was sold here was just… not.

I can’t really say this episode acted like a two parter, since by the end of the first episode everything is already in full motion. While much more successful two parters like “The Satan Pit” built their story and villains up gradually, this one didn’t really succeed in that aspect as well.

However, this is where it DID succeed, it succeeded in being quite fun. Even in its lowest point, the show never quite stooped to being boring. Every seen contained enough development and action to keep be going, and Tennant’s performance was particularly strong in this episode, as he portrayed his emotion towards the Daleks to a fantastic degree. I will say though, him pretty much letting the last one go… AGAIN, was sort of a frustrating moment. I mean, how many times do they have to threaten the world until you realize they need to go?!

I suppose I can’t take too much off this episode… it’s simply not wrong enough, as it’s the writers trying something new and getting a slightly sub-par episode in return. Let’s hope the next two parter is more promising.

Grade:

Ep1: B-

Ep2: B-

Overall: B-