Dean Pelton Mourning Community

Community – “Documentary in Filmmaking: Redux” Review

Except for you, Jeffrey. You have locked into something here and the only thing your character needs is more screen time.” -Dean Pelton

Can I get a “Hell yes!” for a Dean-centric episode?! I wonder if that will be a polarizing point of view, but I don’t care. Jim Rash has long been a favorite member of the cast for me and I was so happy to see him get an episode where he just let go.

We’ve done the documentary episode before, so it wasn’t original, but it felt original. The idea of filming a new commercial felt like a simple and great idea. The old video was hilarious and getting Luis Guzman was money. Each character had a job and they were basically asked to just be funny, which all of the characters can do. They all had moments to shine.

Jeff’s Dean impression was spot on and let us see the comedic side of Jeff. The Dean’s reaction to Jeff’s impression was also great. Britta and Troy’s hug troubles were genuinely great. The tortured hug scene was well done and I liked the final hug moment so long as it doesn’t result in the show trying to ship a romance to us. Annie losing her mind was perfect as usual. Plus, it let us see Alison Brie look like a sexy librarian. They also did a smart thing with Pierce. They got him out of the way and out of the action by making that a joke in and of itself. Abed and Shirley didn’t get to do a whole lot, but they were solid when called upon.

This episode also gave us one of the most bizarre scenes ever in Community. The Dean stripping off his clothing and spreading ashes on himself in mourning was just so bizarre. It was almost haunting. But since we don’t get to see a lot of the Dean, I’m glad we got to see that whole range.

It’s episodes like this that make me so happy the show exists. I know Community was pulled from the midseason lineup, but we’ll get to see the rest of season three at some point. This episode also probably would turn a casual fan off. Which is why three seasons of this show is also a minor miracle. Just enjoy every second we have left with this show.

Troy and Abed Annie's Move

Community – “Studies in Modern Movement” Review

Just because we’re awesome doesn’t mean we’re not adults!” -Troy

I’ll start this review out by saying it was my favorite episode of Community so far this season. For some reason, I haven’t been that impressed with Community this year. However, this episode wasn’t so much impressive as it was simple in its effectiveness.

Community has always been about these characters that we’ve grown to love. Sometimes these characters annoy us, but for better or for worse, we care about them. The relationships amongst themselves aren’t too complex, but we enjoy them. This episode felt like a celebration of the characters and relationships we love.

Troy and Abed’s relationship is probably the strongest on the show. It was lacking at the beginning of the season, but this episode, it was at the heart of the show. Right when the Dreamatorium was introduced I felt like the relationship got a bit too cartoonish, but as soon as Annie left, they realized it too. The best part was that not only did they give Annie their room, but that they decided that the Dreamatorium was too important, so they moved the bunk bed into the blanket fort.

Sometimes Community can struggle with connecting its secondary story lines, but I felt they did a great job with Britta and Shirley and the dean and Jeff. They’re relationships that have an inherent conflict in them, but it’s not one of hatred, just annoyance. It’s not like any new ground was broken with these relationships, but usually the contention is only a line or two in an episode. In this episode we got full scenes.

I especially enjoyed Britta and Shirley arguing over religion and being nice. The hitchhiker they picked up really helped with the give and take of the conflict. He just kept escalating and escalating until he finally tried to sing a song about the dangers of race mixing. Shirley and Britta both were against that, so they reached a point of mutual respect.

Jeff and the dean had some great gags. For me personally, “Kiss From a Rose” is a go to joke song I like to blast on juke boxes at bars so watching them and the hilarious cut aways during their performance was comic gold for me. Jeff’s gag about covering for the hospital was also done pretty well. Jeff has softened some since joining the group so it’s nice to see him get back to his selfish ways at certain points.

And Pierce? Well I really liked Pierce in this episode. I didn’t find him obnoxious or annoying at all. In fact, I laughed several times at his gags. The painting of the floor and huffing the fumes to the point of doing paint angels in the ground was well done.

Annie of course was spectacular. Alison Brie doesn’t always get to showcase her range as an actress, but in this episode we got to see her play all sorts of emotions. We had her normal uptight self, the “loosey goosey” Annie and the Annie that gets real on Troy and Abed. If Alison Brie could ever secure an Emmy nomination, this would be my pick for her submission episode so far.

As for the social media aspect of the episode, I didn’t feel like it was trite like I do on most shows. The League and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia did a social media episode recently and it felt forced. This felt natural.

Overall a very solid episode of Community for me.

Jeff Winger Community Biology 101

Community – “Biology 101″ Review

Do you know what’s magic about this table? It magically keeps our books from falling on the floor.” -Jeff Winger

When I watch Community I don’t always feel like I’m watching a sitcom. For many of the episodes I feel as though I’m watching something more. It’ll sound cliche, but I think every person has little bit of each member of the study group inside themselves. This allows for the show to resonate personally with its viewers. This episode, however, I feel like it missed the mark. But just by a little. It was almost as if it was reintroducing us to the world of Greendale.

The show is called “Community” and I am aware of this. This episode really felt like it was expanding its universe. Community has a great list of supporting characters that help make Greendale be this awesome place that you’d want to hang out in. But when you keep adding to that world, there are some people that you are bound to not like.

This episode had two large guest stars. The first we meet is Michael Kenneth Williams who plays the Biology teacher. He’s a no nonsense guy that earned his Ph.D in prison. The sort of inciting incident of the episode came when he kicked Jeff out of class because his cell phone kept being a distraction. I feel as though he fit in rather well with the cast. He did a great job in his scenes with Jeff. The huminzation of Jeff is important for the show. He’s a type of character that has an effect on a guy that’s usually at the top of the social ladder in the group. Now he has a foil of sorts to knock him down a few pegs.

The other guest star I didn’t like. At all. It was John Goodman playing the vice dean of an annex in the school that is richer and more powerful than the rest of the school combined. He just didn’t work for me. Perhaps it was the way he kept saying “And that’s what’s up.” But really I think it’s that he was just a bellowing bully. He was also playing against the dean who we don’t really care about except for some quirky comedic relief. Michael K Williams plays an important role in the shows future because he impacts our main guy, but John Goodman appeared to be there only as the catalyst to getting Chang the job as the security guard. (I quite like Chang as the security guard. I think that could work.)

There were some good gags going on throughout the episode, but none of them were that next level funny. The Abed “favorite tv show” thing was a clever dig or shoutout to British TV. Dan Harmon is a TV nerd so it would make sense he throws these TV nuggets into his show. I actually think the funniest part of this gag was the Troy and Britta “Ruiner Club” banter. Chang kept falling out of vents. The dean touched Jeff awkwardly a few times. Funny stuff, yes, but not some of the show’s best work.

The show even concludes in another moment where the group learns something about themselves. These moments of introspection are all well good, but they’re a tad trite. Even the show made fun of it before when they spliced together Jeff speeches to end an episode. But I think what Dan Harmon and the Community writers want us to know is that the group is back and they’re tight.

Pierce was a big problem last year. He was basically pure evil and it made no sense to have him around. In this episode, he used his lying ability for good. He used it to get Jeff back in the group. Jeff and the group learned that they’re more than a study group, but they’re a group of friends. However, they need to see each other around that table for it to all work.

I think the show will definitely improve from here. They just need to get back on solid ground after last season’s sort of cliffhanger with Pierce walking out. Now that the group is back together and tight, I think we’ll see a lot of hilarity.

ashleywilliam

The Bachelorette Season 7 Episode 2 Recap

It’s week two, and the guys are relaxing in the mansion in LA in their regular clothes. Our esteemed host Chris Harrison arrives to explain how things will go. There will be one group date and two individual dates. If a guy gets chosen for an individual date he must pack his bags beforehand because Ashley will either decide to give him a rose or send him home.

It’s not long before the first date card arrives, and it’s a one-on-one with William that says, “Let’s make a splash in Vegas.” I’m excited because William is one of my favorites.

Ashley is staying in her own exotic house down the road. As she sits outside with the wind blowing through her hair with a contemplative look on her face we are treated to a voiceover in which she says she’s excited to go on a date with William because he’s fun. She picks him up in a nice convertible and they hop in a private jet to Vegas.

Back at the mansion Jeff says he will remove his mask on his first one-on-one date with Ashley. He also wishes he had a white mask since it’s so hot outside. I feel you, Jeff. This heat is brutal.

William and Ashley are in a limo now, sitting far away from each other yet still awkwardly holding hands. Ashley decides to put William to the test because she’s not sure if he’s ready to get married. First they go to a cake shop and start tasting wedding cakes. The chef is asking them about wedding plans and William is sweating. Next they go to a ring store and Ashley looks at William expectantly. He is a sport and goes along with it while they try on rings. They end up at a wedding chapel and now William is really scared, but he is determined not to back down and even says “I do”. Ashley didn’t expect William to make it this far, so she finally caves in before it becomes legally binding. (Side note: I don’t see how it could be legally binding if they don’t have a marriage license or sign any documents. But whatever.) They still have their kiss though, and Ashley says she’s falling for him after half of the date.

For the rest of the date they have dinner in the middle of the Bellagio fountain. Apparently Ashley has a fan club because girls keep yelling “We love you Ashley!” from the road. Whether these are real fans or just girls the producers found on the street and bribed is up for consideration. But seriously now, Ashley asks William about his life after high school and he tells her about his family and how his dad died of alcohol abuse. William’s watch stopped at the time his dad died, and he’s kept it like that ever since to remind him not to take life for granted. That’s actually a really cool story. Ashley’s dad is also an alcoholic so she relates to him. She gives him the rose and says she sees everything she’s looking for in him. He accepts it, they kiss, and the fountains go off behind them right on cue. Classic. Ashley says the bar is now set very high and doesn’t know if any guy can be as good as him. I’m sure she’ll find a few.

Back at the mansion the next date card arrives. It’s a group date for everyone except JP, Mickey, Ben C., Ryan, and Jeff. The card says, “In Vegas, boys will be b-boys.” The next day all the group date guys fly to Vegas and they are taken to see Jabbawockeez, a dance crew. Ashley joins the crew on stage and tells the guys they will be rehearsing with them. The guys are split into two groups and they have 30 minutes to come up with a routine. The winners get to stay and hang out with Ashley the rest of the night while the losers go back to the mansion.

The first group is calling themselves The Best Men and their dance is a choreographed wedding. It’s a clever idea but they don’t do much real dancing. (I feel qualified to judge them based on the one episode of So You Think You Can Dance that I’ve watched.) The second group is named No Rhythm Nation and they do a rose ceremony dance that includes Ashley. Jabbawockeez choose No Rhythm Nation as the winners which includes Ben F., Nick, West, Bentley, Blake, and someone else. Sorry, but it’s hard to keep track of these guys. They end up performing with Jabbawockeez, but thankfully they are only on stage for a couple minutes.

The guys that got sent home are pretty deflated. They spent more time in the airport than in Vegas.

After the show Ashley takes them for drinks on the roof of a hotel. During some one-on-one time, West tells her about his wife of 7 years that died. It’s a heavy conversation but she takes it well. Bentley tells the camera, “I just want Ashley to know that I’m better than every other guy.” He also says that he loves her rockin’ body and something else so crass that it gets bleeped, but then he says that she’s not his type. I hate him, which is too bad because my brother’s dog Bentley is really cute. When alone with Ashley he is already paving the way for his exit from the show and she is pathetically begging him to stay. She actually gives him the rose for the group date. I am pissed, yet feeling smug in my foreknowledge. Probably this whole thing is just for ratings, but I allow myself to get sucked in anyway.

The next day the final date card arrives. It’s for Mickey and JP, but the catch is that they have to flip a coin to see who goes on the individual date. Mickey wins the flip and JP is bummed but is a good sport. Mickey meets Ashley in Vegas and they decide they’re going to flip a coin to decide everything they do. Get it? Because he won the date on a coin flip? They are flipping for ridiculous things, like who should pick out the bottle of wine. They end up at the shark reef aquarium and play a game where whoever loses the coin flip has to answer a question. I’m ready for some juicy revelations, but their conversation is extremely boring.

Flash back to the mansion, where Jeff’s mask is starting to creep me out a little bit. JP is still talking about how bummed he is that he lost the date on a coin flip. He’s being very gracious to Mickey though, so I’m starting to like him.

Back to the date, and Ashley definitely has the hots for Mickey. They go to a super nice suite with an awesome view of the strip to eat and talk. Mickey reveals that his mom died 6 years ago. Is it just me, or does it seem like every guy has had someone close to them die? Ashley plays coy and decides to flip a coin to see if he gets the rose. He’s incredulous, but he wins the flip and she says she was going to give the rose to him anyway, as if there was ever any doubt. You’re so clever, Ashley. They go out walking in the bay and get a private concert from Colbie Caillet. There is at least one private concert in every season, and they always disturb me.

Time for the next cocktail party and the guys are a lot more tense this time around. JP pulls Ashley away immediately so he gets some time with her. He pulls out a coin and says heads he gets a kiss, tails he doesn’t. The coin barely lands before Ashley is leaning in. Obviously she really wanted to kiss him. She gives him a speech that basically assures him that he’ll get a rose.

Poor William is doing impressions and no one is laughing. He already has a rose and the guys aren’t happy with him. Nick has hair like Matthew McConaughey’s but worse, and he is teaching Ashley a line dance when William comes to take her away and Nick is pretty upset. The Mask sees William and Ashley kiss and decides it’s time to reveal himself. He pulls her aside in a stairwell and tells her that he was married for ten years before, had a brain hemorrhage with a long recovery, got divorced, and his life was kind of reset after that. That’s a lot of history right there. Jeff is in the process of pulling his mask off when Matt interrupts them. Dangit! Foiled again.

Elsewhere in the mansion, William is bragging about his date with Ashley and Bentley tells the camera that it sounds awful and he’d rather be “swimming in pee” than be on that date because she’s not the girl of his dreams. So what does he do? Pulls her aside and immediately starts kissing her. He obviously sees her as a conquest. He says the kiss “started out good but sucked toward the end.” I think Bentley has some sort of inferiority complex. Ashley says she has a good radar for insincere people and her gut tells her to trust him.

Rose ceremony! Ashley keeps: West, Constantine, Solar Ryan P., Ben C. the French speaker, (dramatic pause), Nick with the hair, Harvard Ames, Lucas from Texas, The Mask, JP, Chris (who is he?), Ben F. the winemaker, and…Blake the dentist. Going home are mama’s boy Matt who calls his mom to leave her a message. In this voicemail he says it’s 4 a.m. in LA, and I am exhausted just thinking about that. Stephen the hairstylist and Ryan M. are also gone.

The previews for next week promise more Bentley drama, and I’ve gotta give credit to the producers who put together the montage of The Mask swimming and vacuuming in his mask. That’s just awesome.

Images courtesy of ABC.com

Toast

The Bachelorette Season 7 Episode 1 Recap

*** My sister, Kathleen, has been writing her blog kapachino.info for a while now and one day she asked me if she could write recaps for The Bachellorette. I think she was kidding, but I thought it was a great idea to get some different types of shows represented on the site. This place could use a “classing” up. She’ll bring a nice feminine voice to our predominantly masculine world.  This is her first recap and first post on TV, so let’s welcome her! ***

My husband and I are big fans of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.  We know that they’re completely ridiculous and unbelievable, but they sure provide good entertainment. I watched last season when Ashley Hebert made it to the final three on The Bachelor, and my views on her were constantly changing. First I liked her, then for awhile she got more and more annoying, but by the end I thought she wasn’t so bad after all. So I’m kind of ambivalent going into this season.

We start off the episode with an obligatory montage of Ashley in her daily life with a voiceover of reflections on the past. But wait, here she is dancing by herself in an empty theatre. Is this something she goes and does in her spare time? They keep showing her in an aerobics class, and it’s obviously just to show off her body. Ashley says, “This feels like a fairy tale.” All I have to say is that it certainly isn’t real life.

Now the fun begins: it’s time for some of the men to be featured, and for me to start forming my opinions. Ryan P. is amazingly cheesy. In writing this review there were many places that I wanted to use the word “cheesy” but I reserved it just for him. He started his own solar energy company, and he says, “The only thing stronger than the sun is love.” Good one, Ryan.

J.P. is a construction manager, and I feel very mediocre about him. Ames is in finance and he should probably just date himself. To introduce himself he lists all the Ivy League schools he’s been to and how many ultra marathons he’s run. I mean, his name is Ames for goodness’ sake. Can you get any more pretentious?

Ben C. is a lawyer from New Orleans who describes himself as “passionate and romantic.” Benjamin is a winemaker, and I kind of like him. He seems pretty down to earth and real. Bentley has the same name as my brother’s dog and that is all I’ll be able to think about every time he’s mentioned. He also has a daughter named Cozy. Yes, Cozy.

Anthony is a butcher, and is Italian. I mean really, really Italian. West is a lawyer whose girlfriend of seven years died of a seizure disorder. Odds are that this is true and he’s a really nice guy, but he could also be a serial killer. (My husband is obsessed with true crime. He might be rubbing off on me.) William seems like a funny regular guy, and his dad died from a severe alcohol problem so I sympathize with him.

I wish all the guys could be featured like this, but now we have to listen to Ashley talk with Chris. It’s incredibly boring until she says that she got a tip from someone who knows Bentley saying that he’s a jerk. Ashley says she wants to give him the benefit of the doubt, so this basically guarantees that she will fall in love with him.

Finally the limos arrive, and the guys meet Ashley one by one and attempt to stand out. Mickey tries to kiss her. Um…no. Tim is the epitome of awkward. Stephen is a hairstylist and his hair is nicer than mine. Chris D. recites a poem/rap and says it’s a “hobby” of his. That makes me nervous. Jeff is wearing a mask to “take his face out of the game” so she can get to know him on the inside. Nice sentiment, but I think it’s just weird. Michael makes dentist jokes that are actually pretty funny. Nick recites a poem. Poems make me nervous. Constantine ties pink floss on her finger, which I think is cute.

The cocktail party begins. Matt calls his mom and she gives them advice about the fantasy suite. Awesome. Michael faked playing the guitar just to get Ashley’s attention. Funny guy. Everyone is making fun of Jeff for wearing a mask. I agree that it’s annoying, but they need to get over it. Awkward Tim is a huge jerk to Jeff and tells him to go away. Okay, Tim is SO WEIRD. Mainly he’s completely wasted. I have never seen anyone so classicly drunk as this; he’s even hiccupping. I don’t think it’s a good thing that he’s a liquor distributor. So glad Ashley is just sending him home now because I don’t think I could stand him for much longer.

The first impression rose goes to Cheesy Ryan P., and he’s a little too enthusiastic for me. Bentley the jerk says, “I’m not overly attracted to her, but I am competitive, so I feel like it should be mine.” Nice.

In the rose ceremony Ashley keeps Jeff, Constantine, Benjamin F., Lucas, Stephen, Matt, Nick, Chris D., Ryan M., Blake, Mickey, Ben C., West, William, J.P., Ames, and… Bentley. Of COURSE she picks him, because she was totally won over by his good boy act. The only person that I’m sad she let go is Michael, because he was funny and likable. Overall my favorite guy is William so far. He’s cute, funny, just a regular guy, and seems easy to be around.

Who is your favorite guy, and who do you think are the frontrunners? What do you think about Jeff’s mask?

All images courtesy of ABC.com

Annie Ace of Hearts

Community – “Fistful of Paintballs” Review

 

Sorry, I get paid to shoot paintballs honey, not the breeze.” -The Black Rider

What more can be said about a show that is firing on all cylinders like Community was in this episode? I was admittedly skeptical when they announced that they wold be doing another paintball episode. “Modern Warfare” was so great in every way that it seemed sill to try and recapture that greatness a second time. I became less skeptical when I heard that Josh Holloway would be guest starring in the episode. After watching the episode, I am no longer skeptical at all. What a great, fun, creative, and self-aware half hour of television. The beauty of the episode lied in the fact that they didn’t just make it a funny story about paintball assassins, they furthered the arc of the study group by finally starting to address the problem with Pierce.

There are plenty of great things about the episode and I’ll touch on those is a bit, but I feel like we need to discuss Pierce. Pierce Hawthorne has long been insufferable. I’ve found it completely unbelievable that the group would have stuck with him for this long. His worst offense was toying with Jeff’s emotions about his father. And in this episode, it brings all the problems to a head. The cliffhanger for the season finale is whether or not Pierce gets to stay in the group or not. Whether or not they let him stay or go is not the issue. It’s important that Community is recognizing it as a big problem. If he’s going to stay, he’s going to have to prove himself, something I haven’t seen him do in a very long while. And if he’s going to be written off, well I can’t say I’d miss him. One of the hardest things to do is self evaluate. Here, Community is trying to do just that.

As for the episode itself, after the teaser and the credits, you knew it was going to be a great episode. If you’re going to do such a conceptualized episode like this, you can’t do it halfway. The production value was very high and the creativity was even higher. It’s the small things that put me in awe of the show. I was trying to figure out just what all their card alter-egos meant, but it all came into focus by the end. Annie as the Ace of Hearts, Abed as the Jack of Clubs, Jeff as the King of Spades, Britta as the Queen of Spades, Shirley as the Ace of Clubs, Troy as the King of Clubs tells us just who the one red card is, Annie. Here I was trying to figure out who were all on “Team Clubs” and who was “Team Spades,” but really the meaning was simple, and they didn’t do the audience the disservice of beating us over the head the fact. They let us figure it out on our own.

They also used many of their supporting characters very well in this episode. Community has a relatively deep cast of supporting players that make up Greendale. Here we got to see Fat Neil be “the guy that’s killed first.” He actually had a really nice scene with Annie at the beginning. He was responsible for setting the whole mood of the episode. Leonard as the saloon piano player was a perfect choice of casting. And he even gave us a snappy one-liner when he reinforced Pierce’s joke about the male dancer for Jeff, “It’s because you’re gay.” I’ve also always loved Starburns and seeing him be the door guy that collects guns and drugs was a nice touch.

Community also managed to keep the characterization of the group consistent with the rest of the season starting with the costumes. Every character looked like what their wild west persona would be. Shirley with the priest look. Annie with the sexy saloon look. (It should be noted that there was nothing wrong with the slow motion running of Annie down the hallway.) Jeff with sleek cowboy look. In fact, Jeff’s insecurity about his good looks compared to that of The Black Rider’s was a nice running gag. Even the dean in his ridiculous tied up picnic table print shirt was spot on. The show is just so in touch with itself, that it seems to get everything right.

I usually don’t like stunt casting. When a guest star is announced long before the episode airs, I get the feeling that they’re trying to reach for viewers in sweeps week and that the episode gets lost trying to fit in a character that frankly shouldn’t be there. But with Josh Holloway they worked him in perfectly. He was written in as a mysterious outsider. They constantly asked who he was and why he was there. His demise even came in a very real moment where Pierce faked a heart attack and shot him. The world of Community never bent for him and that is something the show should be commended on.

There were a few things I found imperfect. For one, Abed makes several references to pop culture including Lost throughout the show, he’d recognize Sawyer. I know they gave it a little nod by Abed saying that he was network TV good looking. It’s kind of a nit picky complaint, but it took me out for one brief moment. I also thought Britta and Troy weren’t really used all that well. I mean, they were there and they weren’t bad by any stretch, but the episode was just too big to give them some good moments. Perhaps we could have shortened Chang’s screen time and given it to one of them. Either way, all of these issues I have are so minor I contemplated not even putting them in. The episode was great fun and it didn’t seem like a stale rip off of “Modern Warfare.” I can’t wait for part two next week.

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