Written by the beautiful and talented Megan Ganz, this episode takes us into Pierce's universe, and his mansion of horror, like something right out of Scooby-Doo.
Some time ago, THE BIG BANG THEORY did an episode where one character discovers the college paper of his girlfriend and realizes it is a C- paper, so he fixes it into an A+ paper (more or less). And that's what I am beginning to see with this season of COMMUNITY. Without Dan Harmon, these writers have been delivering a lot of C- episodes, but Dan was the brilliant boyfriend who made them into A+ material.
Sure, this was an improvement over last week's but only in the characters feeling like themselves (unlike last week). Unfortunately, it's just not that funny.
Granted, the scenes with Troy and Shirley were laugh-out-loud hilarious. The funniest being when Shirley realized she was more knowledgeable about sexual deviant behavior than innocent babe-in-the-woods Troy.
There were also a few classic Jeff and Britta moments but only in setting. Execution wise there was something missing. The new EP's attempt to inject more relationship related material into the show just isn't working that well. I don't care about Jeff's dad, though Joel McHale did a fine job trying to sell Jeff's emotions. I also don't care about Pierce's daddy issues (feels old now). It all seems like things Dan Harmon would have spent less time on and more time on making the show funnier. Edgier. Cooler.
The attempts to go geek, like the map of the mansion with each member of the group identified by board player pieces felt like the fan-fiction version of something Harmon would have done better. Even Abed finding a secret observation room didn't work all that well as a classic meta-moment. It was amusing at times but, again, felt mostly like fan-fiction with Abed saying lines someone thought he would say, if that someone wasn't the person who gave that character life.
The appearance of Pierce's half-brother, Gilbert, was welcomed but then felt flat at the end like any plot point in a show like HAPPY ENDINGS (from where these show runners came). I am starting to see a lot of similarities between this season and HAPPY ENDINGS in general actually. I like that show. I sometimes love that show. But I never care about the plot. I usually have to be reminded of whatever happened in each episode after watching them. There is a reason why HAPPY ENDINGS doesn't have a convention. Or crazed fans following their show runner around the country.
It's funny. It's just not epic funny. Or epic. At all.
If I had to rate this episode, and since Dan Harmon is a god, I'd give it:
72 - (50 Harmon boyfriend points)
= 22 out of 100
= 22 out of 100
If even Megan Ganz can't make this show work like it did a year ago, then we may be in trouble. And yes, this week's score is lower than last week's even though I said I liked it more. That's because last week I should have given the episode a 66 (-50) = 16. I do appreciate that the actors are still trying to give us the characters we know and love. If only the writers were as well. If only the show runners weren't making expensive fan-fiction.