21 February, 2013

Review - COMMUNITY 4.03: 'Conventions of Space and Time'

In this episode, the gang went to an Inspector Spacetime convention, something everyone has been wanting to see for a while now.


What we ended up with was the least interesting and most hollow episode of the series, where every character felt off and the writing was right out of one of those horrible CBS comedies.

This is not COMMUNITY. This is THE BIG 2.5 BROKE GIRLS. Except not as good. Where Annie fantasizes about being Jeff's wife (if someone would kill Dan Harmon, he could roll in his grave), Britta is some kind of ninja, Abed is some weirdly transformed version of the character he was for three seasons, and Tricia Helfer is not awesome.

Granted, the most interesting element of this episode, for a second week running, involved Shirley. Maybe we get lucky and the rest of the season focuses on her.

If I had to rate this episode, and it pains me to do it, I'd give it:

45 out of 100

Which, after subtracting 50 "Dan Harmon is God" points, makes this:

-5 out of 100

At least Alison Brie gets to be on MAD MEN. So this shouldn't ruin her career the way it would have otherwise. Her acting, and that of most of the cast, was less than paint-by-numbers. It was awkward.

If you liked this episode, then you are my enemy for life.


  1. I agree. Sorry but it's time to pull the plug on Community.

  2. Well, I was going to try really hard to like this one just to experience the drama of being your enemy for life ... but alas ... I couldn't even come without a million miles of making that happen. I swear to god, even without Dan Harmon, I honestly never thought this show was capable of being *this* awful ... this much of an abomination ... even in my worst nightmares. I just ... I have no words. I don't get how the cast can make it through saying those lines and playing those scenes without just wanting to throw themselves out the window. My god, I feel bad for them.

    1. Oh and I love how they basically cut out the entire theme song in this ep after we talked last week about how it used to be so fun to sing with it!! Perfectly symbolizes my (lack of) enjoyment of the entire show now.

      When the best part of the episode is a 90210 gag right at the end, that is not. good. NOT good at all.

    2. As soon as I heard the theme song cut out I was like "Wait, are they trying to tell us something?" ;)


    Tricia, my love! What have they done to you? At least she looked pretty.

    Troy... He knows Abed is not a moron or a helpless child. Why the bad sitcom-y freak out at the beginning?

    Abed... Once one my favorite characters, now I can barely stand him.

    Annie... Poor Annie. It looks that they've given up on this character and she's now a parody of a romantic teenager without any depth.

    Troy and Abed going through jealousy and separation anxiety has been done before. The characters went through that in the past and they already grew out of that phase. Regressing on that development is not making me love there relationship more, quite the opposite.

    Jeff... Meh!

    Britta... She was the voice of reason, but that doesn't mean she was funny or interesting.

    Pierce... Chevy is phoning it in so unashamedly and openly, this might be the only remotely amusing thing about this episode.

    Shirley... The little they gave her to do, she nailed. She's freaking awesome.

    1. That opening bit was so terrible I tried to write more about it but just couldn't get through it.

      In fact, I tried to make this review longer but it... just... took... too... much.... effort!

      Still, I probably put in more effort than the writers room did for this one.

    2. Agree with all of this, it's pretty much everything that was driving me insane about the characters but I was too lazy to write it out in my earlier comment hahaha. Watching how badly they butchered these characters was infuriating.

      I happened to see on Twitter that @TVMoJoe said he liked the episode because he loves the characters and the actors, and all I could think was, that is the exact reason he should have HATED it!! I guess I need some of what he's smoking.

  4. After season 3 this show had 70-ish episodes in the can. If their aim was to get community to 88, then they need at least 2 sets of 13 episodes and thus a season 5. If all they had left in this series is 26 episodes why not just let Harmon write them as a whole and finish off the 4 year college experience for these characters?

    This show did not have a lot of life in it like the West Wing when Sorkin was asked to leave or NCIS when Belsario was forced out. I just do not understand why Sony and NBC has done this stupid, stupid, stupid thing.

    1. If they are smart, Sony will go to Netflix and offer them a 13 episode season 5 for nothing, with the caveat that they deal with Dan Harmon (since Sony's tiny panties can't handle him). Then bring him back to finish the series.

      They won't, though. Because their tiny pussies can't handle Dan's massive god cock.

    2. If Sony really wanted this show to do decent ratings in syndication, they'd dumb it down even more and make it as much like a CBS sitcom as possible.

    3. That's what they wanted. Harmon wouldn't do it. So they got these fans... that they clearly hate... and are trying to somehow gain new viewers while pleasing the old viewers... and it isn't working.

    4. I thought Community was already syndicated. On Comedy Central?

      And i second the Community on Netflix thing. Though, it would never happen. Sigh.

    5. I was making the assumption that they also want to take it into broadcast syndication where they sell advertising in it. There are different types of syndication.

      When Sony sells to a cable network, the network pays a license fee and sells all the ads themselves. But, Sony also distributes to broadcast stations and retains half the advertising time which Sony sells to advertisers. Shows like Rules of Engagement, Til Death, and Seinfeld are sold that way by Sony's syndication division. Those shows are usually scheduled in the early afternoon or late night by the station that gets them. It's called "Barter" syndication because the station doesn't pay for the show. They usually get it for free in return for Sony keeping half the ad time. The station sells the rest.

      Community hasn't entered that type of syndication yet.

  5. I found something interesting while analyzing the ratings. The median age for the viewer has gone up each week.

    Week 1
    A18-49 rating: 1.85
    A50+ rating: 1.26
    Median Age: 37.8
    Total viewers: 3.9 million

    Week 2
    A18-49 rating: 1.16
    A50+ rating: 1.10
    Median age: 44.6
    Total Viewers: 2.8 million

    Week 3
    A18-49 rating: 1.15
    A50+ rating: 1.50
    Median age: 47.0
    Total viewers: 3.1 million

    Adults 50 or older watching rose last night.

    All that is Live + SD. We don't know yet how many viewers are timeshifting to a later time.

    1. Correction on the Week 3 Adults 50+ rating. It was a 1.4. Wish there was an "edit" button.

    2. That is very interesting. So youngins tuned it to see what was up and then tuned right out.

  6. Wow. You guys really cannot separate Dan Harmon from Community can you?

    And for what it's worth, Dan Harmon actually wanted to pursue the Inspectacon plot last season (check one of his reddit AMAs). It involved Richard Ayoade as the overseas superfan, but still the same basic "Troy & Abed go to an Inspector Spacetime Con". So the plot you hate is something Harmon actually wanted to pursue.

    Also: People revert to previous habits ALL THE TIME. It's not regression, it's a naturally occurring problem that affects everyone. If something affects your behavior and personality, it will probably continue to do so for quite some time. People just get more comfortable within themselves when it happens. As an example, some people who suffer from severe depression for whatever reason aren't "fixed" after a few months (or even years). It's an ongoing process with its own regressions and climaxes. A lot of people here seem to imply that a character's direction ABSOLUTELY CANNOT revert back to a previous condition, which just isn't true. There's no "cure" for something like that. However, there are ways to feel more comfortable with yourself when it happens.

    That's what I see with Annie here. She's been known to have fantasies throughout the show. S1 Annie played out her fantasies with Troy on her grandmother's blanket; and her big moment in that episode was asking for it back. S2 Annie pretended to be someone else during Mixology certification. And in S3 Annie began to admit she has problems being "in love with being in love".

    I found this S4 episode to be great because at the end of the day, Annie seemed very comfortable with herself admitting her problems to Jeff. She was able to literally laugh it off, where as an earlier version of Annie wouldn't be able to be comfortable enough not to be shamed by the situation.

    I thought it was a great touch that she even points out that Zac Effron (who is still on a poster in her room) is one of the more prominent cast members of her fantasies, along with Jeff and Troy. Sure she has done this before, but now she's more comfortable.


    And while I'm here, here's some other important things about this season.

    In 401, Abed is able to deal with his issues BY HIMSELF. That is a HUGE moment for him, as typically he needs Annie, Troy, or a Jeff speech to help him out when he gets stuck. Jeff even points this out by saying he just walked over there and didn't say anything.

    In 403, Abed is comfortable knowing that Troy will eventually find him. He admits after a long life of being locked in things, he was not so scared anymore because he knew someone he could trust would eventually find him.

    Were these the strongest episodes ever? Nope! Were they the worst, Chicken Little? Nope!

    I mean, come on. Do you really like "Wine Tasting" better than these few episodes? A bunch of Harmon episodes left a lot to be desired as well, even moreso than these Season 4 episodes. I'd implore you guys to try and keep an open mind because your Harmon-worship is most definitely getting in the way of your ability to enjoy a perfectly decent TV show with well established characters.

  7. 1) All you have to do is read my Dan Harmon era COMMUNITY reviews to know I didn't always like what he did.

    2) Regression like Annie's feels false since the character has gone through this more than enough times. It is bad writing. You seem to support bad writing.

    3) ANY Dan Harmon episode was better than these season 4 episodes.

    You can like crap TV. I dislike it.

    1. 1) Then why the incredibly immature "Harmon God" rating -50? It doesn't say much about your critical analysis to know you're willing to immediately downgrade quality of a show before even seeing the episode.

      2) "more than enough times". Out of curiosity, how many times is enough? Would you rather they introduce problems that are not indicative of Annie's character? The writers took what they knew about the character already and used it. In essence, they didn't want to venture away from the established traits of the characters because they felt the fans would react badly to it.


      Andy Bobrow (Season 2-4 writer and producer) is interviewed in that link above. He points out the differences and is also assuming part of the problem is the difference in editing. I highly suggest you and your viewers listen to it. Bobrow wrote Pillows & Blankets, Mixology Certification, and 401.

      "It is bad writing. You seem to support bad writing"

      Very constructive criticism right here that doesn't sound ironic at all. If this is what the creator of this blog has to offer, then it's become obvious it's not a great source of criticism.

      3) FWIW Harmon probably had much more of a budget to work with. I will admit the series is "different", but to say that every episode of his is better than the last 3 seems hyperbolic. I strongly dislike "Wine Tasting" and a few other S3 episodes. People like different things, so I'll allow you to have your own opinion on the episodes.

      However, I will point out the fact that if Harmon still had control of the show and the S4 episodes turned out exactly the same then your criticism would be filled with much less vitriol and much more praise of creative attempts.

    2. 1) How is -50 Harmon points immature? I consider firing the heart and soul of a show to be worth half the score. At least I give a pre-downgrade score first (which is what is reported by other sites that record such things anyway).

      2) Network TV shows are a writer's medium, but more so a show runner's medium. No show was more the show runner's medium than COMMUNITY. So every episode pre-firing had Dan Harmon's mark all over it. Anything after that doesn't. Therefor no matter what any writer did prior to season 4, their previous apparent genius is unlikely to be reflected in this current iteration. And it isn't.

      3) I consider it on-the-nose. Hyperbole is when I read fanboys proclaiming season 4 to be better than something in any Dan Harmon season. Actually, I don't just consider it hyperbole. I think it is bullshit squeezed out by people who have a savior complex where they feel they have to come to the defense of anyone they perceive to be vulnerable.

      These new show runners will have to actually deliver something good before I praise them.

      Mind you, if you look at my ratings for the show for the first two episodes, pre Harmon point subtraction, they weren't horrible. Only this latest received a failure score. Because it felt like a bad episode of THE BIG BANG THEORY. It wasn't well written. It wasn't well acted. It wasn't well directed. It felt rushed and lacked the soul of any previous episode.

      Your final point only proves that you don't care about fairness. You are a just here to posture. There is no way you know how I would react if Dan was making these types of episodes. Especially since I hammered a production on which friends of mine were working. Where people I OWED loyalty and eternal thanks to, who helped a group I participated in raise tons of money for charity worked. Who gave their own time to our efforts and never asked for a thing in return.

      I slammed their fifth season. So you think I'd have more loyalty to a guy I don't know?

      You don't know anything about me.

    3. 1) It's called TV, and people get fired all the time. The "heart and soul" of the Simpsons, West Wing, and MASH all changed hands at some point during their runs. Downgrading an opinion of something simply because someone was taken away is immature.

      2) Season 1 was largely fought over by the Russos, Niel/Garret, and Harmon. Harmon was listed as a showrunner, but he definitely DID NOT exert his full control over the series until Season 2/3. (Harmon actually explains this himself on the Season 1 commentary, so I'm not talking out of my ass here). What does this mean? It means you are giving your "genius" credit to MORE THAN ONE PERSON. You might be giving Harmon credit to something the Russos, Niel/Garret, (heck even Mckenna) might be responsible for. Harmon is without a doubt a great creative force, but to give him sole credit for EVERYTHING the show has ever done is highly illogical.

      3) Where are these fanboys? If you're talking about me, please understand that I have a lot of problems with Season 4. Like Bobrow says in that interview I posted, there are some apparent problems with editing and structure that we are aware of.

      As to the final point, I am gauging this off the fact that you bothered to include a "Harmon God" subtract-o-meter with each Season 4 review. If that meter did not exist (if Harmon were still around), the show would be getting better grades. That is where my opinion stems from.

      You used the term "savior complex", but you might want to rethink using that term to describe your worship of Harmon. He's without a doubt one of the great creative forces in TV, but based on every piece of writing on this website he is most definitely getting in the way of your ability to enjoy something that is not necessarily as bad as you might think.

      See you this Thursday at 8.

    4. I'll continue to write as I have over the years, calling it exactly as I see it no matter what the readers or the people I am friends with in the industry think.

      And Dan Harmon is god. He is the god of COMMUNITY. He created it. That is the definition of a god.

      The guys there now are just demigods running the universe into the ground with people like you bleating them on like sheep.