Saturday, 29 October 2011

COMMUNITY, 3.5 – "Horror Fiction In Seven Spooky Steps"

Saturday, 29 October 2011
For their Halloween special, Community turned in their own version of a "Treehouse Of Horror" episode of The Simpsons, albeit with a sketchier feel. A gimmicky half-hour that existed to be silly while underlining the main character's personalities, it took the shape of seven hastily-told spooky stories: Britta (Gillian Jacobs) with a lame and clichéd tale about a couple who are killed by an escaped madman while smooching in their car; Abed (Danny Pudi) then "fixed" Britta's story by relocating the scene to a remote woodland cabin, but forgot to add any actual scares; Annie (Alison Brie) imagined Jeff (Joel McHale) as an old-school vampire who prefers her over real-life rival Britta, if only because she can teach him to read; Troy (Donald Glover) opted for dumb fun with a bizarre story about a mad professor (Chevy Chase) who stitches himself and Abed together, in a safe-for-TV echo of The Human Centipede; Pierce's attempts to appeal to the younger generation resulted in a stupid and racist tale where he beat up two "gangstas" with his manhood; Shirley's (Yvette Nicole Brown) faith meant her story threatened eternal damnation on the rest of the study group, who were seen as the godless ones left behind post-Rapture, to be punished by a devilish Dean Pelton (Jim Rash); and Jeff story tried to ameliorate the study group's irrational fear that one of them's a psycho who might butcher the others, triggered by the fact Britta has a psychiatrist test results that proves one of them's a sociopath.

It's a bit of a shame this episode is airing after "Remedial Chaos Theory", which shares its format (in the sense it's another episode telling smaller stories within), but this was apparently due to an unplanned alteration of the running order. Regardless, "Horror Fiction" was a satisfying and mostly enjoyable example of Community's fun-loving spirit, kept alive by the fact the stories got progressively more outrageous. I also found plenty to laugh at with the show's childishness (such as Pierce having his backside stitched to his chest), and the way every story filtered through each narrator's quirks was a good way to explore the group dynamic.. uh, again. (I think this is something Community tends to overdo, not helped by the aforementioned fact "Chaos Theory" had a similar idea at play.)

While I don't think this is an episode I'll remember for long, it was everything it intended to be. I wish it had been a touch more insightful about the horror genre, because I was expecting something cleverer than what we were given for a Halloween special, but this was fun and had an entertaining tone.

written by Dan Harmon / directed by Tristram Shapeero / 27 October 2011 / NBC