COMMUNITY Recap: ‘Critical Film Studies’ - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

COMMUNITY Recap: ‘Critical Film Studies’

March 25, 2011 by  

As pop-culture junkies, sometime life throws us some rather unique curveballs. For instance, the issue of how to have a “normal” conversation with absolutely no references thrown in, no quotes from last week’s 30 ROCK and no allusions to some character who influenced you as a child.

Week to week, COMMUNITY is a show that plays on that love of popular culture, lets us play around in it for a half-hour without us having to feel guilty about the fact that it takes up so much of our lives; its script—and its characters, for that matter—are so built around what already makes up the pop cultural landscape that it’s often hard to tell where the references stop and the show begins.

It may be strange for me to admit this, but Abed’s always been an incredibly relatable character for me. I’ve never been accused of having Asperger’s Syndrome, but a character who relates so much to film and television that it seeps into every aspect of his life, every friendship he makes, every little character tick? My own pop culture addiction has taken me pretty darn close to that.

Everybody loves Abed. We hear this through Jeff’s voice-over at the very beginning of this week’s episode, as Jeff shows up at a fancy restaurant to meet Abed. His intentions are to lure Abed to a PULP FICTION-themed surprise birthday party in his honor, but upon seeing him, things take a turn.

Abed is acting….differently…than usual. In fact, one could say he’s even acting normal. I’ll let Jeff put it best: “Abed was being weird. And by that I mean he WASN’T being weird. He was hugging, smiling, making eye contact. And in 30 seconds he hadn’t made a reference to anything.”

He was dressed like Mr. Rogers and talking like Frasier, and something was terribly, bafflingly awry.

I have to admit, my first thought upon the realization that Abed was acting so normal was “EGADS! They broke Abed! WE MUST FIX HIM IMMEDIATELY.” He told his story to Jeff, about how he started an online community for COUGAR TOWN that led to an invite to visit the set, then an offer for a walk-on role on the show. But as he prepared for his walk-on role, Abed’s entire life philosophy came crumbling down around him. How could he watch TV, and be on TV? Abed begins to question why he cares so much about things that matter so little.

You will notice how, despite my extreme and obvious excitement for the fact that this week’s episode was an homage to Quentin Tarantino’s PULP FICTION, I’ve barely mentioned the parts of the episode that actually dealt with the cult classic. And that is because, despite the hilarious sideline of Troy’s jealousy and the mysterious briefcase, this episode was not paying tribute to PULP FICTION. And, surprisingly, it may be better off because of it.

Instead, this episode performed something much more rare in the “homage” genre — a stealth tribute to the 1981 film MY DINNER WITH ANDRE, surreptitiously snuck in there as a means of shining a light on the state of Abed and Jeff’s friendship. The more-obscure-than-Tarantino MY DINNER WITH ANDRE, is, as Abed puts it, “a movie about a guy who has an unexpectedly enjoyable evening with the weird friend he’s been avoiding lately.”

Danny Pudi (Abed) really pulled out the big guns this week. Playing a completely different character for the majority of the episode, and then when the time came, rolling right back into Abed without evening the slightest hint of whiplash. And with the help of the masterly Joel McHale (who has taken the self-obsessed pretty boy trope to new levels of opulent anxiety), we were given an unexpected shot at two characters many probably hadn’t noticed had been drifting apart.

I wax nostalgic fairly frequently in these posts about the state of awe this show consistently puts me in, so about this episode I’ll just say this: It was beautiful. And…weird. And it somehow involved Chevy Chase dressed up as a gimp.

Comedy, you guys. It’s pretty cool. Especially when you put the cast and crew of COMMUNITY in charge of it.


Abed: “Everyone else is growing and changing all the time and that’s not really my jam. I’m more of a fast-blinking, stoic, removed, uncomfortably self-aware type. Like Data, or Johnny 5, or Mork, or Hal, or Kit, or Woodstock and/or Snoopy, and Spock probably goes without saying….”

Abed: “We’re like robots pointing out catch-phrases and references.”

Jeff: “You don’t have to worry about being normal or weird; the world is a sick place full of sick, sick people.”

Britta: “What, I have 3D vision now?”
Annie: “…Yes. You do.”

Jeff: “Why are you dressed like Mr. Rogers and talking like Frasier?”

Jeff: “I doubt I’ll ever forget my DINNER WITH ANDRE dinner with Abed.”

What did you all think of this episode? Did you love the abundant COUGAR TOWN references? Were you glad they at least snuck in Britta doing her Uma Thurman dance? And wasn’t Troy’s jealousy adorable? Perhaps even more adorable than the fact that he calls wine “No-No Juice”?

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One Response to “COMMUNITY Recap: ‘Critical Film Studies’”

  1. David on May 6th, 2012 3:27 am

    this review is so great, i’d just watched this episode and once again am blown away by the quality of ideas in the show. really like your review, though think you might have left a bit of analysis of the show at the end, here’s my 2:

    season 2 episode 19 dinner with andre dinner with abed, jeff as the narrative voice, about the essential connectedness with people. and the desire to connect to other people. jeff and abed both find that the two want the same things = to be connected to other people. to the world around them. jeff realises that although he was tricked into having a real conversation by abed, who was only acting a real conversation, he realised that abed was staging that conversation by using dinner with andre* as a template for it was abed’s attempt to connect with jeff as the backstory of the characters; “a movie about a guy who has an unexpectedly enjoyable evening with the weird friend he’s been avoiding lately.” was how abed felt about jeff and he wished to recreate that scene in real life.
    the deception jeff felt before the conclusion is that he thought abed’s dinner with andre plot was another example of abed being weird; i.e. the two not connecting. yet as he finds at the end what has in fact happened is that abed and jeff have had “an unexpectedly enjoyable evening with the weird friend he’s been avoiding lately.” and thus, their evening was not wasted together.

    *(tarantino film; there’s another lateral plot line involving a homage to tarantino and subverting stereotypes of pop culture but that’s for another time)