Chekhov's Gunman


“A Waste of Time AND Space”- Community Season 4 Episode 3 Review, ‘Conventions of Space and Time’


Chekhov’s Gunman is a film and TV blog written by Kevin Lanigan, a future writer of movies and television and current writer of obscure band names on bathroom stalls.

Ooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh boooooooooyyyyyyy….

Let’s rap.

This was a heck of a thing. This is really the perfect example of how a lack of meaningful resolution can really dampen the entire proceedings. And by “dampen” I mean make me shrug relentlessly and forget most of the proceedings almost immediately. I tend to view these episodes with Community-tinted glasses, but even I could see this one was a bit of a stinker. And by “a bit of a stinker” I mean… Well, you know what I mean.

The plot, for whatever it’s worth, revolved almost entirely around guest star Matt Lucas (who I’m told is from the Englands but whom most people are going to know from Bridesmaids and other films that are also Bridesmaids). Troy and Abed get split up because of… reasons, and it’s all pretty harmless, I just had a hard time finding anything really to care about. The storyline started out with one of the episode’s best jokes (the Nigerian prince joke) and then, I don’t know, I lost interest. The Trobed relationship has been explored before and in better ways, like the almost series-best Pillows and Blankets war.

The saving grace of the storyline (and not the first storyline this season to be saved by this particular life raft) is how pleasant I find the Troy-Britta relationship to be. I think their dynamic is interesting and cute, and just the sheer presence of some real romance on this show makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside of my normally cold and scaly insidey-parts. This long overdue duo do do well when we need them to, and I really enjoyed Britta’s morning routine as the episode opener.

Speaking of relationships, I think I would have a totally different view on this episode if there had been some consummation on the Annie-Jeff storyline. We’re at the point where they strictly are just a couple. They’re going on ski trips and doing couples costumes. Just do it already so we can have some resolution, numerous Community writers who read my posts on the Internet. Especially now that the season is already done filming. The line that makes this masquerading escapade all worth going through is delivered by the concierge (“Normally we don’t concern ourselves with adultery, because then hotels wouldn’t exist…”). That’s good stuff.

My favorite moment is actually a result of the “we need something for Shirley and Pierce to do” storyline. The American version of “Inspector Spacetime” was priceless and accurate and is a truly bright spot in an otherwise dingy episode. That’s perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay to a throwaway storyline, except just thanking it for not being a throwaway Chang storyline. I don’t know where this “Changnesia” thing is going. But I’m scared.

The episode is mostly harmless, but that usually means it is also pointless. “Inspector Spacetime” doesn’t grate on me quite as much as it does others, but we kind of need to be done with it now. We have fleshed out its mythology as far as it can possibly go, both of “Inspector Spacetime” itself and the fictional actors invented to have been former Inspectors and just saying it makes me sound like all of Community’s detractors and I don’t want to talk about it anymore. This convention may have been more enjoyable if Spacetime was one of a few fictional shows Trobed occupied themselves with, so dipping back into it would be more of a treat. So, for all of you screenwriters with a solid spec script and the ability to travel time and space, go back and fix it, yo.

No season of Community has started out particularly strongly, so this episode isn’t a sign of defeat, but it needs to Chang its act together. Chang it good and fast.

Kevin is a two month veteran of writing for the Internet, having been through the great Up All Night crisis of three weeks ago. Check him out on Twitter at @KevinWroteThis and make sure to check out Kiss Kiss Bang Bang on DVD. Uhhhhhhhhhhh, that’s such a good movie.


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6 thoughts on ““A Waste of Time AND Space”- Community Season 4 Episode 3 Review, ‘Conventions of Space and Time’

  1. Pingback: “Well, It Fared Better Than Poland”- Community Season 4 Episode 4 Review- ‘Alternative History of the German Invasion’ | Chekhov's Gunman

  2. I actually completely disagree with you this time. I thought Episode 3 was far and away better than the first two of this season, for several reasons. First of all, the Inspector Spacetime motif is classic Community, and although it has been alluded to several times throughout the series there hasn’t been a whole episode dedicated to it. Also, since it’s an obvious homage to Doctor Who, it’s full of the kind of reference humor Community is known for. I agree with you that the Britta-Troy relationship was especially strong in this episode, but I think it actually facilitated (not detracted from) the Troy-Abed relationship. Since a new potential best friend attracts Abed’s attention, Troy becomes “the crazy girlfriend” because, to use the cliche, he’s known for being “the girl in the relationship.” So then Britta steps in, giving Troy advice on how to handle being the crazy girlfriend (a perspective we can assume she has learned through experience).
    Furthermore, this episode is a goldmine for small moments: “your boyfriend’s boyfriend,” the one concerning adultery and hotels, Annie throwing consecutive glasses of water in Jeff’s face, and Pierce’s delayed prostration on the floor, just to name a few. It’s possible these moments just stuck out to my personal taste, but I still stand by my argument that every character had an interesting plot and that the Abed-Troy-Britta dynamics were superb. And yes, we all want Jeff and Annie to bang already, but sitcoms wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the “will-they-won’t-they” suspense.
    Sorry if I seem like an asshole for critiquing your critique… this ended up being a much longer rant than I intended. Community just kinda gets me going.

    • I’m glad that something I wrote elicited this kind of reaction out of anyone. I’m happy the comments section has opened up to something like this, a discussion.
      That being said, I do stand by what I said. Like any episode of Community, it’s not devoid of some solid jokes, but I felt that ultimately it didn’t surpass the lack of interesting plot. The Jeff is Thoraxis stuff didn’t really go anywhere and I just didn’t understand the point of the Abed’s New Friend storyline other than “crazy girlfriend” jokes, which should never really be the basis of the storyline. I still think Troy and Britta are really sweet and Gillian Jacobs nailed the “I don’t care about Inspector Spacetime” delivery.
      Will-they-won’t-they is classic sitcom and I love it on New Girl, or Happy Endings, or even earlier Community, but it’s been four seasons of it and now Jeff and Annie are really just dating without a label on it. They’re going on ski trips together and doing couples costumes. They’re those frustrating friends you have that you just want to scream “Just do it already!”
      As a very, very casual Doctor Who fan, I’ve always liked the Inspector Spacetime concept and have enjoyed just the extent to which the writers have fleshed out its mythology. The show-within-a-show has a better world than 90% of actual TV shows. But I’m also kind of getting bored with it, like when your friend won’t shut up about Breaking Bad, or how I assume most people react when I talk about Community. To quote Forgetting Sarah Marshall, “It’s over. Find a new show.”
      I respect your views, but I still think this is the bottom point of the entire series. However, that makes it the bottom point of Community and is thus still better than the mid-points of most other series. If this had aired on another show, I think I would have been fine with it. Maybe I just have a higher bar for Greendale.

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