“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.
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.