Monday, October 31, 2011

"Community" - "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps"

Spoilers for the latest "Community" after the jump:

"Community' follows last week's all-time classic episode with a Halloween outing that's not quite as brilliant, but still very funny and entertaining. The idea behind "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps" is a good one, although the fact that the episode aired right after "Remedial Chaos Theory" (albeit with a week off in between) definitely makes it feel a bit derivative. After all, this is essentially the same idea: seven different stories (one for each character), only horror tales instead of timelines. It also lacks "Chaos Theory's" character insights, instead choosing to simply give in to the goofy concept and have a good time with it.

And that it does. What sets all this in motion are Britta's personality tests, which indicate that one person in the group has homicidal tendencies (a fact she confides to Jeff). Her solution is to tell a horror story and see how her friends react to it, which sets off a chain of different stories told by each of the group members. Right away the episode wins us over with Britta's extremely cheesy and predictable tale of a killer with a hook for a hand. If that sounds familiar, that's because it's a pretty well-worn urban legend. Most of these stories aren't particularly original, but the show manages to put a fresh and funny spin on them.

Obviously having the characters act out the stories helps, as the sight of Jeff as a vampire is entertaining enough on its own. Add in the the hilariously terrible dialogue (these people are not good storytellers) as well as the way each story feels true to the person telling it, and you've got a fun half-hour of television with a handful of scenes that are just ridiculously funny: among them Annie describing vampire Jeff's last moments in gory, descriptive detail and the reactions of the group to Pierce's incredibly offensive tale (which also has nothing whatsoever to do with Halloween). And of course the tables are eventually turned on both Britta and Jeff after the rest of the group finds out what they're up to. Then the lights go out for a moment, and when they come back on everyone has grabbed a makeshift weapon and is brandishing it threateningly.

Like the argument in "Competitve Ecology", this resolves in a low-key but satisfying way. It's revealed that Jeff simply filled in the bubbles randomly, and that Britta fed them into the machine the wrong way. Of course, the real results aren't particularly comforting, as they show that all but one person in the group is insane. Everyone decides to just "hold on to the comforting notion" that they could be the sane one, and they leave. (We stay behind and find out that it's Abed.) This conclusion obviously isn't as note-perfect as the "Roxanne" sequence in "Chaos Theory" was, but it works. "Horror Fiction" isn't likely to make any top episodes lists when it comes time to reflect on "Community's" legacy, but it too works. It's one of those episodes that's just a lot of fun to watch. Nicely done.

Other Thoughts

- Always love the way this show changes the credits for many of these "concept" (I really don't like that term) episodes.

- "Community" was down in the ratings this week due to the World Series. Obviously I'm concerned, but as long as they go back to normal (which is still bad) next week I remain confident that we're going to get one more season.

- Britta's habit of making mistakes such as this gives rise to the term "to britta", which basically means to mess something up: as in "she brittaed the test results". Funny stuff. Particularly loved the group accusing her of brittaing britta when she uses the word incorrectly.

- Troy's story (in which mad scientist Pierce decides to sew him and Abed together) resulted in a clever tag scene but was pretty forgettable otherwise. One of the only dead spots in an otherwise hilarious episode. 

- Shirley's Rapture tale was quite amusing, and very Shirley. The Dean as the devil was a nice touch.

Grade: A-


  1. For me, one of the best part of the episode was this line that Troy said that I feel went over most people's heads, I didn't catch it until the third time I watched the episode:

    Troy: "Let's hurry up with this party. I weant to get to the Halloween dance, the Dean got some free Taco meat from the army base."

  2. Yes, I caught that too. Nice callback to "Epidemiology".