I’m an unabashed ‘Doctor Who‘ fanboy (complete with TARDIS logo tattoo and way more action figures than is healthy for an adult human being), so I’ve always appreciated the “Inspector Spacetime” parody on ‘Community’. Imagine my fanboy squeals of delight when I realized that last week’s episode, ‘Conventions of Space and Time’, revolved around everyone’s second favorite space and time traveler.
It’s the day of InSpecTiCon, the ‘Inspector Spacetime’ convention, and Abed and Troy can’t wait to go. Troy’s having issues reconciling his relationship with Britta and his friendship with Abed. (The episode opens with Britta escaping out of Troy’s window, only to double back to the front door and pretend she brought breakfast.) Abed, on the other hand, seems unusually accepting. He doesn’t even freak out when Britta shows support for Inspector Minerva, the lone female Inspector (take that, Doctor!), who’s universally hated by fans (not because they’re sexist; she just sucks).
The real reason for this is that Abed has… wait for it… made a new friend! Toby, a ‘Spacetime’ fan from jolly ol’ England, has been connecting with Abed for months by email, a fact that Abed neglected to tell Troy. Now, Troy has to deal with possibly losing his best friend.
Meanwhile, Pierce, annoyed at not being invited, drags Shirley with him to the convention. The two get sidelined to take part in a focus group for an American version of ‘Inspector Spacetime’, which of course gives Pierce an opportunity to ruin the show before it even airs.
Annie and Jeff have the most disconnected storyline of the episode. Annie pretends that Jeff is her husband in her hotel room, only to discover Jeff flirting with a hot convention attendee (a smartly-cast Tricia Helfer of ‘Battlestar Galactica‘ fame). Jeff and Annie seem to have nothing to do here, and no forward momentum is made on their “Will they or won’t they?” relationship.
Speaking of relationships, while we now discover that Troy and Britta are actively sleeping together, there’s still nothing about them that’s interesting. Troy spends so much time pining after Abed that Britta is simply an afterthought. At one point in the episode, she even proudly declares that she doesn’t care about ‘Inspector Spacetime’, which is most certainly true, but makes me wonder why the two characters are together in the first place.
The Troy and Abed storyline is the best developed, and it’s fun to see Abed work out why he needs the group. He even pulls a “Jeff Winger” to deliver a speech that ties together ‘Inspector Spacetime’ and his own life. Donald Glover also gets to go over the top as he freaks out about Abed having another friend.
As for ‘Inspector Spacetime’, the episode has a few good gags laid throughout, but the potential of the convention setting is basically wasted. (Having just attended Gallifrey One, the largest ‘Doctor Who’ convention in North America, I know what I’m talking about.) It seems like the script really could have used a fix with a quantum spanner.