Halloween means different things to different people. To some, it means dressing up, going out and having fun. To others, it means eating candy until you’re sick. For me, it means watching a few too many Halloween-themed shows for my own good. Still, I’ll give the Thursday night lineup some credit. Both ‘Community’ and ‘The Office’ pulled off good episodes with strong jokes this year. There’s a bit of a Lady Gaga problem over at NBC, but we’ll get to that later
If you’ve been waiting for a return to normal episodes for ‘Community’, you’re out of luck. This week is a full-on horror/comedy with an unbelievable plot that takes the show completely out of reality. It’s something I should be annoyed by, but I’m really not.
Things start out with a costume party in the library, or “The Liscary” as it’s been renamed for the night. Britta shows up in an awful dinosaur costume, Jeff shows up as what amounts to Jeff holding a soccer ball (he’s supposed to be David Beckham), and Annie is Little Red Riding Hood. It’s all pretty predictable, though the ‘Alien’ theme carried out by Abed and Troy is absolutely brilliant, even if it doesn’t work out with the ladies.
Things take a turn when Pierce starts feeling ill and begins biting people. The infection spreads and soon everyone is a zombie. That’s right, ‘Community’ goes with the most overdone non-vampire horror theme around. Again, it’s something I should be annoyed by.
Were it another show, things might have gone bad quickly. But the whole episode is just so well executed that it’s impossible to hate. There’s ABBA streaming constantly to great comedic effect, and there are plenty of funny themes repeated throughout. There’s even narration by George Takei.
One of the biggest reasons this episode works is because everyone is on board with it. It’s not just the actors that make this work, but the direction, lighting, and camerawork that really give it a legitimate feel. If you just glanced at the screen during the action sequences, you might not have known it was a comedy.
We can write off this episode as a special case since it’s Halloween, or accept roofies as the proper explanation. Either way, after an episode like this, ‘Community’ is going to need to come back to reality for a while. We need a few normal episodes.
On to the Gaga. The dean comes to the Halloween party as Lady Gaga and pulls it off really well. He does the obligatory “Poker Face” joke, but is generally just his normally quirky self throughout the episode. It works nicely, until the same thing happens just a few minutes later on ‘The Office’.
The opening gag on ‘The Office’ is great, but a little unbelievable towards the end. It’s goofy and fun, though, and that works out nicely.
Things start out as most Halloween episodes start, with costume reveals. Most are pretty typical of what you’d find at an office Halloween party, though Stanley’s samurai costume and Kevin’s Michael Moore costume really take the cake.
And then there’s Gabe, who’s dressed as Lady Gaga and provides us with a “Poker Face” joke. It may have been a good gag and a funny delivery, but since we just saw the same gag on the previous show, it spoils both. I’m not blaming either show, but when the same joke is used twice in a row, it stops being a funny joke.
There’s a whole storyline with Jim, Pam and the new guy, Danny. But since it’s neither funny nor interesting, it’s hardly worth mentioning. It just feels like padding, or maybe something thrown in there for folks that just can’t get enough Jim and Pam.
The standout character in the episode is Kevin, believe it or not. He’s got some great lines, and his nervous interaction with Danny is funny. The “Lady Gaga dance moves” explanation really got me. It’s funny and a little sweet too. We need more Kevin.
There’s some further exploration into Erin being incredibly dumb. A few episodes ago, she revealed that she just throws out disposable cameras without ever getting the photos developed. In this episode, she eats two full apples underwater while bobbing for apples, and sits on the phone because she apparently can’t figure out how to use it. It’s funny, but might be going a bit too far. If Erin can’t figure out a phone, why is she a receptionist?
All in all, it’s not a bad episode. It’s a little heavy on the drama, and it seems like there were some missed opportunities for jokes with Oscar’s horrible costume, but it’s all around pretty fun.