NBC Thursday Night Comedy 10/28/10 Recap: “In Your Face!”

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 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.


  1. Adam

    It’s been a few days since I watched the episodes, but I remember loving the Community episode. I hate the whole zombie/vampire, etc fixation, but I really did like this episode, even as totally implausible as it is. I think my favorite parts were the psycho cat – started out weird, doesn’t make much sense, but had me crying laughing, Jeff hating Rich so much that he hates his zombie version less, and the George Takei line at the end. Really sort of wished my name was Kevin there for a while.

    It was a different route for The Office to stay in costume all episode. Seasons One and Three I think might be the only episodes with full costumes. Erin does seem dumb to the point of implausibility, though we have to realize Michael made Ryan a full-time sales associate despite his complete lack of sales ability, so it’s likely Michael doesn’t exactly factor performance or intelligence into his hiring decisions, and we’ve seen many times that the staff is his family, so he wouldn’t want to just get rid of her.

    Also, I realize that they’re different production studios, but you’d think that NBC would have recognized the dual Gaga costumes and put a stop to that. Was just ridiculous.

  2. What I loved about the Community episode is that, aside from the biting, the characters were still doing basically the same things as zombies that they did as people. Troy and Abed were still best zombie buds. Jeff was acting too cool for the room, and played with his phone rather than pay attention to anyone else, etc.

    Also, Troy and Abed’s “Aliens” costumes were awesome. And it was hilarious that Troy’s replacement costume made no sense at all.

    “Not all vampires are Dracula.”
    “Well, I guess I’m not nerd enough to know what kind of Dracula I am!”

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