S2: E6 I’m not even going to try to contain my excitement over this week’s episode of Community. It had everything I love: Halloween costumes, tacos, zombies, creepy music (ABBA), and Troy without a shirt. (Sorry dudes, we do spend a lot of these episodes talking about Annie’s boobs, so I figure it’s only fair that I get to lust after Donald Glover for a bit.) Oh, and did I mention it was narrated by George Takei? As in Sulu from the original Star Trek? Yeah, it was just that cool.
After a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-esque intro from George Takei, the scene opens on Greendale’s Halloween party. Pierce is dressed as the Shatner- variety James T. Kirk (maybe someone told him Takei would be narrating), Jeff is his handsome self as David Beckham (complete with $6,000 suit), and the dean is dressed as what I assume will this year’s most popular costume – Lady Gaga. After downing several “tacos” Jeff spills the beans (ha! Get it? Because they’re eating tacos? Like Mexican food? Okay, I’ll stop) and it turns out they’ve been eating military rations from an army surplus store. Yuck. Britta as a T-Rex/ Dragon-turtle points out that the dean’s endless loop of ABBA songs is occasionally interrupted by his personal voice memos (including one reminding him to check out Human Centipede.) Damn, he’s creepy. Shirley is once again in a “dangerously ambiguous” costume – Annie dressed as Little Red Riding hood hasn’t solved the mystery but she does warn them NOT to call Shirley Miss Piggy. (Of course, now that’s all they can see.) Troy and Abed have a joint costume from Alien, Troy as Ripley in a power loader and Abed as an alien (he really commits to the costume, it’s awesome), but when Troy fails to pick up girls in his yellow frame, he no longer wants to play Abed’s nerdy games. But the main problem is the dean’s tacos; Pierce and many others are starting to get ill after eating. Just when Annie’s friend the doctor (in a banana suit) is making a case for food poisoning, Pierce grabs Starburns and tried to eat his arm. Yep, definitely not food poisoning. Try zombies, glorious zombies.
Before everyone starts to notice that the school is being taken over by zombies (oh, it’s no big deal), Troy ditches his Alien-inspired costume for something a little more lady-friendly. He comes back from the bathroom wearing little more than a toilet seat cover with the word “Dracula” written on it, leaving Abed alone in his nerdiness. He’s a “sexy Dracula” – DUH. Meanwhile, the zombie virus is taking hold of the infected students and the dean elects to call the surplus store where he got the “taco meat” to complain. Apparently, it was not taco meat. Nope. It was some top secret toxic waste – how dumb is this guy? He’s patched in to an officer from the army who commands him to quarantine the zombies for 6 hours until the army can swoop in and fix everything. That’s one hell of a time window. Who do they think they are? The cable guy?
Meanwhile, shit’s starting to get crazy. Just as Annie suggests they evacuate calmly, all hell breaks loose, zombies attack, the dean locks everyone in the library, the study group fends off zombie attackers and barricades themselves in the study room as ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” plays jauntily in the background. God, I love this show.
Before they finally seal off the room, Doctor Banana wants to double check that everyone managed to escape the attack without getting bitten. (And he totally has a bite on his ankle that he’s hiding. Bastard.) He also explains that the infected people will develop high fevers and that in a matter of hours, the zombified students’ brains will overheat and turn to mush. No longer the undead, they’ll just be plain ol’ dead. They figure out a plan: if they can get to the thermostat and turn up the AC, they can break the fever and kill the virus. But nope, too late. Doctor Banana’s speech goes all drunken undead dude and Britta’s not far behind. The remaining group tries to escape the newest zombies, but Annie gets taken. Chang and Shirley get separated from Jeff, Abed, and Troy and barricade themselves in the bathroom. As they hold the door shut, Chang notices that Shirley’s not Miss Piggy, she’s Glenda the Good Witch. In turn, Shirley notes that she loves Chang’s Peggy Fleming costume and he’s happy to hear that she’s not racist (because everyone else assumed he was an Asian figure skater like Michelle Kwan). BOOM. The unthinkable happens – a Shirley-Chang hook up. Give me a second while I pick my jaw up off of the ground.
Troy, Abed, and Jeff find themselves in the basement under siege from a crazy cat that’s inexplicably being launched (or flying on its own?) across the room. Once they get past the crazy cat, Troy and Abed notice a window for their escape. Unwilling to mess up his precious suit, Jeff insists they use the door. Dammit Jeff, have you never seen a zombie movie? Of course, he opens the door, zombies flood in overtaking him and stretching out his super swanky clothes as Troy and Abed run towards the window. With nothing to climb on, to reach the opening, Abed elects to hoist Troy up so he can make Abed proud and be the first black man to survive a zombie attack. (Abed would know, he is a film nerd after all.) Troy doesn’t want to leave his bestie, and as he’s about to escape yells back at Abed ,“I love you.” And as any movie nerd should, Abed responds like Han Solo did to Princess Leia in The Empire Strikes Back, saying “I know” as he’s overtaken by a pile of undead students. (Hold on while my nerdy side does a mini fist pump.)
Now Troy’s the only uninfected guy left. He returns to his power loader costume, bursting into the library and punching out zombies to reach the thermostat and save the day as ABBA's "Mamma Mia" plays. Gotta love that juxtaposition. As he trudges through the library, he takes out all the zombie versions of his friends until he reaches Abed. He hesitates, and in a final ironic blow his zombified best friend is the one who finally bites him. He manages to crawl to the thermostat and push the button (stopping for a second to take note of Jeff who’s still poking at his blackberry and “still cool as a zombie”) before finally taking full zombie form and joining the rest his groaning, grey friends. Damnit. It’s over, right? Everyone’s a zombie.
But no, as ABBA’s “Fernando” starts to swell, the AC starts to flow and the zombies start to sense a slow return to normalcy – Jeff goes from slapping at his phone to getting right back to sending texts and emails. Just then, the army arrives, ready to “dose these suckers.” Yeah, I don’t know what that means. The two army officers show up wearing black suits and sunglasses at night, but thank God that one of the underlings interrupts them before they can follow through on what was sure to be a Men In Black reference.
After they dosed the suckers, everyone wakes up in the library, bandaged and confused. No one remembers anything that happened, and the army officers tell everyone that the party was mass-roofied. (Chang is disappointed that he wasn’t the mastermind behind it all. He would. Creep.) George Takei closes it out with narration that has nothing to do with the episode, but might benefit you if your name is Kevin.
It’s hard to imagine that the tag could even come close to the Halloween episode that I can only describe as 22 minutes of pure zombie awesomeness, but Troy finding a voicemail that was left during the zombie attack after the army’s erased his memory. Watch and enjoy.
There are distinct echoes of Alan Alda’s The Four Seasons and Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill here as the film focuses on four couples who have been friends since their college days. Periodically they get together and ask themselves the title question as they re-examine their relationships. There’s Janet Jackson as Patricia the college lecturer whose best-selling book is based on her friends’ relationships. Patricia and her husband Gavin (Malik Yoba) are trying to hold their marriage together after the loss of their young son in a tragic car accident. The cocky Mike (Richard T. Jones) flaunts an adulterous relationship in front of his insecure overweight wife Shelia (Jill Scott) who is completely oblivious to the deception. Terry (Perry himself) is a successful pediatrician trying to convince his wife Diane (Sharon Leal)--a successful attorney in her own right--to have more kids. Marcus (Michael Jai White) a former pro football player merely tries to get through the day without a tongue-lashing from his acerbic wife Angela (Tasha Smith) a woman not known for keeping her opinions to herself regardless of how appropriate the circumstances. All of them find themselves confronting career demands family demands infidelity incompatibility and mistrust--all while drinking far too much wine. Needless to say before their get-together is over a number of secrets will be divulged and each couple will find their relationships shaken to their respective cores. Forgoing the housedress of his cinematic alter-ego “Madea ” Perry proves an affable screen personality quite relaxed within the ensemble. Jones doesn’t go out of his way to make Mike in any way likable which makes his one of the more memorable and clearly defined characters in the entire cast. Although Smith gets all the sassy lines White easily steals their scenes together with a surprisingly appealing comic turn. Hunky Lamman Rucker plays a dreamboat sheriff who finds himself drawn into this ever-shifting circle of friends. The women have a tougher go of it with Jackson giving a tremulous performance that makes her character almost disappear into the background. Yoba is also low-key although more affectingly so as her onscreen spouse. Leal does what she can with the stock role of a career woman who takes her home life for granted but she fares better than Scott whose crying scenes--and there are more than one--ground the story to a halt. All told however the ensemble cast has an easy and relaxed chemistry together which keeps the film--as soapy as uneven as it often is--afloat throughout. Tyler Perry doesn’t open up his stage play to any major degree preferring to leave the emphasis on characters and dialogue--both of which incidentally he has created. Perry tends to approach these intricate topics with broad (but not irrelevant) strokes but he’s not about to tamper with a successful formula. Like most of Perry’s previous films (Diary of a Mad Black Woman Madea*s Family Reunion et. al.) Why Did I Get Married? runs on a bit and overstates its case but its heart’s in the right place.