It's tough to begin this weekly recap of Community, because tonight's episode was so imaginative, and so rewarding to the audience that has fallen in love with these characters, that I don't know where to begin. It's also tough because it was just so f---ing weird. I mean, what just happened?
At NBC's Summer Press Day this Wednesday, Jim Rash said that "The third [season] has been about all of these characters testing who they are, and what they've chosen to do with their lives." Well, "Virtual Systems Analysis" found two of our main characters testing (simulating?) who they were, and how their actions could impact the loved ones around them. Pierce mainly sat on his balls, but whatever.
The set-up was this: Since the study group's biology test had been suddenly canceled, (As announced by Dean Pelton, who was wearing a busted up Victor/Victoria-meets-Two Face ensemble that will only be mentioned this one time, because I want to sleep tonight) the gang had 3 hours to spend by themselves. Shirley ran off to a fast food chain across town, Pierce watched some movies, and Jeff went God knows where -- probably to nap in his car.
But the major players here were Troy, Abed, Annie, and Britta. That game-changing text that Britta received from Troy last week was obviously not forgotten: The two were shyly flirting at the study table, and matchmaker Annie used the 3-hour recess as an excuse to force them into a Senor Kevin's lunch date. This did not please Abed -- he wanted to play with Troy in the Dreamatorium, and the manager at Senor Kevin's said Die Hard was bad.
To raise Abed's spirits and satiate his need for some Dreamatorium time, Annie subbed for Troy in a reenactment of Professor Spacetime. But Annie was no match for Troy's Constable Reggie -- she didn't know the difference between Blogon and Blorgon, and she couldn't buy into Abed's story that the Dreamatorium's Engine enabled him to envision every possible scenario for their study group. "I'm able to to simulate any of the study group, and even a half-accurate Chang, in over 7,000 unique situations," he said.
Abed was simulating a disastrous date for Troy and Britta -- in his mind, Troy spent the whole date missing Abed, and the manager still hated Die Hard. "I'm afraid your food won't be ready for another half hour," he said. "I'm too busy misunderstanding the whole point of Die Hard."
This didn't sit too well with Annie, who was confidant in her matchmaking abilities and offended when Abed said her brain wasn't able to function at a high enough level to understand the Dreamatorium. She stormed out of the room, and ended up on the phone with Troy -- giving some validity to Abed's earlier claim. Troy said that he worried about Abed when he wasn't home, and that the Dreamatorium could take a dangerous toll. "He's just extra-sensitive in the Dreamatorium," Troy explained. "It takes a lot out of him to run that thing."
Annie instantly ignored Troy's advice, making a drastic change to Abed's control room that would put "Other People" needs above Abed's own thoughts. His brain quickly malfunctioned, and this is where things started to get super weird. (Please keep in mind that the following events take place in the Dreamatorium. They make little to no sense, and they are awesome.)
When Abed awoke, he was no longer himself -- he was playing the role of Jeff (Obviously not a Kardashian), who was trying to seduce Annie in a Dreamatorium-created Doctor's Lounge at Greendale Hospital School -- where the Jeffs are hot and the vending machines only sell buttered noodles. (Exposition: It's a sexy emotional school where doctors save lives and make love, often simultaneously.) Jeff wanted Annie to have sex with him: True, he was a surgeon and she was a hotshot upstart administrator, but not even their two-foot height disparity would suppress his unbridled passion. (Aside: This scenario gave even more validity to Abed's omnipotence claim, as this is totally something that Annie herself would dream up. You know Annie watches Grey's Anatomy.)
Annie and "Jeff" then ended up in the bio lab with "Troy" and "Britta," who were currently in the middle of Abed's disturbing version of a make-out session. Abed's Troy and Britta wouldn't help Annie locate the actual Abed, but Troy admitted to seeing his file once Annie injected him with a truth serum. (See what I mean about this episode being really f---ing weird? No, Mom -- I'm not taking drugs. This is the actual recap.)
In addition to the existence of the file, the truth serum made Dreamatorium Troy admit to the following: "I love butt stuff. I hate spiders. I stole a pen from the bank. I cried during About a Boy -- the soundtrack. I don't wash my hands before a surgery. I can see why women find Clive Own attractive to the point where I might just as well be attracted to him. I use comparisons to Hitler to win arguments on the internet at the drop of the hat. I know nothing about wine. I'm more turned on by women in pajamas than lingerie -- I just want them to feel comfortable." Interesting! But the final secret secreted from the serum was positively devastating: "I didn't get Inception!" Troy cried. "I didn't get Inception… " (There were so many layers!)
Over in the Dreamatorium version of the study room, "Shirley" made it clear that Abed did not exist -- the hospital sequence was simulated according to Annie's needs, and nobody needed Abed. But Annie knew that Abed's file existed, so she promised "Jeff" some sex in exchange for the information it held. Jeff quickly located the file, which revealed that Abed was a psychiatric patient. "Enough games," said an exasperated Annie. "Just take me where I want to go."
And so "Jeff" took Annie where she really wanted to go: To the exact place where Jeff had kissed her at the end of season one. But she wasn't in the mood to play games with Abed's simulated, Annie-idealized version of Jeff. She needed to locate Abed. Jeff finally read Abed's full file, which revealed Abed's diagnosis: "Control freak with no empathy," he said. "People bend over backwards to cater to him. Signed, healthcare administrator, Annie Edison." (These were various insults that Annie had thrown Abed's way earlier in the episode.)
The next scene found Annie and the still-broken Abed back in the Dreamatorium -- he asked where Annie wished to go next. She wanted to be alone -- the scenario with Jeff had obviously hurt her -- so Abed simulated a room where Annie stood alone with "Annie." Annie asked Annie why she was blowing their perfect moment with Jeff, but Annie strongly replied that it wasn't perfect -- it wasn't even real. "We're just in love with the idea of being loved," she said. "If we can teach a guy like Jeff to do it, we'll never be unloved. So we keep running the same scenario over and over, hoping for a different result." (Aside: Between this and the "let's stop hating ourselves" speech from Jeff last week, Community is really doling up the sensible love advise.)
Annie's use of the word "scenario" triggered something in "Annie" -- the presumed prime Annie was starting to sound like Abed. Once presumed prime Annie said, "cool, cool cool" and mentioned Cougar Town, it became clear that "Annie" was the actual Annie, while Annie was actually Abed. Got that?
So Annie finally located Abed, who had mentally retreated to his middle school locker. He was feeling sorry for himself, finally realizing that his Dreamatorium concoctions were simply a product of his own imagination. Annie disagreed -- she thought that Abed's simulations were brilliant science fiction, much like 2001: A Space Odyssey. "Did we have a Space Odyssey?" she said. "No. We got snowboarding in the Olympics and we over-validated Carson Daly." (Aside: NBC's Community dissing the host of NBC's cash cow The Voice? You bad, Community.)
Annie's words seemed to reinvigorate Abed -- the two played a legendary game of Inspector Spacetime, then enjoyed a bowl of hot buttered noodles. Abed, as it seemed, had finally discovered empathy -- while Annie had, in turn, discovered Abed.
Oh, and for the record, Troy and Britta's date went well.
What did you think of tonight's Community? Does anyone else think that this episode was meant to coincide with 4/20?
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
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Crystal Lake. Dumb kids in the woods. Sex drugs booze. A hulking maniac in a hockey mask wielding a machete. Yeah that about sums it up.
Are you kidding? The new Jason Derek Mears probably fares best among the actors because he doesn’t have a single word of dialogue. Everyone else unfortunate enough to stumble in front of the camera – Jared Padalecki Amanda Righetti Danielle Panabaker Travis Van Winkle – is basically fodder for the slaughter. Some of them get naked. Most of them get dead. Some die more gorily than others. No one dies quickly enough. Having previously (and woefully) directed the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre helmer Marcus Nispel does his best – and worst – to resurrect yet another popular horror franchise from the past. He also adds absolutely nothing new to the formula. Quite frankly anyone could’ve directed this film. Judging by the results anyone did. This is the 12th Friday the 13th film for those keeping score at home and with any luck it’ll be the last. Of course it won’t be. But we can always hope.
Pretty people just don’t understand—you’re not safe anywhere and all the sadists are after YOU! As the two geniuses in The Hitcher Grace (Sophia Bush) and her boyfriend Jim (Zachary Knighton) learn real quickly a cross-country trek to New Mexico in a beat-up car is especially risky. During their first night out on the open road it’s raining cats and dogs when they almost run over a man (Sean Bean) who’s standing aimlessly in the middle of the street his car apparently broken down. The young couple decides against lending him a helping hand with it pouring down rain and all. Bad move. When they stop for gas later Jim and Grace cross paths with the man who goes by the name of John Ryder. He asks the couple if he might hitch a short ride with them to a local motel. This time they oblige. Bad move. One aspect the studio must’ve loved about The Hitcher: Being shot primarily in a car the cast cannot feasibly be more than three deep—four tops. That also means that said cast must wear the tension well if the camera is to be on them throughout. Bush (TV’s One Tree Hill) the movie’s biggest asset as far as its target audience is concerned shrieks well and most importantly is smokin'. And when it comes time to fight back she doesn’t look so bad doing it even if there’s scant giggling in the theater at the now clichéd image of a weapon-wielding hot chick. As the hugely sadistic villain Bean (GoldenEye the LOTR movies et al) is more than adequately creepy. There’s something to be said with most of The Hitcher’s viewers’ inability to recognize him because an A-list movie star just wouldn’t work in this role. Obscurity aside Bean his face lurking around every corner will simply creep the crap out of the young audience. As for Knighton he seems and looks like the garden-variety up-and-comer and try as I might there’s nothing wrong with his biggest role to date—except a scene of um tug-of-war that is tough to watch or look away from. Veteran actor Neal McDonough also pops in with a brief role as a sheriff caught in the proverbial crosshairs. These days it’s tough to come up with anything new in a horror film—so directors just don’t bother. Save for neo-horror maestro Eli Roth there’s no originality to be seen especially when seemingly 99 percent of horror movies are remakes and when they’re not remakes they’re Primeval or Turistas. The Hitcher is much better than those two but director Dave Meyers truly eliminates most of the psychological aspect of the original 1986 Hitcher in exchange for a polished contemporary feel. Of course Meyers is one the most renowned music video directors of the past several years so it's no surprise when he mistakes volume for thrills; in fact the decibels will be the chief reason for almost all of the audience’s screaming. Not that there aren’t scary moments however. The writers Jake Wade Wall (When a Stranger Calls) and Eric Bernt (Romeo Must Die) actually get the film off to a brisk smooth start but they ultimately turn John Ryder into more of a Terminator-like character and ask for too many leaps of faith and suspensions of disbelief—again not that their intended audience won’t indulge them. At least the studio had the guts to retain the intended 'R' rating!
A host of Oscar activity has begun to unfold despite the annual award show still being more than three months away. The show's head writer, as well as its short-film creator, was announced recently.
As expected, the guru of award show writers, Bruce Vilanch, was once again tapped for the celebrated lead writer position at this year's Academy Awards show.
Vilanch, who has written nine Oscar shows, is arguably one of the most sought after comedy writers in Hollywood. He has worked on numerous award shows, including the Tonys, the Emmys and the Grammys. His story was recently the subject of documentary filmmaker Andrew J. Kuehn's "Get Bruce."
Oscar-winning director Chuck Workman ("Precious Images") was charged with creating the short-film segments that will air during the awards telecast. Marking his 11th association with the Academy, Workman's previous film work includes the documentaries "Superstar" and "The Source."
Finally, 11 U.S. film festivals will receive grants totaling $245,000 from the Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Academy President Robert Rehme made the announcement Dec. 7.
Festivals benefiting are AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival, Chicago Latino Film Festival, Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival and Seattle International Film Festival at $30,000 apiece; San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, South by Southwest Film Festival and USA Film Festival at $15,000 each; and Santa Clarita International Film Festival and Thomas Edison Black Maria Film and Video Festival at $10,000 each.
The festivals were selected by the festival grants committee, which is led by producer Gale Anne Hurd.
The 72nd Academy Awards telecast takes place March 26 at 5:30 p.m. PST.